вторник, 23 октября 2018 г.

Ilton Temple near Masham, Yorkshire, 20.10.18.Some lovely Autumn light and...

Ilton Temple near Masham, Yorkshire, 20.10.18.

Some lovely Autumn light and colours…

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Fluorite on Quartz | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality:…

Fluorite on Quartz | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Berbes Mining area, Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain

Size: 11.9 x 10.7 x 8

Photo Copyright © Spirifer Minerals

Geology Page



Quiescent British Columbia fault capable of producing large…

Quiescent British Columbia fault capable of producing large earthquakes http://www.geologypage.com/2018/10/quiescent-british-columbia-fault-capable-of-producing-large-earthquakes.html

‘Dinosaur country’: fossil hunters’ S. African paradise…

‘Dinosaur country’: fossil hunters’ S. African paradise http://www.geologypage.com/2018/10/dinosaur-country-fossil-hunters-s-african-paradise.html

How Magma Climbs the Crustal Ladder Between Eruptions…

How Magma Climbs the Crustal Ladder Between Eruptions http://www.geologypage.com/2018/10/how-magma-climbs-the-crustal-ladder-between-eruptions.html

Life cycle of sulphur predicts location of valuable minerals…

Life cycle of sulphur predicts location of valuable minerals http://www.geologypage.com/2018/10/life-cycle-of-sulphur-predicts-location-of-valuable-minerals.html

Special journal issue looks for new clues about old life…

Special journal issue looks for new clues about old life http://www.geologypage.com/2018/10/special-journal-issue-looks-for-new-clues-about-old-life.html

Tastes of space

ISS – International Space Station logo.

October 23, 2018

There is nothing quite like the taste of home – especially when you live on the International Space Station. For ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst that taste comes in the form of chicken ragout with mushrooms, or lentils spätzle and sausage, specifically developed by Lufthansa chefs for maximum flavour and a long shelf-life.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet with a special delivery of French macarons

To make it on board the International Space Station, food must be crumb-free, light-weight and keep for at least 18 months without preservatives. For future missions to Moon and Mars, it will need to last even longer.

One of ESA’s goals is to create a closed life-support system, including water recovery and food production, that will support astronauts in space indefinitely without costly supplies from Earth. This kind of technology could also be used to aid communities on Earth whose access to food, water or clean air is scarce.

Crew-specific meals

ESA crew support Susanne Altenburger says food developed for specific crew members and missions – like Alexander’s chicken ragout, or the French New Year’s Eve dinner of Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima mission – makes up around 10 percent of an astronaut’s food allocation in space. Development of these dishes starts anywhere from a year and half to two years before a mission.

“We start selecting meals and testing well in advance because, as well as being approved by the astronaut, meals must be sent to the lab for safety and nutritional testing, after being freeze-dried, thermostabilised or vacuum packed,” Susanne explains.

Alexander Gerst food testing

Processing reduces the likelihood of foodborne illnesses and extends the food’s shelf-life. Meals are then sent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, and must arrive months in advance of the next cargo vehicle launch.

With a full schedule of science and operations, as well as the impact of microgravity on bone density, muscle tone and nutrients, it is vital an astronaut’s daily diet contains the fuel they need.

Developed by France’s CNES space agency and the MEDES Institute for Space Physiology and Medicine for Thomas’ Proxima mission, ESA’s tablet-based app called EveryWear allows astronauts to record their calorie and nutrient intake by selecting items from a list or scanning barcodes on food packaging.

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli uses the Everywear app

ESA Biomedical Engineer Andreas Lundt is part of the team behind the app and says further features – such as an advanced search function – will be implemented for ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s Beyond mission, with more development to come.

“Right now, data is sent for analysis to a nutritional specialist on the ground who provides nutritional reports and recommendations to the astronauts, but for missions to the Moon and Mars this would take way too much time,” he explains.

“Our goal is for the app to do this itself. It may say ‘OK, you’re low in iron, you need to eat more green vegetables’ then present options from the database that meet this nutritional need.”

A sustainable future

A mission to Mars will take two to three years minimum. And, with no resupply vehicles available to replenish astronaut provisions, food either needs to go the distance or be grown in space.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst installs a new closed loop life support system

Alexander recently installed ESA’s new Advanced Closed Loop System in NASA’s Destiny Lab on the Space Station. This system recycles carbon dioxide, turning it into oxygen and reducing the need to extract it from water sent from Earth.

ESA is also working to finely tune how microbiological cells, chemicals, catalysts, algae, bacteria and plants interact, and how we could process waste to deliver never-ending fresh supplies of oxygen, water and food. It is all part of ESA’s vision for greater sustainability in space and on Earth.

Related links:

Human Spaceflight: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight

International Space Station (ISS): http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station

CNES: https://cnes.fr/en

MEDES Institute for Space Physiology and Medicine: http://www.medes.fr/en/index.html

Proxima mission: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Proxima

Beyond mission: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts/Luca_Parmitano_goes_Beyond

EveryWear: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts/Diet_tracker_in_space

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA.

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Halfway to high luminosity

CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

23 Oct 2018

The High-Luminosity LHC has reached its halfway point. The second-generation LHC project was launched eight years ago and is scheduled to start up in 2026, eight years from now. From 15 to 18 October, the institutes contributing to this future accelerator came together at CERN to assess the progress of the work as the project moves from prototyping to the series production phase for much of the equipment.

The annual meeting is a chance to conduct a global review of the project – and global is the word, because, as project leader Lucio Rossi observes, “the High-Luminosity LHC is a worldwide project that has been worked on by an international collaboration since the very beginning”. As well as CERN’s Member States and Associate Member States, thirteen other countries are contributing to the project. New agreements have been signed recently with Japan and China and an agreement with Canada was announced in June. Representatives of the collaborating countries presented the status of their contributions during the plenary session. Some 1000 people are working on the project.

Image above: A new beam absorber for the zones where the beams are injected from the SPS was assembled and tested last summer. This is one of the developments presented at the High-Luminosity LHC annual meeting (Image: Julien Ordan).

The civil engineering work has progressed considerably since it began in the spring: excavations have reached 30 metres at Point 1 and 25 metres at Point 5. The two 80-metre shafts should be fully excavated by the beginning of 2019.

As for the accelerator, one of the key tasks is the production of around one hundred magnets of eleven different types. Some of these, notably the main magnets, are made of a novel type of superconductor, niobium-tin, which is particularly difficult to work with. The short prototype phase is coming to an end for the quadrupole magnets that will replace the LHC’s triplets and focus the beams very strongly before they collide. The long quadrupole magnets (7.15 metres in length) are being produced at CERN, while those measuring 4.2 metres in length are being developed in the United States in the framework of the US LHC-AUP (LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project) collaboration. Several short prototypes have reached the required intensities on both sides of the Atlantic. Two long prototypes (4.2 metres) have been produced in the United States and the second is currently being tested. At CERN, the assembly of the first 7.15-metre-long prototype has begun.

The dipole magnets at the interaction points, which divert the beams before and after the collision point, are being developed in Japan and Italy. One short model has been successfully tested at KEK in Japan and a second is in the process of being tested. INFN, in Italy, is also assembling a short model. Finally, progress is being made on the development of the corrector magnets at CERN and in Spain (CIEMAT), Italy (INFN) and China (IHEP), with several prototypes already tested. In 2022, a test line will be installed in hall SM18 in order to test a magnet chain at the interaction point.

Image above: Some of the participants at the High-Luminosity LHC collaboration’s annual meeting during the first day of the symposium, on 15 October 2018 (Image: Maximilien Brice/Rachel Lavy/Julien Ordan/CERN).

One of the major successes of 2018 is the installation in the SPS of a test bench with an autonomous cryogenic unit. The test bench houses two DQW (double-quarter wave) crab cavities, one of the two architectures chosen for this ground-breaking equipment. The two cavities rotated the proton bunches as soon as the tests began in May, marking a world first. The construction of the DQW cavities will continue while the second architecture, RFD (radiofrequency dipole), is developed in the United States. The production of this novel equipment is the result of an international endeavour by Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Many other developments were presented during the symposium: new collimators have been tested in the LHC; a beam absorber for the injection points from the SPS was tested over the summer and will be installed during the second long shutdown; a demonstrator for a magnesium diboride superconducting link is currently being validated; studies have been undertaken to test and adjust the remote alignment of all the equipment in the interaction region, etc.

Over the four days, some 180 presentations covered a wide range of technologies developed for the High-Luminosity LHC and beyond.


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 Member States.

Related article:

World’s first crabbing of a proton beam:

Related links:

Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS): https://home.cern/about/accelerators/super-proton-synchrotron

High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC): https://home.cern/topics/high-luminosity-lhc

Large Hadron Collider (LHC): https://home.cern/topics/large-hadron-collider

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: https://home.cern/

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Corinne Pralavorio.

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

2018 October 23 Hyperion: Largest Known Galaxy…

2018 October 23

Hyperion: Largest Known Galaxy Proto-Supercluster
Visualization Credit: ESO, L. Calçada & Olga Cucciati et al.

Explanation: How did galaxies form in the early universe? To help find out, astronomers surveyed a patch of dark night sky with the Very Large Telescope array in Chile to find and count galaxies that formed when our universe was very young. Analysis of the distribution of some distant galaxies (redshifts near 2.5) found an enormous conglomeration of galaxies that spanned 300 million light years and contained about 5,000 times the mass of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dubbed Hyperion, it is currently the largest and most massive proto-supercluster yet discovered in the early universe. A proto-supercluster is a group of young galaxies that is gravitationally collapsing to create a supercluster, which itself a group of several galaxy clusters, which itself is a group of hundreds of galaxies, which itself is a group of billions of stars. In the featured visualization, massive galaxies are depicted in white, while regions containing a large amount of smaller galaxies are shaded blue. Identifying and understanding such large groups of early galaxies contributes to humanity’s understanding of the composition and evolution of the universe as a whole.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181023.html

Y-haplogroup P1 in Pleistocene Siberia (Sikora et al. 2018 preprint)

Over at bioRxiv at this LINK. Below is the abstract, emphasis is mine. Two of the (unrelated) males from Yana RHS belong to Y-haplogroup P1 and mitochondrial haplogroup U2. Note that P1 is ancestral to Y-haplogroups Q and R.

Far northeastern Siberia has been occupied by humans for more than 40 thousand years. Yet, owing to a scarcity of early archaeological sites and human remains, its population history and relationship to ancient and modern populations across Eurasia and the Americas are poorly understood. Here, we report 34 ancient genome sequences, including two from fragmented milk teeth found at the ~31.6 thousand-year-old (kya) Yana RHS site, the earliest and northernmost Pleistocene human remains found. These genomes reveal complex patterns of past population admixture and replacement events throughout northeastern Siberia, with evidence for at least three large-scale human migrations into the region. The first inhabitants, a previously unknown population of “Ancient North Siberians” (ANS), represented by Yana RHS, diverged ~38 kya from Western Eurasians, soon after the latter split from East Asians. Between 20 and 11 kya, the ANS population was largely replaced by peoples with ancestry from East Asia, giving rise to ancestral Native Americans and “Ancient Paleosiberians” (AP), represented by a 9.8 kya skeleton from Kolyma River. AP are closely related to the Siberian ancestors of Native Americans, and ancestral to contemporary communities such as Koryaks and Itelmen. Paleoclimatic modelling shows evidence for a refuge during the last glacial maximum (LGM) in southeastern Beringia, suggesting Beringia as a possible location for the admixture forming both ancestral Native Americans and AP. Between 11 and 4 kya, AP were in turn largely replaced by another group of peoples with ancestry from East Asia, the “Neosiberians” from which many contemporary Siberians derive. We detect additional gene flow events in both directions across the Bering Strait during this time, influencing the genetic composition of Inuit, as well as Na Dene-speaking Northern Native Americans, whose Siberian-related ancestry components is closely related to AP. Our analyses reveal that the population history of northeastern Siberia was highly dynamic, starting in the Late Pleistocene and continuing well into the Late Holocene. The pattern observed in northeastern Siberia, with earlier, once widespread populations being replaced by distinct peoples, seems to have taken place across northern Eurasia, as far west as Scandinavia.

Sikora et al., The population history of northeastern Siberia since the Pleistocene, bioRxiv, posted October 22, 2018, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/448829
See also…
Ust’-Ishim belongs to K-M526


Super-slow pulsar challenges theory

Artist’s conception of the newly discovered 23.5-second pulsar. Radio pulses originating from a source in the constellation Cassiopeia are seen travelling towards the core of the LOFAR telescope array. This source is a highly magnetised radio pulsar, shown in the inset image. The pulses and sky image are derived from the actual LOFAR data. Credit: Danielle Futselaar and ASTRON.  Hi-res image

An international team of astronomers have discovered the slowest-spinning radio pulsar yet known. The neutron star spins around only once every 23.5 seconds and is a challenge for theory to explain. The researchers, including astronomers at the University of Manchester, ASTRON and the University of Amsterdam, carried out their observations with the LOFAR telescope, whose core is located in the Netherlands. Their findings will soon appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that produce electromagnetic radiation in beams that emanate from their magnetic poles. These “cosmic lighthouses” are born when a massive star explodes in a supernova. Thereafter, a super-dense ball of material is left behind – rapidly spinning, and with a diameter of only about 20 kilometers. The fastest-spinning pulsar rotates once each 1.4 milliseconds. Until now, the slowest-spinning pulsar known had a period of 8.5 seconds. Now researchers have discovered a much slower, 23.5-second, pulsar, which is located in the constellation Cassiopeia.

“It is incredible to think that this pulsar spins more than 15.000 times more slowly than the fastest spinning pulsar known.” said Chia Min Tan a PhD Student at the University of Manchester who discovered the pulsar. “We hope that there are more to be found with LOFAR”.

The astronomers discovered this new pulsar during the LOFAR Tied-Array All-Sky Survey. This survey is searching for pulsars in the Northern sky. Each survey snapshot of the sky lasts for one hour. This is much longer compared to previous surveys, and gave the sensitivity needed to discover this surprising pulsar. Not only did the astronomers ‘hear’ the regular ticks of the pulsar signal, they could also ‘see’ the pulsar in LOFAR’s imaging survey. Co-author Cees Bassa (ASTRON): “This pulsar spins so remarkably slowly that we could see it blinking on and off in our LOFAR radio images. With faster pulsars that’s not possible.”

The pulsar is approximately 14 million years old, but still has a strong magnetic field. Co-author Jason Hessels (ASTRON and University of Amsterdam): “This pulsar was completely unexpected. We’re still a bit shocked that a pulsar can spin so slowly and still create radio pulses. Apparently radio pulsars can be slower than we expected. This challenges and informs our theories for how pulsars shine.”

Moving forward, the astronomers are continuing their LOFAR survey for new pulsars. They are also planning to observe their new find with the XMM-Newton space telescope. This telescope is designed to detect X-rays. If the super-slow pulsar is detected as a source of X-rays, then this will give important insights into its history and origin.


LOFAR discovery of a 23.5-second radio pulsar. By: C.M. Tan (1), C.G. Bassa (2), S. Cooper (1), T.J. Dijkema (2), P. Esposito (3,4), J.W.T. Hessels (2,3), V.I. Kondratiev (2,5), M. Kramer (6,1), D. Michilli (3,2), S. Sanidas (1), T.W. Shimwell (2), B.W. Stappers (1), J. van Leeuwen (2,3), I. Cognard (7,8), J.-M. Grießmeier (7,8), A. Karastergiou (9,10,11), E.F. Keane (12), C. Sobey (13,14), P. Weltevrede (1). (preprint)

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Hubble Moving Closer to Normal Science Operations

NASA – Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Oct. 22, 2018

NASA took great strides last week to press into service a Hubble Space Telescope backup gyroscope (gyro) that was incorrectly returning extremely high rotation rates. The backup gyro was turned on after the spacecraft entered safe mode due to a failed gyro on Friday, Oct. 5. The rotation rates produced by the backup gyro have since reduced and are now within an expected range. Additional tests will be performed to ensure Hubble can return to science operations with this gyro.

A gyro is a device that measures the speed at which the spacecraft is turning, and is needed to help Hubble turn and lock on to new targets.

A wheel inside the gyro spins at a constant rate of 19,200 revolutions per minute. This wheel is mounted in a sealed cylinder, called a float, which is suspended in a thick fluid. Electricity is carried to the motor by thin wires, approximately the size of a human hair, that are immersed in the fluid. Electronics within the gyro detect very small movements of the axis of the wheel and communicate this information to Hubble’s central computer. These gyros have two modes — high and low. High mode is a coarse mode used to measure large rotation rates when the spacecraft turns across the sky from one target to the next. Low mode is a precision mode used to measure finer rotations when the spacecraft locks onto a target and needs to stay very still.

NASA’s & ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credits: NASA/ESA

In an attempt to correct the erroneously high rates produced by the backup gyro, the Hubble operations team executed a running restart of the gyro on Oct. 16. This procedure turned the gyro off for one second, and then restarted it before the wheel spun down. The intention was to clear any faults that may have occurred during startup on Oct. 6, after the gyro had been off for more than 7.5 years. However, the resulting data showed no improvement in the gyro’s performance.

On Oct. 18, the Hubble operations team commanded a series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions to attempt to clear any blockage that may have caused the float to be off-center and produce the exceedingly high rates. During each maneuver, the gyro was switched from high mode to low mode to dislodge any blockage that may have accumulated around the float.

Following the Oct. 18 maneuvers, the team noticed a significant reduction in the high rates, allowing rates to be measured in low mode for brief periods of time. On Oct. 19, the operations team commanded Hubble to perform additional maneuvers and gyro mode switches, which appear to have cleared the issue. Gyro rates now look normal in both high and low mode. 

Hubble then executed additional maneuvers to make sure that the gyro remained stable within operational limits as the spacecraft moved. The team saw no problems and continued to observe the gyro through the weekend to ensure that it remained stable.

The Hubble operations team plans to execute a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the gyro under conditions similar to those encountered during routine science observations, including moving to targets, locking on to a target, and performing precision pointing.  After these engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to soon return to normal science operations.

Hubble is managed and operated at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Related articles:

Update on the Hubble Space Telescope Safe Mode:

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed:

For more information about Hubble, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Felicia Chou.

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Frozen: Ice on Earth and Well Beyond


Icy Hearts: A heart-shaped calving front of a glacier in Greenland (left) and Pluto’s frozen plains (right). Credits: NASA/Maria-Jose Viñas and NASA/APL/SwRI

From deep below the soil at Earth’s polar regions to Pluto’s frozen heart, ice exists all over the solar system…and beyond. From right here on our home planet to moons and planets millions of miles away, we’re exploring ice and watching how it changes. Here’s 10 things to know:

1. Earth’s Changing Ice Sheets


An Antarctic ice sheet. Credit: NASA

Ice sheets are massive expanses of ice that stay frozen from year to year and cover more than 6 million square miles. On Earth, ice sheets extend across most of Greenland and Antarctica. These two ice sheets contain more than 99 percent of the planet’s freshwater ice. However, our ice sheets are sensitive to the changing climate.

Data from our GRACE satellites show that the land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland have been losing mass since at least 2002, and the speed at which they’re losing mass is accelerating.

2. Sea Ice at Earth’s Poles


Earth’s polar oceans are covered by stretches of ice that freezes and melts with the seasons and moves with the wind and ocean currents. During the autumn and winter, the sea ice grows until it reaches an annual maximum extent, and then melts back to an annual minimum at the end of summer. Sea ice plays a crucial role in regulating climate – it’s much more reflective than the dark ocean water, reflecting up to 70 percent of sunlight back into space; in contrast, the ocean reflects only about 7 percent of the sunlight that reaches it. Sea ice also acts like an insulating blanket on top of the polar oceans, keeping the polar wintertime oceans warm and the atmosphere cool.

Some Arctic sea ice has survived multiple years of summer melt, but our research indicates there’s less and less of this older ice each year. The maximum and minimum extents are shrinking, too. Summertime sea ice in the Arctic Ocean now routinely covers about 30-40 percent less area than it did in the late 1970s, when near-continuous satellite observations began. These changes in sea ice conditions enhance the rate of warming in the Arctic, already in progress as more sunlight is absorbed by the ocean and more heat is put into the atmosphere from the ocean, all of which may ultimately affect global weather patterns.

3. Snow Cover on Earth


Snow extends the cryosphere from the poles and into more temperate regions.

Snow and ice cover most of Earth’s polar regions throughout the year, but the coverage at lower latitudes depends on the season and elevation. High-elevation landscapes such as the Tibetan Plateau and the Andes and Rocky Mountains maintain some snow cover almost year-round. In the Northern Hemisphere, snow cover is more variable and extensive than in the Southern Hemisphere.

Snow cover the most reflective surface on Earth and works like sea ice to help cool our climate. As it melts with the seasons, it provides drinking water to communities around the planet.

4. Permafrost on Earth


Tundra polygons on Alaska’s North Slope. As permafrost thaws, this area is likely to be a source of atmospheric carbon before 2100. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Charles Miller

Permafrost is soil that stays frozen solid for at least two years in a row. It occurs in the Arctic, Antarctic and high in the mountains, even in some tropical latitudes. The Arctic’s frozen layer of soil can extend more than 200 feet below the surface. It acts like cold storage for dead organic matter – plants and animals.

In parts of the Arctic, permafrost is thawing, which makes the ground wobbly and unstable and can also release those organic materials from their icy storage. As the permafrost thaws, tiny microbes in the soil wake back up and begin digesting these newly accessible organic materials, releasing carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere.

Two campaigns, CARVE and ABoVE, study Arctic permafrost and its potential effects on the climate as it thaws.

5. Glaciers on the Move


Did you know glaciers are constantly moving? The masses of ice act like slow-motion rivers, flowing under their own weight. Glaciers are formed by falling snow that accumulates over time and the slow, steady creep of flowing ice. About 10 percent of land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice, in Greenland, Antarctica and high in mountain ranges; glaciers store much of the world’s freshwater.

Our satellites and airplanes have a bird’s eye view of these glaciers and have watched the ice thin and their flows accelerate, dumping more freshwater ice into the ocean, raising sea level.

6. Pluto’s Icy Heart


The nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto appear to carry an intriguing cargo: numerous, isolated hills that may be fragments of water ice from Pluto’s surrounding uplands. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Pluto’s most famous feature – that heart! – is stone cold. First spotted by our New Horizons spacecraft in 2015, the heart’s western lobe, officially named Sputnik Planitia, is a deep basin containing three kinds of ices – frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide.

Models of Pluto’s temperatures show that, due the dwarf planet’s extreme tilt (119 degrees compared to Earth’s 23 degrees), over the course of its 248-year orbit, the latitudes near 30 degrees north and south are the coldest places – far colder than the poles. Ice would have naturally formed around these latitudes, including at the center of Sputnik Planitia.

New Horizons also saw strange ice formations resembling giant knife blades. This “bladed terrain” contains structures as tall as skyscrapers and made almost entirely of methane ice, likely formed as erosion wore away their surfaces, leaving dramatic crests and sharp divides. Similar structures can be found in high-altitude snowfields along Earth’s equator, though on a very different scale.

7. Polar Ice on Mars


This image, combining data from two instruments aboard our Mars Global Surveyor, depicts an orbital view of the north polar region of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars has bright polar caps of ice easily visible from telescopes on Earth. A seasonal cover of carbon dioxide ice and snow advances and retreats over the poles during the Martian year, much like snow cover on Earth.


This animation shows a side-by-side comparison of CO2 ice at the north (left) and south (right) Martian poles over the course of a typical year (two Earth years). This simulation isn’t based on photos; instead, the data used to create it came from two infrared instruments capable of studying the poles even when they’re in complete darkness. This data were collected by our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Global Surveyor. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

During summertime in the planet’s north, the remaining northern polar cap is all water ice; the southern cap is water ice as well, but remains covered by a relatively thin layer of carbon dioxide ice even in summertime.

Scientists using radar data from our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found a record of the most recent Martian ice age in the planet’s north polar ice cap. Research indicates a glacial period ended there about 400,000 years ago. Understanding seasonal ice behavior on Mars helps scientists refine models of the Red Planet’s past and future climate.

8. Ice Feeds a Ring of Saturn


Wispy fingers of bright, icy material reach tens of thousands of kilometers outward from Saturn’s moon Enceladus into the E ring, while the moon’s active south polar jets continue to fire away. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Saturn’s rings and many of its moons are composed of mostly water ice – and one of its moons is actually creating a ring. Enceladus, an icy Saturnian moon, is covered in “tiger stripes.” These long cracks at Enceladus’ South Pole are venting its liquid ocean into space and creating a cloud of fine ice particles over the moon’s South Pole. Those particles, in turn, form Saturn’s E ring, which spans from about 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) to about 260,000 miles (420,000 kilometers) above Saturn’s equator. Our Cassini spacecraft discovered this venting process and took high-resolution images of the system.


Jets of icy particles burst from Saturn’s moon Enceladus in this brief movie sequence of four images taken on Nov. 27, 2005. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

9. Ice Rafts on Europa


View of a small region of the thin, disrupted, ice crust in the Conamara region of Jupiter’s moon Europa showing the interplay of surface color with ice structures. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa is crisscrossed by long fractures. During its flybys of Europa, our Galileo spacecraft observed icy domes and ridges, as well as disrupted terrain including crustal plates that are thought to have broken apart and “rafted” into new positions. An ocean with an estimated depth of 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) is believed to lie below that 10- to 15-mile-thick (15 to 25 km) shell of ice.

The rafts, strange pits and domes suggest that Europa’s surface ice could be slowly turning over due to heat from below. Our Europa Clipper mission, targeted to launch in 2022, will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Europa to see whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

10. Crater Ice on Our Moon


The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by our Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. Credit: NASA

In the darkest and coldest parts of our Moon, scientists directly observed definitive evidence of water ice. These ice deposits are patchy and could be ancient. Most of the water ice lies inside the shadows of craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures never reach above -250 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the very small tilt of the Moon’s rotation axis, sunlight never reaches these regions.

A team of scientists used data from a our instrument on India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft to identify specific signatures that definitively prove the water ice. The Moon Mineralogy Mapper not only picked up the reflective properties we’d expect from ice, but was able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapor and solid ice.

With enough ice sitting at the surface – within the top few millimeters – water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon, and potentially easier to access than the water detected beneath the Moon’s surface.

11. Bonus: Icy World Beyond Our Solar System!


With an estimated temperature of just 50K, OGLE-2005-BLG-390L b is the chilliest exoplanet yet discovered. Pictured here is an artist’s concept. Credit: NASA

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, the icy exoplanet otherwise known as Hoth, orbits a star more than 20,000 light years away and close to the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It’s locked in the deepest of deep freezes, with a surface temperature estimated at minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 Celsius)!

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Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Oct 15, 2018

ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.

Oct. 22, 2018

Last week, three Expedition 57 crew members stayed busy aboard the International Space Station after the climb to orbit of two crewmates was aborted in early October. The trio in orbit continued science and maintenance aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Image above: This week, as a part of the Plant Habitat-1 investigation, activities were performed to measure chlorophyll fluorescence parameters of growing plants. Image Credit: NASA.

Last week the crew studied fluid dynamics, crystallography, ways to improve crew sleeping habits, and battery life in space. Read more for details about this week’s science:

SPHERES investigations soar through the station as crew members conduct tests

Three free-flying, bowling-ball sized spherical satellites know as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), used inside the space station to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers, are used for a variety of investigations aboard the orbiting lab.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor conducts test runs for the SPHERES Tether-Slosh investigation. Animation Credit: NASA.

The SPHERES Tether Slosh investigation combines fluid dynamics equipment with robotic capabilities aboard the station. In space, the fuels used by spacecraft can slosh around in unpredictable ways making space maneuvers difficult. This investigation uses two SPHERES robots tethered to a fluid-filled container covered in sensors to test strategies for safely steering spacecraft such as dead satellites that might still have fuel in the tank.

Last week, crew members performed test runs of the investigation’s test points. Learn more about the SPHERES program here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/students_spheres_satellites

Space-grown crystals optimize research in space

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

A crew member used pipettes to mix varying viscosity solutions into the crystallization plates for BioServe Protein Crystallography (BPC-1) last week. BPC-1 seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting protein crystal growth in real time aboard the space station. Crew members can observe crystal formation and adjust for follow-on experiments. This approach optimizes a scientist’s ability to grow crystals in microgravity without having to wait for samples to return to Earth and re-launch.

Investigation tests adjustable lighting options to encourage better sleep

The hazards of lost sleep can range from on-the-job errors to chronic disease. Every day people all around the world experience disruptions in circadian rhythm, or the body’s natural regulator for sleep and wake cycles based on a 24-hour schedule. This instinctual process can be disrupted by abnormal work schedules, extensive traveling between time zones, and by daily life for space station crew members, who could experience 16 sunrises a day.

The Lighting Effects investigation studies the impact of the change from fluorescent light bulbs to solid-state light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with adjustable intensity and color and aims to determine if the new lights can improve crew circadian rhythms, sleep, and cognitive performance.

Image above: This week, power and data umbilical cables, as well as fluid and waste gas umbilicals, were mated in preparation for LSR activation in November. Image Credit: NASA.

Last week, crew members performed a numerical and color discrimination visual test at a designated location. Information collected during this investigation could be used to develop more efficient lighting both in space and on Earth. Learn more about adjusting to sleep disruptions, on ground and in space, here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/astronauts_improve_sleep

Investigation studies battery life in space

Last week, the crew tested a sampling of alkaline batteries as a part of the Zero-g Battery Testing investigation. Some crewmembers have reported that batteries on orbit do not last as long as they do on the ground. In this investigation, crew members install several sets of batteries into a standard camera flash, identify batteries that fail to work, and return them to the ground for analysis. Results from this investigation could lead to development of better batteries for use in space and on the ground.

Other work was done on these investigations:

– Food Acceptability examines changes in how food appeals to crew members during their time aboard the station. Acceptability of food – whether crew members like and actually eat something – may directly affect crew caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562

– BCAT-CS studies dynamic forces between sediment particles that cluster together: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7668

– The Cold Atom Lab produces clouds of atoms that are chilled to much colder temperatures than the average temperature of deep space. At these low temperatures, atoms have almost no motion, allowing scientists to study fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics that are difficult or impossible to probe at higher temperatures: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7396

– Radi-N2 measures neutron radiation levels aboard the orbiting laboratory using Space Bubble Detectors: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=874

– The Life Support Rack captures carbon dioxide from cabin air and recovers 50% of its oxygen for use by the crew: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7751

– JAXA LT PCG contributes to the development of new drugs by revealing disease-related protein structure, and to the production of new catalysts for the environmental and energy industries: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2031

Space to Ground: A Successful Failure: 10/19/2018

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

SPHERES: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=303

SPHERES Tether Slosh: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7381

BioServe Protein Crystallography (BPC-1): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7729

Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2013

Zero-g Battery Testing: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7712

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 57/58.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

NASA’s First Image of Mars from a CubeSat

NASA – MarCO Mission patch.

Oct. 22, 2018

Image above: One of NASA’s twin MarCO spacecraft took this image of Mars on October 2 — the first time a CubeSat, a kind of low-cost, briefcase-sized spacecraft — has done so. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA’s MarCO mission was designed to find out if briefcase-sized spacecraft called CubeSats could survive the journey to deep space. Now, MarCO – which stands for Mars Cube One – has Mars in sight.

One of the twin MarCO CubeSats snapped this image of Mars on Oct. 3 – the first image of the Red Planet ever produced by this class of tiny, low-cost spacecraft. The two CubeSats are officially called MarCO-A and MarCO-B but nicknamed “EVE” and “Wall-E” by their engineering team.

A wide-angle camera on top of MarCO-B produced the image as a test of exposure settings. The MarCO mission, led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, hopes to produce more images as the CubeSats approach Mars ahead of Nov. 26. That’s when they’ll demonstrate their communications capabilities while NASA’s InSight spacecraft attempts to land on the Red Planet. (The InSight mission won’t rely on them, however; NASA’s Mars orbiters will be relaying the spacecraft’s data back to Earth.)

This image was taken from a distance of roughly 8 million miles (12.8 million kilometers) from Mars. The MarCOs are “chasing” Mars, which is a moving target as it orbits the Sun. In order to be in place for InSight’s landing, the CubeSats have to travel roughly 53 million miles (85 million kilometers). They have already traveled 248 million miles (399 million kilometers).

Image above: One of NASA’s twin MarCO spacecraft took this image of Mars on October 2 — the first time a CubeSat, a kind of low-cost, briefcase-sized spacecraft — has done so (annotated image). Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

MarCO-B’s wide-angle camera looks straight out from the deck of the CubeSat. Parts related to the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna are visible on either side of the image. Mars appears as a small red dot at the right of the image.

To take the image, the MarCO team had to program the CubeSat to rotate in space so that the deck of its boxy “body” was pointing at Mars. After several test images, they were excited to see that clear, red pinprick.

“We’ve been waiting six months to get to Mars,” said Cody Colley, MarCO’s mission manager at JPL. “The cruise phase of the mission is always difficult, so you take all the small wins when they come. Finally seeing the planet is definitely a big win for the team.”

For more information about MarCO, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cubesat/missions/marco.php

Related links:

CubeSats: http://www.nasa.gov/cubesats/

Small Satellite Missions: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Jon Nelson.

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

Genetics, Vision and Earth Studies Aboard Station Today

ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.

October 22, 2018

Three Expedition 57 crew members are orbiting Earth today researching RNA sequencing and eye health aboard the International Space Station. The trio from the U.S., Germany and Russia also replaced combustion research hardware and activated Earth observation gear.

Image above: The International Space Station was orbiting 257 miles above the English Channel when this photograph was taken of the Northern European countries of Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Poland. Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-7, or HTV-7 resupply ship, is pictured at right attached the Harmony module. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor from NASA is helping scientists identify microbes and understand how their genetics change in space. She extracted and processed microbial samples today from swabbed station surfaces for later genetic sequencing using specialized hardware. Results will also help researchers observe how life adapts to the weightlessness of microgravity.

Auñón-Chancellor then observed and photographed samples for a protein crystal study to help doctors improve the development of disease-treating drugs. She then joined Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) for eye scans with an ultrasound device to learn how long-term missions affect vision.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Gerst started his day in the U.S. Destiny lab module replacing hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that enables gas and flame studies. He later wrapped up the workday photographing how quartz and clay particles sediment in space.

Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos worked inside the Unity module setting up Earth photography gear for the long-running EarthKAM experiment. The study enables school students to remotely operate the station digital camera to photograph and download imagery of Earth landmarks such as coastlines and mountains.

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

Genetic sequencing: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7687

Protein crystal study: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7729

Combustion Integrated Rack: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=317

Quartz and clay particles: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7668

EarthKAM: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=87

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...