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Ice Deposits on Moon’s South Pole may have More than One Source: Research

 Scientists Report on the ages of Ice deposits in the area of the Moon's South Pole

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Moon's South Pole
Researchers have shed light on the ages of ice deposits reported in the area of the Moon's south pole. Pixabay

 Researchers have shed light on the ages of ice deposits reported in the area of the Moon’s south pole — information that could help identify the sources of the deposits and help in planning future human exploration.

The study published in the journal Icarus suggests that while a majority of those deposits are likely billions of years old, some may be much more recent.

“The ages of these deposits can potentially tell us something about the origin of the ice, which helps us understand the sources and distribution of water in the inner solar system,” said study lead author Ariel Deutsch from Brown University.

“For exploration purposes, we need to understand the lateral and vertical distributions of these deposits to figure out how best to access them. These distributions evolve with time, so having an idea of the age is important,” Deutsch said.

For the study, Deutsch worked with Professor Jim Head, and Gregory Neumann from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.

moon Surface
The ages of these deposits on Moon’s Surface can potentially tell us something about the origin of the ice. Pixabay

Using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009, the researchers looked at the ages of the large craters in which evidence of south pole ice deposits was found.

To date the craters, researchers count the number of smaller craters that have accrued inside the larger ones.

Scientists have an approximate idea of the pace of impacts over time, so counting craters can help establish the ages of terrains.

The majority of the reported ice deposits are found within large craters formed about 3.1 billion years ago or longer, the study found.

The deposits have a patchy distribution across crater floors, which suggests that the ice has been battered by micrometeorite impacts and other debris over a long period of time.

If those reported ice deposits are indeed ancient, that could have significant implications in terms of exploration and potential resource utilisation, the researchers said.

Lunar Surface
The study published in the journal Icarus suggests that while a majority of those deposits on Moon’s South Pole are likely billions of years old, some may be much more recent. Pixabay

While the majority of ice was in the ancient craters, the researchers also found evidence for ice in smaller craters that, judging by their sharp, well-defined features, appear to be quite fresh.

That suggests that some of the deposits on the south pole got there relatively recently.

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The best way to find out for sure is to send spacecraft to get some samples which event appears to be on the horizon. NASA’s Artemis programme aims to put humans on the Moon by 2024, and plans to fly numerous precursor missions with robotic spacecraft in the meantime, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Robot Equipped with Emotion-Sensing Heads to International Space Station

Emotion-sensing Robot Heads to Space Station to Help Astronauts

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Robot
Bret Greenstein, IBM Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things Offerings, holds a clone of an artificial intelligence bot named CIMON, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

An intelligent robot equipped with emotion-sensing voice detectors was headed to the International Space Station after launching from Florida on Thursday, becoming the latest artificial intelligence-powered astronaut workmate in orbit.

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion 2, or CIMON 2, is a spherical droid with microphones, cameras and a slew of software to enable emotion recognition.

The droid was among 5,700 pounds (2,585 kg) of supplies and experiments aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, whose midday launch had been delayed from Wednesday because of high winds.

Create a companion

“The overall goal is to really create a true companion. The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important,” Matthias Biniok, the lead architect for CIMON 2, told Reuters. “It’s trying to understand if the astronaut is sad, is he angry, joyful and so on.”

Based on algorithms built by information technology giant IBM Corp and data from CIMON 1, a nearly identical prototype that launched in 2018, CIMON 2 will be more sociable with crew members. It will test technologies that could prove crucial for future crewed missions in deep space, where long-term isolation and communication lags to Earth pose risks to astronauts’ mental health.

Robot companion
The overall goal of creating this robot is to create a true companion. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

While designed to help astronauts conduct scientific experiments, the English-speaking robot is also being trained to help mitigate groupthink — a behavioral phenomenon in which isolated groups of humans can be driven to make irrational decisions.

“Group-thinking is really dangerous,” Biniok said. In times of conflict or disagreement among astronauts, one of CIMON’s most important purposes would be to serve as “an objective outsider that you can talk to if you’re alone, or could actually help let the group collaborate again,” he said.

Inspired by Professor Simon, HAL

Engineers have said CIMON’s concept was inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space, where a sentient, brain-shaped robot named Professor Simon mentors an astronaut named Captain Future. CIMON 2 also parallels HAL, the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” film.

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SpaceX is the first private company to fly to the space station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations. Along with CIMON 2, the cargo aboard its 19th resupply mission to the orbital research lab included 40 live mice that will show scientists how muscles change in the microgravity of space. (VOA)