Weekly News Round-up 07.03.13

Hello Readers! I apologise for the lack of new posts these past few weeks; as you may know, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference is rapidly approaching and we still have a lot to do before we head off to Houston! Add that on top of a broken spectrometer and you can probably see why we forgot to post the last news round-up! To make amends, we’re providing you with a bumper round up this week – There have been a number of really interesting articles released this week, have a read for yourself:


To Boldly… Name? 

Our first article will be a delight to any of our readers who are also Star Trek fans. Following the discovery of two further moons around Pluto, The SETI Institute launched an online vote to decide what names would be proposed to the IAU as the moons’ future names. One of these 21 options was ‘Vulcan’, which you may recognise as the name of the fictional planet inhabited by the Star Trek race, Vulcans. Read more about this “logical choice” here:  Vulcan tops vote to name Pluto moons


Tracking Down The Russian Meteorite

One of the advantages of the number of camera recordings of the Russian Meteorite which struck Chelyabinsk is how easy it made calculating the origin of the meteor before it impacted Earth. The orbit type would suggest the asteroid was a member of the Apollo class of asteroids. Read more about the findings of the Colombian team here: Russia meteor’s origin tracked down


Continental Hide And Seek

Recent research has suggested there may be remnants of an ancient continental crust slab underneath the Indian Ocean. The study suggests the landmass was potentially buried as recently at 2000 years ago (although the date range is quite large!). Read more about it here: Fragments of ancient continent buried under Indian Ocean


A Warming End To The Herschel Telescope

After three years of some absolutely fascinating science, the Herschel Telescope is running out of one of its most important fuels. The helium supply, used to cool the very high resolution spectrometers (to a chilling -271 K) has all but run out now and without that the instruments will be rendered useless. An outstanding 22,000 hours of observations have been recorded and the telescope has already completed all of the high priority assignments it had. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of all the analysis carried out on these observations! For now, have a read of the full article here: Herschel to finish observing soon


Fixing Corruption On Mars

Earlier this week it was reported that the Curiosity rover was encountering technical difficulties with its primary computer systems. As a result of these corrupt files, NASA opted to halt scientific operations and transfer control of the rover to the secondary computer module. The transfer should take a week to complete. You can read about the initial incident here: Mars Curiosity rover put into ‘safe mode’ after glitch and the continuing update on the situation here: Curiosity rover’s recovery on track


Moon Rush! 

With Google joining in on the extraterrestrial mining race that is taking off, the game has just been upped! With people expecting that mining operations on the Moon will be fully set up by 2050, it is a very exciting time for space exploration! Read more about the latest developments here: Moon mining race underway


Finally, as is the tradition now- the picture of the week: This week it’s a composite image of Mercury showing contrasts in false colour.

A Messenger false colour image of Mercury. Composite image of chemical, mineralogical and relief images of the Innermost planet. Image credit: NASA APOD

A Messenger false colour image of Mercury. Composite image of chemical, mineralogical and relief images of the Innermost planet. Image credit: NASA APOD


About Mark Nottingham

Mark is a PhD student in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group at UoM. Primarily working on the RIMSKI and RELAX noble gas instruments.
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