суббота, 7 декабря 2019 г.

Two Kuaizhou-1A launches in one day














CASIC - Kuaizhou-1A - Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B / CASIC - Kuaizhou-1A - HEAD-2A, HEAD-2B, Spacety-16, Spacety-17, Tianqi-4A and Tianqi-4B.

Dec. 7, 2019

Two Kuaizhou-1A rockets were launched within hours of each other:

Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launches Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B satellite

- A Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle launched the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, Shanxi Province, northern China, on 7 December 2019, at 02:55 UTC (10:55 local time);


Image above: Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launches HEAD-2A, HEAD-2B, Spacety-16, Spacety-17, Tianqi-4A and Tianqi-4B satellites.

- A Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle launched the HEAD-2A, HEAD-2B, Spacety-16, Spacety-17, Tianqi-4A and Tianqi-4B satellites from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, Shanxi Province, northern China, on 7 December 2019, at 08:52 UTC (16:52 local time).

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Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China


More than 200 artefacts were recently discovered in a Palaeolithic cave site in north China's Tianjin Municipality, local cultural heritage protection authorities said Thursday.

Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China
Chaoyang Cave No. 1 [Credit: Tianjin Cultural
Relics Management Center]


The site is located on a hill in Guoxiangyu Village, Jizhou District. Ten stone tools were unearthed in previous excavations at the entrance of the cave.

Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China
Archaeologists excavating the site [Credit: Tianjin Cultural
 Relics Management Center]


The new round of excavation was conducted by the cultural heritage protection center of Tianjin, the research center for Chinese frontier archaeology of Jilin University and the cultural relics protection and management institute of Jizhou.

Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China
Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China
Some stone tools unearthed from Chaoyang Cave [Credit: Tianjin Cultural
Relics Management Center]


Sheng Lishuang, deputy director of the cultural heritage protection center of Tianjin, said more than 100 items of stone tools and animal skeletons were unearthed in a bigger cave, while the others were found in a smaller cave.

Palaeolithic cave site excavated in north China
Archaeological staff cleaning excavated stone tools [Credit: Tianjin Cultural
Relics Management Center]
The stone implements, including flints, blades, scrapers and drills, have been sent to professional testing institutions.

"The results will be able to tell us how old the site is," Sheng said.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [November 29, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Helping Heracles EL3 to survive the long, cold, dark nights on the Moon









ESA - European Space Agency patch.

Dec. 7, 2019

ESA has kicked off an activity with Prototec – a NORCE company – and its partners Airbus and Air Liquide to develop alternative technologies for surviving the lunar night.

Rosetta image of the Moon

When the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3) lands on the Moon, some of its cargo might require to survive the lunar night that lasts up to two weeks on Earth.

A sample return mission, the original mission for the Heracles scenario, would require camping out for at least two nights: a full day-night-day-night-day cycle, which takes 70 Earth days because of the approximately 28 days it take for the Moon to do a full rotation of its axis. The sample collection rover is planned to continue operating for a whole Earth year – 12 Moon day-night cycles – to prospect lunar resources and perform surface science.

Different technologies exist to address the problem and ESA is interested in considering all viable options, of which regenerative fuel cell technology is a very promising one. The fuel cells would convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity generated by solar arrays. When night falls, hydrogen and oxygen would be recombined to turn the reactants back into energy and water.

Heracles lander and rover

The Heracles EL3 programme is set on establishing a European lunar cargo landing capability based on Ariane 64. It will allow for two kinds of missions: scientifically-driven missions such as returning well-preserved and well-characterised samples from unexplored and inaccessible lunar regions, or delivering cargo to support human missions on NASA’s Artemis programme. The missions of Heracles EL3 should be ready by 2027 to fit properly into the plans of ESA’s international partners.

The Heracles EL3 system should be capable of delivering up to 1700 kg of cargo to the Moon as a cargo mission, or retrieve 15 kg of precious samples from the surface and bring them back to Earth for analysis by European scientists in its sample-return configuration.

Heracles cargo Moon landing

Prototec and partners will perform a preliminary design and requirement specification for a fuel-cell based night survival system based on requirements formulated in the frame of the Heracles EL3 sample return scenario.

Related links:

Prototec: https://www.prototech.no/home/

NORCE: https://www.norceresearch.no/en/

Airbus: https://www.airbus.com/space.html

Air Liquide: https://www.airliquide.com/

Human and Robotic Exploration: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration

Science & Exploration: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration

European Space Agency (ESA): http://www.esa.int/

Images, Text, Credits: ESA ©2007 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA/ATG Medialab.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey


Laboratory analysis has revealed that the grain seeds found in pots excavated in a settlement mound in eastern Turkey's province of Bingol date back 4,500 years.

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey
Credit: AA


The seeds were initially found in a carbonized form during excavations in the village of Murat in Bingol's Solhan district by a group of archaeologists led by Ziya Kilinc from the Museum Directorate in Elazig province, in neighbouring Bingol.

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey
Credit: AA


Following excavations, the findings were sent to the laboratories of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) for scientific examination, revealing the age of the seeds via carbon-14 dating. Abdulkadir Ozdemir from the Archaeology Department of the Firat University said that the carbonized grains were found in several Iron and Bronz Age food stores.

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey
Credit: AA


"The earliest of the grains dates back to 2500 BC," Ozdemir said, adding all the findings were extremely well preserved.

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey
Credit: AA


Ozdemir further added that though the grain was thought of to be that of wheat, separate laboratory works are ongoing to determine whether they were wheat or some other type of grain.

4,500-year-old grain seeds found in eastern Turkey
Credit: AA
In the meantime, the mound in the village of Murat village proved to be the earliest agricultural settlement in Bingol, Ozdemir asserted, noting that the team had unearthed four different cultural layers belonging to the Byzantine, Middle Iron, Early Iron and Early Bronze Age periods. The area is of great significance for Eastern Anatolian archaeology.

Source: Daily Sabah [December 01, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Next Generation Electron Booster on the Pad for Rocket Lab’s 10th Mission













Rocket Lab - Running Out Of Fingers Mission patch.

Dec. 6, 2019

Electron “Running Out Of Fingers” launch

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle launched the “Running Out Of Fingers” mission from Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, on 6 December 2019, at 08:18 UTC (21:18 NZDT).

“Running Out Of Fingers” is Electron’s 10th mission, with six PocketQube microsatellites from Alba Orbital and one payload from ALE Co. Tokyo.

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Horned face adorns rare 5th century cup found in Osaka


An extremely rare clay cup dating from the mid-fifth century bearing a face with horns was unearthed here recently.

Horned face adorns rare 5th century cup found in Osaka
The “sueki” earthen cup adorned with a horned face
[Credit: Akihiro Tanaka]
Archaeologists expect the cup to provide important clues to Japan's religious customs of the time, as a similar design has been found on ancient murals in China and the Korean Peninsula.

“The face (on the cup) is highly likely to represent cattle, though it was painted to resemble a human's,” said Hideo Minami, a senior official of the Osaka City Cultural Properties Association. “It's also interesting that the face adorns an ordinary vessel apparently used in daily life.”


The cup will be displayed at a special exhibition in the Osaka Museum of History through Jan. 6 next year.

The association conducted an excavation from July to August last year on land that had been surveyed in preparation for the construction of an apartment.

Horned face adorns rare 5th century cup found in Osaka
The “sueki” earthen cup adorned with a horned face
[Credit: Akihiro Tanaka]
A settlement that existed between the Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 BC-AD 300) and the Kofun Period (third century to seventh century) was located at the site.

Excavators at the site found the “sueki” earthen cup with a 10-centimeter diameter, in pieces. The face, measuring 2.7 cm, was on the base of its chipped handle.


Two horns extend from its swollen forehead. While its nose appears to have been created with fingers, the eyes, mouth and nostril were likely drawn with a sharp tool.

According to the association, sueki bearing such a design were actively created in Japan during the sixth century, but it is highly uncommon to unearth one from the mid-fifth century.

Horned face adorns rare 5th century cup found in Osaka
The design of a demon god with the face of a horned beast painted on a mural
in a Goguryeo burial mound in Jian in China’s Jilin province
[Credit: Osaka City Cultural Properties Association]
Minami said the face resembles Taoist demon gods that had faces of beasts often found on murals in burial mounds in Goguryeo, which ruled an area from northeastern China to the northern Korean Peninsula around that time.

He noted that religious philosophy from China could have been introduced to Japan at the same time as horses, cattle and their breeding techniques were imported from the Korean Peninsula in the fifth century.

“Philosophies and religions from the continent may have spread on the Japanese archipelago to some extent in as early as the fifth century,” Minami said.

Author: Akihiro Tanaka | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [December 01, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

2019 December 7 Lines of Time Image Credit & Copyright: ...



2019 December 7

Lines of Time
Image Credit & Copyright: Anton Komlev

Explanation: In time stars trace lines through the night sky on a rotating planet. Taken over two hours or more, these digitally added consecutive exposures were made with a camera and wide angle lens fixed to a tripod near Orel farm, Primorsky Krai, Russia, planet Earth. The stars trail in concentric arcs around the planet’s south celestial pole below the scene’s horizon, and north celestial pole off the frame at the upper right. Combined, the many short exposures also bring out the pretty star colours. Bluish trails are from stars hotter than Earth’s Sun, while yellowish trails are from cooler stars. A long time ago this tree blossomed, but now reveals the passage of time in the wrinkled and weathered lines of its remains.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191207.html



* This article was originally published here

Roman silver coin hoard found in Switzerland


A Roman treasure of 293 silver coins has been discovered in a forest near Pratteln in northwestern Switzerland. The find is one of the largest Roman silver hoards in Switzerland. The coins are exclusively denarii, which according to information from Archaologie Baselland are in very good overall condition. A volunteer from Archaologie Baselland found the hoard in the summer of 2019 on the slope of the Adlerberge near Pratteln Baselland.

Roman silver coin hoard found in Switzerland
Hoard of silver denarii found near Pratteln, Switzerland
[Credit: Nicole Gebhard, Archaeology Baselland]
The oldest coin was struck under Emperor Nero, who reigned between AD 54 and 68. Most of the coins date from the second century, the most recent from the time of Emperor Commodus - they were struck in Rome in AD 181/182.


According to the communique, the find is second largest assemblage Roman silver coin hoards in Switzerland, after the treasure of Augusta Raurica (Kaiseraugst) discovered in the immediate vicinity.

Roman silver coin hoard found in Switzerland
Archaeologists recover denarii from hoard [Credit: Suzan Afflerbach,
Archaeology Baselland]
The value of the coins corresponded to about half the annual wage of a legionnaire, says the cantonal archaeologist Reto Marti from Baselbiet.


"The location of the find in an ordinary patch of forest is unspectacular from today's point of view", says the archaeologist. "In Roman times, however, there must have been a conspicuous stone or something similar there. The owner presumably wanted to keep his cash in a safe hiding place, which was not unusual at the time."

"Two Roman estates are known in Pratteln: One in the Kasteli corridor and the other near today's village centre. From the latter the owner would have always had his hiding place in view."

Source: Archaeology Baselland [trsl. TANN, November 24, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Progress MS-13 spacecraft at Earth’s orbit












ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.

December 06, 2019

Progress MS-13 launch

On December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-13 (74P) cargo spacecraft launched from launchpad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Antennas and solar batteries panels’ extension went routinely.

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New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis


A joint German-Egyptian archaeological mission working in the Heliopolis temple in Matareya unveiled fragments of royal statues and a large mudbrick wall during the completion of its thirteenth season.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


According to Dr. Ayman Ashmawy (head of the Egyptian Antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities and head of the mission from the Egyptian side) the team excavated and tested the area near the ancient industrial workshops. The mission found a part of a paved street at a depth of 1 m below the groundwater, as well as pottery dating back to the Third Intermediate Period.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
The mission also excavated a number of pits mostly dating back to the Hellenistic era; one contained remains of inscriptions ascribed to Ramses II, including a stone block with representation of Ramses in front of the god Ra Horakhty as “the great god Lord of Heaven, ruler of Heliopolis”.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


Another pit contained a number of fragments belonging to royal statuary; one formed part of the base of a statue of Seti II (1205-1194 BC), made of brown quartz, while another comes from a red granite statue, probably depicting a goddess (Isis or Hathor) or a Ramesside queen.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
Dietrich Rau (head of the mission from the German side), said that beside the wall discovered at the site known as Moataseem Street, archaeologists found a layer of rubble alongside several moulds used in the making of amulets and parts of Old Kingdom columns in reuse.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


On top of another layer dating back to the Predynastic era, archaeologists excavated mud bricks representing houses and breweries dating back to this period. The finds are identical in form with a similar group discovered in Dakahlia. The mission also found stone tools typical to the civilization of Lower Egypt at the time that preceded its unification with Upper Egypt — and the beginning of the ancient Egyptian state.

New finds from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Heliopolis
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
It is noteworthy that research is concentrated in the south-west side of the Temple of Heliopolis (area 251), which had yielded finds dating to the Third Intermediate Period last April.

Source: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities [November 02, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Scientists Reveal Potential New Class of X-ray Star System Research

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4,000-year-old granaries discovered in central China


Archaeologists have unearthed a number of circular foundations at a Neolithic site of Longshan Culture dating back about 4,000 years in Huaiyang, central China's Henan Province, and believe they are one of China's earliest granaries.

4,000-year-old granaries discovered in central China
Credit: MENAFN
The Shizhuang Site was discovered when workers built a factory. According to an archaeological survey, the site covers 30,000 square metres with the main living area of 5,000 square metres surrounded with rammed earth walls. The ground bases of the granaries are located inside the ancient settlement. The Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology began excavation of the site in July.


Cao Yanpeng, an associate researcher at the institute, said the Longshan Culture represents a gradual transition from a primitive society to a civilized era. The cultural sites were discovered in places in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, including the current provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong. The main artifacts from the culture are characterized by black pottery.

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Space Station Science Highlights: Week of December 2, 2019













ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Dec. 6, 2019

Crew members conducted a variety of investigations aboard the International Space Station during the week of Dec. 2, including research into wearable health sensors and using DNA to understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. On Monday, Luca Parmitano of the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s Andrew Morgan completed their third in a series of spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The crew also prepared to welcome the 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) carrying supplies and new scientific experiments, which launched Dec. 5.

The space station, now in its 20th year of continuous human presence, conducts research critical to future missions such as Artemis, NASA’s program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Here are details on some of the scientific investigations taking place on the orbiting lab:

Smart shirt supports health research


Image above: Crew members collect microbial DNA samples by swabbing surfaces in the space station and process them using the Biomolecule Sequencer as shown here. The device enables direct sequencing to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity. Image Credit: NASA.

To monitor their health and conduct health-related experiments aboard the space station, astronauts use a variety of medical devices. These devices can be bulky and invasive and their use often is disruptive and time-consuming. The Canadian Space Agency developed the Bio-Monitor, a device that uses wearable sensors to monitor and record heart rate, respiration rate, skin temperature and other parameters during an astronaut's daily routine. The smart vest can unobtrusively collect data for up to 48 hours and send it to the ground. Crew members updated software and conducted checks of the Bio-Monitor in preparation for additional testing.

Swabbing and sequencing in space

Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) tests the use of DNA sequencing to observe microbial responses to spaceflight, which can improve our understanding of how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. BEST uses a process that does not require cultivation of organisms prior to processing and can identify microbes aboard the space station not detected by current culture-based methods. The crew collected samples via swabbing at specific locations and stored them in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for later return to Earth for processing. Crew members also removed frozen liquid cultures from MELFI for incubation on the space station, after which they will sequence part of the cultures and store other parts for return to Earth for DNA and RNA sequencing.


Animation above: Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut David Saint-Jacques wearing the Bio-Monitor vest while exercising on the space station. The vest, currently undergoing testing aboard the space station, contains various sensors to unobtrusively monitor astronaut health and contribute to health-related experiments. Animation Credits: Canadian Space Agency.

No more boring menus

Food Acceptability examines how the appeal of food to astronauts changes during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases. Crew members completed questionnaires evaluating each food and beverage in one meal for overall acceptability. Astronauts complete questionnaires at regular intervals and various times of day for a total of 26 times during their mission.


Image above: The crew shared a special Thanksgiving meal aboard the space station, a break from what can be a repetitive, limited menu (left to right, Christina Koch, Alexander Skvortsov, Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka, Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano). The ongoing Food Acceptability investigation examines changes in the appeal of food that can occur during long-duration missions. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- The ISS Experience creates virtual reality videos from footage taken by astronauts of different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved on the space station.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7877

- The BioFabrication Facility (BFF) tests a technology to print organ-like tissues in microgravity as a step toward manufacturing human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7599

- Fluid Shifts measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels in microgravity in an effort to determine how these shifts affect fluid pressure in the head and eye and related effects on vision.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1126

- The Food Physiology experiment is designed to characterize the key effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome and nutritional status indicators.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7870

- Standard Measures captures an ongoing, optimized set of measures from crew members to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space. Researchers use these measures to create a data repository for high-level monitoring of the effectiveness of countermeasures and better interpretation of health and performance outcomes.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7711

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Roman Rotary Quern of Rhineland Lava, Newstead (2and century CE), The National Museum of Scotland,...

Roman Rotary Quern of Rhineland Lava, Newstead (2and century CE), The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, November 2019.



* This article was originally published here

An exceptional Gravettian 'Venus' discovered in Amiens


The prehistoric site of Renancourt, in Amiens, has been known for many years and long remained one of the few sites providing evidence for human presence in northern France during the Early Upper Palaeolithic (35,000 – 15,000).

An exceptional Gravettian 'Venus' discovered in Amiens
The 'Venus of Renancourt' seen from different angles
[Credit: INRAP]
Discovered in 2011, during an Inrap diagnostic operation, the site of Amiens-Renancourt 1 has been under full excavation since 2014. During the 2019 season, an exceptional Gravettian “Venus,” some 23,000-years-old, was discovered.

A Palaeolithic hunting camp

Near the confluence of the Selle and Somme Valleys, in a neighborhood of southwest Amiens, the site is sealed within Eolian silts (loess) attributed to the end of the last glacial period (between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago). Four meters below the current ground level, a concentration of very well-preserved artifacts was discovered.


This concentration has been dated by Carbon 14 to 23,000 years ago (21,000 BC) and is attributed to a late phase of the Gravettian culture, which was present in Europe between 28,000 and 22,000 years ago. The site of Amiens-Renancourt is today one of the rare sites that provides evidence for the presence of Modern Humans (Homo Sapiens) in northern France at the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic.

The abundant artifacts reveal the diverse activities practiced at this hunting camp. Among the numerous flint artifacts, projectile points (Gravette Points) were used for hunting, while large blades were transformed into other tools, such as knives and scrapers. Abundant bone remains show that horse meat was regularly consumed. Personal ornaments have also been found here, such as the unique perforated disks in chalk. In the full glacial period, this Gravettian hunting camp appears to have been occupied for a few weeks at the end of the warm season, just before autumn.

The Renancourt “Venus”

This year, in 2019, the archaeologists have just discovered an exceptional sculpture that joins a remarkable collection of fifteen other Gravettian statuettes, the first of which was discovered in 2014.

Sculpted in chalk and 4 centimeters tall, this “Venus” is steatopygic: the volume of the rear, thighs and breasts is hypertrophied. The arms are barely present, and the face is represented without lines.


This sculpture adheres perfectly to the aesthetic canon of the Gravettian stylistic tradition, which includes the Venuses of Lespugue (Haute-Garonne) and Willendorf (Austria), as well the bas-relief Venus of Laussel (Dordogne). This “Venus” of Renancourt also has a surprising “hairdo” represented by a grid pattern of thin incisions similar to those of the Venus of Willendorf and, especially, of the Venus of Brassempouy (Landes), also known as the “Lady with a Hood.”

A few dozen “Venuses” are known from the Pyrenees to Siberia. In France, only fifteen have been found, mostly in the south-west (Aquitaine, Pyrenees). The last one discovered in a reliable stratigraphic context in France was found in Tursac (Dordogne), in 1959.

Today, the site of Amiens-Renancourt doubles the number of these Gravettian art objects known in France. The archaeologists suspect this site was a workshop for the production of these sculptures as they are accompanied by several thousands of chalk fragments, some of which appear to be manufacturing waste products.

The function and meaning of these Palaeolithic statuettes remain unknown.

Source: INRAP [trsl. Art Daily, December 06, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Explains Bennu Mystery Particles












NASA - OSIRIS-REx Mission patch.

December 6, 2019


Image above: This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. Other image-processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each layer. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin.

Shortly after NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission's science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu - and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth - could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft's navigation cameras taken on Jan. 6, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu. At first glance, the particles appeared to be stars behind the asteroid, but on closer examination, the team realized that the asteroid was ejecting material from its surface. After concluding that these particles did not compromise the spacecraft's safety, the mission began dedicated observations in order to fully document the activity.

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