Tuesday October 24, 2017

ISRO’s Mars Orbiter survives 15-day blackout in Martian atmosphere

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Bengaluru: India’s maiden Mars Orbiter Mission survived a 15-days long solar eclipse (June 8-22) and emitted signals back to earth, the space agency chief said on Friday.

“Our Orbiter spacecraft has survived the blackout in the Martian atmosphere when sun came in between the red planet and the earth and was cut off from us. Coming out of the eclipse phase, it is communicating signals,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told reporters here.

The 1,340 kg spacecraft was under solar conjunction from June 8 when it went behind the sun and away from the earth due to solar eclipse, which occurs once in 26 months over the red planet.

“The Orbiter’s communication signals that were disrupted by the sun’s corona (outer atmosphere) during the fortnight-long eclipse got activated and its five payloads (scientific instruments) resumed activities after being on autonomous mode,” Kiran Kumar said on the margins of a a global conference on “Science for Society” by alumni of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Noting the spacecraft had withstood a crucial phase of nine months after reaching the Martian orbit, he said that the Orbiter would continue to spin around the red planet for years as it had saved enough fuel since its November 5, 2013 launch from Sriharikota spaceport.

“Though the Orbiter’s initial lifespan was intended to last six months after entering the Martian orbit (on September 24, 2014), it has been extended since March and is likely to survive many years as it is hardly using any fuel,” he said.

Lauding the scientists for the mission’s success, he said that from the Orbiter’s launch till its insertion after a 10-month voyage through the inter-planetary space, the mission did not encounter any untoward incident or deviation, which otherwise would have consumed precious fuel though provision was made for such occurrence.

Noting that the mission’s objective of exploration would continue till the spacecraft survives, Kumar said that the Orbiter had completed about 100 revolutions around the planet and its five experiments had transmitted enormous data to the space agency’s deep space network near here.

“As a bonus of its extended life, we will collect more data and information on the seasons on Mars and its images. Our payloads have found out many things during the last six-nine months, which are being validated,” he added.

The Orbiter’s Mars Colour Camera had transmitted about 400 images of the red planet till date to the space agency’s telemetry tracking and command network (Istrac) in the city, while its spectrometer, Lyman Alpha photometer, thermal infrared imaging spectrometer and methane sensor have relayed data of their findings.

India created history by becoming the first country to have a craft enter the Martian orbit in maiden attempt after a nine-month voyage through the inter-planetary space.

It also became the first Asian country to have entered Mars’ sphere of influence (gravity) in maiden attempt, as a similar mission by China failed to succeed in 2011.

The Rs.450 crore ($70 mn) Mars mission was launched November 5, 2013 on board a polar rocket. It had 855 kg fuel but consumed about 800 kg since then for its orbit-raising exercises undertaken during its nine-month long journey and on entering the Martian sphere.

Scientists at the mission control centre here monitor its orbital movement and check health of its instruments round-the- clock.

Orbiter takes 3.2 earth days or 72 hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds to go around Mars once while orbiting at a distance of 500km nearest and over 80,000km farthest from its surface. (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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NASA’S Mars Odyssey Spacecraft Captures First Images of the Martian Moon Phobos after 16 years

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres

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On September 29, Phobos was observed by Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, which has been launched in 2001. Pixabay

Washington, October 8, 2017 : After orbiting the Red Planet for 16 years, NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has captured its first images of the Martian moon Phobos.

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, launched in 2001, observed Phobos on September 29.

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres.

Cameras on other Mars orbiters have previously taken higher-resolution images of Phobos, but none with the infrared information available from THEMIS.

Observations in multiple bands of thermal-infrared wavelengths can yield information about the mineral composition of the surface, as well as the surface texture, NASA said in a statement this week.

“Although THEMIS has been at Mars for 16 years, this was the first time we have been able to turn the spacecraft around to look at Phobos,” said THEMIS Mission Planner Jonathon Hill of Arizona State University.

The researchers combined visible-wavelength and infrared data to produce an image color-coded for surface temperatures of this moon, which has been considered for a potential future human-mission outpost, NASA said.

“This half-moon view of Phobos was chosen because it allowed us to observe a wide range of temperatures on the surface,” Hill added.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

One major question about Phobos and Mars’ even smaller moon, Deimos, is whether they are captured asteroids or bits of Mars knocked into the sky by impact.

The researchers believe that compositional information from THEMIS might help pin down their origin.

Since Odyssey began orbiting the Red Planet in 2001, THEMIS has provided compositional and thermal properties information from all over Mars, but never before imaged either Martian moon.

The September 29 observation was completed to validate that the spacecraft could safely do so, as the start of a possible series of observations of Phobos and Deimos in coming months.

“There is heightened interest in Phobos because of the possibility that future astronauts could perhaps use it as an outpost,” said Odyssey Project Scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (IANS)

 

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New Evidence Asserts Mars Environment Over Billions of Years Ago Was Able to Support Liquid Water

River deposits exist across Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet

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FILE - The base of Mars' Mount Sharp is pictured in this August 27, 2012 NASA handout photo taken by the Curiosity rover. VOA

New York, September 19, 2017 : The Mars environment over 3.5 billion years ago was able to support liquid water at the surface, says a study.

River deposits exist across the surface of Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet, according to the study published in the Geological Society of America (GSA) Bulletin.

These deposits are observable with satellite images because they have undergone a process called “topographic inversion” where the deposits filling once topographically low river channels have been exhumed in such a way that they now exist as ridges at the surface of the planet, the researchers said.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

With the use of high-resolution images and topographic data from cameras on orbiting satellites, Benjamin T Cardenas and colleagues from Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, identified fluvial deposit stacking patterns and changes in sedimentation styles controlled by a migratory coastline.

They also developed a method to measure river paleo-transport direction for a subset of these ridges.

Together, these measurements demonstrated that the studied river deposits once filled incised valleys.

On Earth, incised valleys are commonly cut and filled during falling and rising eustatic sea level, respectively.

The researchers concluded that similar falling and rising water levels in a large water body forced the formation of the paleo-valleys in their study area.

“We present evidence that some of these fluvial deposits represent incised valleys carved and filled during falls and rises in base level, which were likely controlled by changes in water-surface elevation of a large lake or sea,” the study said.

They observed cross-cutting relationships at the valley-scale, indicating multiple episodes of water level fall and rise, each well over 50 metres, a similar scale to eustatic sea level changes on Earth. (IANS)