As per usual I try to be an FYI blog on weekends because I get enough “news” during the week and as I pass it on my readers get a lot of info they do not need……so on weekends I try to be a “fun” blog….
Amazing things are happening in our space program (not our proposed Space Force but actual research)……
NASA made news on several fronts recently…..Mars first…..
NASA’s intrepid Martian explorer, Curiosity, is slowly crawling its way up the side of the three mile (~five kilometre) high Mount Sharp on the surface of the red planet.
Navigating the Martian surface can be risky () but the rover’s accelerometers and gyroscopes make the journey a little easier. And scientists have realized those instruments can be recalibrated to help Curiosity measure Mars’ gravity.
The research, published in Science on Jan. 31, describes how NASA collaborators at research universities such as Johns Hopkins were able to take gravity measurements by repurposing data from Curiosity rovers exquisitely precise sensors.
The hunt for traces of ancient life on Mars has yielded some promising results. Observations from instruments aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover suggest that 3.5 billion years ago, Gale crater held a low-acidity, low-salinity lake. Meanwhile, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence of an ancient lagoonlike landscape with mild acidity and elevated salinity in the Robert Sharp crater. Both settings may have been hospitable to life.
These instruments also have revealed the presence of akaganeite in the craters, an oxide mineral found in various locations on Earth. Terrestrial akaganeite usually forms in acidic, saline wet environments and likely also formed in wet conditions in the Martian craters. Exactly how it could have formed in two very different environments on Mars is still unclear.
On to Jupiter…….
A puzzling moon. A dark journey. A hunt for extra-terrestrial life. NASA knows it has a sexy mission on its hands with the Europa Clipper: “People care about it, people want to know about this mysterious world that might harbor life,” NASA scientist Robert Pappalardo tells Space.com. But NASA is still designing the spacecraft that will launch as early as 2023, pass Jupiter’s icy Europa moon about 40 times, and gather data about its composition, geology, and unseen ocean. Any possible life there exists underwater, where microorganisms might be feeding on seafloor geologic activity; the solar system’s harmful radiation can’t pose a risk because it’s blocked by the ice. And the ocean is huge—about twenty times deeper than Earth’s, per Boise State Public Radio.
NASA will also measure the shell’s thickness and see if gaps let seawater plumes burst into space (like on the Saturn ice moon, Enceladus). And because radiation prohibits the spacecraft from orbiting Europa, it will move around the Jupiter system and catch a glimpse of other moons. “Io happens to be right there,” says NASA scientist Christina Richey. “Who doesn’t want to look at the planetary body that looks like a pox-ridden abyss?” For now, NASA is still analyzing the design, finishing the budget, choosing the trajectory, and deciding which launch vehicle will carry Europa Clipper on a three-year or five-to-six-year journey. With any luck, it will send back revealing images: “Europa we don’t really get—there are these really key mysteries we’re trying to understand,” says Pappalardo. (Astronomers discovered a “super-Earth” six light years away.)
How about the search of life?
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission directorate, says it’s likely that there’s life beyond Earth.
“Is there life beyond Earth? I think the answer is yes — but we just don’t know,” Zurbuchen said during an interview at Boston University. “The simple reason I think so is because we underestimated nature when we doubted whether water or complex molecules would exist beyond Earth. Each one of those is much easier to achieve than we thought possible.”
There is a rehash of the “space news”….more to come….
Thanx everyone for the visits, comments and good thoughts…….much appreciated……
Enjoy your Saturday…..peace out.