Weekly News Round-Up 22.03.13

Howdy readers!! now as the usually team for the weekly round up are busy in Houston, I’m going to continue the awesome work they’ve been doing… I hope 🙂

Houston Voyager has ‘left’ the Solar System!!

Voyager-1 spacecraft (NASA) was launched in 1977 with the aim of studying the outer planets. Since then Voyager has kept going…and going…and going! There is a huge debate at the moment to decide if Voyager has actually left our Solar System or if it is still within the realms of our Sun. The Voyager team hold the view that the spacecraft has entered a new region known as ‘the magnetic highway’ giving us our first taster of what’s outside. Read more here: Voyager Solar System ‘ exit’ debated

Grails blaze of glory

Ebb and Flow where the two probes launched in September 2011 to map the variations in gravity on the Moon. They were very successful with their results and now NASA has released new images of their final moments. Interesting result have come from studying the cloud of dust that was released because of their impacts including the enhancement of Mercury and atomic hydrogen in the blast. Read more about the findings here: NASA’s LRO Sees GRAIL’s Explosive Farwell

Sliding Tectonics

Huge debates have been going for years trying to understand the mechanisms that allow plate tectonics to slide over the Earth’s mantle. Understanding this process can help us solve some of the basic function surrounding volcanism and earthquakes. Scripps scientists have discovered a hidden magma layer that could provide some answers to our questions. Read the full story here: Scripps Scientists Discover ‘Lubricant’ for Earth’s Tectonic Plates

Delving into the past

It’s amazing to think that when you look up at the stars you are actually looking into the past! Well how about looking at the ‘baby steps’ of the universe!! An amazing new map from ESA’s Planck Space Telescope has been released revealing the ‘oldest light’ in the sky. The telescope looks at the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which looks at tiny temperature fluctuations of regions with slightly different densities at very early times in the history of the universe. Check out the full story here: Planck Reveals An Almost Perfect Universe

Safe Curiosity and a ‘summer vacation’

This week Curiosity initiated its safe mode (March 16th) due to software mix up but I’m happy to say that the rover is stable, healthy and communicating with engineers. And this all comes just in time for a well-earned ‘summer vacation’. In early April, Mars will have its Solar conjunction. This is where Mars will be passing directly behind the Sun, with respect to Earth, limiting communications with the Earth and Mars rovers and orbiters. So Curiosity gets a good rest between the period of 9th – 26th April 2013, where little to no communications will be sent to the rover. Read more here: Sun in the Way Will Affect Mars Mission in April

LPSC 2013

And finally, just a little word on the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference…I hope you’ve had fun keeping up to date with our supercool microbloggers over in Texas. I for one am looking forward to hearing all about the new findings that have been coming through the news all week. If you missed any of the action, stay tuned here on the blog for some news and you can also still check out the twitter pages for info from the past week:

 @EarthSolarSystm

@MarkCNottingham

@SarahACrowther

 @Katie_H_Joy

And our picture of the week goes to…the Sun

This is an image of magnetic loops on the sun, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It has been processed to highlight the edges of each loop to make the structure more clear. (IMAGE: NASA)

This is an image of magnetic loops on the sun, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It has been processed to highlight the edges of each loop to make the structure more clear. (IMAGE: NASA)

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