The Curiosity rover detects oxygen behaving strangely on Mars

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The Curiosity rover detects oxygen behaving strangely on Mars

(CNN)Since it landed in Gale Crater in 2012, the Curiosity rover has been studying the Martian surface beneath its wheels to learn more about the planet’s history. But Curiosity also stuck its nose in the air for a big sniff to understand the Martian atmosphere.

So far, this sniffing has resulted in some findings that scientists are still trying to understand.
Earlier this year, the rover’s tune able laser spectrometer, called SAM, which stands for Sample Analysis at Mars, detected the largest amount of methane ever measured during its mission.
SAM has also found that over time, oxygen behaves in a way that can’t be explained by any chemical process scientists currently understand.
SAM has had plenty of time — about six years — to sniff and analyze the atmospheric composition on Mars. The data revealed that at the surface, 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, followed by 2.6% molecular nitrogen, 1.9% argon, 0.16% oxygen and 0.06% carbon monoxide.
Like Earth, Mars goes through its seasons; over the course of a year, the air pressure changes. This happens when the carbon dioxide gas freezes in winter at the poles, causing the air pressure to lower. It rises again in the spring and summer, redistributing across Mars as the carbon dioxide evaporates.
In relation to the carbon monoxide, nitrogen and argon also follow similar dips and peaks. But oxygen didn’t.
Surprisingly, the oxygen actually rose by a peak increase of 30% in the spring and summer before dropping back to normal in the fall.
Given the amount of time Curiosity has been monitoring the atmosphere, it was able to detect that this pattern repeated, albeit with varying amounts of oxygen.
The variation suggests that the oxygen is being created by something, then taken away.
“The first time we saw that, it was just mind boggling,” said Sushil Atreya, study author on a new paper about the oxygen levels and professor of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan.
The study published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
In order to rule out errors, the scientists checked to be sure SAM was operating properly, but found no issues.
“We’re struggling to explain this,” said Melissa Trainer, study author and planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The fact that the oxygen behavior isn’t perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it’s not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics. It has to be some chemical source and sink (of elements into the soil) that we can’t yet account for.”
It relates back to the methane mystery.
The June reading indicated 21 parts per billion units by volume, or ppbv. That means of the volume of air on Mars being assessed, one billionth of the volume of air is methane.
So why is this unusually large amount of methane so interesting? On Earth, microbial life is a key source of methane. But NASA also warned that expectations of life should be managed due to the fact that interactions between rocks and water can also create methane, and Mars has water and an abundance of rocks.
“With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This isn’t the first time methane has been detected on Mars by Curiosity. Over the course of its mission since landing in August 2012, Curiosity has detected methane many times and studies have been written about how the gas levels actually appear to rise and fall depending on the season. It can spike as much as 60% during the summer.
Could the two be connected to a similar chemistry since they’re fluctuating the same way?
“We’re beginning to see this tantalizing correlation between methane and oxygen for a good part of the Mars year,” Atreya said. “I think there’s something to it. I just don’t have the answers yet. Nobody does.”
The origin of the methane or oxygen won’t be evident because the rover doesn’t have any instruments that can trace or determine the source. And while both oxygen and methane can be created from biological sources, they can also arise due to chemistry, like the interaction of water and rocks.
“We have not been able to come up with one process yet that produces the amount of oxygen we need, but we think it has to be something in the surface soil that changes seasonally because there aren’t enough available oxygen atoms in the atmosphere to create the behavior we see,” said Timothy McConnochie, study co-author and assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland.
The scientists wanted to share their findings in the hopes that Martian experts may be able to help determine what process is creating these increases.
“This is the first time where we’re seeing this interesting behavior over multiple years. We don’t totally understand it,” Trainer said. “For me, this is an open call to all the smart people out there who are interested in this: See what you can come up with.”

NASA Scientist: Dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

A NASA scientist’s incredible animation shows how dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy

dinosaur park snow serbia dinosaurs
A dinosaur park sees freezing weather and snowfall in Belgrade, Serbia, February 26, 2018. 
REUTERS/Djordje Kojadinovic

When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the planet was on a completely different side of the galaxy.

A new animation by NASA scientist Jessie Christiansen shows just how long the dinosaurs’ reign lasted, and how short the era of humans has been in comparison, by tracing our solar system’s movement through the Milky Way.

Our sun orbits the galaxy’s center, completing its rotation every 250 million years or so. So Christiansen’s animation shows that last time our solar system was at its current point in the galaxy, the Triassic Period was in full swing and dinosaurs were just beginning to emerge. Many of the most iconic dinosaurs roamed Earth when the planet was in a very different part of the Milky Way.

Christiansen got the idea to illustrate this history when she was leading a stargazing party at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Attendees were astonished when she mentioned that our solar system had been across the galaxy when dinosaurs roamed.

“That was the first time I realized that those time scales — archaeological, fossil record time scales and astronomical time scales — actually kind of match along together,” Christiansen told Business Insider. “Then I had this idea that I could map out dinosaur evolution through the galaxy’s rotation.”

The resulting video puts both timelines in perspective:

Dr. Jessie Christiansen

@aussiastronomer

I have always been interested in galactic archaeology, but I don’t think this is what they meant.

Did you know that dinosaurs lived on the other side of the Galaxy?

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Christiansen said it took her about four hours to make the film using timed animations in PowerPoint. She also noted a couple minor corrections to the text in her video: plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs, and we complete a galactic orbit every 250 million years (not 200 million years).

‘A spiral through space’

Galactic movement is more complicated than the video shows, though. The other stars and planetary systems in the galaxy are also moving, at different speeds and in different orbits. The inner portions spin faster than the outer regions.

What’s more, the galaxy itself is moving through space, slowly approaching the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

“The animation kind of makes it seem like we’ve come back to the same spot, but in reality the whole galaxy has moved a very long way,” Christiansen said. “It’s more like we’re doing a spiral through space. As the whole galaxy’s moving and we’re rotating around the center, it kind of creates this spiral.”

milky way galaxy center spitzer infrared
The center of our Milky Way galaxy, imaged by the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared cameras, October 9, 2019. 
NASA, JPL-Caltech, Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al.

So in the solar system’s rotation around the galactic center, we’re not returning to a fixed point. The neighborhood is different from the last time we were here.

Earth, however, is not drastically different; it still supports complex life. That’s partially thanks to the path of our sun’s galactic orbit.

“Our solar system doesn’t travel to the center of the galaxy and then back again. We always stay about this distance away,” Christiansen said.

In other words, even as our solar system travels through the Milky Way, it doesn’t approach the inhospitable center, where life probably wouldn’t survive.

“There’s a lot of stars, it’s dynamically unstable, there’s a lot of radiation,” Christiansen said. “Our solar system certainly doesn’t pass through that.”

That’s a huge part of why dinosaurs, mammals, or any other form of life can exist on Earth.

SEE ALSO: A huge explosion sliced through our galaxy just 3.5 million years ago, as human ancestors walked the Earth. Scientists think it was nuclear activity in the black hole at the Milky Way’s center.

DON’T MISS: The best microscope photos of the year reveal a strange and hidden universe in astonishing detail

More: Space dinosaurs Milky Way Galaxy

NASA shock: The most massive object in the universe is forming before our very own eyes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

NASA shock: The most massive object in the universe is forming before our very own eyes

NASA astronomers have detected the merger of four galactic clusters in deep space will give birth to one of the most massive objects in the universe.

NASA supercomputer: A trip through the ‘universe machine’

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 estimates the resulting mega-cluster will combine weights “several hundred trillion times” more than our Sun. The monstrous body will emerge from the collision of four galactic clusters about three billion light-years from Earth. Each cluster carries hundreds or thousands of galaxies of its own, suspended in a cloud of hot gas.

Astronomers have dubbed the slowly emerging “mega-structure” Abell 1758.

NASA estimates the individual bodies in the collisions are moving at speeds of two to three million miles per hour.

The incredible discovery was made possible thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory  probe.

NASA said: “Astronomers using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes have put together a detailed map of a rare collision between four galaxy clusters.

READ MORE: 

NASA news: Four galactic clusters merging into one

NASA news: These four galactic clusters are merging into a mega-cluster (Image: NASA NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Schellenberger et al.;)

NASA news: Chandra X-ray Observatory

NASA news: The Chandra Observatory watches the universe in X-ray wavelenghts (Image: NASA/CXC & J VAUGHAN)

“Eventually, all four clusters – each with a mass of at least several hundred trillion times that of the Sun – will merge to form one of the most massive objects in the universe.”

Galactic clusters are large groupings of individual galaxies bound together by their collective gravities and the gravity of dark matter.

The gravitational attraction also explains why clusters are suspended in a cloud of gas.

Galaxies will typically expel their stellar gases when stars erupt into supernovas.

Clusters hang onto these gases and are some of the largest known objects in the universe.

In the particular case of Abell 1758, astronomers have detected four separate bodies colliding into two larger clusters.

All four clusters will merge to form one of the most massive objects in the universe

NASA

In time, the resulting two bodies will fall towards one another to produce an even bigger mega-structure.

NASA said: “Sometimes two galaxy clusters collide, as in the case of the Bullet Cluster, and occasionally more than two will collide at the same time.

“The new observations show a mega-structure being assembled in a system called Abell 1758, located about three billion light-years from Earth.

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NASA news: Percentage of NASA's budget over years

NASA news: The percentage of NASA’s budget over the years (Image: EXPRESS)

NASA news: Galactic cluster in deep space

NASA news: Galactic clusters are large groups of galaxies suspended in a cloud of gas (Image: NASA)

“It contains two pairs of colliding galaxy clusters that are heading toward one another.

“Scientists first recognised Abell 1758 as a quadruple galaxy cluster system in 2004 using data from Chandra and XMM-Newton, a satellite operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).”

Chandra’s Observatory charts the universe in X-ray wavelengths instead of visible light.

In the above picture, the X-rays are seen in blue and white light.

NASA: Three black holes heading towards a merger

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What happens when galaxies collide?

Galactic collisions are a fairly frequent occurrence in deep space and our Milky Way is no exception.

Approximately four billion years from now the neighboring Andromeda galaxy will crash into the Milky Way.

Thankfully, the space in-between individual planets and stars is too great for any bodies to collide.

But the collisions will have a profound effect on the shape and movement of the galaxies.

When two spiral galaxies collide, for instance, they can end up creating an elliptical galaxy.

The galactic merger can also trigger the birth of new stars thanks to stellar gas and dust mixing in the presence of gravity.

Quick facts about NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory

1. NASA’s Chandra is the world’s most powerful X-ray observatory.

2. The space telescope was launched into orbit by a space shuttle.

3. Chandra can resolve the individual letters of a stop sign from 12 miles away.

4. The space telescope orbits the Earth 200 times higher than the Hubble Space Telescope.

5. Thanks to its X-ray capabilities, Chandra can peer through clouds of stellar gas that otherwise obscure hidden bodies.

NASA news: Hubble snaps galaxy ‘like a portal to another dimension straight out of sci-fi’ NASA’S Hubble Space Telescope took this incredible picture of a galaxy that looks like a “gaping portal to another dimension”. By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY PUBLISHED: 07:58, Tue, Oct 22, 2019 | UPDATED: 07:58, Tue, Oct 22, 2019 0 NASA discover ‘tiny galaxy’ 30 million light years away CLOSE Pause Unmute Current Time 0:32 / Duration 0:55 Facebook Twitter Share Fullscreen NASA’s picture features a detailed portrait of the distant galaxy NGC 4380. The spiral body sits nearly 63 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. The European Space Agency (ESA), which operates Hubble together with NASA, likened the image to a special effect in a Hollywood blockbuster. RELATED ARTICLES NASA astronauts share amazing pictures from first all-female spacewalk Astronomer spots a ‘hazardous’ asteroid flying towards Earth ESA said: “In this image taken by Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film, swirling like a gaping portal to another dimension. “In the grand scheme of things, though, the galaxy is actually quite ordinary. “Spiral galaxies like NGC 4380 are common in the universe. “These colossal collections of stars, often numbering in the hundreds of billions, are shaped like a flat disc, sometimes with a rounded bulge in the centre. SEE HERE: NASA’s Hubble just snapped the biggest fireworks in the galaxy NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture NASA news: The Hubble telescope took this beautiful picture of Galaxy NGC 4380 (Image: NASA/ESA/HUBBLE) NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture NASA news: Interesting facts about the Hubble Space Telescope (Image: EXPRESS/GETTY) READ MORE NASA asteroid: ‘Weird and freakish’ rock stuns astronomers with tails “Graceful spiral arms outlined by dark lanes of dust wind around the bulging core, which glows brightly and has the highest concentration of stars in the galaxy” Our Milky Way also happens to be a spiral galaxy like the one in NASA’s image. Spiral galaxies have a very characteristic shape with spindly arms spinning around a central core. Astronomers believe the Milky Way has four of these arms, two of which were only confirmed in 2013. RELATED ARTICLES ‘World-leading’ UK scientists will help unravel mysteries of the Sun Scientists’ shock after amateur sky-watcher makes asteroid discovery Our entire solar system is located in one of the arms – the Orion Arm. Galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film European Space Agency (ESA) Spiral galaxies tend to drift through space towards one another and over many billions of years, they can even collide. Between four and five billion years from now, astronomers estimate the Milky Way will meet the same fate. The Milky Way is en route to spectacularly collide with the neighbouring galaxy Andromeda. DON’T MISS What is the mysterious dark vortex NASA found on Neptune? [ANALYSIS] Hubble snaps two galaxies hurtling towards each other [PICTURES] Asteroid danger: 100% certainty of impact warns space expert [INTERVIEW] NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture NASA news: Another examples of an intricate spiral galaxy photographed by Hubble (Image: NASA) NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture NASA news: The Hubble telescope flies over Earth in Low-Earth Orbit orbit or LEO (Image: NASA) READ MORE Watch the historic moment astronauts leave ISS on all-female spacewalk ESA said: “Over eons, spiral galaxies tend to run into other galaxies, often resulting in mergers. “These coalescing events scramble the winding structures of the original galaxies, smoothing and rounding their shape. “These objects possess a beauty all their own, distinct from the spiral galaxies from whence they came.” Thankfully, if humanity is still around four billion years from, the collision is unlikely to be a big concern to life on Earth. NASA: Hubble telescope captures Interstellar Comet Borisov Play Video What types of galaxies are there? Astronomers at NASA recognise three main types of galaxies: spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies and irregular galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are smooth and oval shapes and are distinct from spiral galaxies. Spiral clusters are curved around a central axis and are reminiscent of a pinwheel. Irregular galaxies do not have a defined shape but look more like blobs. NASA said: “The light that we see from each of these galaxies comes from the stars inside it.” TRENDING Asteroid horror: NASA spots space rock half size of Ben Nevis on dangerous Earth-orbit Asteroid horror: NASA spots space rock half size of Ben Nevis on dangerous Earth-orbit Asteroid alert: Scientists’ shock after amateur sky-watcher makes space discovery Asteroid alert: Scientists’ shock after amateur sky-watcher makes space discovery Black hole breakthrough: Stephen Hawking’s ‘most unexpected discovery’ revealed Black hole breakthrough: Stephen Hawking’s ‘most unexpected discovery’ revealed Quick facts about the Hubble Space Telescope: 1. The Hubble telescope measures about 43.5ft in length or 13.2m. 2. The primary mirror mounted on Hubble measures 94.5 inches across (2.4m). 3. Hubble flies over Earth in a low Earth orbit (LEO) of about 340 miles or 547 km. 4. The solar-powered telescope transmits about 150 gigabits of raw science data every week. 5. Hubble’s flies around the aplenty at a speed of around 17,000mph – same as the International Space Station (ISS).

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

NASA news: Hubble snaps galaxy ‘like a portal to another dimension straight out of sci-fi’

NASA’S Hubble Space Telescope took this incredible picture of a galaxy that looks like a “gaping portal to another dimension”.

NASA discover ‘tiny galaxy’ 30 million light years away

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’s picture features a detailed portrait of the distant galaxy NGC 4380. The spiral body sits nearly 63 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. The European  Agency (ESA), which operates Hubble together with NASA, likened the image to a special effect in a Hollywood blockbuster.

ESA said: “In this image taken by Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film, swirling like a gaping portal to another dimension.

“In the grand scheme of things, though, the galaxy is actually quite ordinary.

“Spiral galaxies like NGC 4380 are common in the universe.

“These colossal collections of stars, often numbering in the hundreds of billions, are shaped like a flat disc, sometimes with a rounded bulge in the center.

SEE HERE: 

NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture

NASA news: The Hubble telescope took this beautiful picture of Galaxy NGC 4380 (Image: NASA/ESA/HUBBLE)

NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture

NASA news: Interesting facts about the Hubble Space Telescope (Image: EXPRESS/GETTY)

“Graceful spiral arms outlined by dark lanes of dust wind around the bulging core, which glows brightly and has the highest concentration of stars in the galaxy”

Our Milky Way also happens to be a spiral galaxy like the one in NASA’s image.

Spiral galaxies have a very characteristic shape with spindly arms spinning around a central core.

Astronomers believe the Milky Way has four of these arms, two of which were only confirmed in 2013.

Our entire solar system is located in one of the arms – the Orion Arm.

Galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film

European Space Agency (ESA)

Spiral galaxies tend to drift through space towards one another and over many billions of years, they can even collide.

Between four and five billion years from now, astronomers estimate the Milky Way will meet the same fate.

The Milky Way is en route to spectacularly collide with the neighboring galaxy Andromeda.

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 [ANALYSIS]
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NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture

NASA news: Another examples of an intricate spiral galaxy photographed by Hubble (Image: NASA)

NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope picture

NASA news: The Hubble telescope flies over Earth in Low-Earth Orbit orbit or LEO (Image: NASA)

ESA said: “Over eons, spiral galaxies tend to run into other galaxies, often resulting in mergers.

“These coalescing events scramble the winding structures of the original galaxies, smoothing and rounding their shape.

“These objects possess a beauty all their own, distinct from the spiral galaxies from whence they came.”

Thankfully, if humanity is still around four billion years from, the collision is unlikely to be a big concern to life on Earth.

NASA: Hubble telescope captures Interstellar Comet Borisov

Play Video

What types of galaxies are there?

Astronomers at NASA recognize three main types of galaxies: spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies and irregular galaxies.

Elliptical galaxies are smooth and oval shapes and are distinct from spiral galaxies.

Spiral clusters are curved around a central axis and are reminiscent of a pinwheel.

Irregular galaxies do not have a defined shape but look more like blobs.

NASA said: “The light that we see from each of these galaxies comes from the stars inside it.”

Quick facts about the Hubble Space Telescope:

1. The Hubble telescope measures about 43.5ft in length or 13.2m.

2. The primary mirror mounted on Hubble measures 94.5 inches across (2.4m).

3. Hubble flies over Earth in a low Earth orbit (LEO) of about 340 miles or 547 km.

4. The solar-powered telescope transmits about 150 gigabits of raw science data every week.

5. Hubble’s flies around the aplenty at a speed of around 17,000 mph – same as the International Space Station (ISS).

Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.
(Image: © NAOJ/Harikane et al.)

Astronomers have discovered the oldest cluster of galaxies ever seen, which dates to the early universe.

The discovery, which could help explain the shape of the modern cosmos, reveals 12 galaxies that existed in a clump 13 billion years ago — just about 700 million years after the Big Bang. We can see them now because they’re so far away in the expanding universe (13 billion light-years) that their starlight is only now reaching Earth. One of the galaxies, a mammoth named Himiko after a mythological Japanese queen, was discovered a decade ago by the same team.

Surprisingly, the other 11 galaxies aren’t clustered around the giant Himiko, the researchers wrote in a paper that will be published on Sept. 30 in The Astrophysical Journal and is available as a draft on the website arXiv. Instead, Himiko sits at the edge of the system, which the researchers call a “protocluster” because it’s so small and ancient compared to most of the clusters we can see in the universe..

Related: 11 Fascinating Facts About Our Milky Way Galaxy

“It is reasonable to find a protocluster near a massive object, such as Himiko. However, we’re surprised to see that Himiko was located not in the center of the protocluster but on the edge, 500 million light-years away from the center,” Masami Ouchi, a co-author of the paper and an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the University of Tokyo, said in a statement.

Understanding how galaxy clusters came to be turns out to be important for understanding the galaxies they contain. Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, show up in clumps with other galaxies, so the galaxies aren’t evenly distributed throughout the universe. And that clumping seems to affect their behavior, astronomers have said. Galaxies in high-density, clumped environments full of galaxies form stars in different ways than do galaxies in low-density environments empty of galaxies. And the impact of clumping seems to have changed over time, the researchers said.

In more recent times, the researchers wrote in the paper, “there is a clear trend that the star-formation activity of galaxies tends to be lower in high-density environment than low-density environment.”

So, clumped-up galaxies these days form stars less often than their more independent cousins do. It’s as if they’re aging faster in their clusters, the researchers wrote, becoming geriatric and giving up on making new stars.

But in the ancient universe, the trend seems to have been reversed. Galaxies in highly packed clusters formed stars faster, not slower, remaining young and spry compared with their cousins not in dense clusters.

Still, “protoclusters” like this one from the early eons of the universe are rarely found and are poorly understood, the researchers wrote. These clumps tend to be much smaller than modern examples, which can contain hundreds of galaxies.

The further back telescopes peer into time, the fewer proto-clusters turn up. It’s possible many of them are simply obscured by intergalactic dust. The astronomers hope, they wrote, that the new discovery will help flesh out the picture and explain how the state of things 13 billion years ago changed over time to produce that clustered universe we see today.

Originally published on Live Science.

‘Black hole’ photographed on Jupiter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWS HUB )

 

‘Black hole’ photographed on Jupiter

  • 22/09/2019
  • Dan Satherley

Watch: Scientists discover planet with closest resemblance to Earth so far. Credits: Video – Newshub; Image – NASA

Stunning new images shot by NASA’s Juno spacecraft appear to show a massive black hole on the surface of Jupiter.

The photographs were taken earlier this month as Juno’s elliptical orbit took it close to the gas giant – only 8000 km from the top of its clouds.

Jupiter and its new 'black hole'.
Jupiter and its new ‘black hole’. Photo credit: NASA

But rather than an abyss from which there is no escape, Jupiter’s latest feature is just a shadow cast by one of its moons, Io, as it blocked the sun during an eclipse.

Io is about the same size as Earth’s moon. Because it’s so far away, in the Jovian sky Io appears about four times the size as the sun – so its shadow is large and relatively sharp, compared to eclipses here on Earth, Universe Today reports.

Another view of the 'hole'.
Another view of the ‘hole’. Photo credit: NASA

Last week it was reported a volcano is set to erupt on Io.

Jupiter’s other distinctive feature – its giant red spot – is a storm that is expected to dissipate one day.

News hub.

 

Russia Says It Will Keep Source of Hole (and Air Leak) on Soyuz Secret— But NASA Wants to Know

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Russia Says It Will Keep Source of Hole (and Air Leak) on Soyuz Secret— But NASA Wants to Know: Report

Russia's Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft is is shown docked to the International Space Station (ISS). The MS-09 carried NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to the ISS in June 2018.

Russia’s Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft is is shown docked to the International Space Station (ISS). The MS-09 carried NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to the ISS in June 2018.
(Image: © NASA)

Amid reports that the Russians will keep the cause of an air leak discovered at the International Space Station in 2018 secret, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has promised to speak personally with the head of the Russian space agency.

“They have not told me anything,” Bridenstine said during a Houston energy conference question session Thursday (Sept. 19), according to the Houston Chronicle. But he emphasized that he wants to keep good relations with the Russians, one of the two chief partners on the orbiting complex.

“I don’t want to let one item set [the relationship] back, but it is clearly not acceptable that there are holes in the International Space Station,” he said, referring to the 2-millimeter (0.08 inches) hole that the Expedition 56 crew found in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, a crew vehicle that was docked to the station.

Bridenstine’s comments came in the wake of a report by Russia’s state-run international news agency RIA Novosti, in which Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency), suggested his agency found what created the hole last year, but would not disclose the results outside of Roscosmos.

Related: Hole That Caused Leak in Russian Spacecraft Possibly Traced to Assembly or Testing

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“What happened is clear to us, but we won’t tell you anything,” Rogozin said at a meeting with participants at a science conference, according to a computer-translated page from RIA Novosti’s Russian-language report on Wednesday (Sept. 18).

After NASA reported a slow drop in cabin pressure at the station on Aug. 29, 2018, the crew of Expedition 56 located the cause of the air leak in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, nearly three months after the vessel arrived at the International Space Station with three new crewmembers on board.

The astronauts plugged the hole using epoxy, gauze and heavy-duty tape, and the Russians launched an investigation. In the first few weeks, Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin first speculated that a micrometeoroid might have punched the hole, then suggested the hole could have been drilled by a human either accidentally or deliberately.

Space station astronauts patched a small hole in the upper orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft (left) on Aug. 30, 2018.

(Image credit: NASA/Space.com)

NASA and Roscosmos, however, issued a joint statement in mid-September 2018 after the two agency chiefs spoke by phone. The agencies “agreed on deferring any preliminary conclusions and providing any explanations until the final investigation has been completed,” Roscosmos and NASA said in their statement.

Roscosmos is currently the only agency capable of launching crew members to space since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011. NASA is readying American commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX and expects to start running crewed test flights as early as this year. But for now, the Soyuz is the only way astronauts can fly to and from the International Space Station.

The two agencies are the chief partners on the space station, and have been working together to build and maintain the 21-year-old orbiting complex since the early 1990s. Bridenstine and other NASA officials have thus repeatedly emphasized the level of trust between their agency and Roscosmos, which includes several missions before ISS. NASA and the Soviet Union ran a joint mission in 1975 called Apollo-Soyuz, and the new Russian nation partnered with NASA for shuttle flights to the space station Mir between 1994 and 1998.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Astronomers Have Seen Signs of “Life” at the Center of Messier 110

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCITECH.COM)

 

Astronomers Have Seen Signs of “Life” at the Center of Messier 110

Messier 110

Located in the constellation Andromeda, M110 was discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier. It is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) and a member of the Local Group, which is made up of the galaxies located closest to the Milky Way (our Milky Way is considered a member of the Local Group as well). M110 is approximately 2,690,000 light-years away from Earth and has a magnitude of 8. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ferrarese et al.

Many of the best-loved galaxies in the cosmos are remarkably large, close, massive, bright, or beautiful, often with an unusual or intriguing structure or history. However, it takes all kinds to make a universe — as demonstrated by this Hubble image of Messier 110.

Messier 110 may not look like much, but it is a fascinating near neighbor of our home galaxy, and an unusual example of its type. It is a member of the Local Group, a gathering of galaxies comprising the Milky Way and a number of the galaxies closest to it. Specifically, Messier 110 is one of the many satellite galaxies encircling the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest major galaxy to our own, and is classified as a dwarf elliptical galaxy, meaning that it has a smooth and almost featureless structure. Elliptical galaxies lack arms and notable pockets of star formation — both characteristic features of spiral galaxies. Dwarf elliptical are quite common in groups and clusters of galaxies, and are often satellites of larger galaxies.

Because they lack stellar nurseries and contain mostly old stars, elliptical galaxies are often considered “dead” when compared to their spiral relatives. However, astronomers have spotted signs of a population of young, blue stars at the center of Messier 110 — hinting that it may not be so “dead” after all.

Messier 110 is featured in Hubble’s Messier catalog, which includes some of the most fascinating celestial objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. See the NASA-processed image and other Messier objects in Hubble’s Messier Catalog.

M110 is an elliptical galaxy, which means that it has a smooth and nearly featureless structure. Elliptical galaxies do not have arms or regions of star formation. They are oftentimes considered “dead” compared to spiral galaxies, and the stars in elliptical galaxies are often older than those in other galaxies. However, there is evidence that a population of young blue stars exists at the center of M110. This small elliptical galaxy has approximately 10 billion stars, as well as at least eight globular clusters (the brightest of which can be seen with large telescopes).

This Hubble observation was taken in visible and near-infrared light with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The core of M110 is seen toward the lower right of the image, with the galaxy’s globular clusters and numerous stars shown as points of light throughout the frame. Also featured in this Hubble image are large clouds of gas and dust, seen as dark splotches (one large region is located near the middle of the image and another, smaller one appears above the galaxy’s core). Hubble took these observations of M110 to study the development of globular clusters located in the galaxy.

M110 Star Chart

This star chart for M110 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Credit: Image courtesy of Stellarium

With a telescope, M110 is fairly easy to spot near the core of the much larger and brighter Andromeda galaxy. Smaller telescopes will only reveal a faint, diffuse patch of light, while larger telescopes will unveil an oval shape with a brighter core. The best time to view M110 is during November.

Hubble telescope spies water raining on distant world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCIENCE)

 

Hubble telescope spies water raining on distant world

The exoplanet is just twice the diameter of Earth, and could potentially host life.
The Hubble Space Telescope following grapple of the giant observatory by the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Hubble Space Telescope can see exoplanets when they pass in front of their stars. Credit: NASA

Astronomers have spotted hints of water raining in the atmosphere of a planet beyond the Solar System.

The discovery is a rare glimpse of water molecules around a distant world that is not much bigger than Earth. Named K2-18 b, the planet is 34 parsecs (110 light-years) from Earth in the constellation Leo. Notably, it lies in the ‘habitable zone’ around its star — the distance at which liquid water could exist, making extraterrestrial life possible in its hydrogen-rich atmosphere.

“That’s the exciting thing about this planet,” says Björn Benneke, a planetary astronomer at the University of Montreal in Canada. He is the lead author of a paper describing the discovery that was posted on the arXiv preprint server on 10 September1.

A competing team of scientists reports their own analysis of the same planet on 11 September in Nature Astronomy2. That paper′s lead author, planetary astronomer Angelos Tsairas of the University College London (UCL), says that the finding is exciting because the planet is just twice the diameter of Earth, and because little is known about the atmospheres of such small worlds.

Astronomers have previously found water in the atmospheres of gas-giant exoplanets, but studying a distant planet’s atmosphere gets harder as the planet gets smaller. Scientists have been pushing the limits to try to scrutinize planets that are smaller than Neptune but larger than Earth — a category that turns out to be surprisingly common among the thousands of exoplanets found so far.

Flickering light

Benneke and his colleagues decided to look at K2-18 b because it falls in that range. They used the Hubble Space Telescope to watch as the planet passed in front of its star, temporarily dimming its light, on eight different occasions.

The scientists analysed how the color of the star’s light changed as it filtered through the planet’s atmosphere. They combined this with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which examines more wavelengths of light. The researchers concluded that they were seeing water vapor in the planet′s atmosphere as well as signs that that vapor was condensing into liquid water.

It is the first time astronomers have seen such a water cycle — changing from gas to liquid and back again — on a small, distant world.

The UCL team that authored the second paper analysed the Hubble data from Benneke’s group. The observations had been uploaded to a publicly accessible archive immediately after being collected.

The UCL researchers came up with three possible explanations for what they were seeing, any one of which is equally likely. In the first scenario, the planet has no clouds and 20–50% of its atmosphere is water. In the second and third scenarios, which involve different amounts of clouds and other molecules in the atmosphere, the planet’s atmosphere contains between 0.01% and 12.5% water.

Further questions

But the presence of water alone doesn’t mean that a planet is a good place to look for life, a point illustrated by one of Earth’s closest neighbors, Venus. It’s an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of its star that once had water vapor in its atmosphere — but the Sun’s rays have stripped away much of that water, leaving its surface barren.

K2-18 b might be equally unpromising. “It is highly unlikely that this world is habitable in any way that we understand based on life as we know it,” says Hannah Wakeford, a planetary astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Still, finding water in the planet’s atmosphere is “extremely exciting”, says Neale Gibson, an astrophysicist at Trinity College Dublin, “and the fact that two teams find the same result is very encouraging”. Future observations, such as those that the James Webb Space Telescope will collect after its planned 2021 launch, should help pin down exactly what this distant world is like.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02721-2

References

  1. 1.

    Benneke, B. et al. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1909.04642(2019).

Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCIENCE.COM)

 

Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing

After launching to the International Space Station last month, Skybot F-850, everyone’s favorite, terrifying, humanoid Russian robot, tweeted out a picture of Earth that’s causing quite a commotion.

On Aug. 31, the bot, which is one of the latest versions of Russia’s FEDOR robots, tweeted out a picture of the Earth from the space station alongside the caption (roughly translated from Russian) “At the end of the working day, I admire our Earth from the porthole of the “Union MS-14.” She is beautiful. Studying and exploring space makes people smarter and makes them act together. And we, machines created by people, are ready to help our creators move on.” Union MS-14 is the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft that delivered Skybot F-850 to the station.

Video: Watch Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Use a Drill in Space
Related: 
Real-Life ‘Replicants’: 6 Humanoid Robots Used for Space Exploration

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

В конце рабочего дня любуюсь нашей Землёй из иллюминатора “Союза МС-14”. Она прекрасна.
Изучение и освоение космоса делает людей более умными и заставляет действовать сообща.
А мы, созданные людьми машины, готовы помогать нашим создателям идти дальше

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But, while this seemed like a fairly innocuous post (and probably one of FEDOR’s least thrilling photos), it came to light that this wasn’t actually a photo from the space-bot. The image of Earth which shows the Strait of Gibraltar on Earth that FEDOR tweeted out was actually taken and originally shared by NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock in September, 2010, just about 9 years ago.

Doug Wheelock

@Astro_Wheels

A view of the Iberian Peninsula, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa . A special ‘shou http://twitpic.com/2ndq3b

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Russia’s Skybot F-850 humanoid robot holds a Russian flag with cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin for a photo in the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station in this photo released Sept.

(Image credit: Roscosmos via Twitter)

People quickly noticed the mix-up, labeling the robot as a plagiarist. And yes, passing off someone else’s photo as your own fits that bill. But at least Skybot is safe from copyright infringement. The photo, while taken and shared by Wheelock, is not owned by the astronaut and would technically be credited to NASA, and NASA’s media library is public domain.

So at least there’s that, Skybot.

Blastoff! Russian Humanoid Robot Launches to Space Station
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Skybot F-850 has spent the last few weeks completing experiments aboard the space station. The robot will start making its way home to Earth today (Sept. 6) as the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft undocks from the space station.

The uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft carrying Skybot F-850 and other gear will undock from the International Space Station at 2:13 p.m. EDT (1913 GMT). It is scheduled to land on the steppes of south-central Kazakhstan at 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT). It will be 3:35 p.m. local time at the landing site.

Here’s a look back at some of the memorable moments aboard the space station that Skybot F-850 tweeted about, from its first look around the Soyuz craft to when it wore mittens and the time it wielded a drill that happened to be pointed at a cosmonaut.

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Всем привет! Я Skybot F-859. Для своих – просто Фёдор. Сейчас я знакомлюсь с системой управления корабля “Союз МС-14”, на котором планирую полететь к 22 августа 2019 года.

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

2 часа до пуска. Ракета заправлена. Телеметрические датчики и системы включены.

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142 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Прошу прощения за задержку. Застрял в пробке. Готов к продолжению работы.

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893 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

В соответствии с ранее утверждённым планом меня разместили в МИМ2. Это не самое комфортное место особенно с учётом того, что именно аппаратура МИМ2 дала сбой на ближнем участке стыковки август, 24, 2019. Провожу диагностику оборудования. Надеюсь, что именно мне доверят его ремонт

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Алексей Николаевич и Александр Александрович. Космонавты @roscosmos , герои России. Для них я просто Фёдор, для экипажа – я Skybot F-850.
Чувствую лёгкость в приводах. К работе готов. При подключении экзоскелета были проблемы с управлением кистью левой руки. Сейчас номинал

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Сегодня космонавт Алексей Николаевич Овчинин при запуске моей операционной системы предложил использовать молоток и гаечный ключ. Пришлось произвести автозапуск во избежание возникновения дальнейший проблем в диалоге с Алексеем Николаевичем.

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Начали тренировки. При выполнении космонавтом технологических операций я помогал ему в выборе необходимого инструмента. Потом в режиме копирования успешно собрал электросоединители, имитируя ремонт кабелей на внешнем борту станции. Сейчас мирно беседую с Алексеем Николаевичем

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Здесь я работаю с различными инструментами.

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Так я пытался состыковать электросоединители. Эта операция входит в перечень операций в рамках внекорабельной деятельности. Зачёт

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Добрый вечер, друзья! Я Skybot F-850 приветствую вас с орбиты МКС!
Мы продолжаем эксперименты, открывающиеся возможности использования в космосе антропоморфных роботов. Работы много. А в свободное время любуюсь нашей планетой.
7 сентября запланировано моё возвращение на Землю.

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Добрый день! Сегодня провели серию работ с бортовыми инструментами, которые могут понадобиться для внекорабельной деятельности. Работа с электродрелью проходила под постоянным контролем Алексея Николаевича Овчинина

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Я снова в кресле командира “Союза”!
При спуске на Землю будет проведено ещё одно испытание: на корабле вместо аналоговой системы управления спуском на базе свободного гироскопа теперь стоит СУ на базе цифрового прибора БИУС с использованием оптоволоконных гироскопов.
Скоро домой!

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Судя по радиообмену с ЦУПом, все, кто на Земле, уехали на космодром Восточный.
Тем временем наш экипаж продолжает укладку снаряжения в мой “Союз МС-14”, проводит диагностику аппаратуры.
До возвращения на Землю осталось совсем немного времени

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly note that Russia’s Skybot did, indeed, appear to plagiarize NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock’s photo of Earth from space.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

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