Friday, March 22, 2019

New Horizons Team Unravels the Many Mysteries of Ultima Thule

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/ESA

The farthest object ever explored is slowly revealing its secrets, as scientists piece together the puzzles of Ultima Thule – the Kuiper Belt object NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past on New Year's Day, four billion miles from Earth.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Trembling Aspen Leaves Could Save Future Mars Rovers

Credit: University of Warwick

Researchers at the University of Warwick have been inspired by the unique movement of trembling aspen leaves, to devise an energy harvesting mechanism that could power weather sensors in hostile environments and could even be a back-up energy supply that could save and extend the life of future Mars rovers.

Spiraling Giants: Witnessing the Birth of a Massive Binary Star System

ALMA’s view of the IRAS-07299 star-forming region and the massive binary system at its center. The background image shows dense, dusty streams of gas (shown in green) that appear to be flowing towards the center. Gas motions, as traced by the methanol molecule, that are towards us are shown in blue; motions away from us in red. The inset image shows a zoom-in view of the massive forming binary, with the brighter, primary protostar moving toward us is shown in blue and the fainter, secondary protostar moving away from us shown in red. The blue and red dotted lines show an example of orbits of the primary and secondary spiraling around their center of mass (marked by the cross).

Scientists from the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan, the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and the University of Virginia in the USA and collaborators used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe a molecular cloud that is collapsing to form two massive protostars that will eventually become a binary star system.

How Heavy Elements Come About in the Universe

For the first time, it was possible to investigate the fusion of hydrogen and xenon using an ion storage ring at the same temperatures as during stellar explosions. Credit: Mario Weigand, Goethe-Universität

Heavy elements are produced during stellar explosion or on the surfaces of neutron stars through the capture of hydrogen nuclei (protons). This occurs at extremely high temperatures, but at relatively low energies. An international research team headed by Goethe University has now succeeded in investigating the capture of protons at the storage ring of the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Energy Loss Gives Unexpected Insights in Evolution of Quasar Jets

The radio jet of the quasar 4C+19.44, powered by a supermassive black hole lying in the center of its host galaxy and shining at long radio wavelengths as seen by the LOFAR radio telescope (magenta). The background image shows neighboring galaxies in the visible light highlighted thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope (cyan and orange) having the radio jet passing into the dark voids of intergalactic space (Harris et al. 2019).  Image Credit: NASA/HST/LOFAR; Courtesy of J. DePasquale

An international team of astrophysicists observed for the first time that the jet of a quasar is less powerful on long radio wavelengths than earlier predicted. This discovery gives new insights in the evolution of quasar jets. They made this observation using the international Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope, that produced high resolution radio images of quasar 4C+19.44 located over 5 billion light-years from Earth.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

ESA's Hera Asteroid Mission Borrows Eyes of NASA's Dawn

ESA’s Hera mission concept, currently under study, would be humanity’s first mission to a binary asteroid: the 800 m-diameter Didymos is accompanied by a 170 m-diameter secondary body. Hera will study the aftermath of the impact caused by the NASA spacecraft DART on the smaller body. Credit: ESA–ScienceOffice.org

The mission to the smallest asteroid ever explored will employ the same main camera as the mission to the largest asteroids of all. ESA’s proposed Hera spacecraft to the Didymos asteroid pair has inherited its main imager from NASA’s Dawn mission to the Vesta and Ceres asteroids.

New Research Module Nauka for ISS to Undergo Pre-flight Tests

Nauka module. Credit: Roscosmos

A new multifunctional laboratory module Nauka (Science), which is expected to be launched to the International Space Station in 2020, will be transported from Moscow’s Khrunichev space research center to the RSC Energia for pre-flight tests in August, Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, wrote on his official Twitter account on Saturday.

Dormant Viruses Activate During Spaceflight, NASA Investigates


Herpes viruses reactivate in more than half of crew aboard Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions, according to NASA research published in Frontiers in Microbiology. While only a small proportion develop symptoms, virus reactivation rates increase with spaceflight duration and could present a significant health risk on missions to Mars and beyond.