Hello readers! Welcome to this week’s news round-up. We’ve had a very exciting week here in Manchester, including receiving a variety of new and interesting samples. Sadly, the spectrometers are still not working completely but we are several steps closer to getting them fixed! There’s been so much going on in the news this week that I don’t know where to start; I’m going to make the descriptions briefer this week so that I can write about as many of the great stories I’ve seen as possible.
You’re Going To Do What?!
Research often involves some fairly crazy ideas but I have never heard anything quite as crazy as the latest proposal to come from NASA. They are hoping to send a mission to draw an asteroid into orbit around Earth. It sounds like something straight out of a Sci-Fi movie but I assure you, this is a real mission and if it is pulled off successfully then it will provide a wealth of information and samples for the planetary science community. Read more about the proposal, and see the dramatic media release about this mission here: NASA’s Asteroid Initiative Benefits From Rich History
Curiosity Gets Noble
The results for the Martian atmosphere study carried out by the SAM instrument on board are now out, or at least the Argon data has been reported on! This is still an evolving picture but it is definitely proving interesting for the noble gas community. The suggestion is that due to the lack of a magnetic field protecting Mars from early on in its life, the lighter isotopes of Argon have been preferentially stripped away by the solar winds. Read more here: Curiosity Rover Traces Loss Of Martian Air.
Or the NASA Report here: Remaining Martian Atmosphere Still Dynamic
LARS Looks Closer To Home
ESA and NASA have recently turned their attention to looking at galaxies closer to home and their Lyman Alpha emissions (along with spectrometry and imaging) in an attempt to further understand what happens in star forming regions. Read more about the science here: Hubble Sees Light and Dust in a Nearby Starburst Galaxy
Navigating The Stars
When I first read this article I have to confess, my mind wandered straight to Star Trek. This is one of many methods currently being developed for the use in navigation of the stars. This multipurpose mission has drawn support from across NASA as well as external sources and is planned for deployment in 2017. Read more about it here: NASA Taps the Power of Zombie Stars in Two-in-One Instrument
Spearheading Glacial Study
This article is one for our earth science viewers! The BBC reports on a cutting edge method of accessing and analyzing the harder to reach places in the world. Twenty-five ballistic “Javelins” packed with analytical instruments have been deployed in Pine Island Glacier to help monitor the conditions and track its movement. The method of deployment is phenomenal and I thoroughly recommend reading this article! I can’t help but wonder, from a planetary scientist point of view, how applicable this technology would be to large scale planetary exploration missions? Read more about it here: Science “Javelins” Spear Pine Island Glacier
I’d like to finish this post by sharing the image below with you all. It shows America’s Eastern Seaboard as seen at night from the ISS. It’s images like this that, for me, exemplify the NASA slogan “Never Stop Exploring”. I hope you enjoy it!