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Dwarf planet Ceres hosts an unexpectedly young cryovolcano, says NASA’s Dawn mission images

The cryovolcanic formation on Ceres is named Ahuna Mons

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Young cryovolcano on dwarf planet Ceres. Image source: IANS
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Washington, September 2, 2016 :  The dwarf planet Ceres hosts an unexpectedly young cryovolcano, analysis of images from NASA’s Dawn mission has revealed. Instead of molten rock, salty-mud volcanoes, or Cryovolcanoes, release frigid, salty water sometimes mixed with mud. The cryovolcanic formation on Ceres is named Ahuna Mons.

“Ahuna Mons is evidence of an unusual type of volcanism, involving salty water and mud, at work on Ceres,” said study lead author Ottaviano Ruesch of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, and the Universities Space Research Association in Washington, DC. ”Geologic activity was discussed and debated among scientists: now we finally have observations testifying to its occurrence,” Ruesch noted.

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Although the volcano is not active now, the team was surprised that it appears geologically recent. Young volcanism on an isolated dwarf planet is a surprise, as usually only planets, or satellites orbiting around them, have volcanism.  Also, volcanic eruptions require bodies to be rocky, like Earth or Mars, or icy, like Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Ceres is made of salts, muddy rocks and water ice: exotic and unexpected ingredients for volcanism. Ahuna Mons on Ceres indicates such physical and chemical limitations to volcanism are only apparent. As a consequence, volcanism might be more widespread than previously thought.

“The Ahuna Mons cryovolcano allows us to see inside Ceres,” Ruesch said. ”The same process might happen on other dwarf planets like Pluto,” Ruesch noted. The team used images and 3-D terrain maps from the Dawn mission to analyse the shape of Ahuna Mons. They compared features and models of known mountain-building processes on Earth and Mars to the features found on Ahuna Mons.

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According to the research, published in the journal Science, it is the combination of features that makes the case for a volcanic dome. For example, the summit of Ahuna Mons has cracks like those seen in volcanic domes when they expand. Also, the slopes have lines that resemble those formed by rockfalls, and the steep flanks surrounding the dome could be formed by piles of debris. The mountain’s appearance also indicates it is young on a geological timescale. Surface features on planets with little or no atmosphere like Ceres get eroded by asteroid and meteoroid impacts and take on a soft, rounded appearance.

“We’re confident that Ahuna Mons formed within the last billion years, and possibly within a few hundred million years,” Ruesch said. This is relatively new geologically, given that our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old. ”Ahuna Mons is telling us that Ceres still had enough heat to produce a relatively recent cryovolcano,” Ruesch said. ”There is nothing quite like Ahuna Mons in the solar system,” said co-author on the paper Lucy McFadden of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. ”It’s the first cryovolcano we’ve seen that was produced by a brine and clay mix,” McFadden noted. (IANS)

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Kalpana Chawala: The Woman Who Made The Difference

Kalpana’s dream break to fly in space came in November 1997, aboard the space shuttle Columbia on flight STS-87

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The forename Kalpana denotes
The forename Kalpana denotes "idea" or "imagination." Wikimedia Commons
  • Kalpana Chawla continues to be an inspirational force for youth all-over, especially girls
  • Kalpana Chawla earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988
  • In the year 2000, Chawla was selected for her second voyage into space, serving again as a mission specialist on STS-107

Kalpana Chawala is one of the inspiring personality and an Ideal for numerous people, it’s been 18 years since her passing, but Indo-American astronaut, Kalpana Chawla continues to be an inspirational force for youth all-over, especially girls. Born in Karnal-Punjab, Kalpana overcame all odds and fulfilled her dream of reaching for the stars.

Kalpana achieved a grade in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College before immigrating to the United States and becoming a naturalized citizen in the 1980s. She earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988, having previously obtained her master’s degree from the University of Texas. She began working at NASA’s Ames Research Center the same year, working on power-lift computational fluid dynamics.

In 1994, Kalpana was selected as an astronaut candidate. She was appointed as a crew representative for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches after a year of training, where she worked with Robotic Situational Awareness Displays and tested software for the space shuttles.

kalpana chawala’s Death was a very uncertain demise of one of the finest astronaut the world ever had.

In 1988, Kalpana’s dream of joining NASA finally came true. Wikimedia Commons
In 1988, Kalpana’s dream of joining NASA finally came true. Wikimedia Commons

Early life: Kalpana Chawala was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana. Born into a middle-class family, she completed her schooling from Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal and her B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh, India in 1982.

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Kalpana Chawala was the youngest of four children in her family. The forename Kalpana denotes “idea” or “imagination.” Her full name is pronounced CULL-puh-na CHAV-la, though she often went by the nickname K.C.

Journey in the United States: To fulfil her desire of becoming an astronaut, Kalpana aimed to join NASA and moved to the United States in 1982. She obtained a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984 and a second Master’s in 1986. She then earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Wedding bells: There’s always time for romance. In 1983, Kalpana tied the knot with Jean-Pierre Harrison, a flying instructor and an aviation author.

Work at NASA: In 1988, Kalpana’s dream of joining NASA finally came true. For the position of Vice President of Overset Methods, Kalpana Chawala was appointed at NASA Research Center and was later assigned to do Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing concepts.

Kalpana’s dream break to fly in space came in November 1997, aboard the space shuttle Columbia on flight STS-87. The space shuttle made 252 orbits of the Earth in just over two weeks. The space aircraft completed a number of experiments and observing tools on its trip, including a Spartan satellite, which Chawla deployed from the shuttle. The satellite, which studied the outer layer of the sun, malfunctioned due to software errors, and two other astronauts from the shuttle had to perform a spacewalk to recapture it.

Also Read: Facts about Miss Universe 2017, Manushi Chhillar you didn’t know before

Kalpana Chawala Rocket Crash

In the year 2000, Chawala was selected for her second voyage into space, serving again as a mission specialist on STS-107. The mission was delayed several times and finally launched in 2003. Over the course of the 16-day flight, the crew completed more than 80 experiments.

In 1994, Chawla was selected as an astronaut candidate. She was appointed as a crew representative for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches after a year of training. Wikimedia Commons
In 1994, Chawla was selected as an astronaut candidate. She was appointed as a crew representative for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches after a year of training. Wikimedia Commons

On the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle returned to Earth, intending to land at Kennedy Space Center. At launch, a briefcase-sized piece of insulation had broken off and damaged the thermal protection system of the shuttle’s wing, the shield that protects it from heat during re-entry. When the aircraft moved through the atmosphere, hot gas streaming into the wing caused it to break up. The unstable craft rolled and bucked, pitching the astronauts about. Less than a minute passed before the ship depressurized killing the crew. The shuttle broke up over Texas and Louisiana before plunging into the ground. This incident was the second major disaster for the space shuttle program, following the 1986 explosion of the shuttle Challenge.

In the disastrous damage of the space shuttle, Columbia took the lives of seven astronauts. One of those, Kalpana Chawla, was the first Indian-born woman in space.