This is What Perseverance’s Landing Site Looked Like Billions of Years Ago. See Why it’s Such a Compelling Target?28 Oct 2020, 09:38 UTC Today is a milestone in NASA’s Perseverance mission to Mars. At 1:40 pm Pacific time today, the rover will have traveled 235.4 million km (146.3 million miles). That means the spacecraft is halfway to Mars and its rendezvous with Jezero Crater. The spacecraft isn’t traveling in a straight line, and the planets are moving, so it’s not equidistant to both planets.
Universe Today 27 Oct 2020, 16:44 UTC Is there such as thing as too much asteroid? Scientists and engineers for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx decided to perform an “early stow” of the sample from Asteroid Bennu collected by the spacecraft on October 20, because the collection container is full-to-overflowing, possibly jamming the collector head from sealing shut.
Centauri Dreams 27 Oct 2020, 13:39 UTC Scientists have created the first global temperature map for a planet discovered by TESS, a ‘hot Neptune’ known as LTT 9779b. The first of two just released papers also notes that this is the first spectral atmospheric characterization of a TESS planet. That makes this unusual discovery (lead author Ian Crossfield calls it a “planet that shouldn’t exist”) a useful test case for future work, because the goal of finding the biosignatures of living worlds won’t be achieved without drilling down from inhospitable places like LTT 9779b. The atmospheres of hotter, larger and more readily characterizable planets let us hone our techniques and teach us how to proceed.
NASA: Universe News 26 Oct 2020, 16:11 UTC NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places. SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
Bad Astronomy 26 Oct 2020, 13:00 UTC In September, a team of astronomers made a startling announcement: They had detected the signature of a gas called phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus, a chemical that, on Earth, is created by life. Venus has no known non-biological way to produce this molecule in the quantities observed. Had they found evidence of life in the clouds of Venus?
New Scientist 23 Oct 2020, 17:17 UTC We have found the best path to take between the stars. The travelling salesman problem, an infamous mathematical puzzle that seeks the shortest route between many locations while visiting each only once and returning to the first, has been solved on the largest scale yet: the galaxy.
Bad Astronomy 23 Oct 2020, 13:00 UTC When I was a kid, and survived on a diet of 100% trashy sci-fi, I would sometimes go outside at night, look up at the stars, and wonder how many worlds were out there. More to the point, who was out there looking back at me. I'll admit the thought made me uneasy, like I was vulnerable, exposed, examined by calculating alien brains contemplating Earth as an easy target. For what, exactly, didn't matter; the feeling was still discomfiting.
Centauri Dreams 22 Oct 2020, 14:53 UTC We’re a long way from knowing what is going on in terms of possible life in the clouds of Venus, but one thing is already clear: The phosphine signature, as well as its implications, is going to be thrashed out in the journals, as witness a new study from Rakesh Mogul (Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, CA) and colleagues that looks at data from the Pioneer-Venus Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS), dating back to the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe mission in 1978. These data seem to support the presence of phosphine, while leaving its origin unknown.
Parabolic Arc 22 Oct 2020, 07:39 UTC By Brittany EnosUniversity of Arizona Captured on Oct. 20, 2020 during the OSIRIS-REx mission’s Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of images shows the SamCam imager’s field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and touches down on asteroid Bennu’s surface, over 200 million miles (321 million km) away from Earth. The sampling event brought the spacecraft all the way down to sample site Nightingale, touching down within three feet (one meter) of the targeted location. The team on Earth received confirmation at 6:08 p.m. EDT that successful touchdown occurred. Preliminary data show the one-foot-wide (0.3-meter-wide) sampling head touched Bennu’s surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn. The spacecraft’s sampling arm – called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) – is visible in the lower part of the frame. The round head at the end of TAGSAM is the only part of OSIRIS-REx that contacted the surface during the sample collection event. In the middle of the image sequence, the sampling head positions itself to contact the asteroid’s surface head-on. Shortly after, the sampling head impacts site Nightingale and penetrates Bennu’s regolith. Upon initial contact, the TAGSAM head appears to crush some of ...