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NASA identifies a Moon orbiting Saturn as a new candidate for Potential Life

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FILE - The Cassini spacecraft captured this of Saturn's moon Enceladus, in a flyby Oct. 28, 2015. The U.S.-European spacecraft skimmed within 30 miles of the south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute via AP) VOA

US, April 16, 2017: The U.S. space agency NASA has identified a moon orbiting Saturn as a new candidate for potential life.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft said the icy, ocean-covered body possesses ample amounts of hydrogen gas. The gas could be a chemical energy source of life, scientists involved with the mission said.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, called Saturn’s moon Enceladus “the closest we’ve come” to identifying a planet with the necessary ingredients for a habitable planet.

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“These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA’s science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not,” he said in a statement.

The paper from researchers with the Cassini mission was published Thursday in the journal Science.

FILE – This image provided by NASA is a Hubble Space Telescope close-up of Saturn’s disk, and it captures the transit of several moons across the planet’s face. The giant orange moon Titan is at upper right. The white icy moons close to the ring plane are, from left, Enceladus, Dione and Mimas. The dark band running across the face of the planet slightly above the rings is the shadow of the rings cast on the planet. The dark dots are the shadows cast by Enceladus and Dione. VOA

Plume analyzed

The Cassini spacecraft detected the hydrogen in a plume of gas and icy material spraying off Enceladus in October 2015. Scientists determined the gas in the plume nearly 98 percent water, about 1 percent of which is hydrogen, with the rest being a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.

The scientists noted that “life as we know it requires three primary ingredients”: liquid water, a source of energy for metabolism, and a combination of chemical ingredients that include hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, among others.

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“With this finding, Cassini has shown that Enceladus — a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the sun than Earth — has nearly all of these ingredients for habitability,” NASA said in a statement announcing the findings.

While some ingredients for life were found on Enceladus, the scientists made clear that the discovery didn’t confirm life on the planet, but merely confirmed favorable conditions.

“Although we can’t detect life, we’ve found that there’s a food source there for it. It would be like a candy store for microbes,” said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study. (VOA)

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NASA: Earth’s Ozone Hole Shrinks to Smallest Since 1988

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NASA
NASA: Earth's Ozone Hole Shrinks to Smallest Since 1988 (VOA)

Washington: The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles (19.6 million square kilometers). The hole size shrinks after mid-September.

This year’s maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it’s 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015.

FILE - A false-color view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole is seen in this NASA handout image released Oct. 24, 2012. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone. The average area covered by the Antarctic ozone hole in that year was the second smallest in two decades, at 8.2 million square miles; in September 2017, it was 7.6 million square miles.

[ FILE – A false-color view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole is seen in this NASA handout image released Oct. 24, 2012. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone. The average area covered by the Antarctic ozone hole in that year was the second smallest in two decades, at 8.2 million square miles; in September 2017, it was 7.6 million square miles ].

Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept the chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven’t quite figured out why some years are stormier — and have smaller ozone holes — than others.

“It’s really small this year. That’s a good thing,” Newman said.

Newman said this year’s drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles (29.86 million square kilometers).

Ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms. High in the atmosphere, about 7 to 25 miles (11 to 40 kilometers) above the Earth, ozone shields Earth from ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

Scientists at the United Nations a few years ago determined that without the 1987 treaty, by 2030 there would have been an extra 2 million skin cancer cases. They said that overall, the ozone layer is beginning to recover because of the phase-out of chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans. (VOA)

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NASA sounding rocket probing dark regions of space falters

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NASA

Washington, Oct 31: A NASA sounding rocket launched with the aim of studying the darks voids in between the stars and galaxies that fill the night sky has failed to deliver science data because of a possible issue with the attitude control system.

The Dual-channel Extreme Ultraviolet Continuum Experiment, or DEUCE for short, was launched on Monday from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

“The Black Brant IX sounding rocket performed nominally. However, science data was not obtained because of a possible issue with the attitude control system,” NASA said in a statement late on Monday.

“The payload descended by parachute and was recovered. The Sounding Rocket Program Office is investigating the anomaly,” it added.

The cold, diffuse gas between galaxies — called the intergalactic medium, or IGM for short — hardly emits any light.

To shed light on the nature of the IGM, the sounding rocket was equipped with special ultraviolet optics.

The experiment was designed to measure starlight from a pair of nearby hot stars in the constellation Canis Major, aiming to help researchers understand how the IGM got to its current state.

–IANS

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NASA Releases Spooky Space Playlist for Halloween that will Unnerve your Spine

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Space playlist for Halloween
NASA has released space playlist for Halloween. Pixabay.

NASA has released a spine-chilling space playlist for Halloween that is made through the sounds of planets and helium present in the solar system.

  • The space playlist for Halloween by NASA comprises of more than 20 tracks of the sounds of the giant Jupiter, movement of it’s moon, comet encounters, waves and various others.
  • The track has the sound movement of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, recorded by Galileo’s Plasma Wave Experiment instrument.

The scientists at NASA have used data sonification by converting radio emissions apprehended by spacecraft instruments into sound waves to understand the signals.

Space playlist for Halloween
Jupiter’s movement has been used to make the space playlist for Halloween. Pixabay.

ALSO READ: Send your Name to Mars and Get a Boarding Pass by NASA

It has been stated by NASA that the Juno’s Waves instrument recorded the encounter of it’s Juno spacecraft navigating past the borderline of Jupiter’s magnetic field. The track was recorded on June 24, 2016 with a timespan of about two hours. This spooky space playlist for Halloween is eerie enough to be used as a background score in horror movies!

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana