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  • richardmitnick 9:57 am on June 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Arecibo Observatory Scientists Help Unravel Surprise Asteroid Mystery", , Asteroids, , , , The University of Central Florida   

    From The University of Central Florida : “Arecibo Observatory Scientists Help Unravel Surprise Asteroid Mystery” 

    From The University of Central Florida

    June 23, 2022
    Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

    A team from the observatory publish their findings ahead of Asteroid Day, a U.N. designation aimed at increasing awareness about the threats some asteroids pose.

    1
    There are almost 30,000 known asteroids according to Center for Near Earth Studies and while few pose an immediate threat, there is a chance one of significant size could hit the earth and cause catastrophic damage. That’s why the work of researchers like UCF’s Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin is so important. Photo: Stock image.

    When asteroid 2019 OK suddenly appeared barreling toward Earth on July 25, 2019, Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin and the team at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico jumped into action.

    After getting an alert, the radar scientists zoned in on the asteroid, which was coming from Earth’s blind spot — solar opposition. Zambrano-Marin and the team had 30 minutes to get as many radar readings as they could. It was traveling so fast, that’s all the time she’d have it in Arecibo’s sights. UCF manages the Arecibo Observatory for the U.S. National Science Foundation under a cooperative agreement.

    The asteroid made headline news because it appeared to come out of nowhere and was traveling fast.

    Zambrano-Marin’s findings were published in the Planetary Science Journal June 10, just a few weeks before the world observes Asteroid Day, which is June 30 and promotes global awareness to help educate the public about these potential threats.

    “It was a real challenge,” says Zambrano-Marin, a UCF planetary scientist. “No one saw it until it was practically passing by, so when we got the alert, we had very little time to act. Even so, we were able to capture a lot of valuable information.”

    It turns out the asteroid was between .04 and .08 miles in diameter and was moving fast. It was rotating at 3 to 5 minutes. That means it is part of only 4.2 percent of the known fast rotating asteroids. This is a growing group that the researchers say need more attention.

    The data indicates that the asteroid is likely a C-type, which are made up of clay and silicate rocks, or S-type, which are made up of silicate and nickel-iron. C-type asteroids are among the most common and some of the oldest in our solar system. S-type are the second most common.

    Zambrano-Marin is now inspecting the data collected through Arecibo’s Planetary Radar database to continue her research. Although the observatory’s telescope collapsed in 2020, the Planetary Radar team can tap the existing data bank that spans four decades. Science operations continue in the areas of space and atmospheric sciences, and the staff is refurbishing 12-meter antennae to continue with astronomy research.

    “We can use new data from other observatories and compare it to the observations we have made here over the past 40 years,” Zambrano-Marin says. “The radar data not only helps confirm information from optical observations, but it can help us identify physical and dynamical characteristics, which in turn could give us insights into appropriate deflection techniques if they were needed to protect the planet.”
    ===
    There are almost 30,000 known asteroids according to Center for Near Earth Studies and while few pose an immediate threat, there is a chance one of significant size could hit the earth and cause catastrophic damage. That’s why NASA keeps a close watch and system to detect and characterize objects once they are found. NASA and other space agencies nations have been launching missions to explore Near-Earth Asteroids to better understand what they are made of and how they move in anticipation of having to divert one heading for earth in the future.

    The OSIRIS REx mission, which includes UCF Pegasus Professor of Physics Humberto Campins, is headed back to Earth with a sample of asteroid Bennu, which gave scientists a few surprises.

    Bennu was first observed at Arecibo in 1999. A new mission — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission — aims to demonstrate the ability to redirect an asteroid using the kinetic energy of a projectile.

    The spacecraft launched in November 2021 and is expected to reach its target — the Dimorphos asteroid — on September 26, 2022.

    Zambrano-Marin and the rest of the team at Arecibo are working on providing the scientific community with more information about the many kinds of asteroids in the solar system to help come up with contingency plans.

    This week the team at the Arecibo Observatory is holding a series of special events as part of the Asteroid Day awareness campaign. They include presentations, “ask a scientist” stations for those visiting the science museum at Arecibo, and on June 25 presentations about the DART mission in English and Spanish. The timing couldn’t be better as there are five known asteroids from the size of a car to a Boeing 747 that will be buzzing Earth before Asteroid Day, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that keeps track of the celestial bodies for NASA. The closest approach is on June 25 with an object coming within 475,000 miles of Earth. For comparison, the moon is about 239,000 miles from Earth.

    Zambrano-Marin has multiple degrees including a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from the Ana G. Mendez University System and a master’s in space sciences from the International Space University in France. She has published more than 20 articles and is a frequent speaker and presenter at conference around the world. She previously worked at the Vatican Observatory and as a consultant to the Caribbean University president. In addition to working on the planetary radar group at Arecibo, Zambrano-Marin also created the Arecibo Observatory Space Academy, an 18-week research program for pre-college students in Puerto Rico.

    The other team members on the study are: Sean Marshal, Maxime Devogele, Anne Virkki, and Flaviane Venditti from the Arecibo Observatory/UCF; Dylan C. Hickson formerly from Arecibo/UCF and now at Center for Wave Phenomena, Colorado School of Mines; Ellen S. Howell from Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson; Patrick Taylor and Edgard Rivera-Valentin from Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association, Houston; and Jon Giorgini from Solar System Dynamics Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in 1963 by the Florida Legislature, The University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University, with the mission of providing personnel to support the growing U.S. space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast. As the school’s academic scope expanded beyond engineering and technology, Florida Tech was renamed The University of Central Florida in 1978. UCF’s space roots continue, as it leads the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium. Initial enrollment was 1,948 students; enrollment today exceeds 66,000 students from 157 countries, all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    Most of the student population is on the university’s main campus, 13 miles (21 km) east of downtown Orlando and 35 miles (56 km) west of Cape Canaveral. The university offers more than 200 degrees through 13 colleges at 10 regional campuses in Central Florida, the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in south Orlando and the Center for Emerging Media in downtown Orlando.[13] Since its founding, UCF has awarded more than 290,000 degrees, including over 50,000 graduate and professional degrees, to over 260,000 alumni worldwide.

    UCF is a space-grant university. Its official colors are black and gold, and the university logo is Pegasus, which “symbolizes the university’s vision of limitless possibilities.” The university’s intercollegiate sports teams, known as the “UCF Knights” and represented by mascot Knightro, compete in NCAA Division I and the American Athletic Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:11 am on June 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What happened before during and after solar system formation? A recent study of the Asteroid Ryugu holds the answers!", Among the organic materials identified were amino acids, Asteroids, Asteroids such as Ryugu may have seeded the Earth with the raw materials required for the origin of life., Okayama University of Science [岡山理科大学](JP), Ryugu contains the most primitive pre-solar nebular (an ancient disk of gas and dust surrounding what would become the Sun) material yet identified., Some organic materials may have been inherited from before the solar system formed., which are the building blocks of the proteins that are in all living things on Earth.   

    From Okayama University of Science [岡山理科大学](JP): “What happened before during and after solar system formation? A recent study of the Asteroid Ryugu holds the answers!” 

    From Okayama University of Science [岡山理科大学](JP)

    June 10, 2022

    A team of scientists undertake a comprehensive analysis of samples returned from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa 2 mission and provide invaluable insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system.

    Summary

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 mission returned uncontaminated primitive asteroid samples to Earth. A comprehensive analysis of 16 particles from the asteroid Ryugu revealed many insights into the processes that operated before, during and after the formation of the solar system, with some still shaping the surface of the present-day asteroid. Elemental and isotopic data revealed that Ryugu contains the most primitive pre-solar nebular (an ancient disk of gas and dust surrounding what would become the Sun) material yet identified and that some organic materials may have been inherited from before the solar system formed. Among the organic materials identified were amino acids, which are the building blocks of the proteins that are in all living things on Earth. The discovery of protein forming amino acids in uncontaminated asteroid samples indicates that asteroids such as Ryugu may have seeded the Earth with the raw materials required for the origin of life. Furthermore, Ryugu samples provided both physical and chemical evidence that Ryugu originated from a large (at least several 10’s of km) icy body in outer solar system, which experienced aqueous alteration (complex chemical reactions involving liquid water). The icy body was then broken up to yield a comet-like fragment (several km in size). The fragment evolved through sublimation of ice to yield the dry porous asteroid observed today. Subsequently, space weathering, involving the bombardment of the asteroid by particles from the sun and distant stars, altered the surface materials, such as organic matter, to give materials with a distinct albedo (reflective properties), defining how the asteroid currently appears.

    _________________________________________________

    1
    Figure 1. The external appearance of several representative Ryugu particles.

    2
    Figure 2. The internal characteristics of representative portions of the Ryugu particles.

    3
    Figure 3. An overview of the aqueous fluid related processes that affected the Ryugu particles, including aqueous alteration and freeze-thaw cycling.

    4
    Figure 4. An illustration explaining the timing and mechanism behind the heat source for the melting of ice on the icy planetesimal progenitor of Ryugu.

    5
    Figure 5. An overview of the processes that led to the formation and evolution of current day Ryugu.

    6
    Figure 6. The dynamical evolution of the comet-like planetesimal fragment that would become Ryugu.
    _________________________________________________

    Asteroids and comets represent the material that was left over after the formation of the planets that orbit the Sun. Such bodies would have initially formed in a vast disk of gas and dust (protosolar nebular) around what would eventually become the Sun (protosun) and thus can preserve clues about the processes that operated during this period of the Solar system. The protosolar nebular would have been spinning fastest towards its center and this would have concentrated much of the material within this region. Some of the material then began to fall onto the surface of the protosun, increasing its temperature. The higher temperature of the protosun would have led to an increased output of radiation, which could have caused photoevaporation (evaporation due to energy from light) of the material within the inner solar system. Later, as the inner solar system cooled, new material condensed with distinct compositions to what had been present before. Eventually such materials would stick together to produce large bodies (planetesimals) that would then break up from collisions, with some forming S-type asteroids. One S-type asteroid (Itokawa) was the target of the Hayabusa mission, the predecessor of Hayabusa 2. The samples that were returned to Earth revealed a lot about such asteroids, including how their surfaces are affected by continuous small impacts and confirming identifications made through telescopes on Earth.

    Haybusa 2 targeted a very different type of asteroid, C-type, which unlike S-types preserve far more of the primitive outer solar system material, which was much less affected by heating from the protosun. Initial Earth based telescope and remote sensing information from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft suggested that Ryugu may contain organic matter and small amounts water (stuck to the surface of minerals or contained within their structure). However, C-type asteroids are incredibly hard to study using such methods, because they are very dark and the resulting data has very little information that can be used to identify specific materials. As such, the sample return represented a very important step in improving our understanding of C-type asteroids. Around 5.4 g of sample was returned to the Earth in December 2020 and the samples were initially studied at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) phase-1 curation facility at Sagamihara, Japan. Comprehensive geochemical analysis was begun in June 2021 once the samples had arrived at the phase-2 curation facility of the Pheasant Memorial Laboratory (PML), Institute for Planetary Materials, Okayama University, Japan.

    Initially, the external and physical information of the samples was obtained (Figure 1), but shortly after the particles were cut open using a microtome equipped with a diamond knife. Inside, the particles revealed textures indicative of freeze-thawing and a fine-grained mass of different minerals, with some coarser-grained components being dispersed throughout (Figure 2). The majority of the minerals were hydrous silicates called phyllosilicates (clay), which formed through chemical reactions involving non-hydrous silicate minerals and liquid water (aqueous alteration). Together with the freeze-thaw textures, the evidence indicated that the samples had experienced both liquid and frozen water in the past.

    The aqueous alteration (Figure 3) was found to have peaked before ~2.6 Myr after the formation of the solar system, through analysis of manganese and chromium within magnetite (iron oxide) and dolomite (calcium-magnesium carbonate) minerals. This means that the materials from Ryugu experienced liquid water very early in the Solar System’s history and the heat that melted the ice would have been supplied from radioactive elements (Figure 4) that only survive for a relatively short period of time (almost all would be gone after 5 Myr). After much of the radioactive elements had decayed the body would cool and freeze again. Ryugu also contains chromium, calcium and oxygen isotopes that indicate it preserved the most primitive source of materials from the protosolar nebular. Furthermore, organic materials from Ryugu record primitive isotopic signatures suggestive of their formation within the interstellar medium (the region of space between solar systems) or outer protosolar nebular. Together with the abundant water and the lack of any inner solar system material or signatures, the above findings suggest that the material within Ryugu was stuck together (accreted) and aqueously altered very early in the outer solar system (Figure 5).

    However, to form liquid water, from the heating of a rocky-icy body by radioactive decay, requires the body to be at least several 10’s of km in size. Accordingly, Ryugu must have originally been a part of a much bigger body, termed a planetesimal. Icy planetesimals are thought to be the source of comets, which can be formed by their collisional break up. If the planetesimal precursor of Ryugu was impacted after it had re-frozen, then a comet preserving many of the original textures and physical and chemical properties of the planetesimal could be produced. As a comet the fragment would have needed to move from the outer to inner solar system by some dynamical pathway, involving the interactions of the planets. Once in the inner solar system Ryugu would have then undergone significant sublimation (transition of solid ice to gas). Modelling in a previous study indicated that the sublimation could increase the rate at which Ryugu spins and lead to its distinctive spinning top shape. The sublimation could have also led to the formation of water vapor jets (as seen on the comet 67P) that would have redeposited subsurface material onto the surface and frozen it in place (Figure 6).

    Moreover, the jets may be able to explain some interesting differences between the sampling sites where the Ryugu samples were obtained. The Hayabusa 2 mission sampled material from the very surface at touch down site 1 (TD1) and most likely subsurface material from an artificial impact crater at touch down site 2 (TD2). Some of the TD1 samples show elemental fractionation beyond the mm scale and scattered B and Be abundances. However, all TD2 samples record elemental abundances similar to CI chondrites (a type of meteorite with elemental abundances similar to the Sun) and show no evidence of elemental fractionation over the mm scale. One explanation is that the TD1 site records the material entrained in a jet, brought to the surface of the comet-like fragment from many distinct regions of the subsurface and thus represents a wide variety of compositions. Meanwhile, the TD2 samples may represent material sourced from one part of Ryugu and as such have a more uniform composition.

    After complete sublimation of the ice at the surface of Ryugu, a low density and highly porous rocky asteroid was formed. While water related processes ceased, space weathering began. The surface of Ryugu was bombarded over time by large quantities of energetic particles from solar wind and cosmic rays from the sun and distant stars. The particles modified the materials on the surface of Ryugu, causing the organic matter to alter in terms of its structure. The effects of such a process were more obvious in TD1 particles from the surface of Ryugu when compared to those from TD2, which had likely been brought to the surface during the creation of an artificial impact crater. As such, space weathering is a process that still shapes the surfaces of asteroids today and will continue to do so in the future.

    Despite the effects of space weathering, which act to alter and destroy the information contained within organic matter, primitive organic materials were also detected by the comprehensive geochemical analysis of the Ryugu samples. Amino acids, such as those found within the proteins of every living organism on Earth, were detected in a Ryugu particle. The discovery of protein forming amino acids is important, because Ryugu has not been exposed to the Earth’s biosphere, like meteorites, and as such their detection proves that at least some of the building blocks of life on Earth could have been formed in space environments. Hypotheses concerning the origin of life, such as those involving hydrothermal activity, require sources of amino acids, with meteorites and asteroids like Ryugu representing strong candidates due to their inventory of amino acids and because such material would have been readily delivered to the surface of the early Earth. Additionally, the isotopic characteristics of the Ryugu samples suggest that Ryugu-like material could have supplied the Earth with its water, another resource essential for the origin and sustainment of life on Earth.

    In conjunction the findings reported by the study provide invaluable insights into the processes that have affected the most primitive asteroid sampled by human kind. Such insights have already begun to change our understanding of the events that occurred from before the solar system and up until the current day. Future work on the Ryugu samples will no doubt continue to advance our knowledge of the solar system and beyond.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Okayama University of Science [岡山理科大学](JP) is a private university in Okayama, Okayama, Japan, established in 1964. It is predominately a school of science and engineering.

    Okayama University of Science opened; established Faculty of Science; opened Department of Applied Mathematics and Department of Chemistry
    1966 Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Applied Physics in Faculty of Science
    1969 Opened Department of Mechanical Science and Department of Electronic Science in Faculty of Science
    1971 Opened Department of Applied Mathematics, Department of Chemistry, Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Applied Physics in Faculty of Science
    1973 Opened Department of Mechanical Science, Department of Electronic Science in Faculty of Science
    1974 Established Graduate School of Science; Opened Chemistry Master’s Program and Applied Physics Master’s Program
    1975 Opened Department of Basic Science in Faculty of Science
    1976 Opened Department of Applied Mathematics and Department of Information in Faculty of Science
    1978 Opened Material Physics Doctoral Program in Graduate School of Science
    1979 Opened Mechanical Science Master’s Program and Electronic Science Master’s Program in Graduate School of Science
    1980 Opened Applied Mathematics Master’s Program in Graduate School of Science; Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Environmental Chemistry in Faculty of Science
    1982 Started Electronic Physical Property Course and Information System Course in Department of Electronic Science
    1983 Opened Systems Science Doctoral Program in Graduate School of Science
    1986 Established Faculty of Engineering; Opened Department of Applied Chemistry, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Electronic Engineering
    1987 Opened Applied Mathematics Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1988 Opened Department of Biochemistry in Faculty of Science; Opened General Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1990 Opened Applied Chemistry Master’s Program, Mechanical Engineering Master’s Program, Electronic Engineering Master’s Program, and Systems Science Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    1992 Opened Department of Information Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; opened Biochemistry Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1996 Opened Information Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    1997 Established Faculty of Informatics; opened Department of Mathematics and Information, Department of Simulation Physics, Department of Biosphere-Geosphere System, and Department of Socio Information
    1999 Opened Department of Biochemistry and Department of Clinical Biochemistry in Faculty of Science
    2001 Opened Department of Welfare System Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Information Science Master’s Program, Simulation Physics Master’s Program, Biosphere-Geosphere Systems Master’s Program, and Socio Information Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Informatics
    2002 Opened Department of Applied Physics and Department of Medical Science in Faculty of Science
    2003 Opened Mathematical and Environmental Systems Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Informatics
    2004 Opened Department of Life Science in Faculty of Science
    2005 Opened Department of Intelligent Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineerng; opened Welfare Systems Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2006 Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology in Faculty of Engineering
    2007 Opened Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Department of Architecture in Faculty of Informatics
    2008 Opened Department of Zoology in Faculty of Science; opened Life Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    2009 Started Engineering Project Course in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Intelligent Mechanical Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2011 Switched Department of Architecture to Faculty of Engineering; Opened Biomedical Engineering Master’s Program and Architecture Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2012 Established Faculty of Biosphere-Geosphere Science, opened Department of Biosphere-Geosphere Science;
    Opened Zoology Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    2015 Opened Department of Biomedical Engineering in Faculty of Engineering
    2016 Established Faculty of Education, opened Department of Elementary Education and Department of Secondary Education; opened Biosphere-Geosphere Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Biosphere-Geosphere Science
    2017 Established Faculty of Management, opened Department of Management
    2018 Established Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, opened Department of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Veterinary Associated Science

    1966 Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Applied Physics in Faculty of Science
    1969 Opened Department of Mechanical Science and Department of Electronic Science in Faculty of Science
    1971 Opened Department of Applied Mathematics, Department of Chemistry, Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Applied Physics in Faculty of Science
    1973 Opened Department of Mechanical Science, Department of Electronic Science in Faculty of Science
    1974 Established Graduate School of Science; Opened Chemistry Master’s Program and Applied Physics Master’s Program
    1975 Opened Department of Basic Science in Faculty of Science
    1976 Opened Department of Applied Mathematics and Department of Information in Faculty of Science
    1978 Opened Material Physics Doctoral Program in Graduate School of Science
    1979 Opened Mechanical Science Master’s Program and Electronic Science Master’s Program in Graduate School of Science
    1980 Opened Applied Mathematics Master’s Program in Graduate School of Science; Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Department of Environmental Chemistry in Faculty of Science
    1982 Started Electronic Physical Property Course and Information System Course in Department of Electronic Science
    1983 Opened Systems Science Doctoral Program in Graduate School of Science
    1986 Established Faculty of Engineering; Opened Department of Applied Chemistry, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Electronic Engineering
    1987 Opened Applied Mathematics Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1988 Opened Department of Biochemistry in Faculty of Science; Opened General Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1990 Opened Applied Chemistry Master’s Program, Mechanical Engineering Master’s Program, Electronic Engineering Master’s Program, and Systems Science Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    1992 Opened Department of Information Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; opened Biochemistry Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    1996 Opened Information Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    1997 Established Faculty of Informatics; opened Department of Mathematics and Information, Department of Simulation Physics, Department of Biosphere-Geosphere System, and Department of Socio Information
    1999 Opened Department of Biochemistry and Department of Clinical Biochemistry in Faculty of Science
    2001 Opened Department of Welfare System Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Information Science Master’s Program, Simulation Physics Master’s Program, Biosphere-Geosphere Systems Master’s Program, and Socio Information Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Informatics
    2002 Opened Department of Applied Physics and Department of Medical Science in Faculty of Science
    2003 Opened Mathematical and Environmental Systems Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Informatics
    2004 Opened Department of Life Science in Faculty of Science
    2005 Opened Department of Intelligent Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineerng; opened Welfare Systems Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2006 Opened Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology in Faculty of Engineering
    2007 Opened Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Department of Architecture in Faculty of Informatics
    2008 Opened Department of Zoology in Faculty of Science; opened Life Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    2009 Started Engineering Project Course in Faculty of Engineering; Opened Intelligent Mechanical Engineering Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2011 Switched Department of Architecture to Faculty of Engineering; Opened Biomedical Engineering Master’s Program and Architecture Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Engineering
    2012 Established Faculty of Biosphere-Geosphere Science, opened Department of Biosphere-Geosphere Science;
    Opened Zoology Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Science
    2015 Opened Department of Biomedical Engineering in Faculty of Engineering
    2016 Established Faculty of Education, opened Department of Elementary Education and Department of Secondary Education; opened Biosphere-Geosphere Science Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Biosphere-Geosphere Science
    2017 Established Faculty of Management, opened Department of Management
    2018 Established Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, opened Department of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Veterinary Associated Science

     
  • richardmitnick 12:47 pm on November 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "Study suggests Sun is likely an unaccounted source of the Earth's water", , Asteroids, ,   

    From Curtin University (AU) via phys.org : “Study suggests Sun is likely an unaccounted source of the Earth’s water” 

    From Curtin University (AU)

    via

    phys.org

    1
    Graphic of the sun, solar winds and itokawa. Credit: Curtin University.

    A University of Glasgow (SCT)-led international team of researchers including those from Curtin’s Space Science and Technology Center (SSTC) found the solar wind, comprised of charged particles from the Sun largely made of hydrogen ions, created water on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids that smashed into the Earth during the early days of the Solar System.

    Solar winds-Sun’s coronal holes release solar winds towards Earth. National Geophysical Data Cantre.

    SSTC Director, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland said the Earth was very water-rich compared to other rocky planets in the Solar System, with oceans covering more than 70 percent of its surface, and scientists had long puzzled over the exact source of it all.

    “An existing theory is that water was carried to Earth in the final stages of its formation on C-type asteroids, however previous testing of the isotopic ‘fingerprint’ of these asteroids found they, on average, didn’t match with the water found on Earth meaning there was at least one other unaccounted for source,” Professor Bland said.

    “Our research suggests the solar wind created water on the surface of tiny dust grains and this isotopically lighter water likely provided the remainder of the Earth’s water.

    “This new solar wind theory is based on meticulous atom-by-atom analysis of miniscule fragments of an S-type near-Earth asteroid known as Itokawa, samples of which were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa and returned to Earth in 2010.

    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構](JP) Hayabusa2

    “Our world-class atom probe tomography system here at Curtin University allowed us to take an incredibly detailed look inside the first 50 nanometres or so of the surface of Itokawa dust grains, which we found contained enough water that, if scaled up, would amount to about 20 liters for every cubic meter of rock.”

    Curtin graduate Dr. Luke Daly, now of the University of Glasgow, said the research not only gives scientists a remarkable insight into the past source of Earth’s water, but could also help future space missions.

    “How astronauts would get sufficient water, without carrying supplies, is one of the barriers of future space exploration,” Dr. Daly said.

    “Our research shows that the same space weathering process which created water on Itokawa likely occurred on other airless planets, meaning astronauts may be able to process fresh supplies of water straight from the dust on a planet’s surface, such as the Moon.”

    The paper was published in Nature Astronomy.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Curtin University (AU) (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

    Curtin would like to pay respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

    Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

    Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

    It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

    Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on October 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA’s Lucy spacecraft poised to launch Oct. 16. 2021", Asteroids, Jupiter Trojan asteroids,   

    From Southwest Research Institute (US) : “NASA’s Lucy spacecraft poised to launch Oct. 16. 2021” 

    SwRI bloc

    From Southwest Research Institute (US)

    October 12, 2021

    1
    Workers prepare the Lucy spacecraft for launch from Cape Canaveral. The launch date is set for Saturday, October 16, 2021. Image via SwRI.

    NASA’s Lucy spacecraft is encapsulated in a protective fairing atop an Atlas V rocket, awaiting its 23-day launch window to open on October 16. All is go for the Southwest Research Institute-led mission to begin, as the spacecraft prepares to launch on a 12-year journey of almost 4 billion miles to visit a record-breaking eight asteroids — one main belt asteroid and seven Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

    “The Trojan asteroids are leftovers from the early days of our solar system, effectively fossils of the planet formation process,” said SwRI’s Harold Levison, the principal investigator of the mission. “They hold vital clues to deciphering the history of our solar system. Lucy, like the human ancestor fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.”

    The Lucy mission is the first space mission to explore this diverse population of small bodies known as the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. These small bodies are trapped in stable orbits shared with the solar system’s largest planet, forming two “swarms” that lead and trail Jupiter in its path around the Sun.

    “Lucy’s ability to fly by so many targets means that we will not only get the first up-close look at this unexplored population, but we will also be able to study why these asteroids appear so different,” said SwRI’s Cathy Olkin, deputy principal investigator of the mission. “The mission will provide an unparalleled glimpse into the formation of our solar system, helping us understand the evolution of the planetary system as a whole.”

    Following pandemic protocols, Lucy team members have spent nearly two months at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida preparing the spacecraft for flight. Engineers have tested the spacecraft’s mechanical, electrical and thermal systems, and they have practiced executing the launch sequence from the mission operations centers at Kennedy and Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado.

    “Launching a spacecraft is almost like sending a child off to college — you’ve done what you can to get them ready for that next big step on their own,” Levison said. “Lucy is ready to fly.”

    Lucy’s first launch attempt is scheduled for 5:34 a.m. EDT on October 16. That day, the team will be “called to stations” at 1 a.m. to monitor the spacecraft and run through the full launch countdown procedures. If weather or any other issues scrub launch that day, the team will have additional launch opportunities every morning over the next couple of weeks.

    SwRI is the principal investigator institution for Lucy. The Goddard Space Flight Center | NASA (US) provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Lucy is the 13th mission in NASA Discovery Program (US). NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (US), manages the Discovery Program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy.

    See the full article here .

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    SwRI Campus

    Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) (US) is an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization. The staff of nearly 2,800 specializes in the creation and transfer of technology in engineering and the physical sciences. SwRI’s technical divisions offer a wide range of technical expertise and services in such areas as engine design and development, emissions certification testing, fuels and lubricants evaluation, chemistry, space science, nondestructive evaluation, automation, mechanical engineering, electronics, and more.

    Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the oldest and largest independent, nonprofit, applied research and development (R&D) organizations in the United States. Founded in 1947 by oil businessman Tom Slick, SwRI provides contract research and development services to government and industrial clients.

    The institute consists of nine technical divisions that offer multidisciplinary, problem-solving services in a variety of areas in engineering and the physical sciences. The Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also operates on the SwRI grounds. More than 4,000 projects are active at the institute at any given time. These projects are funded almost equally between the government and commercial sectors. At the close of fiscal year 2019, the staff numbered approximately 3,000 employees and research volume was almost $674 million. The institute provided more than $8.7 million to fund innovative research through its internally sponsored R&D program.

    A partial listing of research areas includes space science and engineering; automation; robotics and intelligent systems; avionics and support systems; bioengineering; chemistry and chemical engineering; corrosion and electrochemistry; earth and planetary sciences; emissions research; engineering mechanics; fire technology; fluid systems and machinery dynamics; and fuels and lubricants. Additional areas include geochemistry and mining engineering; hydrology and geohydrology; materials sciences and fracture mechanics; modeling and simulation; nondestructive evaluation; oil and gas exploration; pipeline technology; surface modification and coatings; and vehicle, engine, and powertrain design, research and development. In 2019, staff members published 673 papers in the technical literature; made 618 presentations at technical conferences, seminars and symposia around the world; submitted 48 invention disclosures; filed 33 patent applications; and received 41 U.S. patent awards.

    SwRI research scientists have led several National Aeronautics Space Agency(USA) missions, including the New Horizons mission to Pluto; the Juno mission to Jupiter; and the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission(US) to study the Earth’s magnetosphere.

    SwRI initiates contracts with clients based on consultations and prepares a formal proposal outlining the scope of work. Subject to client wishes, programs are kept confidential. As part of a long-held tradition, patent rights arising from sponsored research are often assigned to the client. SwRI generally retains the rights to institute-funded advancements.

    The institute’s headquarters occupy more than 2.3 million square feet of office and laboratory space on more than 1,200 acres in San Antonio. SwRI has technical offices and laboratories in Boulder, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Warner-Robins, Georgia; Ogden, Utah; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Rockville, Maryland; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Beijing, China; and other locations.

    Technology Today, SwRI’s technical magazine, is published three times each year to spotlight the research and development projects currently underway. A complementary Technology Today podcast offers a new way to listen and learn about the technology, science, engineering, and research impacting lives and changing our world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:06 pm on July 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Q&A- How we’re gearing up to deflect asteroids that might cause Earth considerable damage", Asteroids, Dr Naomi Murdoch, , ,   

    From Horizon The EU Research and Innovation Magazine : “Q&A- How we’re gearing up to deflect asteroids that might cause Earth considerable damage” 

    1

    From Horizon The EU Research and Innovation Magazine

    06 April 2021 [Why now!! This just showed up in social media.]
    Natalie Grover

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    “Asteroids hold clues about how our solar system formed. Their physical makeup and composition can also help answer the big question of how life emerged”, tells Dr Naomi Murdoch, planetary scientist specialised in the geophysical evolution of asteroids at the French aeronautics and space institute National Higher School of Mechanics and Aerotechnics [ISAE-ENSMA // École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d’Aérotechnique | Le site de l’école ISAE-ENSMA situé au Futuroscope de Poitiers. (FR). Image credit – Naomi Murdoch.

    Asteroids — the bits and pieces left over from the formation of the inner planets — are a source of great curiosity for those keen to learn about the building blocks of our solar system, and to probe the chemistry of life.

    Humans are also considering mining asteroids for metals, but one of the crucial reasons scientists study this ancient space rubble is planetary defense, given the potential for space debris to cause Earth harm.

    Accordingly, NASA is planning a 2022 planetary defense mission that involves sending a spacecraft to crash into a near-Earth asteroid in an effort to check whether it could be deflected were it on a collision course with Earth.

    Dr Naomi Murdoch — a planetary scientist at the French aeronautics and space institute ISAE-SUPAERO, who specialises in the geophysical evolution of asteroids — is part of a follow-on mission planned by the European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    She tells Horizon about the mission will characterise the asteroid after impact to obtain data that will inform strategies designed to address any threatening asteroids that might come Earth’s way.

    But are we in any real danger of being wiped out by a big rocky remnant? Not really, but some asteroids can cause considerable damage, which is why we’re shoring up our defences here on Earth, she suggests.

    What makes asteroids interesting?

    Asteroids hold clues about how our solar system formed. Their physical makeup and composition can also help answer the big question of how life emerged.

    How many have we identified – and what are they made of?

    So far, we have identified more than a million asteroids, but there are tens, if not hundreds of millions out there that we don’t know about. This is because unlike stars, asteroids don’t emit a light of their own, they only reflect sunlight, so many of the smaller ones are difficult to spot.

    What they are made of depends on where they were formed in the solar system. The ones that formed closest to the sun have borne the brunt of the heat, losing material that could have been really interesting to study. But the most common ones are those that formed furthest away from the sun: the C (carbonaceous)-type, likely consisting of clay and silicate rocks, are among the most ancient objects in the solar system but are hard to detect because they are relatively dark in colour.

    Then there are brighter options. The M (metallic)-type, composed mainly of metallic iron, largely inhabit the asteroid belt’s middle section. (The asteroid belt lies roughly between Mars and Jupiter). The S (stony)-type, comprising silicate materials and nickel-iron, are most commonly found in the inner asteroid belt.

    Most meteorites (a small piece of an asteroid or comet that survives the journey across Earth’s atmosphere) found on Earth are either metallic or stony. It is less likely that the carbonaceous type will be found on the ground, unless the asteroids were quite large because they have to survive our planet’s atmosphere without completely burning up. Basically, the types of meteorites that we find on the ground are not necessarily representative of the type of asteroids that would even hit our atmosphere.

    So what kind of asteroid are scientists wary of in terms of the danger they pose to our planet?

    Any asteroid size could in principle, hit us, but the largest asteroids are easy to detect — we’ve identified the vast majority of them and they’re not risky. There are many, many more small asteroids than there are large ones, and because they’re small, they’re really difficult to detect and difficult to follow. We have to look for them several times in order to pinpoint their orbit to know where they’re going to be in space.

    What we focus on are those (small asteroids) in the 100-to-500-metre size range. This size range is probably the most dangerous because they could still cause a large amount of damage on Earth, for example on a regional and national scale. But we don’t know yet where they all are, which is why this is the key size range for planetary defence, because there’s a risk of discovering one day that one we didn’t know existed is coming towards us.

    Space scientists are trying to improve our ability to detect these smaller asteroids, then assess whether they are threats, and finally, if need be, (we try to) deflect the object.

    As part of the NEO-MAPP project, we are helping prepare for these planetary defence missions by improving space instruments that are linked to measuring properties of the surface, the subsurface and the internal structure of asteroids, because it’s these parameters that will govern whether a deflection mission is successful or not. Another objective is to develop a better understanding of landing on asteroids, of the consequences of their low gravity environment, and how to interpret data recorded during surface interactions.

    Once you’ve detected an asteroid you want to explore, how do you go about landing on one?

    Before the first space missions, many people thought that asteroids were just boring lumps of rock, but we started to realise that they were actually a lot more interesting. They have their own evolutionary history, which is really important to understand the solar system in general.

    The only way to really probe the mechanical and physical properties of an asteroid is to touch and interact directly with it, but we don’t have a good understanding of the actual surface of asteroids, which harbour a low-gravity environment. It’s a really exotic place, typically covered by granular material like sand, rocks, boulders, depending on the type of asteroid and its size. And this granular material, in that low gravity environment, appears to behave much more like a fluid than the same material would behave on Earth.

    As a result, previous missions have had varying degrees of landing success so we are now studying landing behaviour in gravitational conditions similar to those on asteroids.

    You are part of the European Space Agency’s Hera mission, which will follow-on from NASA’s DART mission to a binary asteroid system. What are these missions hoping to achieve?

    DART is an upcoming planetary defence mission designed to collide with a smaller asteroid moon, called Dimorphos, orbiting with the near-Earth asteroid Didymos. The idea is to test whether Dimorphos’s orbit can be deflected. In the days following, we’ll know whether the deflection was successful or not. Then, Hera will survey and characterise the asteroid pair and the resulting crater.

    The main Hera spacecraft will not touch the surface, and will perform all of the investigations in orbit around the asteroids. However, mini satellites called cubesats will land on the moon. One, for instance, will orbit and study the asteroid (the main instrument is a radar for looking inside it), and then it will descend to the surface. The landing part of the mission is ‘bonus science’ (not necessary to achieve the mission goals), but extremely interesting in order to characterise the physical properties of the asteroid.

    The idea behind these missions is to test a key deflection method and to understand the target. Although Dimorphos is not a threat to Earth, it is a size that is roughly in line with potentially threatening asteroids. What we want to do is have a well-characterised, large-scale experiment that we can use to extrapolate to any potential asteroid threats. In order to do that we need to learn about our targets, including their form, mass density, the impact crater size and the level of debris generated upon collision.

    By measuring the physical properties and characterising the target in detail we can calibrate our numerical (impact) models. If one day a potentially dangerous asteroid comes our way, we can use these models to predict what may happen if we try to deflect it.

    Another feature of Hera is the plan to take a look inside the moon. I think it’s going to be extremely exciting to see what’s in there, because that’s going to tell us a lot about the history of the asteroid-moon pair.

    So we’re gearing up to tackle any asteroids that might cause Earth some damage. But how likely are we to be wiped out completely by an asteroid?

    Small asteroids, including pieces tiny enough to be called space dust, hit our atmosphere every day — that is what shooting stars are. The probability of an asteroid causing large-scale damage is very small. That 100-to-500-metre size range is the most threatening range — so that’s what scientists are working on at the moment.

    Overall, we can all sleep soundly knowing that it is extremely unlikely that we’re going to be wiped out by an asteroid.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 6:37 pm on November 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "DES­TINY+: Ger­many and Japan be­gin new as­ter­oid mis­sion", Asteroids, From DLR German Aerospace Center (DE), JAXA (JP),   

    From DLR German Aerospace Center (DE) “DES­TINY+: Ger­many and Japan be­gin new as­ter­oid mis­sion” 

    DLR Bloc

    From DLR German Aerospace Center (DE)

    DLR (DE) and JAXA (JP) sign cooperation agreement for a bilateral mission during their joint strategy dialogue meeting.

    1
    As­ter­oid ex­plor­er DES­TINY+. Credit: JAXA (JP)/Kashikagaku.

    2
    Cross-sec­tion­al view of the DES­TINY+ Dust An­a­lyz­er (DDA) dust in­stru­ment. Credit: IRS, University Stuttgart (DE)

    3
    As­ter­oid Phaethon. Credit: ESA (EU)/P. Carril.

    In 2024, the Japanese-German space mission DESTINY+ will launch on a journey to asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
    The mission’s key instrument is the German DESTINY+ Dust Analyzer (DDA), which will collect and analyse cosmic dust samples during the entire flight of the spacecraft.
    The cooperation agreement for the bilateral mission was signed by DLR and JAXA on 11 November 2020 as part of a joint strategy dialogue meeting.

    Focus: Space

    How did life arrive on Earth? To investigate this and to address fundamental questions about the evolution of celestial bodies in our Solar System, the Japanese-German space mission DESTINY+ (Demonstration and Experiment of Space Technology for INterplanetary voYage with Phaethon fLyby and dUst Science), will launch in 2024 on a journey to asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The German DESTINY+ Dust Analyzer (DDA) instrument on board the Japanese spacecraft will examine cosmic dust during the entire cruise phase to Phaethon, with dust particles that have escaped from the asteroid and are measured in its vicinity of particular interest to scientists. The cooperation agreement for the bilateral mission was signed on 11 November 2020 by Walther Pelzer, German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR (DE)) Executive Board Member and Head of the DLR Space Administration, and Hitoshi Kuninaka, Vice President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (JP). The signing ceremony was part of the joint strategy dialogue meeting between DLR and JAXA.

    Asteroid Phaethon

    “This mission once again underlines the benefits of bilateral cooperation between equal partners, as is the case with Germany and Japan,” explains Pelzer. “With DESTINY+, we are continuing our successful cooperation on missions such as Hayabusa2 (JP), Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) and BepiColombo, and we are pleased to be able to make an important contribution to space research with the DDA dust instrument.”

    JAXA (JP)/Hayabusa 2 Credit: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita.

    JAXA (JP) MMX spacecraft

    Artistic rendition ESA (EU)/JAXA (JP) BepiColombo

    In mid-2024, the DESTINY+ spacecraft is scheduled to launch on an Epsilon S launch vehicle from the Uchinoura Space Center(JP), beginning a four-year journey to asteroid 3200 Phaethon. This celestial body is thought to be the origin of a cloud of dust orbiting the Sun, which rains a shower of meteors – referred to as the Geminids – onto Earth every December.

    “With a minimum approach distance of approximately 21 million kilometres, Phaethon gets closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury,” explains Carsten Henselowsky, DESTINY+ Project Manager at the DLR Space Administration. “In the process, its surface heats up to a temperature of over 700 degrees Celsius, causing the celestial body to release more dust particles. The aim of the DESTINY+ mission is to investigate such cosmic dust particles and to determine whether the arrival of extraterrestrial dust particles on Earth may have played a role in the creation of life on our planet.” During its flyby the spacecraft will approach the asteroid down to a distance of approximately 500 kilometres, at which point the asteroid itself will be approximately 150 million kilometres from the Sun.

    German dust instrument DDA is key instrument for the mission

    The mission’s key instrument is the German DDA dust instrument. This high-resolution mass spectrometer will collect and analyse cosmic dust particles in the vicinity of Phaethon upon flyby and during its entire journey. The measurements will pin down the origin of each dust particle. Of particular interest is the proportion of organic matter; scientists suspect that organic compounds and the associated elements, such as carbon – the basic building block for all life forms on Earth – may have been delivered to our planet by such dust particles. A telescopic camera, TCAP, and a multiband camera, MCAP, on board the spacecraft are going to observe the surface of the celestial body during the flyby.

    JAXA is responsible for the development, construction and launch of the spacecraft and the subsequent operation of the mission. The German DDA instrument is being developed under the leadership of the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart (DE) in cooperation with the company von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH (DE). DDA is supported by the DLR Space Administration with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie; BMWi).

    Contract signed as part of the DLR-JAXA Strategy Dialogue meeting

    The German-Japanese cooperation agreement for the DESTINY+ mission was signed during the recent DLR/JAXA Strategy Dialogue annual meeting, which was attended by Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Walther Pelzer, DLR Executive Board Member and Head of the DLR Space Administration, and Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology. The online conference covered the entire spectrum of the now more than 60 joint collaborations with a view to stepping up the successful cooperation. In February 2016, DLR and JAXA signed a comprehensive joint strategy agreement in Tokyo.

    The aim of both partners is to coordinate their aerospace programmes more closely and to combine their expertise. An important topic in this context is the exploration of the Solar System. For example, together with French partners, DLR developed the asteroid lander MASCOT, which landed on asteroid Ryugu in autumn 2018 as part of JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission. The landing of a JAXA capsule in Australia containing samples from Ryugu is expected on 6 December 2020. In the future, DLR and JAXA will work together on the MMX mission to explore the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos. In addition, Germany and Japan make extensive use of the International Space Station (ISS) to address questions in the fields of medicine, materials development and basic research.

    See the full article here .

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    DLR Center

    DLR DE is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In addition to its own research, as Germany’s space agency, DLR has been given responsibility by the federal government for the planning and implementation of the German space programme. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for the nation’s largest project management agency.

    DLR (DE) has approximately 8000 employees at 16 locations in Germany: Cologne (headquarters), Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Goettingen, Hamburg, Juelich, Lampoldshausen, Neustrelitz, Oberpfaffenhofen, Stade, Stuttgart, Trauen, and Weilheim. DLR also has offices in Brussels (BE) , Paris (FR), Tokyo (JP) and Washington D.C. (US).

     
  • richardmitnick 11:04 am on November 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble telescope reveals asteroid Psyche’s rusty surface", Asteroids, , , , , ,   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope via EarthSky: “Hubble telescope reveals asteroid Psyche’s rusty surface” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    via

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    EarthSky

    November 6, 2020
    Amy Oliver

    Scientists already had Psyche classified as a metallic asteroid, but new observations with the Hubble telescope reveal its rusty surface and provide scientists with a unique view into what Earth-like planets are like during their formation.

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    This giant asteroid made of metal could offer a glimpse of what lies deep in the heart of our own planet. A massive asteroid located 230 million miles (370 million km) away from Earth. New ultraviolet observations of the asteroid and its surface revealed that it may be made entirely of nickel and iron, making it the perfect candidate to tell the tale of how Earth-like planets are formed [NASA/JPL Caltech]. It is thought to be the core of a failed planet formation. Credit: Arizona State University.

    A team of scientists led by Tracy Becker of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said on October 26, 2020, that the deepest-ever ultraviolet observations of the asteroid 16 Psyche have revealed a secret: the asteroid may be made entirely of iron and nickel, and its surface may be covered in rust. Psyche was already classified as an M-type asteroid, that is, an asteroid known to contain a significant percentage of metal. It’s one of the most massive objects currently known to be orbiting in the solar system’s asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Generally speaking, metal asteroids are rare, and the study revealed that Psyche may be the most “metal-like” of all known asteroids. Thus Psyche has a story to tell about solid planets like Earth and what happened when they were forming 4 1/2 billion years ago.

    These scientists’ paper is slated for publication in the December 2020 issue of the peer-reviewed Planetary Science Journal.

    At 140 miles (225 km) in diameter, Psyche spans roughly the distance between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and provides plenty of surface for scientists to observe and study. New ultraviolet (UV) observations of the massive asteroid have revealed that Psyche’s surface may be mostly made of iron, but scientists believe further study is required to confirm their findings, as lab models provided conflicting outcomes.

    Becker, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, is the lead author on the paper. She told EarthSky:

    “The way that Psyche reflects UV light is very similar to the way iron and metallic meteorites reflect UV light; the UV spectrum of Psyche is similar to that of iron. But we note that in our computer models, we found we could reproduce the spectrum of Psyche with as little as 10% of iron mixed into other materials. So, we can’t conclude definitively just how much iron is on the surface, but it does look like some metals are there.”

    Scientists also found another way to detect iron on the surface: by looking for rust. After all, where there is iron, there may be rust, or something similar. To find it, Becker’s team focused their efforts on hunting for spectral evidence of iron oxide, which is typically observed on Earth and other bodies as rust. The scientists needed a way to ferret out iron oxide signatures. While unable to scoop up a sample from 230 million miles (370 million km) away, ultraviolet (UV) observations provided the solution. UV light is made up of short wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye but carry high energy, and are capable of damaging living tissue and causing sunburns and skin cancer. But in astronomy, these short wavelengths of light are beneficial and can help scientists understand chemical composition, density, and temperature. For these researchers, UV light was the key to help unveil iron oxide on the surface of Psyche.

    Becker said:

    “Recent laboratory work shows that you can see the iron oxide signatures in the UV better than at other wavelengths, so we wanted to look for those. The UV is also very sensitive to the uppermost layer of the planetary body, so we would be able to see how much of the asteroid’s surface has been [changed over time]”.

    Becker’s team engaged in patient observation of Psyche, taking UV measurements on both sides of the asteroid to get a complete picture of its surface. The team’s patience paid off when they saw evidence of iron oxide. Becker said in a statement:

    “We were able to identify, for the first time on any asteroid, what we think are iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands. This is an indication that oxidation is happening on the asteroid, which could be a result of the solar wind hitting the surface.”

    Although this is the first time that scientists have observed evidence of iron oxide on an asteroid, it isn’t the first time that rust has been observed in our solar system. Mars – often referred to as the red planet due to its hue – is covered in rust particles, which are blown around on the planet as winds shape its surface. And while the appearance of rust on Psyche doesn’t necessarily mean that the asteroid is corroding, scientists did detect evidence of surface changes.

    During observations, Becker’s team noticed that Psyche’s uppermost layers appeared more reflective at deeper UV wavelengths. While Becker said this phenomenon requires further study, she noted that the observed brightening may be the result of further space weathering. She said:

    “All planetary bodies are exposed to space weathering by the sun, and other processing through small impacts by micrometeorites, that will change their surfaces. Characterizing space weathering is helpful for understanding how long the surface has been exposed to space.”

    Becker’s team carried out UV emission observations on Psyche using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Before the study, no other previous UV observations of Psyche had been made, in part due to the difficulty of conducting studies using UV light. Becker said:

    “We cannot observe any objects in the ultraviolet from ground-based telescopes, since our atmosphere blocks UV light. The only way to observe solar system objects in the UV is with space-based telescopes, which are limited. Psyche hadn’t been observed at these wavelengths – mid- and far-UV – of light before. There had been near-UV observations from the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), but these HST observations go farther in the UV than ever before.”

    Before the new study, scientists already believed Psyche to be the leftover core of a protoplanet that never finished forming. The new observations, and the discovery of iron oxide signatures, have revealed the asteroid to be truly unique, and even more Earth-like than previously believed. Becker said:

    “We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is completely made of iron and nickel. Earth has a metal core, a mantle and a crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”

    3
    NASA’s Psyche mission will launch toward the asteroid of the same name in 2022. Scientists hypothesize that this asteroid is actually the leftovers of a failed planet formation. New ultraviolet studies with Hubble have shown that Psyche is even more unique than that, as it may consist entirely of nickel and iron, and that the iron may be rusting. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech.

    The leftovers from this stellar hit-and-run have long sparked interest in Psyche. In 2017, NASA announced a mission to the asteroid, which will be the first such mission to an object not made of rock or ice. Set to launch in 2022, NASA’s orbiter will reach Psyche in 2026, and either confirm or deny scientists’ observations and theories. No matter the outcome, Becker is looking forward to seeing what secrets the mission will reveal. She said:

    “What makes Psyche and the other asteroids so interesting is that they’re considered to be the building blocks of the solar system. To understand what really makes up a planet and to potentially see the inside of a planet is fascinating. Once we get to Pysche, we’re finally going to understand if that’s the case, even if it doesn’t turn out as we expect. Any time there’s a surprise, it’s always exciting.”

    See the full article here .


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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 9:35 am on November 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What is it with all that dust?", Asteroids, , , , , , , If white dwarfs should have cleared out all of this debris during the red giant phase then why do some of them seem to have closely orbiting dusty debris discs?, LSPM J0207+3331 – the oldest and coldest white dwarf known   

    From COSMOS(AU): “What is it with all that dust?” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS(AU)

    31 October 2020
    Richard A Lovett

    Scientists solve another mystery about white dwarfs.

    1
    Artist’s impression of an asteroid is broken apart by LSPM J0207+3331 – the oldest and coldest white dwarf known. The system’s infrared signal is hypothesised to comprise two rings composed of dust supplied by crumbling asteroids. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre / Scott Wiessinger.

    Scientists studying how comets and asteroids break up and vaporize if they get too close to their suns have resolved a conundrum about a class of stars known as white dwarfs.

    Embers of dying suns, white dwarfs form when a star, having run out of its nuclear fuel, first expands to enormous size then collapses into a dense, Earth-sized remnant.

    The initial, swollen size is called a red giant – and is large enough to consume planets as far out as Earth, and even Mars. It then implodes, leaving the white dwarf, which can initially be as hot as 50,000 degrees Celsius, until it gradually cools into obscurity.

    So far, so good. But astronomers have found that about 4% of them appear to be accompanied by clouds of dust.

    “This begs the question, if white dwarfs should have cleared out all of this debris during the red giant phase, then why do some of them seem to have closely orbiting dusty debris discs,” Jordan Steckloff, of the Planetary Science Institute (US), told this week’s virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.

    Previously, he says, it was assumed that these discs were formed from planetesimals or asteroids that were far enough out to survive immolation in the red giant phase, but then fell inward, winding up so deep in the white dwarf’s gravity that they got ripped to shreds—something that occurs at a distance often referred to as the Roche limit.

    These shreds would then be dispersed into a “nice tight dusty debris disc” by the pressure of the light emitted by the star.

    But there was a big problem with that theory. One would expect younger white dwarfs to have less stable planetary systems, thanks to the gravitational mayhem that accompanied the effect of the red giant destroying all of the inner planets. In other words, they should have more worldlets falling toward the star to be ripped into dust.

    Also, younger white dwarfs are hotter – and therefore brighter – and should be better at making dusty discs out of the debris of shredded planetesimals.

    But that, Steckloff says, is not what astronomers have seen. Young super-hot white dwarfs do not have dust disks. “It’s only when white dwarfs cool to less than about 27,000 degrees Kelvin (27,000°C) that we actually see dusty debris discs start to appear.”

    The answer, he says, is something fairly obvious (in hindsight) but previously overlooked: if a planetesimal falls too close to a super-hot star, not only will it get shredded into dust, that dust will then be vaporized by the heat – a process he refers to as sublimation. The result: no dusty disc.

    “It needs to be outside the sublimation limit and inside the Roche limit,” he says.

    The Roche limit is determined by the star’s mass, but the sublimation limit is determined by its brightness, which declines as it cools.

    And, he says, it turns out that for young, super-hot white dwarfs, the Roche limit is inside the sublimation limit. I.e., anything that falls close enough to the star to be shredded will also be vaporized.

    It is only when the white dwarf cools to somewhere between 25,000 and 32,000 Celsius, he says, that this reverses – with the exact temperature depending on what type of minerals the dust is composed of. In fact, the figure comes even closer to 27,000 degrees if it is assumed that the dust in these discs is similar to the materials in our own Solar System’s asteroids.

    And that might be one of his most important findings.

    “The 27,000-degree limit suggests that the material that we find orbiting around white dwarfs is likely analogous to [asteroids] in our own Solar System,” he says.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:39 am on September 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESA’s Hera planetary defense mission signs prime contractor on course for launch in 2024", Asteroids, DART will carry with it an Italian-provided CubeSat called LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids)., DART will carry with it an Italian-provided CubeSat called LICIACube., LICIACube will collect images of the impact and ejecta and transmit its captured photographs back to Earth., , , The Didymos pair- a binary asteroid   

    From NASA Spaceflight: “ESA’s Hera planetary defense mission signs prime contractor, on course for launch in 2024” 

    NASA Spaceflight

    From NASA Spaceflight

    September 15, 2020
    Chris Gebhardt

    1
    The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a design, manufacturing, and testing contract with OHB of Germany for their Hera planetary defense mission, marking a major advancement toward the agency’s commitment to NASA for their joint Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment project.

    NASA’s portion [DART] is scheduled to launch in July 2021 and slam into the smaller of the target binary asteroid in October 2022.

    NASA DART Double Impact Redirection Test vehicle depiction schematic.

    Hera will then follow, launching in 2024 on an Ariane 6 and arriving at the binary pair in 2027 to assess how well its predecessor did in changing the orbit of its target.

    The contract signed today between ESA and OBH of Germany provides €129.4 million for a detailed design, build, and test of the Hera asteroid orbiter. The contract specifically includes the new and advanced Guidance, Navigation and Control system for the craft.

    Excluded from the OBH contract are the other deals already in place for the two CubeSats that will accompany Hera to the target binary asteroid and the long-lead technology items for the mission — contracts that are already underway.

    Unlike the first part of the joint Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment project from NASA, an impactor called DART, Hera will not impact either of the bodies of the target but rather perform long-term observations from a close orbit while demonstrating new technologies, particularly for autonomous deep space proximity operations.

    The target for the joint mission is the Didymos pair, a binary asteroid whose primary is 780 m in diameter and whose moonlet (small moon) is 160 m in diameter.

    The moonlet, called Dimorphos, is the target of NASA’s DART kinetic impactor.


    The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART): Hitting an Asteroid Head On. DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is scheduled to launch no earlier than 22 July 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

    Powered by a NEXT ion thruster, the 500 kg (1,100 lb) spacecraft will spend 15 months cruising to its destination before slamming into Dimorphos at 6.25 km/s.

    DART carries no scientific instruments, just a star tracker and camera for autonomous navigation; it is simply an impactor. It will, however, carry with it an Italian-provided CubeSat called LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids) that will deploy shortly before observing the ejecta cloud thrown up from the impact.

    LICIACube will collect images of the impact and ejecta and transmit its captured photographs back to Earth; it was offered to DART by the Italian Space Agency after ESA’s first spacecraft contribution to the mission was cancelled in 2016.

    That project, the Asteroid Impact Mission, would have worked in tandem with DART, observing the other craft’s impact while providing immediate and long-term assessments of changes to Dimorphos’ orbit and characteristics while studying the ejecta material.

    2
    Hera inspects DART’s impact crater. Credit ESA.

    While Hera will not be able to do that first part, most of the Asteroid Impact Mission’s objectives can be accomplished with LICIACube and Hera’s long-term in situ observations that can begin upon its arrival in 2027.

    The overall mission will test whether or not a kinetic impactor can successfully deflect potentially hazardous Earth-bound asteroids by slightly changing their orbital speed to either slow them down slightly or accelerate them slightly.

    A minor velocity change imparted to a large asteroid could — over the course of months or years — alter its orbit safely away from intersecting with Earth.

    And this is exactly what NASA and ESA seek to do on a smaller scale in the Didymos pair system. The DART spacecraft, while impacting Dimorphos at 6.25 km/s will only produce a net change in the moonlet’s velocity of 0.4 millimeters per second.

    While that is an incredibly small change in velocity, it will radically change the mutual orbit of the Didymos primary and its moon.

    As such, the interagency mission represents the first time humanity will intentionally alter another celestial body’s orbit.

    By impacting the smaller of the two bodies, which orbits the larger, NASA and ESA can safely observe how a kinetic impactor alters orbital characteristics of an asteroid.


    Hera: Our planetary defense mission.

    The Didymos pair’s overall orbit of the Sun is also extremely favorable to this type of test as its orbit does not cross that of Earth’s — meaning there’s no chance the NASA-ESA experiment could accidentally cause this pair to pose a threat to our host planet.

    When Hera then arrives in 2027, it will find a very different system than the DART spacecraft encountered while on approach for impact.

    Hera will use a suite of scientific instruments as well as two ride along CubeSats (which will attempt to land on the surface of Dimorphos) to characterize exactly how much momentum was transferred between the two objects at DART’s impact and exactly how much Dimorphos’ orbit was altered.

    This will “allow, for the first time, the validation or refinement of numerical models of the impact process at asteroid scale, rendering this deflection technique for planetary defence ready for operational use if ever needed to safeguard our home world,” notes an ESA overview of the mission.

    Hera will accomplish its scientific objectives by utilizing:

    an Asteroid Framing Camera provided by Germany (that is actually a spare unit for NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in the asteroid belt),
    a compact laser radar, or lidar, for surface mapping operations,
    a thermal infrared instrument to survey the asteroid in the mid-infrared spectral range and map temperature dispersions across Dimorphos’ surface, and
    a radio science experiment to measure the mass and mass distribution within the moon.

    These instruments will be supplemented by those carried aboard the two CubeSats, which will use radar to investigate the interior of the moonlet as well as imaging and mass spectrometers to study its mineralogical and elemental composition.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA Spaceflight , now in its eighth year of operations, is already the leading online news resource for everyone interested in space flight specific news, supplying our readership with the latest news, around the clock, with editors covering all the leading space faring nations.

    Breaking more exclusive space flight related news stories than any other site in its field, NASASpaceFlight.com is dedicated to expanding the public’s awareness and respect for the space flight industry, which in turn is reflected in the many thousands of space industry visitors to the site, ranging from NASA to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Space Alliance and commercial space flight arena.

    With a monthly readership of 500,000 visitors and growing, the site’s expansion has already seen articles being referenced and linked by major news networks such as MSNBC, CBS, The New York Times, Popular Science, but to name a few.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:59 am on September 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Grains of dust revise Solar System history", Asteroids, Asteroids like Vesta formed in the inner Solar System are built of materials with a different array of chemical isotopes than those from asteroids which formed farther out in the Solar System., , , , Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, , , Such meteorites are chips off asteroids that have been blasted into space by collisions only to eventually fall to Earth where they can be examined in laboratories.,   

    From UC Davis via COSMOS: “Grains of dust revise Solar System history” 

    UC Davis bloc

    From UC Davis

    via

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS

    8 September 2020
    Richard A Lovett

    Scientists study the chemical composition of meteorites.

    1
    Credit: Science Photo Library – andrzej/Getty Images.

    Asteroids that formed far out in the Solar System appear to contain dust grains that themselves condensed from the infant Solar System’s protoplanetary disc much closer to the Sun, scientists say.

    That means this dust was somehow transported from the inner reaches of the disc to its outer reaches, says Curtis Williams, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis. Once there, it mixed with material that condensed from that part of the disc to form larger objects that eventually became asteroids.

    In a study described in the journal PNAS, Williams and a team of US and Japanese researchers found these dust grains in a type of meteorite known as carbonaceous chondrites.

    Such meteorites are chips off asteroids that have been blasted into space by collisions, only to eventually fall to Earth, where they can be examined in laboratories.

    Previous studies had found that rocks from Earth and Mars, as well as asteroids like Vesta, which formed in the inner Solar System, are built of materials with a different array of chemical isotopes than those from asteroids known to have formed farther out in the Solar System.

    Based on that, scientists had assumed that inner Solar System dust – which is different from outer Solar System dust because it condensed in hotter regions closer to the Sun – did not mix with outer Solar System dust. Instead, they assumed, it remained relatively close to the Sun.

    The reason for this separation, they assumed, was the formation of the giant planet Jupiter, whose enormous gravity created a gap through which dust could not migrate. This, they assumed, divided the young Solar System into two distinct parts.

    In the new study, however, Williams’s team delved into 30 carbonaceous chondrites and looked at their individual components. “They have microcomponents, called inclusions,” Williams says.

    Looking carefully at isotopes in these sand-grain-sized inclusions, he says, his team found that some formed in the outer Solar System, but some must have formed closer to the Sun, then migrated outward before accreting into a larger body.

    Since Jupiter is believed to have already been present at the time these grains dispersed, Williams says, “that has big implications. Either Jupiter was not a complete barrier, or these particles somehow jumped over Jupiter and landed in the outer Solar System.”

    It’s an important finding partly because it will help planet-formation modellers better understand how dust grains migrate around a protoplanetary disk – including one in which giant planets are forming – before being incorporated into larger objects.

    But it will also help modellers figure out important aspects of conditions in these protoplanetary discs, including the viscosity and turbulence of their gas and dust.

    “That plays a role in how you build planets,” Williams says.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    UC Davis Campus

    The University of California, Davis, is a major public research university located in Davis, California, just west of Sacramento. It encompasses 5,300 acres of land, making it the second largest UC campus in terms of land ownership, after UC Merced.

     
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