Weekly News Round-Up – 04.04.13

Hello readers! We’re back from our Easter break now and eager to get on with work in the lab – We also have a lot to tell you about LPSC 2013! I hope you’ve had, or are having a great break and are ready to hear about the goings on in the planetary science community over the past week. Here’s a collection of the best news articles we’ve found: (I put a warning in this week’s round-up; I’ve tried to avoid all April fools articles but there’s a chance one or two have slipped through!)

 

Making A Mountain Out Of A Mole Hill

There’s been a lot of hype about the AMS instrument on the ISS this week, the majority of which is somewhat unwarranted, nonetheless, we’re reporting on the continued work by this instrument and the teams working on it.

Since its launch in 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) has been converting the relatively brief amount of data we had on dark matter, antimatter and a whole range of other as-of-yet unknown particles, into a mountain of data. With the ability to continuously collect data from the ISS’s vantage point it has proven its worth most recently by alluding to having found dark matter. There are a few different articles on the findings, check out the BBC report on the matter here: Have scientists found dark matter?

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ams_how_it_works.html

 

It’s Life, But Not As We Know It!

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been running experiments that simulate the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. Specifically they’ve been looking at organic molecules and the potential of supporting life in a pocket of the atmosphere detected on Titan. Read more about the findings here: NASA team investigates complex chemistry at Titan

 

Curiosity Out Of Sight

Recently Curiosity has been out of contact with its controllers at NASA JPL due to the position of the Sun between the Earth and Mars, a situation called conjunction. This has called for some pretty impressive scheduling of commands as well as the use of many, if not all of the orbiters around Mars currently to store the valuable data collected before it can be transmitted back to Earth. It’s been a phenomenal undertaking and it appears to have paid off- The Rover kept carrying out science while it was out of contact but was not moved, for obvious reasons!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZw74PKoajU&list=PL56421C9A51D1F427

 

It’s a short update this week, mainly due to the relatively few news articles that have been published following LPSC. We suspect all the really interesting stuff was held back for the conference! Hopefully we’ll have more for you next week! I leave you with this image from the Hubble Telescope:

A recent and rather amusing picture from Hubble, see if you can find the Space Invader... (Image: NASA)

A recent and rather amusing picture from Hubble, see if you can find the Space Invader… (Image: NASA)

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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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