Posts Tagged ‘NASA’


NASA 2016 Mars Mission to Investigate Planet Core [Video]

by James Fenner

 

NASA plan to look at Mars planet core

Astronomers have pondered over why Earth and Mars are so different, from an evolutionary perspective, for quite some time. However, NASA have designs to fill in these gaps in our planetary knowledge by launching a cost-effective mission to Mars, by 2016, to investigate the planet’s core.

Mars vs. Earth

InSight mars mission Logo

The new mission is called InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), and will attempt to identify the nature of the Red Planet’s core. Specifically, is the core in liquid form or is it solid? Furthermore, the research efforts will attempt to establish why there is such a huge difference between the crust of Earth and Mars. Our planet is home to a series of tectonic plates, whilst Mars is an endless, barren wasteland of deserts, valleys and polar ice caps, interspersed with impact craters.

Researchers believe that the key to understanding these mysteries might lie at the heart of the Red Planet, and could eventually lead scientists to pinpoint the means by which other rocky planets come to fruition.

The mission’s budget is planned to be a little over $400 million, with Bruce Banerdt taking the helm, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in California.

Launching in March 2016, and with a lander arriving on the planet half a year later, the Mars mission is due to last two years. The lander will consist of a number of instruments to measure seismic activity and heat fluctuations within the planet’s interior, whilst taking measurements of the rotation of the Red Planet upon its axis. The robotic lander will also feature a set of cameras and a pair of arms to aid its research.

The Financial Factor

The InSight Mars mission was given the go ahead after competing against two other proposed missions, TiME and Comet Hopper, as it was an evolution of a previous NASA project InSight Spacecraft Design

(the Phoenix Mars Mission) and provided a highly cost-effective prospect. The Phoenix lander was a highly successful mission, which was utilized to explore ground ice around the Martian north pole; it’s thought that exploiting the same technology for the new InSight mission could help to cut costs.

This was confirmed by John Grunsfeld, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate who suggested that TiME’s proposed mission to Titan (Saturn’s enormous moon), represented a financial gamble, citing scheduling problems as another adverse factor.

Landing Site Selection

According to NBC News, NASA is currently investigating plausible landing sites for InSight’s 2016 Mars Mission. Thus far, four suitable sites have been selected, where investigation of the planet’s core may commence. Matt Golombek, also working from NASA’s JPL, highlights that landing suitability is principally based around the area that is deemed safest:

“They have mostly smooth terrain, few rocks and very little slope.”

These landing sites have all been selected within the Elysium Planitia zone of Mars. This region is thought to provide sufficient solar power, all year round, as well as a descent atmosphere (due to low elevations), with which the spacecraft can make its landing.

Map of Mars InSight landing zones

NASA had also previously considered other landing zones as viable targets, including areas of the Valles Marineris, the Isidis Planitia and the famous “Grand Canyons” of Mars. However, these regions had a number of issues preventing the go-ahead, including uneven terrain and high wind velocities.

Studying Mars as a Living Entity

NASA describe this new space adventure as a search for “fingerprints,” of the mechanisms by which terrestrial planets develop, and almost seems to compare Mars to that of a human being. The seismological activity represents the planet’s “pulse”, whereas its heat flow and tracking represent “temperature” and “reflexes.”

As there is no tectonic activity, and the planet is less geologically dynamic than Earth, Mars is thought to retain most of its history within its crust, mantle and core. Consequently, the team consider that thorough investigation of the size, density and overall thickness of the various layers of the planet could provide a more concrete understanding of how Mars has changed with time.

The birth of a planet begins when a rocky body evolves. Evolution follows the formation of the rocky body by a process called accretion. The body increases in size, its inner material heats up and melts, and it then recrystallizes during a period of cooling. The end result is a terrestrial planet, encompassing the crust, mantle and core.

It’s the subsequent steps that scientists are confused by, however. A planet’s evolution is based upon differentiation, which astronomers know little about. This is, hopefully, where InSight is likely to plug in the gaps in our knowledge.

To round off the mission, NASA plans to conduct an investigation into the impact of meteorites on the Red Planet’s surface. NASA’s 2016 Mars mission, and their plans to study the planet’s core features, represents an exciting new step for the space agency, who have been under much criticism for not pursuing further endeavors on the Red Planet. Hopefully, this will help silence some of their critics.

By James Fenner

NASA’s InSight Website

NBC News Link

Science.com Link


  • ONE SCOOP A photo transmitted from Mars shows the Curiosity rover’s first drilled rock sample. Analyses of the rock powder suggest that the area being explored by the rover was once hospitable to life. more >>
  • NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS
Latest News
  • WASHINGTON — Microbial life could have thrived on Mars billions of years ago, researchers from NASA’s Curiosity mission reported March 12. An analysis of the rover’s first drill sample on the Red Planet revealed a nonacidic, slightly salty aquatic environment with plenty of energy-rich minerals. There is no evidence of past life, the researchers said, but the sample revealed the most hospitable environment ever detected beyond Earth. 03.12.13 | more >>

  • WASHINGTON — Sara Volz gasped in amazement when she heard her name called. The 17-year-old finalist had just been named the grand-prize winner at the March 12 awards gala of the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search awards. She was going home with $100,000. 03.12.13 | more >>

  • Surgeons have replaced 75 percent of a man’s skull with a custom-designed polymer cranium constructed with a 3-D printer. The surgery took place on March 4 and is the first U.S. case following the FDA’s approval of the implants last month. The patient’s reason for needing such extensive replacement surgery has not been revealed. 03.11.13 | more >>

  • A contagious cancer decimating Tasmanian devils makes itself invisible to the animals’ immune systems, which might otherwise fight it off, a new study shows. 03.11.13 | more >>

  • You might predict that most fans of the satirical, Fox News–mocking show “The Colbert Report,” are Democrats. But it turns out that liking rapper Nicki Minaj and enjoying cuddling also hint at leftward political leanings. A new study finds that the things someone “likes” on Facebook can predict personal attributes such as political leaning, age, gender and sexual orientation. 03.11.13 | more >>

  • Melt from Arctic Archipelago will raise sea levels by 35 millimeters 03.11.13 | more >>

  • D meson’s switch between matter and antimatter could help uncover new particles 03.08.13 | more >>

  • The Stone Age could just as easily be called the Roam Age. 03.08.13 | more >>

  • Alcohol may give heavy drinkers more than just a buzz. It can also fuel their brains, a new study suggests. 03.08.13 | more >>

  • Bees apparently have their own version of Starbucks and may even get hooked on the joe: Honeybees are more likely to remember a flower that laces its nectar with a hit of caffeine, a new study shows. 03.07.13 | more >>

  • Life is hard in hot volcanic pools laden with salt, acid, sulfur and toxic metals, but a red alga called Galdieria sulphuraria thrives in such environments with a little genetic help from some microbial buddies. The alga borrowed at least 5 percent of its genes from bacteria and archaea that live in extreme conditions, Gerald Schönknecht of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and his colleagues report in the March 8 Science. 03.07.13 | more >>

  • Transplanting human brain cells into mice makes the mice smarter, a new study shows. 03.07.13 | more >>

  • Planetary systems in our galaxy are packed to the brim, according to a new study — throw in another orb and all hell will break loose. The study, posted February 28 at arXiv.org, argues that planets around other stars share an evolutionary history similar to that of the solar system’s eight planets. 03.06.13 | more >>

  • Protein sends message to brain that tongue has detected sweet, bitter or umami flavor 03.06.13 | more >>

  • View the video Swirling rings of fluid have for the first time been tied in a knot. Physicists accomplished the feat with the help of some unlikely lab tools: YouTube videos of dolphins and a 3-D printer. 03.05.13 | more >>

  • Zombies aren’t the only things that feast on brains. Immune cells called microglia gorge on neural stem cells in developing rat and monkey brains, researchers report in the March 6 Journal of Neuroscience. 03.05.13 | more >>

  • The desert’s most iconic creature may be a snow lover at heart. Scientists have unearthed fossils of a giant camel that roamed the Arctic more than 3 million years ago, when the region was warmer than today and blanketed by a boreal forest. The discovery, reported online March 5 in Nature Communications, suggests modern camels probably descended from a cold-dwelling ancestor. 03.05.13 | more >>

  • An infant born with HIV has cleared her body of the virus with the help of three medications started shortly after birth, scientists reported March 3 at the Conference on Retroviral and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta. 03.04.13 | more >>

  • Having HIV may boost a man’s risk of heart attack, a study of more than 82,000 veterans suggests. 03.04.13 | more >>

  • Pregnant women who took an omega-3 fatty acid supplement had bigger babies 03.04.13 | more >>

  • Honeybees may be busy, but they may not be efficient: Native pollinators could help farms worldwide produce bigger harvests. 03.01.13 | more >>

 


Curiosity Finds Simple Organics, But Big Questions

“The Curiosity rover has detected organic compounds on Mars, NASA scientists announced at a press conference today. But the source of these carbon-containing molecules, which are essential to sustaining life, is still up in the air. Using Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments, researchers found traces of water, sulfur, and small amounts of organics in the form chlorine-containing compounds, though the researchers were quick to point out that they’re still trying to determine the source of the organics—they could very well could be from residual earth contaminants, the scientists warned. “[SAM] has made this detection of simple, organic compounds; we just don’t know if they’re indigenous to Mars or not,” said project scientist John Grotzinger.”


FROZEN FARMER The 5,300-year-old Iceman mummy found in the Alps was part of a wave of immigrants that moved into Europe as agriculture spread from the Middle East, a new genetic analysis finds.          more >>
© South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, EURAC, Samadelli, Staschitz

Latest News
  • The insidious spread of an abnormal protein may be behind Parkinson’s disease, a study in mice suggests. A harmful version of the protein crawls through the brains of healthy mice, killing brain cells and damaging the animals’ balance and coordination, researchers report in the Nov. 16 Science.                   11.16.12 | more >>

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover isn’t leaving just tire tracks in the reddish Martian dust — it’s also leaving scoop marks in an area called Rocknest, about 480 meters away from where the rover touched down in August.                   11.16.12 | more >>

  • Not all planets are content to dutifully circle a star. A new rogue planet has been spied roaming free among a pack of young stars about 115 to 160 light-years from Earth.                   11.15.12 | more >>

  • A rainforest katydid doesn’t talk like a mammal, or walk like a mammal, but it does hear with the first mammal-like, three-stage sound-sensing system known outside vertebrates.                  11.15.12 | more >>

  • Beefing up some muscles doesn’t take steroids or exercise — paraffin wax will do. Incorporating wax into artificial muscles spun from carbon nanotubes gives them superior flexing power, a discovery that could lead to smart materials such as fabrics that respond to environmental changes.                   11.15.12 | more >>

  • Scientists working in South Africa have unearthed the oldest-known spear tips, apparently made by a common ancestor of people and Neandertals around 500,000 years ago.                  11.15.12 | more >>

  • View the videos  Snowboarders and marine engineers both worry about avalanches, but the latter may have a tougher job when working underwater. They have to understand not only what makes a cliffside collapse, but also how fluid between sand grains affects the flow.                  11.15.12 | more >>

  • The Ebola virus can spread through the air from pigs to macaques, a new study suggests.                  11.15.12 | more >>

  • Droughts shrivel crops, threaten communities, and wither ecosystems. Studies claim global warming is increasing drought worldwide, and may already have done so. But the standard method of assessing drought has exaggerated drying trends over the past 60 years, scientists report in the Nov. 14 Nature.                   11.14.12 | more >>

  • A collection of reports from the conference, held November 6-10 in San Francisco                  11.14.12 | more >>

  • China’s famous Qinling pandas may run out of their favorite food by the end of this century. Scientists have simulated how three bamboo species native to central China’s Qinling Mountains might move around as climate changes. And the news is bad for hungry pandas: All three plant species shrink in range.                  11.13.12 | more >>

  • A mysterious, 3-million-year-old member of the human evolutionary family had a maverick taste for grasses and flowering plants called sedges, a chemical analysis of the creature’s teeth suggests.                  11.12.12 | more >>

  • SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly gnawed-off telomeres — the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes — may portend a higher risk of death, a new study suggests.                   11.11.12 | more >>

  • The effects of a baby’s rough start can linger. An early stressful environment during a baby girl’s first year was associated with altered brain behavior and signs of anxiety in her late teens, scientists report online November 11 in Nature Neuroscience.                   11.11.12 | more >>

  • SAN FRANCISCO — Rare tweaks in single letters of DNA are not as powerful a force in health and in common diseases as scientists hoped, new work suggests.                   11.08.12 | more >>

  • Classic Maya civilization rose and fell with the rains.                  11.08.12 | more >>

  • When a killer seaweed touches a kind of spiky coral, the coral pushes a chemical panic button that brings small resident fish to the rescue.                  11.08.12 | more >>

  • Making hydrogen gas in water just got a little easier. The discovery may lead to inexpensive, practical means of harvesting sunlight to create clean-burning hydrogen for powering cars or generating electricity.                   11.08.12 | more >>

  • Sea levels may swell much higher than previously predicted, thanks to feedback mechanisms that are speeding up ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica.                   11.08.12 | more >>

  • Astronomers on the prowl for potentially habitable planets have found a new candidate: a world seven times as massive as Earth in a nearby solar system.                  11.07.12 | more >>

  • The seemingly unending election cycle may have left you battle-weary and bleary-eyed, but that’s not why physicist Mark Newman’s election maps look distorted. He makes cartograms, maps in which familiar shapes are morphed to represent something other than just area.                  11.07.12 | more >>


D’Souza’s Sad, Pathetic Wingnut Desperation To Tear Down President Obama
By Nicole Belle

On my weekly segment on the Nicole Sandler Show, Nicole jokes that I watch the Sunday shows so her listeners don’t have to. One of our C&L regulars, Mugsy, watches them too and is a very visible presence on Sundays. He also took upon himself the unenviable task to watch wingnut toadie Dinesh D’Souza’s cinematic claptrap “2016” so you don’t have to. Mugsy methodically broke down all the manipulations, gross deceptions, and blatant lies.

And there are so many….

The film starts out with D’Souza talking about himself and how different his life was growing up in his native India yet how differently he views the world today despite that. Then he proceeds to talk for the next 90 minutes about how life in Kenya… a country D’Souza admits Obama never lived in… must have shaped Obama’s attitudes about America. I find myself wondering, how is it that D’Souza can imagine himself to be so radically different despite having been raised in India (a former British colony), but President Obama’s entire world view is the product of a culture in which HE had never lived? Just one of the major inconsistencies in “Obama: 2016″.

Oh you silly liberal with working critical thinking skills…this is clearly not a movie for you.

D’Souza twice claims Obama “wants to turn the Falkland Islands over to Venezuela”, but a Google search turns up nothing other than President Obama choosing to “remain neutral on the subject of Falkland sovereignty, irking Great Britain.” I’m not even sure why this is suddenly an issue. But clearly, it’s just one more sign of President Obama’s deep hatred of anything connected to Great Britain. It’s not like the Falklands were ever involved in a war or anything, right?

For some odd reason, D’Souza suddenly concedes that Obama: “Increased NASA’s budget”, but “lowered their horizons from ‘a return to the moon’ to ‘reconciling with Muslims’.” (huh??? Yeah, read that as many times as you like, I promise it won’t make any more sense.) He returns to this point later towards the end of the film. See below. Here, D’Souza is clearly blaming Obama for the discontinuation of the Shuttle program, which was actually discontinued under the Bush Administration. In fact, the Obama Administration EXTENDED the Shuttle program by two missions

See, I don’t know that any actual facts will penetrate through this level of derangement. Mugsy did an amazing job, including clips from the film.

Go check it out, if for no other reason than to remind yourself that there is no lie too big, no project too stupid, no low too low for conservatives to stoop to smear the African American Democrat in the White House. Then give Mugsy thanks for watching that piece of excrement so you didn’t have to.


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This composite image captured by the Hubble shows the positions of the dark matter core (blue), galaxies (orange) and gas (green) in the train wreck cluster, formed by colliding galaxies. Full Story NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee/UC Davis, A. Mahdavi/San Francisco State Univ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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