Electric Sparks May Alter Lunar Soil
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking. This find could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon’s frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this “breakdown weathering” process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon’s polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system’s past, may be more active than previously thought.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/electric-sparks-may-alter-lunar-soil
Restored Footage Maps Neptune’s Strange Moon
NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager’s historic footage of Triton has been “restored” and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon. The video may be watched here. The map, produced by Paul Schenk, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, has also been used to make a movie recreating that historic Voyager encounter, which took place 25 years ago, on August 25, 1989.
The new Triton map has a resolution of 1,970 feet (600 meters) per pixel. The colors have been enhanced to bring out contrast but are a close approximation to Triton’s natural colors. Voyager’s “eyes” saw in colors slightly different from human eyes, and this map was produced using orange, green and blue filter images.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/restored-footage-maps-neptunes-strange-moon
Pluto’s Moon May Have Once Had an Underground Ocean
If the icy surface of Pluto’s giant moon Charon is cracked, analysis of the fractures could reveal if its interior was warm, perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water, according to a new NASA-funded study.
Pluto is an extremely distant world, orbiting the sun more than 29 times farther than Earth. With a surface temperature estimated to be about -380 F (around-229 C), the environment at Pluto is far too cold to allow liquid water on its surface. Pluto’s moons are in the same frigid environment.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/plutos-moon-may-have-once-had-underground-ocean
NASA Experiments Recreate Flavors of Titan
NASA scientists have created a new recipe that captures key flavors of the brownish-orange atmosphere around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
The recipe is used for lab experiments designed to simulate Titan’s chemistry. With this approach, the team was able to classify a previously unidentified material discovered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in the moon’s smoggy haze.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/nasa-experiments-recreate-flavors-titan
Earth, Moon are Around 60 M Years Older than Thought
Work presented at the European Association of Geochemistry’s Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Sacramento, California shows that the timing of the giant impact between Earth’s ancestor and a planet-sized body occurred around 40 million years after the start of solar system formation. This means that the final stage of Earth’s formation is around 60 million years older than previously thought.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/earth-moon-are-around-60-m-years-older-thought
Fifty-five Year-old Moon Mystery Solved
The “man in the moon” appeared when meteoroids struck the Earth-facing side of the moon creating large flat seas of basalt that we see as dark areas called maria. But no “face” exists on far side of the moon and now, Penn State Univ. astrophysicists think they know why.
"I remember the first time I saw a globe of the moon as a boy, being struck by how different the far side looks," says Jason Wright, assistant professor of astrophysics. "It was all mountains and craters. Where were the maria? It turns out it’s been a mystery since the fifties."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/fifty-five-year-old-moon-mystery-solved
A new study strengthens the notion that our moon was created by a collision between Earth and a planet-sized object some 4.5 billion years ago.
German scientists studied moon rocks gathered by astronauts nearly a half-century ago in the Apollo 11, 12 and 16 missions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/rocks-indicate-moon-was-born-collision
NASA’s Moon-orbiting Robot Crashes
NASA’s small moon-orbiting spacecraft LADEE (pronounced LAH’-dee) is no more. Flight controllers confirmed early Friday that LADEE crashed into the back side of the moon.
Researchers believe the robotic explorer vaporized upon contact because of its high orbiting speed of 3,600 mph, possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/nasas-moon-orbiting-robot-crashes
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