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Scientists Discover Large Deposit of Ice beneath a Region of Cracked and Pitted Plains on Mars: NASA

The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, with a composition that is 50 to 85 per cent water ice

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Red Planet Mars, VOA

New York, November 23, 2016 : Using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have discovered a large deposit of ice beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars.

The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, with a composition that is 50 to 85 per cent water ice, mixed with dust or larger rocky particles, the researchers reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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“This deposit probably formed as snowfall accumulating into an ice sheet mixed with dust during a period in Mars history when the planet’s axis was more tilted than it is today,” said lead author of the study Cassie Stuurman from the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

The scientists examined part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia region in the mid-northern latitudes with the orbiter’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument.

Analyses of data revealed a deposit more extensive in area than the US state of New Mexico.

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The newly surveyed ice deposit represents less than one percent of all known water ice on Mars, the study said.

“This deposit is probably more accessible than most water ice on Mars, because it is at a relatively low latitude and it lies in a flat, smooth area where landing a spacecraft would be easier than at some of the other areas with buried ice,” co-author Jack Holt from the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics said.

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The Utopian water is all frozen now. If there were a melted layer — which would be significant for the possibility of life on Mars — it would have been evident in the radar scans, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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

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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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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