Tuesday October 24, 2017

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captures a region of Mars sprayed with mysterious secondary craters

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Aerial View of NASA. Wikimedia

Washington, April 19, 2017: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured a region of Mars sprayed with mysterious secondary craters.

“Secondary craters form from rocks ejected at high speed from the primary crater, which then impacts the ground at sufficiently high speed to make huge numbers of much smaller craters over a large region,” NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“In this scene, however, the secondary crater ejecta has an unusual raised-relief appearance like bas-relief sculpture,” NASA added.

So how did that happen?

One idea is that the region was covered with a layer of fine-grained materials like dust or pyroclastics about one to two metres thick when the Zunil impact occurred (about a million years ago), and the ejecta served to harden or otherwise protect the fine-grained layer from later erosion by the wind, NASA scientists said. (IANS)

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Mission Mars: Red Planet Mars possess ‘Ideal Conditions’ to create Oxygen from Natural Carbon Dioxide, says Study

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A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen. Pixabay.

London, Oct 23: A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide with the use of plasma technology.

As stated by researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Mars is already comprised of 96 per cent CO2 (carbon dioxide) in its atmosphere.

The PTI reported the research published in the journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology depicting the pressure and temperature ranges in the Martian atmosphere that sustains non-thermal plasma useful for effective production of oxygen.

Vaso Guerra, a researcher from the University of Lisbon in Portugal put forth his statement about their next significant steps of sending a manned mission to Mars for exploration of space. They are planning to create a substantial change by creating a breathable environment on Mars.

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Mars has a low atmospheric temperature enhancing the production of CO2. Wikimedia.

Plasma reforming of CO2 on Earth is an advancing research study, stimulated by the problems of change in climate and production of solar fuels. Plasmas at low temperature are one of the best media for CO2 deformation, where the molecule splits into oxygen and carbon monoxide combined with direct electron impact, and transfer of electron into vibrational energy.

Mars has superficial conditions for In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) through the plasma.

The cold atmosphere may stimulate high vibrational effect for producing oxygen than that achievable on Earth. The low atmospheric temperature on Mars will also enable the reaction to be slowly giving the maximum amount of time for separation of molecules.

The plasma technology decomposition method aims to offer a two output for a manned mission towards Mars. The technique would provide a stable supply of oxygen and as a source of fuel that can be used as a propellant mixture in rocket vehicles. This approach by ISRU could help in simplifying the logistics involved in space exploration by increasing self-sufficiency, decrease the risks to the crew, and reduction in expenditure for carrying out the mission.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Spacewalking Astronauts Replace Blurry Camera on Robot Arm

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This still image provided by NASA shows astronaut Joe Acaba during a spacewalk at the International Space Station on Oct. 20, 2017.

Astronauts went spacewalking Friday to provide some necessary focus to the International Space Station’s robot arm.

The main job for commander Randy Bresnik and teacher-turned-astronaut Joe Acaba was to replace a blurry camera on the new robotic hand that was installed during a spacewalk two weeks ago. The two men were supposed to go spacewalking earlier this week, but NASA needed extra time to rustle up the repair plan.

Sharp focus is essential in order for the space station’s robot hand to capture an arriving supply ship. The next delivery is a few weeks away, prompting the quick camera swap-out.

Orbital ATK, one of NASA’s commercial shippers, plans to launch a cargo ship from Virginia on November 11.

Acaba was barely outside an hour when he had to replace one of his safety tethers, which keep him secured to the orbiting outpost and prevent him from floating away.

Mission Control noticed his red tether seemed frayed and worn and ordered Acaba to “remain put” with his good waist tether locked to the structure as Bresnik went to get him a spare.

Spacewalking astronauts always have more than one of these crucial lifelines in case one breaks. They also wear a jetpack in case all tethers fail and they need to fly back to the space station.

This was the third spacewalk in two weeks for the space station’s U.S. residents. Bresnik performed the first two with Mark Vande Hei.

As they ventured out, Bresnik noted they were flying over Puerto Rico.

“Get out of here,” replied Acaba, the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage.

Acaba’s parents were born there, and he still has family on the hurricane-ravaged island.

“There’s a whole line of people looking up and smiling today as you get ready to head out the door,” Bresnik said.

Friday’s spacewalk should be the last one for the year. Early next year, astronauts will replace the hand on the opposite side of the 58-foot robot arm, Canada’s main contribution to the space station. The original latching mechanisms are showing wear and tear since the arm’s launch in 2001.

The 250-mile-high complex is currently home to three Americans, two Russians and one Italian.(VOA)

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NASA extends Dawn mission at dwarf planet Ceres

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Washington, Oct 20: NASA has approved a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015, the US space agency said on Thursday.

The spacecraft, which has already completed 10 years of spaceflight, will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its fuel runs out.

Dawn completed its prime mission in June 2016, and its first extension was also approved that year.

The Dawn flight team is studying ways to manoeuvre Dawn into a new elliptical orbit, which may take the spacecraft to less than 200 kilometres from the surface of Ceres at closest approach. Previously, Dawn’s lowest altitude was 385 kilometers.

A priority of the second Ceres mission extension is collecting data with Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, which measures the number and energy of gamma rays and neutrons, NASA said.

This information is important for understanding the composition of Ceres’ uppermost layer and how much ice it contains.

The spacecraft also will take visible-light images of Ceres’ surface geology with its camera, as well as measurements of Ceres’ mineralogy with its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.

The extended mission at Ceres additionally allows Dawn to be in orbit while the dwarf planet goes through perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, which will occur in April 2018.

Because of its commitment to protect Ceres from Earthly contamination, Dawn will not land or crash into Ceres.

Instead, it will carry out as much science as it can in its final planned orbit, where it will stay even after it can no longer communicate with Earth.

Mission planners estimate the spacecraft can continue operating until the second half of 2018.

Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.(IANS)