Tuesday January 21, 2020
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ISRO Releases Fresh Set of Pictures of Impact Craters on Moon Surface

Many of the ejecta fields seen in the image are not visible in high-resolution optical image over the same region, indicating the ejecta fields are buried beneath regolith layers

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Earth's view from moon's surface. Pixabay

Indian space agency has released fresh set of pictures of impact craters on moon surface taken by its Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Tuesday releasing a picture on its Twitter handle said the images were taken by the Dual Frequency-Synthetic Aperture Radar (DF-SAR) on its Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter.

According to ISRO, the Moon has been continuously bombarded by meteorites, asteroids and comets since its formation. This has resulted in the formation of innumerable impact craters that form the most distinct geographic features on its surface.

Impact craters are approximately circular depressions on the surface of the moon, ranging from small, simple, bowl-shaped depressions to large, complex, multi-ringed impact basins.

“In contrast to volcanic craters, which result from explosion or internal collapse, impact craters typically have raised rims and floors that are lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain,” ISRO said.

The study of the nature, size, distribution and composition of impact craters and associated ejecta (material that gets thrown out on an impact) features reveal valuable information about the origin and evolution of craters.

According to ISRO, weathering processes result in many of the crater physical features and ejecta material get covered by layers of regolith (sand, dust, loose rock and soil over a hard surface) making some of them undetectable using optical cameras.

The Indian space agency said, the SAR is a powerful remote sensing instrument for studying planetary surfaces and subsurface due to the ability of the radar signal to penetrate the surface. It is also sensitive to the roughness, structure and composition of the surface material and the buried terrain.

Previous lunar-orbiting SAR systems such as the S-band hybrid-polarimetric SAR on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 and the S & X-band hybrid-polarimetric SAR on NASA’s LRO, provided valuable data on the scattering characterisation of ejecta materials of lunar impact craters, ISRO said.

However, L & S band SAR on Chandraayan-2 is designed to produce greater details about the morphology and ejecta materials of impact craters due to its ability of imaging with higher resolution (2 – 75m slant range) and full-polarimetric modes in standalone as well as joint modes in S and L-band with wide range of incidence angle coverage (9.5 degrees – 35 degrees).

ISRO
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

In addition, the greater depth of penetration of L-band (3-5 meters) enables probing the buried terrain at greater depths.

The L&S band SAR payload helps in unambiguously identifying and quantitatively estimating the lunar polar water-ice in permanently shadowed regions, ISRO said.

“Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter’s DF- SAR has been operated in full-polarimetry mode- a gold standard in SAR polarimetry, and is the first-ever by any planetary SAR instrument,” ISRO said.

This image presents many interesting facts about the secondary craters of different ages and origins in the lunar south polar region, the space agency said.

“The yellowish tone around crater rims in the image shows ejecta fields. The distribution of ejecta fields, whether uniformly distributed in all directions or oriented towards a particular side of a crater, indicates the nature of the impact,” ISRO explained.

According to ISRO, the image shows craters of vertical impact and oblique impact on the top-right and bottom-right, respectively.

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Similarly, the roughness of the ejecta materials associated with the impact craters indicates the degree of weathering a crater has undergone.

Three similar sized craters along a row on the bottom-right of the image show examples of young crater, moderately weathered crater and an old degraded crater.

Many of the ejecta fields seen in the image are not visible in high-resolution optical image over the same region, indicating the ejecta fields are buried beneath regolith layers. (IANS)

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NASA Explore Technology To Build Future Homes Made of Fungi For Moon, Mars

Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat

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Keeping that in mind, the myco-architecture project out of NASA Ames Research Center in California is prototyping technologies that could "grow" habitats on the Moon, Mars and beyond out of life - specifically, fungi and the unseen underground threads that make up the main part of the fungus, known as mycelia. Pixabay

Instead of habitats made of metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that could grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes in the stars, and perhaps lead to more sustainable ways of living on Earth as well.

Creating a livable home for future astronauts means doing more than growing a roof to go over their heads. Astronauts will need to have all their basic needs met, just like on Earth, and face the additional challenges of living in a harsh environment on a distant world, the US space agency said in a statement.

Keeping that in mind, the myco-architecture project out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is prototyping technologies that could “grow” habitats on the Moon, Mars and beyond out of life – specifically, fungi and the unseen underground threads that make up the main part of the fungus, known as mycelia.

“Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are like a turtle – carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs,” said Lynn Rothschild, the principal investigator on the early-stage project.

“Instead, we can harness mycelia (vegetative part of a fungus) to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there”. Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places like Mars.

Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.

Mycelia are tiny threads that build complex structures with extreme precision, networking out into larger structures like mushrooms.
With the right conditions, they can be coaxed into making new structures – ranging from a material similar to leather to the building blocks for a Mars habitat.

NASA
Instead of habitats made of metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that could grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes in the stars, and perhaps lead to more sustainable ways of living on Earth as well. Pixabay

That last layer of mycelia is what organically grows into a sturdy home, first activated to grow in a contained environment and then baked to kill the lifeforms – providing structural integrity and ensuring no life contaminates Mars and any microbial life that’s already there. Even if some mycelia somehow escaped, they will be genetically altered to be incapable of surviving outside the habitat, said NASA.

Mycelia could also be used for water filtration and biomining systems that can extract minerals from wastewater – another project active in Rothschild’s lab – as well as bioluminescent lighting, humidity regulation and even self-generating habitats capable of healing themselves. And with about 40% of carbon emissions on Earth coming from construction, there’s an ever-increasing need for sustainable and affordable housing here as well.

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The harsh environments of the Moon and Mars will require new ways of living – growing homes instead of building them, mining minerals from sewage instead of rock. “But by turning to the elegant systems of our own natural world, we can design solutions that are green and sustainable. Whether on distant worlds or our own ever-changing Earth, fungi could be what brings us boldly into the future,” said NASA. (IANS)