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Six NASA scientists to emerge from Mars-like habitat

NASA - Mars
Image: IANS

New York, Sep 17 (IANS) Six Nasa scientists, who were living in isolation on a Mars-like habitat in Hawaii since January to determine astronauts’ psychology and requirements during manned space missions, will return to civilization on Sunday.

In January, the crew of four men and two women were quarantined on a vast plain below the summit of the giant volcano Mauna Loa — one of Hawaii’s five volcanoes and the world’s largest.

They remained there for an eight-month simulation activity to gain a better understanding and to get a bit of a feel for how astronauts would respond mentally, physically, and most important, psychologically to a long-term on a manned space mission as well as in an inhospitable environment.

NASA Scientists Map Water on Moon Using India’s Chandrayaan-1 Spacecraft.

“Long term space travel is absolutely possible,” Laura Lark, specialist at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was quoted as saying to the on Saturday.

“There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome. There are certainly human factors to be figured out, that’s part of what HI-SEAS is for. But I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it,” Lark added.

Their experiment included everything from being forced to live in the cramped habitat of the dome to having to rely solely on packaged food – and virtually no contact with another living soul.

The atmosphere was as similar as possible to what life on Mars would be. All of the communications the crew could have with the outside world was subjected to a 20-minute delay — the time it takes for signals to get from Mars to the Earth.

The data gathered during this mission can better help in choosing crews that have certain traits and a better chance of doing well during a potential two-to-three year Mars expedition, which would then pave the way for humans settlement in the red planet by around 2030.(IANS)

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NASA Probe Makes New Discoveries on Asteroid Bennu

As a result, Bennu's rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained

This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission OSIRIS-REx has observed particle plumes erupting from the surface of Bennu, an asteroid the size of the pyramid at Giza.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, which began orbiting Bennu on December 31, first discovered the particle plumes on January 6, followed by additional particle plumes over the last two months.

While some of the particles were slow-moving, the others were found orbiting Bennu, like small satellites.

Bennu’s entire surface was also found to be rough and dense with boulders, contrary to the Earth-based observations, which showed a smooth surface with a few large boulders.

This means that the sample collection part of the mission will have to be adjusted to make sure that OSIRIS-REx can touch down and collect a sample, said NASA while presenting the discoveries at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Houston.

“The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

This artist’s rendering made available by NASA in July 2016 shows the mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. VOA

“And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there is just getting started,” Lauretta added.

Further, the team observed a change in the spin rate of Bennu as a result of what is known as the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect.

The uneven heating and cooling of Bennu as it rotates in sunlight is causing the asteroid to increase its rotation speed.

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As a result, Bennu’s rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained.

OSIRIS-REx launched in 2016 to explore Bennu, the smallest body ever orbited by spacecraft, is expected to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth in 2023.

The findings will allow researchers to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, the resources in near-Earth space, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. (IANS)