Friday, February 21, 2020

New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life

A new signal-processing system that the SETI Institute will add to the VLA is part of a technology-driven revitalization of research in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly-expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private organizations, according to a panel of experts speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle, Washington.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Electric Solid Propellant - Can it Take the Heat?

NASA image of a material ablation test

Electric solid propellants are being explored as a safer option for pyrotechnics, mining, and in-space propulsion because they only ignite with an electric current. But because all of these applications require high heat, it's important to understand how the high temperatures change the propellants' chemistry. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and NASA used a computer model that simulates the thermochemical properties of high temperature materials to predict the thermochemistry of a new high-performance electric solid propellant.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Kazan University's Telescope Assists in Discovering Invisible Stars

Location of Gaia16aye on the sky. Images from Mellinger and DSS were obtained using the Aladin tool.

A sizable international team published findings about the discovery of a new binary star in Astronomy & Astrophysics. A co-author from Kazan University, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Space Geodesy Ilfan Bikmaev, explains how the new system was found.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Close-Up of Arrokoth Reveals How Planetary Building Blocks Were Constructed

Peanut-shaped Arrokoth is the farthest and most primitive object in the Solar System ever to be visited by a spacecraft. | NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko

New observations on the farthest, most primitive object in the Solar System ever to be visited by a spacecraft – a tiny, frozen, bi-lobed world known as Arrokoth – offer a unique glimpse into the early formation of our Solar System and perhaps the planet Earth.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Researchers Develop Smaller, Lighter Radiation Shielding


Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for shielding electronics in military and space exploration technology from ionizing radiation. The new approach is more cost effective than existing techniques, and the secret ingredient is…rust.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

SwRI Models Hint at Longer Timescale for Mars Formation

A Southwest Research Institute team performed high-resolution, smoothed-particle simulations of a large, differentiated projectile hitting early Mars after its core and mantle had formed. The projectile’s core and mantle particles are indicated by brown and green spheres respectively, showing local concentrations of the projectile materials assimilated into the Martian mantle. Credit: SwRI

The early solar system was a chaotic place, with evidence indicating that Mars was likely struck by planetesimals, small protoplanets up to 1,200 miles in diameter, early in its history. Southwest Research Institute scientists modeled the mixing of materials associated with these impacts, revealing that the Red Planet may have formed over a longer timescale than previously thought.

Citizen Scientists Discover Rare Cosmic Pairing

Credit: William Pendrill

Citizen scientists have uncovered a bizarre pairing of two brown dwarfs, objects much smaller than the Sun that lack enough mass for nuclear fusion. The discovery, reported in The Astrophysical Journal and confirmed by a scientific team led by astrophysicist Jackie Faherty at the American Museum of Natural History, shows that brown dwarf systems—the formation of which are still poorly understood—can be very low mass and extremely far apart yet inexorably linked.

Distant Giant Planets Form Differently Than ‘Failed Stars’

This image of the low-mass brown dwarf GJ 504 B was taken by Bowler and his team using adaptive optics with the NIRC2 camera at Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The image has been processed to remove light from the host star (whose position is marked with an "x"). The companion is located at a separation of about 40 times the Earth-Sun distance and has an orbital period of about 240 years. By returning to this and other systems year after year, the team is able to slowly trace out part of the companion's orbit to constrain its shape, which provides clues about its formation and history. Credit: Brendan Bowler (UT-Austin)/W. M. Keck Observatory

A team of astronomers led by Brendan Bowler of The University of Texas at Austin has probed the formation process of giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs, a class of objects that are more massive than giant planets, but not massive enough to ignite nuclear fusion in their cores to shine like true stars.