Showing posts from November, 2020

Moon May Hold Billions of Tons of Subterranean Ice at Its Poles Source:  By Jerald Pinson, Eos/AGU.  Excerpt: New research indicates that if even a moderate amount of the water delivered by asteroids to the Moon was sequestered, the lunar poles would contain gigaton deposits (1 billion metric tons) of ice in sheltered craters and beneath its surface. ...“We looked at the entire time history of ice deposition on the Moon,” said   Kevin Cannon , a planetary scientist at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden and lead author of the   new study   in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters. Cannon and his team used conservative estimates for the amount of water that asteroids were likely to contain upon impact with the Moon and how much of it was likely to be retained once the dust had settled. ...“If the very oldest regions have been stable and accumulating ice for billions of years, then some could have very substantial deposits, but they might b

Famed meteorite reveals early water on Mars—and an early outer space bombardment Source:  By   Paul Voosen .  Excerpt: With just 15 grams of the 4.4-billion-year-old   “Black Beauty” meteorite   [from Mars] discovered in 2011 in the western Sahara, [Martin Bizzarro’s] team has revealed a record of asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions spanning nearly all of martian history. One of the most surprising findings: After Mars underwent a pummeling early in its life, all went quiet—even during a time, nearly 4 billion years ago, when our Solar System was thought to have suffered a cataclysmic assault... .  

SpaceX’s Dragon Crew-1 capsule, with 4 astronauts aboard, on way to ISS Source:   By  Christian Davenport  and  Hamza Shaban , The Washington Post.  Excerpt: CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday in a spectacular evening liftoff that came days after the company’s Dragon capsule became the first privately owned and operated spacecraft to be certified by NASA for human spaceflight. SpaceX earned that designation and the right to undertake what NASA hopes will be regular missions to the space station and back after  it completed a test flight  of two astronauts earlier this year. That May launch was the first of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, forcing the United States to rely on Russia for flights to orbit for nearly a decade.... 

Martian dust storms parch the planet by driving water into space Source:  By   Paul Voosen , Science Magazine.  Excerpt: ...Martian dust storms are common, but every decade or so, for reasons unknown, a monstrous one goes global, veiling the planet. The storms can be a mortal threat to exploration: The one in 2018   killed off NASA’s Opportunity rover   by coating its solar panels in dust. But now, researchers say the storms may also be one of the culprits in the ultimate martian cold case: how the once-wet planet lost its water. Fossilized rivers and deltas etched across Mars   suggest water flowed there billions of years ago . Most of it must have somehow escaped to space—yet researchers thought water vapor could not travel high in the frigid, thin atmosphere without condensing into snow and falling back to the surface. New data from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter,   published today   in Science, show how churning dust stor

Earth-size Planets are Common, Kepler Retrospective Finds Source:  Sky and Telescope Magazine.  Excerpt: ...NASA’s Kepler telescope was retired a few years ago, but ongoing analyses of its data, both by professional astronomers and  citizen scientists , are still producing new results. ...Kepler has found more than 2,600 exoplanets (and counting). Now, an international collaboration led by Steve Bryson, a researcher at NASA Ames, has announced a refined estimate. The team, including NASA scientists, SETI researchers, academics, former-Keplerites, and other planet hunters, performed a statistical analysis that combined Kepler’s planet catalog and stellar data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory. They found that about half of the Sun-like stars in our galaxy could have a rocky planet in their habitable zones. ... The study , soon to be published in The Astronomical Journal, predicts that there are at least 300 million habitable-zone rocky