Wednesday November 21, 2018

NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

Ralph's infrared detectors are 2,000 pixels square, compared to New Horizons Ralph's 256 by 256, allowing for images with more detail.

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NASA selects landing site for Mars 2020 Rover. Flcikr
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 NASA’s Ralph, one of the most well-travelled scientific instrument, is set to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids aboard the Lucy spacecraft in 2021, the US space agency said.

Ralph has made many discoveries since it first launched aboard the New Horizons spacecraft in 2006. Given a name and not an acronym, Ralph enables the study of the composition and atmospheres of celestial objects.

In 2021, the Lucy spacecraft will carry a near-twin of Ralph, called L’Ralph (“Lucy Ralph”), to investigate Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of the solar system, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

jupiter
Jupiter. Pixabay

The L’Ralph instrument suite will study this diverse group of bodies. Lucy will fly by six Trojans and one Main Belt asteroid, more than any other previous asteroid mission.

L’Ralph will detect the Trojan asteroids’ chemical fingerprints, the statement said.

L’Ralph allows scientists to interpret data provided by the Sun’s reflected light that are the fingerprints of different elements and compounds.

These data could provide clues about how organic molecules form in primitive bodies, a process that might also have led to the emergence of life on Earth.

L’Ralph needs to have many capabilities in a small, light body structure to keep the spacecraft efficient and the mission productive.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
L’Ralph needs to have many capabilities in a small, light body structure to keep the spacecraft efficient and the mission productive.Flickr

Its instrument suite contains the Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) and the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA), both of which are fed by the same optics, meaning that Ralph can observe both visible and infrared wavelengths.

These dual capabilities are what makes Ralph and its cousin L’Ralph so special, according to Dennis Reuter, the instrument principal investigator for L’Ralph.

“Most instruments can image visible or infrared wavelengths, but L’Ralph can do both,” said Reuter.

Also Read: Mars Curiosity Rover Returns Back To Work: NASA

Compared to the Ralph that flies with New Horizons, Lucy’s L’Ralph has enhanced technology. It can detect a broader spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, it has a moving mirror that reflects light into L’Ralph instead of requiring movements of the entire spacecraft.

Ralph’s infrared detectors are 2,000 pixels square, compared to New Horizons Ralph’s 256 by 256, allowing for images with more detail. (IANS)

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NASA Chooses Landing Site For Mars 2020 Rover

The Rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA's next step in exploration of the Red Planet

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NASA selects landing site for Mars 2020 Rover. Flcikr

NASA has chosen Jezero Crater delta, where the sediments contain clays and carbonates, as the landing site for its upcoming Mars 2020 Rover mission, the US space agency said.

Jezero Crater, 45 kilometres in size, is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia — a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator.

Its ancient lake-delta system offers many promising sampling targets of at least five different kinds of rock, including clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life.

“The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with land forms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement on Monday.

“Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life,” he added.

The crater, once home to an ancient river delta, could have collected and preserved ancient organic molecules and other potential signs of microbial life from the water and sediments that flowed into the crater billions of years ago.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
The Rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet. Flickr

In addition, the site contains numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west, and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms (wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover) in several locations.

Selecting a landing site this early allows the Rover drivers and science operations team to optimise their plans for exploring Jezero Crater once the Rover is safely on the ground.

The Rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet.

Also read- Actress Alia Bhatt Wants People To Wait For Her Marriage

It will not only seek signs of ancient habitable conditions and past microbial life but will also collect rock and soil samples and store them in a cache on the planet’s surface.

Earlier in November, ExoMars rover — the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Roscosmos’ joint venture to the Red Planet that will set out in 2020 — also chose a landing site on Mars’ equator called Oxia Planum, which had in the prehistoric era housed a massive pool of water. (IANS)