Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Small Asteroid to Swoosh by Earth on Thursday

A newly discovered near-Earth object (NEO), known as 2017 TD6, is slated to pass by our planet on Thursday, October 19 at 18:52 UTC. The asteroid will miss the Earth at a distance of about 0.5 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 192,000 kilometers.

Microbes Leave 'Fingerprints' on Martian Rocks

Biotransformed synthetic Martian Regolith after Metallosphaera sedula cultivation. Credit: University of Vienna

Scientists around Tetyana Milojevic from the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Vienna are in search of unique biosignatures, which are left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. The biochemist and astrobiologist investigates these signatures at her own miniaturized "Mars farm" where she can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism. The original research was currently published in the journal "Frontiers in Microbiology".

Noxious Ice Cloud Found on Titan

This view of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is among the last images the Cassini spacecraft sent to Earth before it plunged into the giant planet’s atmosphere. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission found evidence of a toxic hybrid ice in a wispy cloud high above the south pole of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The finding is a new demonstration of the complex chemistry occurring in Titan’s atmosphere—in this case, cloud formation in the giant moon’s stratosphere—and part of a collection of processes that ultimately helps deliver a smorgasbord of organic molecules to Titan’s surface.

Study Shows How Water Could Have Flowed on ‘Cold and Icy’ Ancient Mars

Extensive valley networks spidering through the southern highlands of Mars suggest that the planet was once warmer and wetter, but new research shows that water could still have flowed intermittently on a cold and icy early Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

For scientists trying to understand what ancient Mars might have been like, the red planet sends some mixed signals. Water-carved valleys and lakebeds leave little doubt that water once flowed on the surface. But climate models for early Mars suggest average temperatures around the globe stayed well below freezing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Small Asteroid Passes Very Close to Earth

A newly discovered small asteroid, designated 2017 TH5, gave Earth a close shave on Monday, October 16, passing by our planet at a relatively close distance of about 0.26 lunar distances (LD), or 99,800 kilometers. The fly-by occurred approximately at 17:15 UTC.

Tiangong-1 Space Laboratory to Crash to Earth within Months

Artist's impression of the Tiangong-1 space laboratory in orbit. Image Credit: CMSA

It could be just a matter of few weeks or months when China’s Tiangong-1 space laboratory will fall to Earth. The spacecraft is continuing its gradual descent towards the surface after control over the mission was lost in early 2016.

Webcam on Mars Express Surveys High-Altitude Clouds

Example of dust clouds imaged by ESA’s Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Mars Colour Imager (MARCI) in November 2007 over the Utopia region. Arrows indicate the dust front in each image. Credit: MARCI: NASA/JPL/MSSS; VMC: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

An unprecedented catalog of more than 21 000 images taken by a webcam on ESA’s Mars Express is proving its worth as a science instrument, providing a global survey of unusual high-altitude cloud features on the Red Planet. The low-resolution camera was originally installed on Mars Express for visual confirmation that the Beagle-2 lander had separated in 2003. In 2007 it was switched back on and used primarily for outreach, education and citizen science, with images automatically posted to a dedicated Flickr page, sometimes within just 75 minutes of being taken at Mars.