"The large-scale homogeneity of the universe makes it very difficult to believe that the structure of the universe is determined by anything so peripheral as some complicated molecular structure on a minor planet orbiting a very average star in the outer suburbs of a fairly typical galaxy."

— Steven Hawking

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Polar bears appear to be ageing faster as the Arctic gets warmer

New Scientist Space - Space Headlines - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 7:00am
Markers of biological ageing in polar bear tissue samples reveal that stress associated with climate change appears to be taking a toll
Categories: Astronomy

Polar bears appear to be ageing faster as the Arctic gets warmer

New Scientist Space - Cosmology - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 7:00am
Markers of biological ageing in polar bear tissue samples reveal that stress associated with climate change appears to be taking a toll
Categories: Astronomy

Could Magnesium and TikTok's 'Sleepy Girl Mocktail' Actually Help You Sleep?

Scientific American.com - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 7:00am

TikTok’s “sleepy girl mocktails” remind us how important magnesium is for sleep and health

Categories: Astronomy

Under Pluto's Sunny Skies, You'd Have to Wear Shades

Scientific American.com - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 6:45am

Despite being some six billion kilometers away, the sun from Pluto would be a dazzling sight to behold—carefully, that is

Categories: Astronomy

Watch Japan launch its H3 rocket on return-to-flight mission tonight

Space.com - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 6:00am
Japan's new H3 rocket will attempt to bounce back from an explosive failure tonight (Feb. 16), and you can watch the action live.
Categories: Astronomy

This Week's Sky at a Glance, February 16 – 25

Sky & Telescope Magazine - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 5:09am

The Moon waxes from first quarter to full this week, traveling from the Pleiades past the not-quite-twin heads of Gemini to the Sickle of Leo. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia stand in balance. Venus meets Mars low in the dawn.

The post This Week's Sky at a Glance, February 16 – 25 appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

Categories: Astronomy

Earth from Space: Côte d'Ivoire

ESO Top News - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 4:00am
Image: The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Côte d'Ivoire in western Africa.
Categories: Astronomy

Rising greenhouse gases have cooling effect on Antarctica’s atmosphere

New Scientist Space - Cosmology - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 3:00am
A "negative greenhouse effect" means rising concentrations of CO2 and methane have slightly cooled parts of Antarctica’s upper atmosphere, but that could change as the air becomes more humid
Categories: Astronomy

Rising greenhouse gases have cooling effect on Antarctica’s atmosphere

New Scientist Space - Space Headlines - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 3:00am
A "negative greenhouse effect" means rising concentrations of CO2 and methane have slightly cooled parts of Antarctica’s upper atmosphere, but that could change as the air becomes more humid
Categories: Astronomy

Rising greenhouse gases actually cool Antarctica – because it's so dry

New Scientist Space - Cosmology - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 3:00am
A "negative greenhouse effect" means rising concentrations of CO2 and methane have slightly cooled parts of Antarctica’s upper atmosphere, but that could change as the air becomes more humid
Categories: Astronomy

Rising greenhouse gases actually cool Antarctica – because it's so dry

New Scientist Space - Space Headlines - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 3:00am
A "negative greenhouse effect" means rising concentrations of CO2 and methane have slightly cooled parts of Antarctica’s upper atmosphere, but that could change as the air becomes more humid
Categories: Astronomy

Neutron Star "Glitches" Are Clue to Mysterious Radio Bursts

Sky & Telescope Magazine - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 2:22am

New observations of a neutron star in the Milky Way's center shed light on what makes mysterious fast radio bursts.

The post Neutron Star "Glitches" Are Clue to Mysterious Radio Bursts appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

Categories: Astronomy

Nanobot uses a DNA clutch to engage its engine

New Scientist Space - Cosmology - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 1:00am
A tiny robot with a clutch that mimics similar mechanisms found in microorganisms could be used to trigger the internal workings of a cell
Categories: Astronomy

Nanobot uses a DNA clutch to engage its engine

New Scientist Space - Space Headlines - Fri, 02/16/2024 - 1:00am
A tiny robot with a clutch that mimics similar mechanisms found in microorganisms could be used to trigger the internal workings of a cell
Categories: Astronomy

Save 30% on the absolutely massive Lego Marvel Hulkbuster

Space.com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 7:59pm
The Hulkbuster is one of the best Lego Marvel sets you can buy, and it's currently 30% off at Lego.com.
Categories: Astronomy

NASA Welcomes Uruguay Foreign Minister for Artemis Accords Signing

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 6:02pm
From left to right, Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States Andrés Augusto Durán Hareau, U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Kevin Sullivan, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Omar Paganini pose for a photo during an Artemis Accords signing ceremony, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington. Uruguay is the 36th country to sign the Artemis Accords, which establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s Artemis program. Credits: NASA/Keegan Barber

During a ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington Thursday, Uruguay became the 36th country to sign the Artemis Accords. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson participated in the signing ceremony for the agency, and Omar Paganini, foreign minister, signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Uruguay.

The accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations.

Also participating in the event were:

  • NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy
  • Karen Feldstein, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations
  • Kevin Sullivan, U.S. Department of State deputy assistant secretary
  • Andrés Augusto Durán Hareau, Uruguayan ambassador to the U.S.
  • Heide Fulton, U.S. ambassador to Uruguay

“NASA welcomes Uruguay as the newest member of the Artemis Accords family,” said Nelson. “The United States and Uruguay share a commitment to democracy and peace, and now, we expand these principles in the cosmos to commit to the safe and transparent exploration of space.”

The Artemis Accords were established in 2020 by the United States together with seven other original signatories. Since then, the Accords signatories have held focused discussions on how best to implement the Artemis Accords principles.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to introduce space cooperation as a new chapter in the robust bilateral agenda between Uruguay and the U.S.,” said Paganini. “We are sure that this signing ceremony is not an end in itself, but the beginning of a new bilateral track based on knowledge-intensive activities and new opportunities for our people.”

The Artemis Accords reinforce and implement key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. They also strengthen the commitment by the United States and signatory nations to the Registration Convention, the Rescue and Return Agreement, as well as best practices NASA and its partners support, including the public release of scientific data.

More countries are expected to sign the accords in the months and years ahead, which are advancing safe, peaceful, and prosperous activities in space. Learn more about the Artemis Accords at:

https://www.nasa.gov/artemis-accords

-end-

Faith McKie / Roxana Bardan
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600
faith.mckie@nasa.gov / roxana.bardan@nasa.gov

Share Details Last Updated Feb 15, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

OSIRIS-REx’s Final Haul: 121.6 Grams from Asteroid Bennu

Universe Today - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 4:33pm

After several months of meticulous, careful work, NASA has the final total for their haul of asteroidal material from the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu. The highly successful mission successfully collected 121.6 grams, or almost 4.3 ounces, of rock and dust. It won’t be long before scientists get their hands on these samples and start analyzing them.

These samples have been a long time coming. The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer) was approved by NASA back in 2011 and launched in September 2016. It reached its target, the carbonaceous Apollo group asteroid 101955 Bennu, in December 2018. After spending months studying the asteroid and reconnoitring for a suitable sampling location, it selected one in December 2019. After two sampling rehearsals, the spacecraft gathered its sample on October 20th, 2020.

In September 2023, the sample finally returned to Earth.

There was some serendipity in the way the final total was reached. Some of it hitched a ride outside of the main sample container. There was some drama, too, as stubborn bolts on the TAGSAM head resisted removal and delayed access to the sample contained inside. Personnel from NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) had to design, build, and test new tools that they used to finally open the TAGSAM head and access the sample.

For OSIRIS-REx to be successful, it had to collect at least 60 grams of material. With a final total that is double that, it should open up more research opportunities and allow more of the material to be held untouched for future research. NASA says they will preserve 70% of the sample for the future, including for future generations.

OSIRIS-REx astromaterials processors, from left, Rachel Funk, Julia Plummer, and Jannatul Ferdous, prepare to lift the top plate of the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head and pour the final portion of asteroid rocks and dust into sample trays below. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

The next step is for the material to be put into containers and sent to researchers. More than 200 researchers around the world will receive samples. Many of the samples will find their way to scientists at NASA and institutions in the US, while others will go to researchers at institutions associated with the Canadian Space Agency, JAXA, and other partner nations. Canada will receive 4% of the sample, the first time that Canada’s scientific community will have direct access to a returned asteroid sample.

Asteroid Bennu was chosen because it’s close to Earth and has been observed extensively. It’s a carbonaceous asteroid, which make up about 75% of asteroids. But it’s also a sub-type of carbonaceous asteroids called a B-type. These are much more uncommon than other carbonaceous asteroids, and scientists think they’re very primitive and contain volatiles that date back to the early Solar System. Researchers around the world have been eagerly waiting for these samples.

Bennu is a natural time capsule that holds clues to how the Solar System formed, including Earth. It’s also a rubble pile asteroid, and OSIRIS-REx showed that Bennu has over 200 boulders on its surface that are larger than 10 meters. Some of these boulders have veins of carbonate minerals that predate the formation of the asteroid.

Bennu’s boulder-strewn surface. Bennu is a rubble pile asteroid that was likely part of a much larger parent body at one time in the distant past. Image Credit: NASA/University of Arizona.

The “O” in OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, and that’s one of the things scientists hope to learn more about from Bennu. Will the sample contain any organic compounds that could’ve played a role in the appearance of life? If so, that supports the panspermia theory.

Laboratory testing will also show how accurate the spacecraft’s instruments were by comparing the samples to what the instruments told us from orbit around the asteroid. This is invaluable feedback for future missions.

But the main scientific value in the Bennu sample concerns what the samples will tell us about the asteroid’s origins. Scientists think that Bennu broke off from a much larger parent body before migrating to the inner Solar System. It could hold clues to that journey and how it changed over time. Astronomers suspect that Bennu is actually older than the Solar System itself. It could hold important clues to the gas and dust in the solar nebula that eventually formed the Sun and all the planets.

We already have some early results from the Bennu sample. Initial observations showed that the asteroid contains carbon and water. Carbon wasn’t unexpected since the asteroid is a carbonaceous one. Neither was water surprising since scientists have long thought that asteroids were one of the main ways that Earth got its water.

While the OSIRIS-REx sampling mission is over, the spacecraft is still going. It’s in its extended mission now, called OSIRIS-APEX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Apophis Explorer.) Its target is the asteroid Apophis, which will have a close encounter with Earth in 2029. The mission will study how the close encounter affects the asteroid, including its orbit and trajectory, and any surface changes that Earth’s gravity might trigger, like landslides.

These are images of the asteroid Apophis captured in 2012. Apophis was considered at risk of impacting Earth, but now astronomers are confident it will pass by. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

The OSIRIS-REx mission is an impressive display of human ingenuity and cooperation. Once scientists get their hands on the samples, we can expect a stream of fascinating results. Who knows which of our ideas about the Solar System will be confirmed and which ones will be discarded? No matter what we learn, it’s guaranteed to be interesting.

The post OSIRIS-REx’s Final Haul: 121.6 Grams from Asteroid Bennu appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Astronomy

Solar Geoengineering Looks to Silicon Valley for New Wave of Funding

Scientific American.com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 4:15pm

Tech billionaires are funding research into controversial methods for cooling the planet

Categories: Astronomy

Lasers smaller than a human hair emit doughnut-shaped light

New Scientist Space - Cosmology - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 4:00pm
Incredibly thin, hollow wires made from gallium and nitrogen can produce laser beams that are hollow with a ring-shaped cross-section, and that could be used to create optical fibres out of thin air
Categories: Astronomy