Showing posts from June, 2018

Japan’s new asteroid probe reaches its target after 3.2-billion-kilometer journey Source:   By Dennis Normile, Science Magazine. Excerpt: SAGAMIHARA, JAPAN—After 3.5 years traveling 3.2 billion kilometers through space, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft officially arrived at the asteroid it will land on later this year to pick up surface and subsurface soil and rock samples and—hopefully—return them to Earth for analysis. The findings are expected to shed light on the materials that existed in the early solar system and the formation and evolution of planets and their arrangement. They might provide evidence for the theory that asteroids and comets are one source of Earth’s water and its amino acids—the building blocks of life. ...Next spring, Hayabusa2 will blast a crater into Ryugu using a 2-kilogram projectile with a hardened copper nose traveling at 2000 meters per second. ...Images of the impact are expected to shed light on how craters are for

The Case of the Missing Lunar Heat Flow Data Is Finally Solved Source:   By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Decades-old data analyzed for the first time suggest that astronauts’ disturbance of the Moon surface increased solar heat intake, warming the ground below. During the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, astronauts installed four temperature-sensing probes in shallow, 1.0- to 2.4-meter-deep holes drilled into the Moon. They aimed to measure how much of the Moon’s heat was lost to space, which could provide insights into the origin and the differentiation history of the Moon. The Apollo Heat Flow Experiment ran from 1971 to 1977.  ...In 2011, the researchers reported that they had found about 10% of the missing tapes at the Washington National Records Center in Maryland. ...They found that from 1974 until the Heat Flow Experiment concluded in 1977, the lunar subsurface warmed up, with greater warming occurring at shallower depths. This continued a w

NASA rover hits organic pay dirt on Mars Source:   By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In its quest to find molecules that could point to life on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has struck a gusher. Since Curiosity landed in 2012, it has sifted samples of soil and ground-up rock for signs of organic molecules—the complex carbon chains that on Earth form the building blocks of life. Past detections have been so faint that they could be just contamination. Now, samples taken from two different drill sites on an ancient lakebed have yielded complex organic macromolecules that look strikingly similar to the goopy fossilized building blocks of oil and gas on Earth. At a few dozen parts per million, the detected levels are 100 times higher than previous finds. Although the team cannot yet say whether these molecules stem from life or a more mundane geological process, they demonstrate that organics can be preserved for billions of years in the