Monday, December 10, 2018

Researchers Find Evidence for Carbon-Rich Surface on Ceres

SwRI scientists constructed a possible schematic path for the evolution of Ceres’ upper crust. The figure shows the presence of carbonaceous chondrite-like materials (black) mixed with products of aqueous alteration such as phyllosilicates, carbonates and magnetite (green) and organics (orange). Shaded blue regions indicate water, and blue lines represent conduits for water migration. Organics may have formed in place during aqueous alteration or could have been concentrated by fluids ascending to the upper crust, resulting in the inferred higher-than-chondritic carbon concentration on Ceres’ surface. Over time, the surface gets homogenized by mixing due to collisions and other processes. Image Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

A team led by Southwest Research Institute has concluded that the surface of dwarf planet Ceres is rich in organic matter. Data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft indicate that Ceres’ surface may contain several times the concentration of carbon than is present in the most carbon-rich, primitive meteorites found on Earth.

NASA Sounding Rockets Carry TRICE-2 over Norwegian Sea

The two TRICE-2 Black Brant XII sounding rockets are seen in this time-lapse photograph soaring into space over the Norwegian Sea. Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins

Two NASA sounding rockets successfully flew over the Norwegian Sea early in the morning December 8 carrying an experiment to study the electrodynamics of the polar cusp.

Learning from Lunar Lights

This map reveals locations of lunar impact flashes detected by the NELIOTA project between February 2017 and December 2018. Credit: NELIOTA project

Every few hours observing the Moon, ESA’s ‘NELIOTA’ project discovers a brilliant flash of light across its surface – the result of an object hurtling through space and striking our unprotected rocky neighbor at vast speed. Based at the Kryoneri telescope of the National Observatory of Athens, this important project is now being extended to January 2021.

Honeycomb Mirrors Make NASA’s Webb the Most Powerful Space Telescope

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope requires a primary mirror so large that it would not fit inside any existing rockets as one single, large mirror. Because of this, Webb is equipped with a revolutionary set of 18 hexagonal mirror segments that are able to fold to fit inside the rocket fairing. Their honeycomb like arrangement allows for Webb to have the largest possible reflective surface area to make observations, with the least amount of dead space in between each.

Voyager 2 Enters Interstellar Space

This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA's Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere - the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Asteroid 2018 VO9 to Make Close Approach to Earth on Saturday

Credit: NASA

A newly discovered truck-sized asteroid, known as 2018 VO9, is expected to make a close approach to Earth on Saturday, December 15. The space rock will pass by our planet at around 11:36 UTC at a safe distance of about 2.6 lunar distances (LD), or 998,400 kilometers.

China Launches Chang'e-4 Probe to Shed Light on Moon's Dark Side

China launches Chang'e-4 lunar probe in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Dec. 8, 2018. Credit: Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing

China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched in the early hours of Saturday, and it is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. A Long March-3B rocket, carrying the probe including a lander and a rover, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 2:23 a.m., opening a new chapter in lunar exploration.