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Nasa to Hold Major Announcement About New Discovery on Mars

NASA set to reveal new discovery on Mars by Curiosity rover

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NASA charts roadmap for human missions to Moon, Mars. Pixabay
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NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new science “results” on Mars and the agency will disclose the findings at a press conference that starts at 11.30 p.m. India time on Thursday.

NASA earlier this week announced that the Curiosity rover had started analysing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year.

It had to stop analysing samples on the Red Planet after a mechanical problem took the rover drill offline in December 2016.

It successfully tested a new drilling method in May on the Red Planet, making a 50-millimetre deep hole in a target called “Duluth”.

An image of Mars.
Mars. Pixabay

Launched in 2011, Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.

NASA has not yet provided clues on what the new results are about, but it said that during the event, NASA scientists will have chats with the the public and media on the findings.

Also Read: NASA Invented A Tool To Predict Floods Due To Ice Melt

The public can send questions on social media and the event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Interested people will also be able to watch it on several social media platforms including Facebook Live, YouTube and Twitter/Periscope.

The findings will also be published in the journal Science. (IANS)

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Habitability Of Surrounding Planets Affected By Super Flares Of Red Dwarfs: NASA

Red dwarfs -- especially young red dwarfs -- are active stars, producing flares blast out energy

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NASA, space, red dwarf
Superflares from red dwarfs may affect habitability of planets Pixabay

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have found that violent outbursts, or superflares, from red dwarf stars could affect the habitability of any planets orbiting it.

Young low-mass stars flare much more frequently and more energetically than old stars and middle-age stars like our Sun, the findings of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal showed.

The findings are based on observations of the flare frequency of 12 red dwarfs.

Hubble is observing such stars through a large programme called HAZMAT — Habitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time.

“M dwarf” is the astronomical term for a red dwarf star — the smallest, most abundant and longest-living type of star in our galaxy.

Hubble Telescope. red dwarf
Hubble Telescope. Flickr

The HAZMAT programme is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs at three different ages — young, intermediate, and old.

“The goal of the HAZMAT programme is to help understand the habitability of planets around low-mass stars,” explained the programme’s principal investigator, Evgenya Shkolnik from Arizona State University.

“These low-mass stars are critically important in understanding planetary atmospheres,” Shkolnik added.

Stellar flares from red dwarfs are particularly bright in ultraviolet wavelengths, compared with Sun-like stars.

Red dwarf  planet
Artist’s view of planets transiting red dwarf star in TRAPPIST-1 system. Flickr

Hubble’s ultraviolet sensitivity makes the telescope very valuable for observing these flares.

The flares are believed to be powered by intense magnetic fields that get tangled by the roiling motions of the stellar atmosphere.

When the tangling gets too intense, the fields break and reconnect, unleashing tremendous amounts of energy.

The team found that the flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — just about 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older.

This younger age is when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars.

Red dwarf
This illustration shows a red dwarf star orbited by a hypothetical exoplanet. NASA

About three-quarters of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy’s “habitable-zone” planets — planets orbiting their stars at a distance where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to exist on their surface — orbit red dwarfs.

In fact, the nearest star to our Sun, a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri, has an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone.

Also Read: NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery To Moon

However, red dwarfs — especially young red dwarfs — are active stars, producing flares that could blast out so much energy that it disrupts and possibly strips off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. (IANS)