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Nearby planetary system can be a good model of our early Solar System due to similar Architecture: Study

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Solar system. Pixabay
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Washington, May 3, 2017: A nearby planetary system star could be a good model of our early solar system as it has an architecture remarkably similar to that of our own, astronomers have confirmed.

Located 10.5 light-years away in the southern hemisphere of the constellation Eridanus, the star Epsilon Eridani, eps Eri for short, is the closest planetary system around a star similar to the early Sun.

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It is a prime location to research how planets form around stars like our Sun, and is also the storied location of the Babylon 5 space station in the science fictional television series of the same name.

“It really is impressive how eps Eri, a much younger version of our solar system, is put together like ours,” said one of the researchers, Kate Su of the University of Arizona in the US.

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This study, based on data from NASA’s flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, was published in the Astronomical Journal.

Massimo Marengo, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, and other astronomers have been studying the star and its planetary system since 2004.

In a 2009 scientific paper, the astronomers used data from NASA’s Spitzer space telescope to describe the star’s disc of fine dust and debris left over from the formation of planets and the collisions of asteroids and comets.

They reported the disk contained separate belts of asteroids, similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts of our solar system.

Subsequent studies by other astronomers questioned that finding.

The new study used SOFIA and Spitzer data to confirm there are separate inner and outer disk structures. (IANS)

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars
NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars. Pixabay

After a mechanical problem took NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s drill offline in December 2016, it has now successfully tested a new drilling method on the Red Planet, making a 50-millimetre deep hole in a target called “Duluth”, NASA has said.

Engineers working with the Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them.

On May 20, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill’s bit extended out past two stabiliser posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks.

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home.

“The team used tremendous ingenuity to devise a new drilling technique and implement it on another planet,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steve Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Those are two vital inches of innovation from 60 million miles away. We’re thrilled that the result was so successful,” Lee said.

Drilling is a vitally important part of Curiosity’s capabilities to study Mars.

Inside the rover are two laboratories that are able to conduct chemical and mineralogical analyses of rock and soil samples.

The samples are acquired from Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since 2012.

“We’ve been developing this new drilling technique for over a year, but our job isn’t done once a sample has been collected on Mars,” said JPL’s Tom Green, a systems engineer who helped develop and test Curiosity’s new drilling method.

Also Read: NASA Probe to ‘Touch’ the Sun Will Carry 1.1 mn Names

“With each new test, we closely examine the data to look for improvements we can make and then head back to our test bed to iterate on the process.”

There’s also the next step to work on — delivering the rock sample from the drill bit to the two laboratories inside the rover.

As soon as this Friday, the Curiosity team will test a new process for delivering samples into the rover’s laboratories, NASA said. (IANS)