Saturn’s Rings Shed Light on Moon Formation
Writing in the journal Icarus this week, Prof. Carl Murray from Queen Mary Univ. of London’s Astronomy Unit reports that recently discovered disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s outer bright A ring result from a small icy object that formed within the ring and which may be in the process of migrating out of it. His team have nicknamed the object, “Peggy.”
"We hadn’t seen anything like this before," explains Murray. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/saturn%E2%80%99s-rings-shed-light-moon-formation
Space Auction Has ‘Dusty’ Item
Everything from American and Russian spacesuits to a moon dust-covered strap from the Apollo 12 mission will be available to space history buffs at auction in New York City this week.
Among the highlights at Bonhams on Tuesday is a motion picture sight ring, a small polarizing filter put on a camera that was used by astronaut James Irwin on Apollo 15.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/space-auction-has-dusty-item
'Geologic Clock' Helped Determine Moon’s Age
An international team of planetary scientists determined that the Moon formed nearly 100 million years after the start of the solar system, according to a paper published today in Nature. This conclusion is based on measurements from the interior of the Earth combined with computer simulations of the protoplanetary disk from which the Earth and other terrestrial planets formed.
The team of researchers from France, Germany and the U.S. simulated the growth of the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) from a disk of thousands of planetary building blocks orbiting the Sun. By analyzing the growth history of the Earth-like planets from 259 simulations, the scientists discovered a relationship between the time the Earth was impacted by a Mars-sized object to create the Moon and the amount of material added to the Earth after that impact.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/geologic-clock-helped-determine-moon%E2%80%99s-age
Mineral Study May Have Caused Overestimation of Moon Water
The amount of water present in the moon may have been overestimated by scientists studying the mineral apatite, according to a team of researchers led by Jeremy Boyce of the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences.
Boyce and his colleagues created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon’s history. Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/mineral-study-may-have-caused-overestimation-moon-water
Scientists Recreate Crust of Europa
Scientists suspect that inside Europa, one of the icy moons of Jupiter, reservoirs of liquid water exists, the essential element for life on Earth. This theory emerged from information obtained on the Voyager and Galileo missions, which also registered fractures and “chaotic” terrains associated to reddish materials, which contrast with the glacial white of the dominant water ice of the surface.
Some of these geological structures seem to be related to the rise of fluids coming from inside, as the space missions observations suggest. Data also suggest that red materials are hydrated salts, mainly of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). Volatile compounds like carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) have been also detected.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/scientists-recreate-crust-europa
NASA Plans Trip to Jupiter’s Watery Moon
NASA is plotting a daring robotic mission to Jupiter’s watery moon Europa, a place where astronomers speculate there might be some form of life.
The space agency set aside $15 million in its 2015 budget proposal to start planning some kind of mission to Europa. No details have been decided yet, but NASA chief financial officer Elizabeth Robinson says that it will be launched in the mid-2020s.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/nasa-plans-trip-jupiters-watery-moon
Usain Bolt Could Fly on Titan
We all know Usain Bolt is one of the fastest people on Earth. Now, students have shown his superhuman speeds would actually allow him to fly like a bird on one of Saturn’s moons while wearing a wingsuit.
The world-record holding sprinter has reached top speeds of 12.27 meters per second, which would be fast enough for him to take off on Titan while wearing a regular wingsuit.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/usain-bolt-could-fly-titan
Distant Asteroid Has Moon, Exotic Orbit
After eight years of observations, scientists from the SETI Institute have found an exotic orbit for the largest Trojan asteroid, 624 Hektor — the only one known to possess a moon. The formation of this system made of a dual primary and a small moon is still a mystery, but they found the asteroid could be a captured Kuiper body product of the reshuffling of giant planets in our solar system. The results are being published in Astrophysical Letters.
This study, based on W. M. Keck Observatory data and photometric observations from telescopes throughout the world, suggests that the asteroid and its moon are products of the collision of two icy asteroids. This work sheds light on the complex youth of our solar system, when the building blocks that formed the core of Giant planets and their satellites were tossed around or captured during the giant planet migrations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/distant-asteroid-has-moon-exotic-orbit
Fans of Jade Rabbit Wait, Hope for the Best
The Jade Rabbit did not go quietly into that long lunar night. Instead, China’s troubled robotic moon rover — given voice by a government news agency — melodramatically pondered the meaning of its perhaps-fleeting existence, measured its contribution to humanity and, finally, said goodbye.
Then it shut down for the lunar night, which lasts about 14 earth days — its status unclear. The Jade Rabbit’s fans in China sent Lunar New Year greetings to the robot Friday, wishing it a speedy recovery from a malfunction it reported before going into hibernation.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/fans-jade-rabbit-wait-hope-best
Beijing, We Have a Problem
China says its first lunar rover is experiencing mechanical problems, a rare setback for its burgeoning space program that in recent years has conducted space walks and placed a space station in orbit.
The six-wheeled Yutu vehicle began operating last month after making the first soft landing on the moon by a space probe in 37 years. It was designed to roam the lunar surface for three months while surveying for natural resources and sending back data, along with its stationary lander, Chang’e 3.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/beijing-we-have-problem
China’s Rover Performs First Lunar Probe
China’s moon rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, completed its first scientific exploration of lunar soil this week, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) says.
The rover used its mechanical arm to survey the lunar soil following instructions from the control center, according to a BACC statement. The exploration lasted about half an hour and every operation was precisely performed by the rover.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/chinas-rover-performs-first-lunar-probe
Ocean Currents Shape Europa’s Shell, Impact Potential Habitats
In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.
Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/12/ocean-currents-shape-europa%E2%80%99s-shell-impact-potential-habitats
Martian Moon Samples will Contain Bits of Mars
A planned mission to return a sample from the Martian moon Phobos will likely be a twofer, according to a study by Brown Univ. geologists.
The study helps to confirm the idea that the surface of Phobos contains tons of dust, soil and rock blown off the Martian surface by large projectile impacts. Phobos’ orbital path plows through occasional plumes of Martian debris, meaning the tiny moon has been gathering Martian castoffs for millions of years. That means a sample-return mission planned by the Russian space agency could sample two celestial bodies for the price of one.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/martian-moon-samples-will-contain-bits-mars
Moon’s Face Doesn’t Tell Whole Story
On a clear night, the moon’s battered history comes into sharp relief: even from 240,000 miles away, its largest craters are so massive as to be visible to the naked eye.
Scientists have long thought that such lunar craters arose during a period called the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), about four billion years ago. During that time, a hailstorm of giant asteroids pummeled the solar system, slamming into the moon, along with young planets like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. But now scientists from MIT, the Univ. of Paris and elsewhere have found that craters on the near side of the moon may not reflect the intensity of asteroid impacts from that period. Instead, much smaller asteroids likely created these craters — a finding that may redefine scientists’ picture of the LHB.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/moons-face-doesnt-tell-whole-story
Researchers Study Alien Landscapes on Earth
Have you ever wondered which places on Earth most resemble other planets? For some of us, imagining the landscape of other worlds might just be for fun, but scientists and engineers wonder about what the otherworldly places on Earth can tell us about neighbors like the Moon and Mars.
Working in the most unusual places on Earth can help us to prepare for human flights, robotic missions and the search for life beyond our own planet. These analogues are chosen because they are similar in one way or another to particular planetary environments. They can be used for technical tests and research before the effort and expense of a launch into space.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/researchers-study-alien-landscapes-earth