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  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on March 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Aphelion": the farthest point from the Sun, "As launch approaches JUICE project manager discusses trajectories and science", "LEGA": Lunar-Earth Gravity Assist, , ESA has decided to power all instruments in parallel., Given that JUICE will be flying directly through Jupiter’s magnetosphere significant radiation shielding is needed for JUICE and its instruments to survive., It is thought that subsurface oceans may exist underneath the three moons’ icy crusts., JUICE is part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision program., JUICE is set to arrive at Jupiter in July 2031., JUICE launch is currently set for April 13 2023., JUICE will also explore the complex environment around Jupiter and study the Jovian system as an archetype for other gas giant exoplanets in solar systems across the universe., JUICE will carry 10 instruments to Jupiter in three packages: a remote sensing package and a geophysical package and an in situ package [see the full blog post for explication]., JUICE will spend eight years traveling through the inner solar system performing four gravity assists., JUICE’s massive ~85 square meter solar arrays are set to become the largest solar arrays ever built for an interplanetary spacecraft., , Planetary Science, The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganization](EU), The first flyby of Europa will take place in July 2032 with regular flybys of Ganymede and Europa and Callisto beginning soon after., The four flybys are often referred to as “gravity assists.”, The nominal science phase of JUICE’s mission will begin around six months before the spacecraft enters Jupiter’s sphere of influence., The Planetary Radio Interferometer & Doppler Experiment (PRIDE) will utilize ground-based very-long-baseline interferometry to produce precise position and velocity measurements for JUICE., The primary purpose of JUICE’s mission is to characterize and explore the three largest icy moons of Jupiter — Ganymede and Callisto and Europa., The second flyby planned for August 2025 will see JUICE fly past Venus utilizing the planet’s gravity to increase its aphelion height., The spacecraft is equipped with two radiation shielding vaults which are built along the central cylinder., There is a possibility for life existing within the three moon’s subsurface oceans — making them a significant area of interest for planetary scientists and astrobiologists., When the spacecraft’s orbital velocity is increased the height of its orbit is also increased.   

    From “NASA Spaceflight” : “As launch approaches JUICE project manager discusses trajectories and science” 

    NASA Spaceflight

    From “NASA Spaceflight”

    Haygen Warren

    Artist’s concept of JUICE spacecraft at Jupiter. Credit: ESA.

    The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft recently arrived in French Guiana for its upcoming launch, which is currently set for April 13, 2023. JUICE is currently undergoing launch preparations in the Payload Preparation Facility at the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana, and will soon be mounted atop the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket it will ride into orbit.

    While the launch of JUICE will certainly be an exciting and critical event in the mission timeline, what occurs after the launch is, perhaps, some of the most important events of the mission. Following the launch, JUICE will spend eight years traveling through the inner solar system, performing four gravity assists to raise its aphelion (the farthest point from the Sun in its orbit) to Jupiter’s orbital plane. What’s more, when at Jupiter itself, JUICE will perform several flybys of three Jovian icy moons — Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa — to uncover the secrets of these potentially habitable celestial bodies.

    With JUICE’s launch and the start of the spacecraft’s eight-year coast phase quickly approaching, NASASpaceflight sat down with Cyril Cavel, JUICE project manager of Airbus Defence and Space, to learn more about the upcoming mission, its eight-year coast phase, and the science it will gather when at Jupiter.

    JUICE’s Trajectory

    When JUICE launches from French Guiana in April, it will be equipped with some of the latest and greatest planetary science instrumentation to investigate the characteristics of Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. However, before it can use any of these instruments, the spacecraft has to fly out to Jupiter, doing so through the use of four flybys.

    The first of these four flybys will see JUICE perform a first-of-its-kind flyby of the Earth-Moon system called a Lunar-Earth Gravity Assist (LEGA). The maneuver will take place in August 2024 and will have JUICE fly past both the Moon and Earth, utilizing the gravity of both celestial bodies in a single flyby maneuver. If successful, the LEGA flyby will save JUICE a significant amount of propellant, potentially providing mission teams with more opportunities for flybys at Jupiter or a mission extension.

    Juice’s journey to Jupiter.

    The second flyby, planned for August 2025, will see JUICE fly past Venus, utilizing the planet’s gravity to increase its aphelion height. The final two flybys, planned for September 2026 and January 2029, will be of Earth, with the fourth flyby increasing the spacecraft’s aphelion height to the orbital plane of Jupiter and placing the spacecraft on a trajectory to intercept the planet’s immense gravity well.

    The four flybys are often referred to as “gravity assists.” During each flyby, JUICE will harness the gravity of either the Earth-Moon system, Venus, or Earth itself to increase its velocity around the Sun. When the spacecraft’s orbital velocity is increased, the height of its orbit is also increased. By performing multiple gravity assists rather than one, single burn that would place the spacecraft on a direct trajectory to the Jovian system, mission teams can reduce the amount of propellant on the spacecraft, reducing spacecraft mass and costs.

    What’s more, following the fourth and final gravity assist flyby of Earth, JUICE could potentially perform a flyby of an asteroid while traveling out to Jupiter. If mission teams choose to perform the flyby of the asteroid, named 223 Rosa, the flyby will serve as a dress rehearsal for the spacecraft’s first flyby of Ganymede following its arrival at the Jovian system in July 2031.

    “[The flyby of 223 Rosa] can effectively be used as a dress rehearsal for the very first flyby of Ganymede, which will take place just before Jupiter orbit insertion,” Cavel said. “We perform our first Ganymede flyby before performing the orbital insertion maneuver at Jupiter in order to do an initial reduction of the spacecraft’s energy and to reduce the amplitude of the maneuver that we have to do when arriving at Jupiter. And so a flyby of an asteroid on the way to Jupiter could be used as a rehearsal of this first Ganymede flyby that we do when arriving in the Jovian system,” Cavel said.

    The decision to fly past the asteroid will be important for JUICE teams. However, as Cavel explained, they have plenty of time to assess their options and make the final decision to fly past the asteroid.

    “The opportunities that flight dynamics and mission analysis at ESA have found for a flyby of an asteroid are typically after the last Earth gravity assist, so on the final trajectory arc to Jupiter. JUICE will be on that trajectory at least five to six years after launch. So there is some time to think about that, meaning the decision would need to be made in the first few years after launch. Then the trajectory would be fine-tuned at the expense of a few meters per second of additional delta-v, which we can accommodate, in order to really target these asteroids on the way to Jupiter.”

    Mission milestones. ESA.

    JUICE’s Instruments

    As mentioned, JUICE will carry a suite of state-of-the-art instruments to Jupiter, providing mission teams and planetary scientists with the most powerful remote sensing, geophysical, and in situ payload component ever flown to Jupiter and the outer solar system.

    In total, JUICE will carry 10 instruments to Jupiter. Each of the 10 instruments can be separated into three instrument packages: a remote sensing package, a geophysical package, and an in situ package.

    The remote sensing package is comprised of the Jovis, Amorum ac Natorum Undique Scrutator (JANUS), Moons and Jupiter Imaging Spectrometer (MAJIS), UV imaging Spectrograph (UVS), and Sub-millimeter Wave Instrument (SWI). The instrument package will serve to image the surface of the icy moons, providing imaging capabilities in the ultraviolet and sub-millimeter wavelengths.

    The geophysical package is comprised of the GAnymede Laser Altimeter (GALA), Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME), and Gravity & Geophysics of Jupiter and Galilean Moons (3GM). GALA and RIME are expected to provide laser and radar technology for use when exploring the surfaces of the icy moons, with 3GM providing radio technology that will allow scientists to probe the atmospheres of Jupiter and its icy moons to measure their gravitational fields.

    The last of the three instrument packages is the in situ package, which is comprised of the Particle Environment Package (PEP), JUICE-Magnetometer (J-MAG), and Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI). PEP will study the particle environment surrounding Jupiter and its icy moons, J-MAG will study the magnetic field interaction between Jupiter and the moons, and RPWI will study radio and plasma waves around Jupiter. What’s more, the in situ package will feature electric and magnetic field sensors and four Langmuir probes.

    JUICE’s instruments and their locations on the spacecraft. ESA.

    In addition to the three instrument packages on JUICE, the Planetary Radio Interferometer & Doppler Experiment (PRIDE) will utilize ground-based very-long-baseline interferometry to produce precise position and velocity measurements for JUICE teams on Earth.

    With three instrument packages and one experiment on a single spacecraft bus, JUICE’s electronics and software have to manage quite a few instruments, especially given that many of the instruments were developed by different agencies across the world.

    “It’s definitely been one of the more difficult design and assembly challenges for JUICE,” Cavel said when discussing instrument integration onto the spacecraft.

    “All of the instruments come with different constraints, from field of view, to radiation tolerance, tolerance to EMC perturbations, to electromagnetic perturbations coming from the spacecraft or other instruments, and more. So it was a design challenge to find a solution that would accommodate all of these instruments on the spacecraft and then put them on board and operate them from the central software of the spacecraft.”

    JUICE’s massive ~85 square meter solar arrays are set to become the largest solar arrays ever built for an interplanetary spacecraft and will serve to produce high amounts of power for JUICE and its instruments. Despite the high amount of instruments on the spacecraft, JUICE will have the ability to run all of its instruments simultaneously.

    “On JUICE, we have decided together with ESA to power all instruments in parallel. And there’s a good reason for that. We will have only two close flybys at Europa, and we want to be able to operate all our instruments all together at the closest approach of the Europa flybys, during which we will fly at 400 kilometers of altitude over Europa,” Cavel explained.

    “We have only two chances to do that, so we don’t want to have a staggered approach where we would power on various instruments and then switch them off to give power to other instruments. We really want to be able to have cross-observations and all instruments working together to make the most of these two particular flybys that we will have at Europa.”

    “And there are other opportunities or situations during the mission where we will repeat this kind of behavior and have all instruments powered on.”

    JUICE Solar Array’s in-line deployment test!

    “During the cruise to Jupiter, there is very little science activity planned. We will do regular check out of all the payloads every six months or so. However, the flybys at Venus and Earth are great opportunities to perform calibrations of the instruments. In particular, we will calibrate our magnetometers when traveling throughout the magnetic field of Earth during the Earth flybys, so that’s one particular example of what we will do during Earth flybys.”

    However, if scientists opted to attempt to perform science at Venus, they would not be able to do so, as the orientation JUICE must be kept at during its eight-year coast phase will limit the instruments that can be used.

    “There is a particular constraint that we have to respect at all times during the inner cruise of the solar system, which is to keep JUICE constantly sun-pointed with our high gain antenna facing the sun. This is to optimize the thermal control subsystem design of the spacecraft. So, because of this, when flying by Venus, we will not be able to rotate the spacecraft in the direction scientists would want for scientific operations. They will be able to switch on instruments and to do observations, but under the limitation that the spacecraft remains pointing in the same direction and is constantly facing the sun with the high gain antenna.”

    JUICE’s Scientific Goals and Activities

    The primary purpose of JUICE’s mission is to characterize and explore the three largest icy moons of Jupiter — Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. Each of the moons features surfaces that are primarily comprised of ice, and it is thought that subsurface oceans may exist underneath the icy crust. Given the location of the moons in the solar system and the environments in which they exist, there is a possibility for life existing within these subsurface oceans — making them a significant area of interest for planetary scientists and astrobiologists.

    In addition to investigating and characterizing the Jovian icy moons, JUICE will explore the complex environment around Jupiter and study the Jovian system as an archetype for other gas giant exoplanets in solar systems across the universe. Furthermore, JUICE will look for signs of life-sustaining habitats in and around the icy moons, and attempt to answer the question of whether or not life is unique to Earth.

    As part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision program, JUICE will address two key themes of the program: “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?” and “How does the Solar System work?” JUICE teams are aiming to address these questions by exploring the habitable zone, characterizing the oceans, icy shells, compositions, surfaces, environments, and activity of the Jovian icy moons, and the Jovian system as a whole and the effects Jupiter has on its surrounding environment.

    A few of the many environments JUICE will endure. ESA.

    One of the most intense and prominent effects Jupiter places on its surrounding environment is its immense magnetosphere and radiation. Given that JUICE will be flying directly through Jupiter’s magnetosphere, significant radiation shielding is needed for JUICE and its instruments to survive.

    Jupiter’s magnetosphere. NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.

    “Tolerance to radiation is one of the other most stringent design requirements that we faced when designing JUICE. Jupiter is the harshest environment that we can find in that respect. Radiation is nothing new in space, as standard telecommunication satellites also face that kind of environment, but not to the same extent. So, when designing JUICE, we found that there can be many different ways to design a spacecraft that needs to be tolerant to radiation.”

    “One way is to redesign components and ask ‘do you triple this part?’ This is not the choice we ended up making. We decided to use standard parts in order to limit cost and development risk. But then, when you decide to use standard parts to build your pieces of electronics and all your hardware, you need to protect them effectively. And this is the choice we made. We decided to shield all the hardware and pieces of electronics against the radiation environment at Jupiter.”

    “The spacecraft is equipped with two radiation shielding vaults which are built along the central cylinder. It’s a confined piece of structure, inside which we accommodate all of the sensitive pieces of our electronics. The common shielding, which is applied on these vaults, is made of foils of lead. So, we have glued foils of lead that are a few millimeters thick onto the spacecraft, which is good enough to decelerate the particles and reduce the amount of energy that is hitting the sensitive components of our electronics inside these vaults. And this is a way for us to protect the pieces of electronics and avoid redesigning everything.”

    “Overall, we have approximately 150 kilograms on JUICE of lead, just lead, to protect our hardware from radiation,” said Cavel.

    Jupiter aurora. J. Clark/NASA/ESA Hubble.

    Although the icy moons all orbit around Jupiter and are susceptible to the planet’s intense magnetosphere, the radiation environments surrounding the moons vary.

    “Regardless of the differences that you can find, for example, at Europa and Ganymede ⁠– the radiation environment at Europa is different to the one you will find at Ganymede ⁠– but for all those related effects, it does not matter so much. You just accumulate damage over life, so you just have to make sure that at the end of life, the spacecraft is still able to operate, your pieces of electronics are still alive, and you can still run your mission.”

    “But then there are other effects produced by radiation that are more instantaneous, like latch-up single events. These types of events will be worse at Europa compared to Ganymede. So there are ways to operate the spacecraft or to operate various components which can be very specific to where you are in the Jovian system, and in particular at Europa. Europa is the place in the Jovian system in which we will be the closest to Jupiter and the deepest inside the radiation belts of Jupiter, making it the most dangerous place the spacecraft will be throughout the mission. So for the two flybys at Europa, we have designed some special features at the software level and at the operation level in order to make sure that we are protected against these instantaneous effects that can be produced by a high radiation environment.”

    As previously mentioned, JUICE will study the Jovian system as a whole and will look for specific differences in the icy moons to determine how they formed and evolved into the moons we know today.

    “In terms of the formation of a planetary system, Jupiter and its moon system can be regarded as a good example of how planetary systems and their moons form. On Europa and Ganymede, we know from previous missions that there is liquid water. There are oceans underneath the icy crust of Europa and Ganymede. But there are likely differences in the structure of these oceans. This is what we want to verify with the mission. On Europa, it is thought that the ocean is located directly on top of the rocky mantle of the core of Europa. This is not the case on Ganymede, where we believe that on top of the rocky mantle of the rocky core, there is an initial layer of ice, then the ocean, and then the icy crust of Ganymede’s surface. So the inner composition of the moons and the place where we find the oceans and the interactions between this ocean, the core, and the surface are presumably different at Europa and Ganymede. This is what the scientists want to verify using JUICE, because their results could have implications on the potential for life.”

    The icy moons that JUICE will investigate. ESA.

    While the existence of these subsurface oceans has not yet been 100% confirmed, there are many different indicators that scientists have used to justify the existence of these oceans. One such indicator is the presence of a second magnetic field around Ganymede that is likely formed by its subsurface ocean.

    “We will first confirm the presence of these oceans, and then we will better characterize these oceans by measuring the magnetic field produced by these oceans, which will allow the scientists to better constrain the models governing the presence and the characteristics of these oceans.”

    “We know that these oceans, in particular, Ganymede’s ocean, have a magnetic signature. They emit their own magnetic field, which is very faint. So this means we have three levels of magnetic fields at Jupiter: the field produced by Jupiter itself, the field produced by Ganymede (Ganymede is the only moon in the solar system which has its own magnetic field as well); and then we believe Ganymede’s ocean, which is saline, also produces a magnetic field. And this is what we want to sense with magnetometers onboard the spacecraft. To do that, we need to be able to sense very low-level fields, meaning that we needed to build a very clean spacecraft from an electromagnetic point of view. We don’t want to measure the magnetic field produced by the spacecraft. We want to sense what is locally produced at Ganymede and, in particular, by the ocean of Ganymede. And to do that we have placed the most sensitive magnetometers of the mission on a deployable boom that is 11 meters long. We will deploy the boom in the first few weeks of the mission after launch to place these very sensitive magnetic sensors far away from the spacecraft such that we do not measure the field produced by the spacecraft.”

    The science JUICE collects at Jupiter will be of significant importance to planetary scientists who are attempting to determine the circumstances under which these moons and their oceans formed, as well as to astrobiologists who are actively looking for habitable locations in our solar system.

    The nominal science phase of JUICE’s mission will begin around six months before the spacecraft enters Jupiter’s sphere of influence. JUICE is set to arrive at Jupiter in July 2031 and will perform a flyby of Ganymede before performing its orbital insertion around the gas giant, which will occur approximately 7.5 hours after the Ganymede flyby. JUICE’s initial orbit around Jupiter will be highly eccentric, or elongated, with its orbital height and eccentricity being lowered over time.

    The first flyby of Europa will take place in July 2032, with regular flybys of Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto beginning soon after. In 2035, JUICE will exit its orbit of Jupiter orbit and enter into orbit around Ganymede, becoming the first-ever spacecraft to orbit a moon other than Earth’s. During its time in orbit around Ganymede, the spacecraft will use its suite of instruments to study Ganymede with extreme detail, producing entire maps of the moon’s surface and internal structure.

    After JUICE’s mission, it will use the remaining propellant onboard the spacecraft to deorbit itself, crashing into Ganymede a short time after.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA Spaceflight is 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.

    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 4:50 pm on March 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "DraMS": Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer, "NASA Instrument Bound for Titan Could Reveal Chemistry Leading to Life", A new NASA mission to Saturn’s giant moon Titan- Dragonfly-is due to launch in 2027., , Dragonfly robotic rotorcraft, , Planetary Science, The mission will carry the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS) instrument.,   

    From The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “NASA Instrument Bound for Titan Could Reveal Chemistry Leading to Life” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    By: Nick Oakes
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

    Media Contact:
    Bill Steigerwald
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

    A new NASA mission to Saturn’s giant moon Titan-Dragonfly- is due to launch in 2027. When it arrives in the mid-2030s, it will begin a journey of discovery that could bring about a new understanding of the development of life in the universe. This mission, called Dragonfly, will carry an instrument called the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS), designed to help scientists hone in on the chemistry at work on Titan. It may also shed light on the kinds of chemical steps that occurred on Earth that ultimately led to the formation of life, called prebiotic chemistry.

    This illustration shows NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly will explore dozens of locations across the icy world, sampling and measuring the compositions of Titan’s organic surface materials to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL.

    Titan’s abundant complex carbon-rich chemistry, interior ocean, and past presence of liquid water on the surface make it an ideal destination to study prebiotic chemical processes and the potential habitability of an extraterrestrial environment.

    The DraMS instrument will allow scientists back on Earth to remotely study the chemical makeup of the Titanian surface. “We want to know if the type of chemistry that could be important for early pre-biochemical systems on Earth is taking place on Titan,” explains Dr. Melissa Trainer of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The colorful globe of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

    Trainer is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist who specializes in Titan and is one of the Dragonfly mission’s deputy principal investigators. She is also lead on the DraMS instrument, which will scan through measurements of samples from Titan’s surface material for evidence of prebiotic chemistry.

    To accomplish this, the Dragonfly robotic rotorcraft will capitalize on Titan’s low gravity and dense atmosphere to fly between different points of interest on Titan’s surface, spread as far as several miles apart. This allows Dragonfly to relocate its entire suite of instruments to a new site when the previous one has been fully explored, and provides access to samples in environments with a variety of geologic histories.

    At each site, samples less than a gram in size will be drilled out of the surface by the Drill for Acquisition of Complex Organics (DrACO) and brought inside the lander’s main body, to a place called the “attic” that houses the DraMS instrument. There, they will be irradiated by an onboard laser or vaporized in an oven to be measured by DraMS. A mass spectrometer is an instrument that analyzes the various chemical components of a sample by separating these components down into their base molecules and passing them through sensors for identification.

    “DraMS is designed to look at the organic molecules that may be present on Titan, at their composition and distribution in different surface environments,” says Trainer. Organic molecules contain carbon and are used by all known forms of life. They are of interest in understanding the formation of life because they can be created by living and non-living processes.

    Mass spectrometers determine what’s in a sample by ionizing the material (that is, bombarding it with energy so that the atoms therein become positively or negatively charged) and examining the chemical composition of the various compounds. This involves determining the relationship between the weight of the molecule and its charge, which serves as a signature for the compound.

    DraMS was developed in part by the same team at Goddard which developed the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard the Curiosity rover. DraMS is designed to survey samples of Titanian surface material in situ, using techniques tested on Mars with the SAM suite.

    Trainer emphasized the benefits of this heritage. Dragonfly’s scientists did not want to “reinvent the wheel” when it came to searching for organic compounds on Titan, and instead built on established methods which have been applied on Mars and elsewhere. “This design has given us an instrument that’s very flexible, that can adapt to the different types of surface samples,” says Trainer.

    DraMS and other science instruments on Dragonfly are being designed and built under the direction of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, which manages the mission for NASA and is designing and building the rotorcraft-lander. The team includes key partners at Goddard, the French space agency (CNES, Paris, France), which is providing the Gas Chromatograph Module for DraMS that will provide an additional separation after leaving the oven, Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colorado, NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California’s Silicon Valley, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania, Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, California, Honeybee Robotics, Brooklyn, New York, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tokyo, Japan.

    Dragonfly is the fourth mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program. New Frontiers is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate Washington.

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

  • richardmitnick 4:19 pm on March 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "University of California Irvine astronomers say ‘Terminator zones’ on distant planets could harbor life", , , , , Planetary Science, , These in-between regions could be prime sites for liquid water.   

    From The University of California-Irvine: “University of California Irvine astronomers say ‘Terminator zones’ on distant planets could harbor life” 

    UC Irvine bloc

    From The University of California-Irvine

    Lucas Van Wyk Joel

    These in-between regions could be prime sites for liquid water.

    Some exoplanets have one side permanently facing their star while the other side is in perpetual darkness. The ring-shaped border between these permanent day and night regions is called a “terminator zone.” In a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal [below], physics and astronomy researchers at UC Irvine say this area has the potential to support extraterrestrial life. Ana Lobo / UCI.

    In a new study, University of California, Irvine astronomers describe how extraterrestrial life has the potential to exist on distant exoplanets inside a special area called the “terminator zone,” which is a ring on planets that have one side that always faces its star and one side that is always dark.

    “These planets have a permanent day side and a permanent night side,” said Ana Lobo, a postdoctoral researcher in the UCI Department of Physics & Astronomy who led the new work, which just published in The Astrophysical Journal [below]. Lobo added that such planets are particularly common because they exist around stars that make up about 70 percent of the stars seen in the night sky – so-called M-dwarf stars, which are relatively dimmer than our sun.

    The terminator is the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet. Terminator zones could exist in that “just right” temperature zone between too hot and too cold.

    “You want a planet that’s in the sweet spot of just the right temperature for having liquid water,” said Lobo, because liquid water, as far as scientists know, is an essential ingredient for life.

    On the dark sides of terminator planets, perpetual night would yield plummeting temperatures that could cause any water to be frozen in ice. The side of the planet always facing its star could be too hot for water to remain in the open for long.

    “This is a planet where the dayside can be scorching hot, well beyond habitability, and the night side is going to be freezing, potentially covered in ice. You could have large glaciers on the night side,” Lobo said.

    Lobo, alongside Aomawa Shields, UCI associate professor of physics & astronomy, modeled the climate of terminator planets using software typically used to model our own planet’s climate, but with a few adjustments, including slowing down planetary rotation.

    It’s believed to be the first time astronomers have been able to show that such planets can sustain habitable climates confined to this terminator region. Historically, researchers have mostly studied ocean-covered exoplanets in their search for candidates for habitability. But now that Lobo and her team have shown that terminator planets are also viable refuges for life, it increases the options life-hunting astronomers have to choose from.

    “We are trying to draw attention to more water-limited planets, which despite not having widespread oceans, could have lakes or other smaller bodies of liquid water, and these climates could actually be very promising,” Lobo said.

    One key to the finding, Lobo added, was pinpointing exactly what kind of terminator zone planet can retain liquid water. If the planet is mostly covered in water, then the water facing the star, the team found, would likely evaporate and cover the entire planet in a thick layer of vapor.

    But if there’s land, this effect shouldn’t occur.

    “Ana has shown if there’s a lot of land on the planet, the scenario we call ‘terminator habitability’ can exist a lot more easily,” said Shields. “These new and exotic habitability states our team is uncovering are no longer the stuff of science fiction – Ana has done the work to show that such states can be climatically stable.”

    Recognizing terminator zones as potential harbors for life also means that astronomers will need to adjust the way they study exoplanet climates for signs of life, because the biosignatures life creates may only be present in specific parts of the planet’s atmosphere.

    The work will also help inform future efforts by teams using telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope or the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor telescope currently in development at NASA as they search for planets that may host extraterrestrial life.

    “By exploring these exotic climate states, we increase our chances of finding and properly identifying a habitable planet in the near future,” said Lobo.

    The Astrophysical Journal
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Since 1965, the University of California-Irvine has combined the strengths of a major research university with the bounty of an incomparable Southern California location. UCI’s unyielding commitment to rigorous academics, cutting-edge research, and leadership and character development makes the campus a driving force for innovation and discovery that serves our local, national and global communities in many ways.

    With more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system. Increasingly a first-choice campus for students, UCI ranks among the top 10 U.S. universities in the number of undergraduate applications and continues to admit freshmen with highly competitive academic profiles.

    UCI fosters the rigorous expansion and creation of knowledge through quality education. Graduates are equipped with the tools of analysis, expression and cultural understanding necessary for leadership in today’s world.

    Consistently ranked among the nation’s best universities – public and private – UCI excels in a broad range of fields, garnering national recognition for many schools, departments and programs. Times Higher Education ranked UCI No. 1 among universities in the U.S. under 50 years old. Three UCI researchers have won Nobel Prizes – two in chemistry and one in physics.

    The university is noted for its top-rated research and graduate programs, extensive commitment to undergraduate education, and growing number of professional schools and programs of academic and social significance. Recent additions include highly successful programs in public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science; an expanding education school; and a law school already ranked among the nation’s top 10 for its scholarly impact.

  • richardmitnick 10:08 am on March 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UAF scientist offers evidence that Venus is volcanically active", , , Herrick studied images taken in the early 1990s during the first two imaging cycles of NASA’s Magellan space probe., Planetary Science, Research by University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute professor Robert Herrick revealed a nearly 1-square-mile volcanic vent that changed shape and grew over eight months in 1991., The new research focused on an area containing two of Venus’ largest volcanoes Ozza and Maat Mons.,   

    From The University of Alaska-Fairbanks: “UAF scientist offers evidence that Venus is volcanically active” 

    From The University of Alaska-Fairbanks

    Rod Boyce

    Robert Herrick
    University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute

    Venus appears to have volcanic activity, according to a new research paper that offers strong evidence to answer the lingering question about whether Earth’s sister planet currently has eruptions and lava flows.

    Venus, although similar to Earth in size and mass, differs markedly in that it does not have plate tectonics. The boundaries of Earth’s moving surface plates are the primary locations of volcanic activity.

    Maat Mons, 9 kilometers high, is Venus’s tallest volcano. A collapse of its caldera signaled an eruption. NASA/JPL.

    New research by University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute research professor Robert Herrick revealed a nearly 1-square-mile volcanic vent that changed in shape and grew over eight months in 1991. Changes on such a scale on Earth are associated with volcanic activity, whether through an eruption at the vent or movement of magma beneath the vent that causes the vent walls to collapse and the vent to expand.

    The research was published today in the journal Science [below].

    Herrick studied images taken in the early 1990s during the first two imaging cycles of NASA’s Magellan space probe.

    Until recently, comparing digital images to find new lava flows took too much time, the paper notes. As a result, few scientists have searched Magellan data for feature formation.

    “It is really only in the last decade or so that the Magellan data has been available at full resolution, mosaicked and easily manipulable by an investigator with a typical personal workstation,” Herrick said.

    The new research focused on an area containing two of Venus’ largest volcanoes Ozza and Maat Mons.

    “Ozza and Maat Mons are comparable in volume to Earth’s largest volcanoes but have lower slopes and thus are more spread out,” Herrick said.

    Maat Mons contains the expanded vent that indicates volcanic activity.

    Image from research paper.
    The panels show the east-looking first (A) and west-looking second (B) images of the vent.

    Herrick compared a Magellan image from mid-February 1991 with a mid-October 1991 image and noticed a change to a vent on the north side of a domed shield volcano that is part of the Maat Mons volcano.

    The vent had grown from a circular formation of just under 1 square mile to an irregular shape of about 1.5 square miles.

    The later image indicates that the vent’s walls became shorter, perhaps only a few hundred feet high, and that the vent was nearly filled to its rim. The researchers speculate that a lava lake formed in the vent during the eight months between the images, though whether the contents were liquid or cooled and solidified isn’t known.

    The researchers offer one caveat: a nonvolcanic, earthquake-triggered collapse of the vent’s walls might have caused the expansion. They note, however, that vent collapses of this scale on Earth’s volcanoes have always been accompanied by nearby volcanic eruptions; magma withdraws from beneath the vent because it is going somewhere else.

    The surface of Venus is geologically young, especially compared to all the other rocky bodies except Earth and Jupiter’s moon Io, Herrick said.

    “However, the estimates of how often eruptions might occur on Venus have been speculative, ranging from several large eruptions per year to one such eruption every several or even tens of years,” he said.

    Research professor Robert Herrick. JR Ancheta/UAF/GI photo.

    Herrick contrasts the lack of information about Venusian volcanism with what is known about Jupiter’s moon Io and about Mars.

    “Io is so active that multiple ongoing eruptions have been imaged every time we’ve observed it,” he said.

    On a geological time scale, relatively young lava flows indicate Mars remains volcanically active, Herrick said.

    “However, nothing has occurred in the 45 years that we have been observing Mars, and most scientists would say that you’d probably need to watch the surface for a few million years to have a reasonable chance of seeing a new lava flow,” he said.

    Herrick’s research adds Venus to the small pool of volcanically active bodies in our solar system.

    “We can now say that Venus is presently volcanically active in the sense that there are at least a few eruptions per year,” he said. “We can expect that the upcoming Venus missions will observe new volcanic flows that have occurred since the Magellan mission ended three decades ago, and we should see some activity occurring while the two upcoming orbital missions are collecting images.”

    Co-author Scott Hensley of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory performed the modeling for the research.


    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The The University of Alaska-Fairbanks is a public land-grant research university in College, Alaska; a suburb of Fairbanks. It is a flagship campus of the University of Alaska system. UAF was established in 1917 and opened for classes in 1922. Originally named the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, it became the University of Alaska in 1935. Fairbanks-based programs became the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1975.

    University of Alaska-Fairbanks is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”. It is home to several major research units, including the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station; the Geophysical Institute, which operates the Poker Flat Research Range and several other scientific centers; the Alaska Center for Energy and Power; the International Arctic Research Center; the Institute of Arctic Biology; the Institute of Marine Science; and the Institute of Northern Engineering. Located just 200 miles (320 km) south of the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks campus’ unique location favors Arctic and northern research. UAF’s research specialties are renowned worldwide, most notably Arctic biology, Arctic engineering, geophysics, supercomputing, Ethnobotany and Alaska Native studies. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is also on the Fairbanks campus.

    In addition to the Fairbanks campus, University of Alaska-Fairbanks encompasses six rural and urban campuses: Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham; Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue; the Fairbanks-based Interior Alaska Campus, which serves the state’s rural Interior; Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel; Northwest Campus in Nome; and the UAF Community and Technical College, with headquarters in downtown Fairbanks. UAF is also the home of UAF eCampus, which offers fully online programs.

    In fall 2017, University of Alaska-Fairbanks enrolled 8,720 students. Of those students, 58% were female and 41% were male; 87.8% were undergraduates, and 12.2% were graduate students. As of May 2018, 1,352 students had graduated during the immediately preceding summer, fall and spring semesters.

    Research units

    University of Alaska-Fairbanks is Alaska’s primary research university, conducting more than 90% of University of Alaska system research. Research activities are organized into several institutes and centers:

    The Geophysical Institute, established in 1946 by an act of Congress, specializes in seismology, volcanology and aeronomy, among other fields.
    The International Arctic Research Center researches the circumpolar North and the causes and effects of climate change.
    The Institute of Northern Engineering, an arm of the College of Engineering and Mines, conducts research in many different areas of engineering.
    The Research Computing Systems unit, located within the Geophysical Institute, is the high-performance computing unit of UAF.
    The Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station conducts research focused on solving problems related to agriculture and forest sciences.
    The Institute of Arctic Biology conducts research focused on high-latitude biological systems.
    The Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station conducts long-term research with muskoxen, reindeer and cattle.
    The Institute of Marine Science, a branch of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, investigates topics in oceanography, marine biology, and fisheries.
    The R/V Sikuliaq, a 261-foot ice-resistant ship outfitted with modern scientific equipment, is operated by the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences for the National Science Foundation.

  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on March 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A moon-forming cataclysm could have also triggered Earth’s plate tectonics", A hypothetical Mars-sized planet [Theia] might have collided with Earth about 4.5 billion years ago and birthed the moon., , , New computer simulations suggest that purported remains of Theia deep inside the planet could have also triggered the onset of subduction-a hallmark of modern plate tectonics., Of all the worlds yet discovered ours is the only one confirmed to have plate tectonics., Others caution that it’s much too early to say that this is in fact what happened., Planetary Science, , , Vestiges of a moon-forming cataclysm could have kick-started plate tectonics on Earth.   

    From “Science News” : “A moon-forming cataclysm could have also triggered Earth’s plate tectonics” 

    From “Science News”

    Nikk Ogasa

    A hypothetical, Mars-sized planet [Theia] might have collided with Earth about 4.5 billion years ago and birthed the moon. The impact could have kick-started subduction on Earth, researchers suggest. Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing via Getty Images.

    Vestiges of a moon-forming cataclysm could have kick-started plate tectonics on Earth.

    The leading explanation for the origin of the moon proposes that a Mars-sized planet, dubbed Theia, struck the nascent Earth, ejecting a cloud of debris into space that later coalesced into a satellite (SN: 3/2/18). New computer simulations suggest that purported remains of Theia deep inside the planet could have also triggered the onset of subduction, a hallmark of modern plate tectonics, geodynamicist Qian Yuan of Caltech reported March 13 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

    The story offers a cohesive explanation for how Earth gained both its moon and its moving tectonic plates, and it could aid in the search for other Earthlike worlds. But others caution that it’s much too early to say that this is, in fact, what happened.

    Of all the worlds yet discovered, ours is the only one confirmed to have plate tectonics (SN: 1/13/21).

    For billions of years, Earth’s creeping plates have spread, collided and plunged beneath one another, birthing and splitting continents, uplifting mountain ranges and widening oceans (SN: 4/22/20, SN: 1/11/17). But all this reshaping has also erased most of the clues to the planet’s early history, including how and when plate tectonics first began.

    Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the initiation of subduction, a tectonic process in which one plate slides under another (SN: 5/2/22; SN: 6/5/19; SN: 1/2/18). Yuan and his colleagues chose to focus on two continent-sized blobs of material in Earth’s lower mantle known as large low-shear velocity provinces (SN: 5/12/16). These are regions through which seismic waves are known to move anomalously slow. Researchers had previously proposed these regions could have formed from old, subducted plates. But in 2021, Yuan and colleagues alternatively proposed that the mysterious masses could be the dense, sunken remnants of Theia.

    Building off that previous work, the researchers used computers to simulate how Theia’s impact, and its lingering remains, would impact the flow of rock inside the Earth.

    They found that once these hot alien blobs had sunk to the bottom of the mantle, they could have compelled large plumes of warm rock to upwell and wedge into Earth’s rigid outer layer. As upwelling continued to feed into the risen plumes, they would have ballooned and pushed slabs of Earth’s surface beneath them, triggering subduction about 200 million years after the moon formed.

    While the simulations suggest the large low-shear velocity provinces could have had a hand in starting subduction, it’s not yet clear whether these masses came from Theia. “The features … are a fairly recent discovery,” says geodynamicist Laurent Montési of the University of Maryland in College Park. “They’re very fascinating structures, with a very unknown origin.” As such, he says, it’s too early to say that Theia triggered plate tectonics.

    “It’s provoking. This material down there is something special,” Montési says of the large low-shear velocity provinces. “But whether it has to be originally extraterrestrial, I don’t think the case is made.”

    However, if confirmed, the explanation could have implications that reach beyond our solar system. “If you have a large moon, you likely have a large impactor,” Yuan said. Scientists have yet to confirm the discovery of such an exomoon (SN: 4/30/19). But keeping an eye out, Yuan said, could help us uncover another world as tectonically active as our own.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 1:45 pm on March 11, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Do Diamonds Rain on the Ice Giants?", New research shows diamonds might condense out of Neptune’s mantle but not Uranus’ explaining a decades-old discrepancy., Planetary Science, ,   

    From The Institute of Science and Technology [Institut für Wissenschaft und Technologie Österreich] (AT) Via “Sky & Telescope” : “Do Diamonds Rain on the Ice Giants?” 


    From The Institute of Science and Technology [Institut für Wissenschaft und Technologie Österreich] (AT)


    “Sky & Telescope”

    Elise Cutts

    New research shows diamonds might condense out of Neptune’s mantle but not Uranus’ explaining a decades-old discrepancy.

    In 2005 astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the delicate ring system of Uranus, as well as a southern collar of clouds and a bright, discrete cloud in the northern hemisphere. Credit: M. Showalter/NASA / ESA / (SETI Institute)

    Below the frosty hydrogen-helium atmospheres of Neptune and Uranus lie fluid mantles rich in water, ammonia, methane, and possibly something far more dazzling: diamonds. Scientists have long suspected these dense gems might rain out of the ice giants’ mantles and into their rocky cores.

    However, Uranus’ interior might not be as glitzy as previously thought. Theoretical results published February 27th in Nature Communications [below] suggest that while ideal diamond-forming conditions could occur within Neptune’s mantle, they might not exist on Uranus. But the ice giants’ interiors are still so mysterious that confidently forecasting diamond drizzles on either world will have to wait for future missions to the outer solar system, other researchers say.

    “Planets with the mass of Uranus and Neptune seem to be quite common in the in the galaxy,” says Ravit Helled (University of Zurich), who wasn’t involved in the study. Understanding what goes on inside the ice giants, she adds, is “very important for the characterization of exoplanets, as well as our understanding of our own origin.”

    Diamonds in the Sky?

    After the Voyager 2 flybys in the 1980s, scientists noticed that Neptune glows with its own internal heat, while Uranus only throws back the energy it receives from the Sun. They’ve been struggling to explain the difference ever since.

    “The name of the game for these planets for the past [decades] has been trying to think about why are they actually different, because they look so similar,” says Jonathan Fortney (University of California, Santa Cruz), who also wasn’t involved in the study.

    The new study, led by Bingqing Cheng (Institute of Science And Technology Austria), suggests that diamond rain could be a piece of this puzzle. As the gemstones fall through the mantle, they would release gravitational energy as heat. Although less dramatic than an asteroid burning up in our atmosphere, the principle is similar. Meteorites (or diamonds) rub against whatever medium they’re falling through, and this friction releases heat.

    When Cheng’s team calculated the “freezing point” of carbon under conditions like those within Neptune and Uranus, they discovered that there’s a narrow band of temperatures and pressures ideal for forming diamonds. Under these conditions, carbon and hydrogen separate from one another, concentrating carbon into a carbon-rich fluid that’s perfect for forming diamonds. This concentrated fluid can freeze out as diamond rain.

    Cheng and colleagues suggest that while this diamond weather is possible on Neptune, the conditions aren’t right for it on Uranus. If true, this could help explain the planet’s mysteriously dim glow compared to its farther-out sibling.

    Unsolved Mysteries

    Still, Fortney and Helled both caution that scientists still don’t really have a good idea of what it’s like inside the ice giants. Humanity’s only up-close glimpses of Uranus and Neptune were the Voyager 2 flybys. Until we return to the outer solar system, it’ll be hard to say for sure whether jewels fall from the sky on either planet.

    In the meantime, building the new carbon-freezing calculations into computer models of Uranus and Neptune would be a way to test the influence of diamonds on the planets’ heat budgets. Scientists have a good understanding of how this works for helium rain on Saturn, says Fortney, but diamond formation on the ice giants hasn’t been included in the state-of-the-art models for the ice giants.

    “This [study] to me is trying to get Uranus and Neptune into that same level of sophistication,” he says, “And I think we have not been at that point until now.”

    Nature Communications

    Fig. 1: Thermodynamics for diamond formation in pure liquid carbon.
    The color scale shows the chemical potential of diamond, ΔμD, referenced to pure liquid carbon. The stability region of graphite at P ⪅ 10 GPa is not shown. The melting curve Tm is compared to previous calculations using thermodynamic integration (TI) employing a semi-empirical potential by Ghiringhelli et al.[31*], TI using DFT by Wang et al.[28], coexistence DFT simulations by Correa et al.[29], an analytic free-energy model fitted to DFT data by Benedict et al.[30], and a shock-compression experiment by Eggert et al.[27] with uncertainties indicated using the shaded area. The gray line shows the inferred threshold conditions with a diamond nucleation rate J of 10^−40m^−3s^−1 from pure liquid carbon by Ghiringhelli et al.[25]. The P-T curves of planetary interior conditions for Uranus (green line) and Neptune (orange line) are from Ref. 40.
    *References in the science paper

    Fig. 2: Bonding behavior in the CH4 mixture at high-pressure high-temperature conditions.
    a Snapshots from MD simulations using the MLP. Carbon atoms are shown as small gray spheres, while hydrogen atoms are not drawn for clarity. Bonds are drawn for C-C pairs with distances within 1.6 Å. b,c Average number of C-C bonds (b) and C-H bonds (c) per carbon atom from MD simulations of CH4 composition. d,e Average lifetimes of the C-C bonds (d) and C-H bonds (e).

    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 5:31 pm on March 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Marauding Moons Spell Disaster for Some Planets", , , , , , New simulations suggest in solar systems beyond our own some moons might eventually collide with their host planets., Planetary Science   

    From “Eos” : “Marauding Moons Spell Disaster for Some Planets” 

    Eos news bloc

    From “Eos”



    Katherine Kornei

    New simulations suggest in solar systems beyond our own some moons might eventually collide with their host planets.

    Theory suggests that moons in other solar systems might occasionally collide with their host planets. Such events would likely obliterate any life present. Credit: iStock.com/dottedhippo.

    Roughly half of all stars have planets orbiting them, scientists currently believe. And surely many have moons, too, if our own solar system is any indication (only Mercury and Venus lack them). But now a researcher has shown that the presence of a moon might actually be a liability: Some moons escape the gravitational tugs of their host planets only to crash back into them over time, potentially obliterating any life present. Such marauding moons would leave an observational fingerprint—copious amounts of dust produced in the impact—that would glow in infrared light and be detectable with astronomical instruments, the researcher suggested. These results were published in MNRAS [below].

    Moons Across the Milky Way

    Astronomers think that solar systems are born from spinning clouds of gas and dust. Over time, that primordial material coalesces into larger bodies, which go on to collide with one another, forming planets and moons. According to that traditional picture, moons should be commonplace, said Joan Najita, an astronomer at the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory in Tucson, Ariz., not involved in the new research. “A moonlike object seems like a pretty natural outcome.”

    Several years ago, motivated by the notion that exomoons ought to be prevalent in the Milky Way and puzzling observations of excess infrared emission [The Astrophysical Journal (below)] around some middle-aged stars, Brad Hansen began thinking about how the presence of a moon might affect its host planet. But Hansen, a planetary scientist at the University of California-Los Angeles, wasn’t thinking about run-of-the-mill effects of moons, such as the tides they induce on a watery planet. Instead, he was curious about the possibility of a collision between a moon and its host planet and the likelihood that such an event, if it occurred, might be detectable with large research telescopes.

    The Retreat of the Moon

    The orbit of our own Moon is changing, albeit very slowly; every year, the Moon moves about 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) farther away from Earth. Gravitational forces are the culprit—the Moon tugs on Earth gravitationally, causing the planet to bulge toward the Moon, and because the rotation of our planet moves that bulge ahead of the Moon by roughly 10°, our satellite essentially feels an extra pull forward. The Moon consequently speeds up and, according to the tenets of orbital mechanics, moves outward in its orbit. At the same time, Earth’s rotational period is also slowing down because of conservation of angular momentum. “The Moon is spiraling out just because it’s extracting angular momentum from the spin of the Earth,” Hansen said.

    Hypothetically, the Moon’s orbit will continue to enlarge, and Earth’s rotational period will continue to slow in tandem for tens of billions of years. (That’s notwithstanding, of course, other more pressing cosmic eventualities, such as the death of the Sun and its probable engulfment of Earth in roughly 5 billion years.) But moons orbiting planets that are substantially closer to their host stars could undergo a much different course of evolution, Hansen calculated.

    With an eye toward determining the long-term outcomes of planetary systems containing moons, Hansen modeled a solar system containing a single spinning rocky planet up to 10 times the mass of Earth with a rocky moon that ranged in mass from 1 to 10 times the mass of Earth’s Moon. In various model scenarios, he assumed that the planet was anywhere from 0.2 to 0.8 astronomical unit from its host star. For comparison, Earth orbits the Sun at a distance of 1.0 astronomical unit, or roughly 150 million kilometers (93 million miles).

    Crossing a Boundary

    Hansen modeled the gravitational interactions of the moon, planet, and star in each planetary system. He found that for planets orbiting between roughly 0.4 and 0.8 astronomical unit from their host stars, their moons tended to spiral outward, just as our own Moon is doing.

    But when Hansen modeled the long-term evolution of those out-spiraling moons, he found that some of them traveled so far from their host planet that they ended up crossing an invisible boundary: the edge of a volume of space known as the Hill sphere. Within a planet’s Hill sphere, an orbiting object primarily feels that planet’s gravity and is therefore gravitationally bound to it. The Moon and all of our planet’s artificial satellites are within Earth’s Hill sphere, which extends roughly 1.5 million kilometers (900,000 miles) into space.

    A moon that journeys beyond a planet’s Hill sphere is no longer bound to that planet—instead, it now orbits the star in its planetary system. However, it’s still in proximity to its erstwhile host, which makes for a gravitationally unstable situation, said Hansen.

    Hallmark of a Cataclysm?

    Hansen showed that such moons overwhelmingly went on to collide with their host planets several hundreds of millions or even a billion years after the formation of the planetary system. Such collisions would, in all likelihood, be catastrophic impacts, he estimated, and they’d release copious amounts of dust. That material would then be heated by starlight to temperatures of several hundred kelvins and would accordingly begin to glow in the infrared. That makes sense, said Najita. “It sounds quite plausible.”

    Perhaps these marauding moons could explain why some middle-aged stars show a significant excess of infrared emission, Hansen postulated. Planetary systems should be generally pretty settled places—in terms of giant impacts—after 100 million or so years, he said, so spotting what’s likely a lot of dust is puzzling. Maybe astronomers are seeing the hallmarks of a cataclysm in dust-enshrouded star systems, Hansen hypothesized.

    But there are other ways to explain particularly dusty stars, said Carl Melis, an astronomer at the University of California-San Diego not involved in the research who studies stars that show excess infrared emission. Melis and his colleagues have suggested that collisions between planets, not between planets and moons, are responsible for creating the dust visible around some stars. One way to discriminate between those two scenarios, he said, would be to look for planets orbiting those stars. Consistently finding several planets would lend credence to his hypothesis, he said, but finding only one would bolster Hansen’s viewpoint. “It’s very testable.”

    The Astrophysical Journal 2021
    See the above science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Eos” is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 2:44 pm on March 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The planet that could end life on Earth", , , , , Planetary Science,   

    From The University of California-Riverside: “The planet that could end life on Earth” 

    UC Riverside bloc

    From The University of California-Riverside

    Jules L Bernstein
    Senior Public Information Officer
    (951) 827-4580

    Experiment demonstrates solar system’s fragility. NASA/JPL/ASU

    A terrestrial planet hovering between Mars and Jupiter would be able to push Earth out of the solar system and wipe out life on this planet, according to a UC Riverside experiment.

    Size comparison of the planets. (alexaldo/iStock/Getty)

    UCR astrophysicist Stephen Kane explained that his experiment was meant to address two notable gaps in planetary science.

    The first is the gap in our solar system between the size of terrestrial and giant gas planets. The largest terrestrial planet is Earth, and the smallest gas giant is Neptune, which is four times wider and 17 times more massive than Earth. There is nothing in between.

    “In other star systems there are many planets with masses in that gap. We call them super-Earths,” Kane said.

    The other gap is in location, relative to the sun, between Mars and Jupiter. “Planetary scientists often wish there was something in between those two planets. It seems like wasted real estate,” he said.

    These gaps could offer important insights into the architecture of our solar system, and into Earth’s evolution. To fill them in, Kane ran dynamic computer simulations of a planet between Mars and Jupiter with a range of different masses, and then observed the effects on the orbits of all other planets.

    The results, published in the Planetary Science Journal [below], were mostly disastrous for the solar system. “This fictional planet gives a nudge to Jupiter that is just enough to destabilize everything else,” Kane said. “Despite many astronomers having wished for this extra planet, it’s a good thing we don’t have it.”

    Artist’s concept of Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size planet orbiting a star smaller and cooler than the sun, about 1,200 light-years from Earth. (Tim Pyle/NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech)

    Jupiter is much larger than all the other planets combined; its mass is 318 times that of Earth, so its gravitational influence is profound. If a super-Earth in our solar system, a passing star, or any other celestial object disturbed Jupiter even slightly, all other planets would be profoundly affected.

    Depending on the mass and exact location of a super-Earth, its presence could ultimately eject Mercury and Venus as well as Earth from the solar system. It could also destabilize the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, tossing them into outer space as well.

    The super-Earth would change the shape of this Earth’s orbit, making it far less habitable than it is today, if not ending life entirely.

    If Kane made the planet’s mass smaller and put it directly in between Mars and Jupiter, he saw it was possible for the planet to remain stable for a long period of time. But small moves in any direction and, “things would go poorly,” he said.

    The study has implications for the ability of planets in other solar systems to host life. Though Jupiter-like planets, gas giants far from their stars, are only found in about 10% of the time, their presence could decide whether neighboring Earths or super-Earths have stable orbits.

    These results gave Kane a renewed respect for the delicate order that holds the planets together around the sun. “Our solar system is more finely tuned than I appreciated before. It all works like intricate clock gears. Throw more gears into the mix and it all breaks,” Kane said.

    Planetary Science Journal
    From the science paper
    Placing the architecture of the solar system within the broader context of planetary architectures is one of the primary topics of interest within planetary science. Exoplanet discoveries have revealed a large range of system architectures, many of which differ substantially from the solar system’s model. One particular feature of exoplanet demographics is the relative prevalence of super-Earth planets, for which the solar system lacks a suitable analog, presenting a challenge to modeling their interiors and atmospheres. Here we present the results of a large suite of dynamical simulations that insert a hypothetical planet in the mass range 1–10 M⊕ within the semimajor axis range 2–4 au, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. We show that, although the system dynamics remain largely unaffected when the additional planet is placed near 3 au, Mercury experiences substantial instability when the additional planet lies in the range 3.1–4.0 au, and perturbations to the Martian orbit primarily result when the additional planet lies in the range 2.0–2.7 au. We further show that, although Jupiter and Saturn experience relatively small orbital perturbations, the angular momentum transferred to the ice giants can result in their ejection from the system at key resonance locations of the additional planet. We discuss the implications of these results for the architecture of the inner and outer solar system planets, and for exoplanetary systems.

    [3] What would happen if the solar system gained a super-earth?


    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of California-Riverside Campus

    The University of California-Riverside is a public land-grant research university in Riverside, California. It is one of the 10 campuses of The University of California system. The main campus sits on 1,900 acres (769 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. In 1907, the predecessor to The University of California-Riverside was founded as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside which pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world’s most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.

    The University of California-Riverside ‘s undergraduate College of Letters and Science opened in 1954. The Regents of the University of California declared The University of California-Riverside a general campus of the system in 1959, and graduate students were admitted in 1961. To accommodate an enrollment of 21,000 students by 2015, more than $730 million has been invested in new construction projects since 1999. Preliminary accreditation of the The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine was granted in October 2012 and the first class of 50 students was enrolled in August 2013. It is the first new research-based public medical school in 40 years.

    The University of California-Riverside is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.” The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings places UC-Riverside tied for 35th among top public universities and ranks 85th nationwide. Over 27 of The University of California-Riverside ‘s academic programs, including the Graduate School of Education and the Bourns College of Engineering, are highly ranked nationally based on peer assessment, student selectivity, financial resources, and other factors. Washington Monthly ranked The University of California-Riverside 2nd in the United States in terms of social mobility, research and community service, while U.S. News ranks The University of California-Riverside as the fifth most ethnically diverse and, by the number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants (42 percent), the 15th most economically diverse student body in the nation. Over 70% of all The University of California-Riverside students graduate within six years without regard to economic disparity. The University of California-Riverside ‘s extensive outreach and retention programs have contributed to its reputation as a “university of choice” for minority students. In 2005, The University of California-Riverside became the first public university campus in the nation to offer a gender-neutral housing option. The University of California-Riverside’s sports teams are known as the Highlanders and play in the Big West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Their nickname was inspired by the high altitude of the campus, which lies on the foothills of Box Springs Mountain. The University of California-Riverside women’s basketball team won back-to-back Big West championships in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the men’s baseball team won its first conference championship and advanced to the regionals for the second time since the university moved to Division I in 2001.


    At the turn of the 20th century, Southern California was a major producer of citrus, the region’s primary agricultural export. The industry developed from the country’s first navel orange trees, planted in Riverside in 1873. Lobbied by the citrus industry, the University of California Regents established the UC Citrus Experiment Station (CES) on February 14, 1907, on 23 acres (9 ha) of land on the east slope of Mount Rubidoux in Riverside. The station conducted experiments in fertilization, irrigation and crop improvement. In 1917, the station was moved to a larger site, 475 acres (192 ha) near Box Springs Mountain.

    The 1944 passage of the GI Bill during World War II set in motion a rise in college enrollments that necessitated an expansion of the state university system in California. A local group of citrus growers and civic leaders, including many University of California-Berkeley alumni, lobbied aggressively for a University of California -administered liberal arts college next to the CES. State Senator Nelson S. Dilworth authored Senate Bill 512 (1949) which former Assemblyman Philip L. Boyd and Assemblyman John Babbage (both of Riverside) were instrumental in shepherding through the State Legislature. Governor Earl Warren signed the bill in 1949, allocating $2 million for initial campus construction.

    Gordon S. Watkins, dean of the College of Letters and Science at The University of California-Los Angeles, became the first provost of the new college at Riverside. Initially conceived of as a small college devoted to the liberal arts, he ordered the campus built for a maximum of 1,500 students and recruited many young junior faculty to fill teaching positions. He presided at its opening with 65 faculty and 127 students on February 14, 1954, remarking, “Never have so few been taught by so many.”

    The University of California-Riverside’s enrollment exceeded 1,000 students by the time Clark Kerr became president of the University of California system in 1958. Anticipating a “tidal wave” in enrollment growth required by the baby boom generation, Kerr developed the California Master Plan for Higher Education and the Regents designated Riverside a general university campus in 1959. The University of California-Riverside’s first chancellor, Herman Theodore Spieth, oversaw the beginnings of the school’s transition to a full university and its expansion to a capacity of 5,000 students. The University of California-Riverside’s second chancellor, Ivan Hinderaker led the campus through the era of the free speech movement and kept student protests peaceful in Riverside. According to a 1998 interview with Hinderaker, the city of Riverside received negative press coverage for smog after the mayor asked Governor Ronald Reagan to declare the South Coast Air Basin a disaster area in 1971; subsequent student enrollment declined by up to 25% through 1979. Hinderaker’s development of innovative programs in business administration and biomedical sciences created incentive for enough students to enroll at University of California-Riverside to keep the campus open.

    In the 1990s, The University of California-Riverside experienced a new surge of enrollment applications, now known as “Tidal Wave II”. The Regents targeted The University of California-Riverside for an annual growth rate of 6.3%, the fastest in The University of California system, and anticipated 19,900 students at The University of California-Riverside by 2010. By 1995, African American, American Indian, and Latino student enrollments accounted for 30% of The University of California-Riverside student body, the highest proportion of any University of California campus at the time. The 1997 implementation of Proposition 209—which banned the use of affirmative action by state agencies—reduced the ethnic diversity at the more selective UC campuses but further increased it at The University of California-Riverside.

    With The University of California-Riverside scheduled for dramatic population growth, efforts have been made to increase its popular and academic recognition. The students voted for a fee increase to move The University of California-Riverside athletics into NCAA Division I standing in 1998. In the 1990s, proposals were made to establish a law school, a medical school, and a school of public policy at The University of California-Riverside, with The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine and the School of Public Policy becoming reality in 2012. In June 2006, The University of California-Riverside received its largest gift, 15.5 million from two local couples, in trust towards building its medical school. The Regents formally approved The University of California-Riverside’s medical school proposal in 2006. Upon its completion in 2013, it was the first new medical school built in California in 40 years.


    As a campus of The University of California system, The University of California-Riverside is governed by a Board of Regents and administered by a president University of California-Riverside ‘s academic policies are set by its Academic Senate, a legislative body composed of all UC-Riverside faculty members.

    The University of California-Riverside is organized into three academic colleges, two professional schools, and two graduate schools. The University of California-Riverside’s liberal arts college, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, was founded in 1954, and began accepting graduate students in 1960. The College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, founded in 1960, incorporated the CES as part of the first research-oriented institution at The University of California-Riverside; it eventually also incorporated the natural science departments formerly associated with the liberal arts college to form its present structure in 1974. The University of California-Riverside ‘s newest academic unit, the Bourns College of Engineering, was founded in 1989. Comprising the professional schools are the Graduate School of Education, founded in 1968, and The University of California-Riverside School of Business, founded in 1970. These units collectively provide 81 majors and 52 minors, 48 master’s degree programs, and 42 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs. The University of California-Riverside is the only UC campus to offer undergraduate degrees in creative writing and public policy and one of three UCs (along with The University of California-Berkeley and The University of California-Irvine) to offer an undergraduate degree in business administration. Through its Division of Biomedical Sciences, founded in 1974, The University of California-Riverside offers the Thomas Haider medical degree program in collaboration with The University of California-Los Angeles. The University of California-Riverside ‘s doctoral program in the emerging field of dance theory, founded in 1992, was the first program of its kind in the United States, and The University of California-Riverside ‘s minor in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, established in 1996, was the first undergraduate program of its kind in the University of California system. A new BA program in bagpipes was inaugurated in 2007.

    Research and economic impact

    The University of California-Riverside operated under a $727 million budget in fiscal year 2014–15. The state government provided $214 million, student fees accounted for $224 million and $100 million came from contracts and grants. Private support and other sources accounted for the remaining $189 million. Overall, monies spent at The University of California-Riverside have an economic impact of nearly $1 billion in California. The University of California-Riverside research expenditure in FY 2018 totaled $167.8 million. Total research expenditures at The University of California-Riverside are significantly concentrated in agricultural science, accounting for 53% of total research expenditures spent by the university in 2002. Top research centers by expenditure, as measured in 2002, include the Agricultural Experiment Station; the Center for Environmental Research and Technology; the Center for Bibliographical Studies; the Air Pollution Research Center; and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

    Throughout The University of California-Riverside ‘s history, researchers have developed more than 40 new citrus varieties and invented new techniques to help the $960 million-a-year California citrus industry fight pests and diseases. In 1927, entomologists at the CES introduced two wasps from Australia as natural enemies of a major citrus pest, the citrophilus mealybug, saving growers in Orange County $1 million in annual losses. This event was pivotal in establishing biological control as a practical means of reducing pest populations. In 1963, plant physiologist Charles Coggins proved that application of gibberellic acid allows fruit to remain on citrus trees for extended periods. The ultimate result of his work, which continued through the 1980s, was the extension of the citrus-growing season in California from four to nine months. In 1980, The University of California-Riverside released the Oroblanco grapefruit, its first patented citrus variety. Since then, the citrus breeding program has released other varieties such as the Melogold grapefruit, the Gold Nugget mandarin (or tangerine), and others that have yet to be given trademark names.

    To assist entrepreneurs in developing new products, The University of California-Riverside is a primary partner in the Riverside Regional Technology Park, which includes the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside. It also administers six reserves of the University of California Natural Reserve System. UC-Riverside recently announced a partnership with China Agricultural University[中国农业大学](CN) to launch a new center in Beijing, which will study ways to respond to the country’s growing environmental issues. University of California-Riverside can also boast the birthplace of two-name reactions in organic chemistry, the Castro-Stephens coupling and the Midland Alpine Borane Reduction.

  • richardmitnick 9:22 pm on February 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UCLA-led study explains how one of Saturn’s moons ejects particles from oceans beneath its surface", , , , , Planetary Science,   

    From The University of California-Los Angeles: “UCLA-led study explains how one of Saturn’s moons ejects particles from oceans beneath its surface” 

    From The University of California-Los Angeles

    Holly Ober

    Enceladus has the whitest and most reflective surface that astronomers have yet observed, and it’s known for spraying out tiny icy silica particles. NASA.


    Key takeaways

    -Enceladus, the sixth largest of Saturn’s moons, is known for spraying out tiny icy silica particles — so many of them that the particles are a key component of the second outermost ring around Saturn.
    -Scientists have not known how that happens or how long the process takes.
    -A study led by UCLA scientists shows that tidal heating in Enceladus’ core creates currents that transport the silica, which is likely released by deep-sea hydrothermal vents over the course of just a few months.
    Although it is relatively small, Enceladus — the sixth largest of Saturn’s 83 moons — has been considered by astronomers to be one of the more compelling bodies in our solar system.

    Enceladus stands apart from other celestial bodies because of both its appearance and its behavior. It has the whitest and most reflective surface that astronomers have yet observed. And it’s known for spraying out tiny icy silica particles — so many of them that the particles are an important component of the second outermost ring around Saturn, its so-called E ring.

    Enceladus is characterized as an “ocean world,” a celestial body with a substantial volume of liquid water. But unlike oceans on Earth, which are on the planet’s surface, Enceladus’ ocean is protected beneath a thick layer of ice. The ice doesn’t trap the ocean completely, though: Some materials from the watery expanse are released near Enceladus’ warmer south pole from large fractures in the ice known as ‘‘tiger stripes.”

    The silica particles that Enceladus ejects begin their journey at the sea floor, far beneath the moon’s surface — and to date, scientists have not known how that happens or how long the process takes.

    A new study led by UCLA scientists offers some answers. The research shows that tidal heating in Enceladus’ rocky core creates currents that transport the silica, which is likely released by deep-sea hydrothermal vents over the course of just a few months.

    The research was published in Communications Earth & Environment [below].

    Ashley Schoenfeld, a UCLA doctoral student in planetary science, led a group that analyzed data about Enceladus’ orbit, ocean and geology that had been collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

    The scientists constructed a theoretical model that could account for the silica’s transport across the ocean.

    Enceladus’ active geology is fueled by tidal forces as it orbits Saturn — the moon is tugged and squished by gravity. That deformation creates friction in both the moon’s ice shell and its deep rocky core, The new model demonstrated that the friction heats the bottom of the ocean enough to create a current that transports the silica particles toward the surface.

    “Our research shows that these flows are strong enough to pick up materials from the seafloor and bring them to the ice shell that separates the ocean from the vacuum of space,” Schoenfeld said. “The tiger-stripe fractures that cut through the ice shell into this subsurface ocean can act as direct conduits for captured materials to be flung into space. Enceladus is giving us free samples of what’s hidden deep below.”

    Cassini found substantial amounts of hydrogen gas in the plumes which, together with the silica, present compelling evidence for hydrothermal activity at the ocean floor. The theoretical model devised by the UCLA-led team strengthens that hypothesis by demonstrating a plausible time frame for the process, and a convincing mechanism that would explain why the plumes contain silica. The model also would help explain why other materials are transported to the surface, along with the silica particles.

    “Our model provides further support to the idea that convective turbulence in the ocean efficiently transports vital nutrients from the seafloor to ice shell,” said second author Emily Hawkins, a UCLA alumna who is now an assistant professor of physics at Loyola Marymount University.

    On Earth, similar deep-sea hydrothermal vents harbor a multitude of fascinating organisms that feast on minerals the vents release.

    In the future, spacecraft could gather more data to enable scientists to further study the physical and chemical properties of Enceladus’ potential hydrothermal vent systems. To determine whether those vents could support life, scientists would need to test the plumes for chemical traces of biological activity, known as biosignatures; the new study offers some guidance that should aid the search for those biosignatures.

    NASA’s plans for the next decade include missions that would fly by, orbit and land on Enceladus to gather more information.The UCLA-led team plans to develop additional modeling that could help shape plans for those missions.

    The paper’s other authors include Krista Soderlund and Erin Leonard, both UCLA alumnae who are now research scientists at University of Texas-Austin, and The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech, respectively. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

    Communications Earth & Environment

    Fig. 1: Rotationally dominated convection columns.
    a Conceptual representation of rotationally dominated “Taylor” convection columns aligned with the axis of rotation within the ocean underneath Enceladus’ south polar terrain, and b simplified geometry of one such column. H represents the vertical length of the fluid system (in this case, the thickness of the ocean), and δt represent the width of the column and depends on degree of thermal forcing. Not to scale: for a 60 km thick ocean, the Taylor columns are predicted to have widths of δt ≲ 1.6 km.

    Fig. 2: Contours of density, thermal expansivity, and heat capacity vs. ocean salinity and temperatures.

    Shown at pressures of 1 MPa (a–c) and 10 MPa (d–f). Black dashed lines indicate the lower and upper limits on ocean salinity based on in-situ observations made by Cassini [6*,42]. For the ocean temperature, we assume 274 K [44].
    *References to science paper.
    For further illustrations see the science paper.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, The University of California-Los Angeles has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

    The University of California-Los Angeles is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles, California. The University of California-Los Angeles traces its early origins back to 1882 as the southern branch of the California State Normal School (now San Jose State University). It became the Southern Branch of The University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest (after University of California-Berkeley ) of the 10-campus University of California system.

    The University of California-Los Angeles offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, enrolling about 31,500 undergraduate and 12,800 graduate students. The University of California-Los Angeles had 168,000 applicants for Fall 2021, including transfer applicants, making the school the most applied-to of any American university.

    The university is organized into six undergraduate colleges; seven professional schools; and four professional health science schools. The undergraduate colleges are the College of Letters and Science; Samueli School of Engineering; School of the Arts and Architecture; Herb Alpert School of Music; School of Theater, Film and Television; and School of Nursing.

    The University of California-Los Angeles is called a “Public Ivy”, and is ranked among the best public universities in the United States by major college and university rankings. This includes one ranking that has The University of California-Los Angeles as the top public university in the United States in 2021. As of October 2020, 25 Nobel laureates; three Fields Medalists; five Turing Award winners; and two Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with The University of California-Los Angeles as faculty, researchers or alumni. Among the current faculty members, 55 have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences; 28 to the National Academy of Engineering ; 39 to the Institute of Medicine; and 124 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

    The university was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1974.

    The University of California-Los Angeles student-athletes compete as the Bruins in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins have won 129 national championships, including 118 NCAA team championships- more than any other university except Stanford University, whose athletes have won 126. The University of California-Los Angeles students, coaches, and staff have won 251 Olympic medals: 126 gold; 65 silver; and 60 bronze. The University of California-Los Angeles student-athletes have competed in every Olympics since 1920 with one exception (1924) and have won a gold medal in every Olympics the U.S. participated in since 1932.

    In 1914, the school moved to a new campus on Vermont Avenue (now the site of Los Angeles City College) in East Hollywood. In 1917, UC Regent Edward Augustus Dickson, the only regent representing the Southland at the time and Ernest Carroll Moore- Director of the Normal School, began to lobby the State Legislature to enable the school to become the second University of California campus, after University of California-Berkeley. They met resistance from University of California-Berkeley alumni, Northern California members of the state legislature, and Benjamin Ide Wheeler- President of the University of California from 1899 to 1919 who were all vigorously opposed to the idea of a southern campus. However, David Prescott Barrows the new President of the University of California did not share Wheeler’s objections.

    On May 23, 1919, the Southern Californians’ efforts were rewarded when Governor William D. Stephens signed Assembly Bill 626 into law which acquired the land and buildings and transformed the Los Angeles Normal School into the Southern Branch of the University of California. The same legislation added its general undergraduate program- the Junior College. The Southern Branch campus opened on September 15 of that year offering two-year undergraduate programs to 250 Junior College students and 1,250 students in the Teachers College under Moore’s continued direction. Southern Californians were furious that their so-called “branch” provided only an inferior junior college program (mocked at the time by The University of Southern California students as “the twig”) and continued to fight Northern Californians (specifically, Berkeley) for the right to three and then four years of instruction culminating in bachelor’s degrees. On December 11, 1923 the Board of Regents authorized a fourth year of instruction and transformed the Junior College into the College of Letters and Science which awarded its first bachelor’s degrees on June 12, 1925.

    Under University of California President William Wallace Campbell, enrollment at the Southern Branch expanded so rapidly that by the mid-1920s the institution was outgrowing the 25-acre Vermont Avenue location. The Regents searched for a new location and announced their selection of the so-called “Beverly Site”—just west of Beverly Hills—on March 21, 1925 edging out the panoramic hills of the still-empty Palos Verdes Peninsula. After the athletic teams entered the Pacific Coast conference in 1926 the Southern Branch student council adopted the nickname “Bruins”, a name offered by the student council at The University of California-Berkeley. In 1927, the Regents renamed the Southern Branch the University of California at Los Angeles (the word “at” was officially replaced by a comma in 1958 in line with other UC campuses). In the same year the state broke ground in Westwood on land sold for $1 million- less than one-third its value- by real estate developers Edwin and Harold Janss for whom the Janss Steps are named. The campus in Westwood opened to students in 1929.

    The original four buildings were the College Library (now Powell Library); Royce Hall; the Physics-Biology Building (which became the Humanities Building and is now the Renee and David Kaplan Hall); and the Chemistry Building (now Haines Hall) arrayed around a quadrangular courtyard on the 400-acre (1.6 km^2) campus. The first undergraduate classes on the new campus were held in 1929 with 5,500 students. After lobbying by alumni; faculty; administration and community leaders University of California-Los Angeles was permitted to award the master’s degree in 1933 and the doctorate in 1936 against continued resistance from The University of California-Berkeley.

    Maturity as a university

    During its first 32 years University of California-Los Angeles was treated as an off-site department of The University of California. As such its presiding officer was called a “provost” and reported to the main campus in Berkeley. In 1951 University of California-Los Angeles was formally elevated to co-equal status with The University of California-Berkeley, and its presiding officer Raymond B. Allen was the first chief executive to be granted the title of chancellor. The appointment of Franklin David Murphy to the position of Chancellor in 1960 helped spark an era of tremendous growth of facilities and faculty honors. By the end of the decade The University of California-Los Angeles had achieved distinction in a wide range of subjects. This era also secured University of California-Los Angeles’s position as a proper university and not simply a branch of the University of California system. This change is exemplified by an incident involving Chancellor Murphy, which was described by him:

    “I picked up the telephone and called in from somewhere and the phone operator said, “University of California.” And I said, “Is this Berkeley?” She said, “No.” I said, “Well who have I gotten to?” ” University of California-Los Angeles.” I said, “Why didn’t you say University of California-Los Angeles?” “Oh”, she said, “we’re instructed to say University of California.” So, the next morning I went to the office and wrote a memo; I said, “Will you please instruct the operators, as of noon today, when they answer the phone to say, ‘ University of California-Los Angeles.'” And they said, “You know they won’t like it at Berkeley.” And I said, “Well, let’s just see. There are a few things maybe we can do around here without getting their permission.”

    Recent history

    On June 1, 2016 two men were killed in a murder-suicide at an engineering building in the university. School officials put the campus on lockdown as Los Angeles Police Department officers including SWAT cleared the campus.

    In 2018, a student-led community coalition known as “Westwood Forward” successfully led an effort to break The University of California-Los Angeles and Westwood Village away from the existing Westwood Neighborhood Council and form a new North Westwood Neighborhood Council with over 2,000 out of 3,521 stakeholders voting in favor of the split. Westwood Forward’s campaign focused on making housing more affordable and encouraging nightlife in Westwood by opposing many of the restrictions on housing developments and restaurants the Westwood Neighborhood Council had promoted.




    College of Letters and Science
    Social Sciences Division
    Humanities Division
    Physical Sciences Division
    Life Sciences Division
    School of the Arts and Architecture
    Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS)
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    School of Theater, Film and Television
    School of Nursing
    Luskin School of Public Affairs


    Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSEIS)
    School of Law
    Anderson School of Management
    Luskin School of Public Affairs
    David Geffen School of Medicine
    School of Dentistry
    Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health
    Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
    School of Nursing


    The University of California-Los Angeles is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” and had $1.32 billion in research expenditures in FY 2018.

  • richardmitnick 8:29 pm on February 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Discovery of Two New Forms of Salt Water Could Rewrite Fundamental Chemistry", , , , Planetary Science, Scientists may have to redo all the fundamental mineralogical science that people did in the 1800s but at high pressure and low temperature. It is an exciting time., The Department of Earth and Space Sciences, , Two newly discovered forms of frozen salt water could help scientists resolve a mystery concerning the Solar System's ice-encrusted moons.   

    From The Department of Earth and Space Sciences At The University of Washington: “Newly discovered form of salty ice could exist on surface of extraterrestrial moons” 

    From The Department of Earth and Space Sciences


    The University of Washington


    Hannah Hickey
    University of Washington
    Office: 206-543-2580

    This image shows white streaks across the surface of Ganymede, the largest of Jupiter’s moons. The discovery of new types of salty ice could explain the material in these streaks and provide clues on the composition of Ganymede’s ice-covered ocean.NASA/JPL/JUNO

    This image shows red streaks across the surface of Europa, the smallest of Jupiter’s four large moons. The discovery of new types of salty ice could explain the material in these streaks and provide clues on the composition of Europa’s ice-covered ocean.NASA/JPL/Galileo

    The red streaks crisscrossing the surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, are striking. Scientists suspect it is a frozen mixture of water and salts, but its chemical signature is mysterious because it matches no known substance on Earth.

    An international team led by the University of Washington may have solved the puzzle with the discovery of a new type of solid crystal that forms when water and table salt combine in cold and high-pressure conditions. Researchers believe the new substance created in a lab on Earth could form at the surface and bottom of these worlds’ deep oceans.

    The study, published the week of Feb. 20 in the PNAS [below], announces a new combination for two of Earth’s most common substances: water and sodium chloride, or table salt.

    “It’s rare nowadays to have fundamental discoveries in science,” said lead author Baptiste Journaux, a UW acting assistant professor of Earth and Space Sciences. “Salt and water are very well known at Earth conditions. But beyond that, we’re totally in the dark. And now we have these planetary objects that probably have compounds that are very familiar to us, but at very exotic conditions. We have to redo all the fundamental mineralogical science that people did in the 1800s, but at high pressure and low temperature. It is an exciting time.”

    At cold temperatures water and salts combine to form a rigid salted icy lattice, known as a hydrate, held in place by hydrogen bonds. The only previously known hydrate for sodium chloride was a simple structure with one salt molecule for every two water molecules.

    But the two new hydrates, found at moderate pressures and low temperatures, are strikingly different. One has two sodium chlorides for every 17 water molecules; the other has one sodium chloride for every 13 water molecules. This would explain why the signatures from the surface of Jupiter’s moons are more “watery” than expected.

    “It has the structure that planetary scientists have been waiting for,” Journaux said.

    Researchers discovered two new crystals made from water and table salt at low temperatures, below about minus 50 C. The previously known structure (left) has one salt molecule (yellow and green balls) to two water molecules (red and pink balls). X-ray imaging let researchers determine the position of individual atoms in the new structures. The center structure has two sodium chloride molecules for every 17 water molecules and stays stable even if pressure drops to near vacuum, as would exist on a lunar surface. The structure on the right has one sodium chloride molecule for every 13 water molecules, and is stable only at high pressure.Baptiste Journaux/University of Washington.

    The discovery of new types of salty ice has importance not just for planetary science, but for physical chemistry and even energy research, which uses hydrates for energy storage, Journaux said.

    The experiment involved compressing a tiny bit of salty water at synchrotron facilities in France, Germany and the U.S. between two diamonds about the size of a grain of sand, squeezing the liquid up to 25,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure. The transparent diamonds allowed the team to watch the process through a microscope.

    “We were trying to measure how adding salt would change the amount of ice we could get, since salt acts as an antifreeze,” Baptiste said. “Surprisingly, when we put the pressure on, what we saw is that these crystals that we were not expecting started growing. It was a very serendipitous discovery.”

    Such cold, high-pressure conditions created in the lab would be common on Jupiter’s moons, where scientists think 5 to 10 kilometers of ice would cover oceans up to several hundred kilometers thick, with even denser forms of ice possible at the bottom.

    “Pressure just gets the molecules closer together, so their interaction changes — that is the main engine for diversity in the crystal structures we found,” Journaux said.

    Once the newly discovered hydrates had formed, one of the two structures remained stable even after the pressure was released.

    “We determined that it remains stable at standard pressure up to about minus 50 C. So if you have a very briny lake, for example in Antarctica, that could be exposed to these temperatures, this newly discovered hydrate could be present there,” Journaux said.

    The team hopes to either make or collect a larger sample to allow more thorough analysis and verify whether the signatures from icy moons match the signatures from the newly discovered hydrates.

    Two upcoming missions will explore Jupiter’s icy moons: The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, launching in April, and NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, launching for October 2024.

    NASA’s Dragonfly mission launches to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2026.

    Knowing what chemicals these missions will encounter will help to better target their search for signatures of life.

    “These are the only planetary bodies, other than Earth, where liquid water is stable at geological timescales, which is crucial for the emergence and development of life,” Journaux said. “They are, in my opinion, the best place in our solar system to discover extraterrestrial life, so we need to study their exotic oceans and interiors to better understand how they formed, evolved and can retain liquid water in cold regions of the solar system, so far away from the sun.”


    This research was funded by NASA. Co-authors are professor J. Michael Brown and graduate student Jason Ott at the UW. Additional co-authors were at the German Electron Synchrotron in Hamburg; the European Synchrotron Facility in France; the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology in Switzerland, the Bavarian Geoinstitute for Experimental Geochemistry and Geophysics in Germany; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and the University of Chicago.

    Cross section of a Diamond Anvil Cell. The following things are included:

    The two diamonds in between which the pressure is created.
    The sample.
    A Ruby which is usually used as a pressure indicator.
    The Gasket which seals the sample chamber
    The casing with the screws. Tightening of the screws moves the casings and the diamond closer together and builds pressure.
    The backing plate which holds the diamond in place.
    Electromagnetic rays which pass through the sample chamber to allow measurements.
    Credit: Tobias1984

    Under their experiment’s conditions, the researchers saw two new arrangements of salt and water molecule emerge. One featured two salt molecules for every 17 water molecules; the other had 13 water molecules for one salt molecule. Both are very different from the one salt, two water seen naturally on Earth – and consistent with the watery chemical signatures observed on the ice moons.

    “It has the structure that planetary scientists have been waiting for,” adds Journaux.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    Stem Education Coalition

    Welcome to the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington.

    In 2001, the Department of Earth and Space Sciences was created through the merger of two UW departments, the Department of Geological Sciences and the Geophysics Program. It has a distinguished history of excellence in research and education.

    Research in our department includes the solid earth, surface processes, geobiology, planetary science, space physics and glaciology. Research centers and programs closely linked to the department — including the Program on Climate Change, the Astrobiology Program, the Quaternary Research Center, and others, allow for enhanced educational and research experiences. We maintain extensive collaborations with local, regional, and national agencies such as the Washington State Emergency Management Division, the Department of Natural Resources, USGS, NASA and NOAA.

    The Department of Earth and Space Sciences offers outstanding disciplinary and interdisciplinary education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We emphasize direct field and laboratory experiences at all educational levels, with active and close interactions between faculty and small groups of students. Options within the undergraduate degree include geology, physics, biology, and environmental earth science. In addition, we offer a broad spectrum of natural world and environmentally-oriented general education courses that attract on the order of 3000 students each year.

    We offer experiential learning opportunities for our students through field courses and field trips, which have included the volcanic fields of the Canary Islands and Hawaii, sedimentary stratigraphy and seismicity in Sicily, and the Greenland ice sheet. Endowments and gift funds play an important role in subsidizing field courses and research, including our undergraduate summer field course in Montana, so that these are more affordable for our students.

    Our graduates are highly recruited with excellent placement in educational and research institutions, government agencies, and private sector businesses and corporations.

    We have an experienced staff that helps ensure that our department maintains a welcoming and supportive environment.

    We are committed to high-quality education, research, public service and diversity within both the faculty and student populations.

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

    The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States. Founded in 1861, University of Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast; it was established in downtown Seattle approximately a decade after the city’s founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university’s 703-acre main Seattle campus is in the University District above the Montlake Cut, within the urban Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. The university has additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, University of Washington encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with more than 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through 140 departments in various colleges and schools, sees a total student enrollment of roughly 46,000 annually, and functions on a quarter system.

    University of Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, UW spent $1.41 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 5th in the nation. As the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington state, it is known for its medical, engineering and scientific research as well as its highly competitive computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, University of Washington continues to benefit from its deep historic ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. Paul G. Allen, Bill Gates and others spent significant time at Washington computer labs for a startup venture before founding Microsoft and other ventures. The University of Washington’s 22 varsity sports teams are also highly competitive, competing as the Huskies in the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA Division I, representing the United States at the Olympic Games, and other major competitions.

    The university has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including 21 Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars and Marshall Scholars.

    In 1854, territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended the establishment of a university in the Washington Territory. Prominent Seattle-area residents, including Methodist preacher Daniel Bagley, saw this as a chance to add to the city’s potential and prestige. Bagley learned of a law that allowed United States territories to sell land to raise money in support of public schools. At the time, Arthur A. Denny, one of the founders of Seattle and a member of the territorial legislature, aimed to increase the city’s importance by moving the territory’s capital from Olympia to Seattle. However, Bagley eventually convinced Denny that the establishment of a university would assist more in the development of Seattle’s economy. Two universities were initially chartered, but later the decision was repealed in favor of a single university in Lewis County provided that locally donated land was available. When no site emerged, Denny successfully petitioned the legislature to reconsider Seattle as a location in 1858.

    In 1861, scouting began for an appropriate 10 acres (4 ha) site in Seattle to serve as a new university campus. Arthur and Mary Denny donated eight acres, while fellow pioneers Edward Lander, and Charlie and Mary Terry, donated two acres on Denny’s Knoll in downtown Seattle. More specifically, this tract was bounded by 4th Avenue to the west, 6th Avenue to the east, Union Street to the north, and Seneca Streets to the south.

    John Pike, for whom Pike Street is named, was the university’s architect and builder. It was opened on November 4, 1861, as the Territorial University of Washington. The legislature passed articles incorporating the University, and establishing its Board of Regents in 1862. The school initially struggled, closing three times: in 1863 for low enrollment, and again in 1867 and 1876 due to funds shortage. University of Washington awarded its first graduate Clara Antoinette McCarty Wilt in 1876, with a bachelor’s degree in science.

    19th century relocation

    By the time Washington state entered the Union in 1889, both Seattle and the University had grown substantially. University of Washington’s total undergraduate enrollment increased from 30 to nearly 300 students, and the campus’s relative isolation in downtown Seattle faced encroaching development. A special legislative committee, headed by University of Washington graduate Edmond Meany, was created to find a new campus to better serve the growing student population and faculty. The committee eventually selected a site on the northeast of downtown Seattle called Union Bay, which was the land of the Duwamish, and the legislature appropriated funds for its purchase and construction. In 1895, the University relocated to the new campus by moving into the newly built Denny Hall. The University Regents tried and failed to sell the old campus, eventually settling with leasing the area. This would later become one of the University’s most valuable pieces of real estate in modern-day Seattle, generating millions in annual revenue with what is now called the Metropolitan Tract. The original Territorial University building was torn down in 1908, and its former site now houses the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

    The sole-surviving remnants of Washington’s first building are four 24-foot (7.3 m), white, hand-fluted cedar, Ionic columns. They were salvaged by Edmond S. Meany, one of the University’s first graduates and former head of its history department. Meany and his colleague, Dean Herbert T. Condon, dubbed the columns as “Loyalty,” “Industry,” “Faith”, and “Efficiency”, or “LIFE.” The columns now stand in the Sylvan Grove Theater.

    20th century expansion

    Organizers of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition eyed the still largely undeveloped campus as a prime setting for their world’s fair. They came to an agreement with Washington’s Board of Regents that allowed them to use the campus grounds for the exposition, surrounding today’s Drumheller Fountain facing towards Mount Rainier. In exchange, organizers agreed Washington would take over the campus and its development after the fair’s conclusion. This arrangement led to a detailed site plan and several new buildings, prepared in part by John Charles Olmsted. The plan was later incorporated into the overall University of Washington campus master plan, permanently affecting the campus layout.

    Both World Wars brought the military to campus, with certain facilities temporarily lent to the federal government. In spite of this, subsequent post-war periods were times of dramatic growth for the University. The period between the wars saw a significant expansion of the upper campus. Construction of the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, known to students as “The Quad,” began in 1916 and continued to 1939. The University’s architectural centerpiece, Suzzallo Library, was built in 1926 and expanded in 1935.

    After World War II, further growth came with the G.I. Bill. Among the most important developments of this period was the opening of the School of Medicine in 1946, which is now consistently ranked as the top medical school in the United States. It would eventually lead to the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top ten hospitals in the nation.

    In 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Seattle area were forced into inland internment camps as part of Executive Order 9066 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this difficult time, university president Lee Paul Sieg took an active and sympathetic leadership role in advocating for and facilitating the transfer of Japanese American students to universities and colleges away from the Pacific Coast to help them avoid the mass incarceration. Nevertheless, many Japanese American students and “soon-to-be” graduates were unable to transfer successfully in the short time window or receive diplomas before being incarcerated. It was only many years later that they would be recognized for their accomplishments during the University of Washington’s Long Journey Home ceremonial event that was held in May 2008.

    From 1958 to 1973, the University of Washington saw a tremendous growth in student enrollment, its faculties and operating budget, and also its prestige under the leadership of Charles Odegaard. University of Washington student enrollment had more than doubled to 34,000 as the baby boom generation came of age. However, this era was also marked by high levels of student activism, as was the case at many American universities. Much of the unrest focused around civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. In response to anti-Vietnam War protests by the late 1960s, the University Safety and Security Division became the University of Washington Police Department.

    Odegaard instituted a vision of building a “community of scholars”, convincing the Washington State legislatures to increase investment in the University. Washington senators, such as Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnuson, also used their political clout to gather research funds for the University of Washington. The results included an increase in the operating budget from $37 million in 1958 to over $400 million in 1973, solidifying University of Washington as a top recipient of federal research funds in the United States. The establishment of technology giants such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon in the local area also proved to be highly influential in the University of Washington’s fortunes, not only improving graduate prospects but also helping to attract millions of dollars in university and research funding through its distinguished faculty and extensive alumni network.

    21st century

    In 1990, the University of Washington opened its additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. Although originally intended for students who have already completed two years of higher education, both schools have since become four-year universities with the authority to grant degrees. The first freshman classes at these campuses started in fall 2006. Today both Bothell and Tacoma also offer a selection of master’s degree programs.

    In 2012, the University began exploring plans and governmental approval to expand the main Seattle campus, including significant increases in student housing, teaching facilities for the growing student body and faculty, as well as expanded public transit options. The University of Washington light rail station was completed in March 2015, connecting Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to the University of Washington Husky Stadium within five minutes of rail travel time. It offers a previously unavailable option of transportation into and out of the campus, designed specifically to reduce dependence on private vehicles, bicycles and local King County buses.

    University of Washington has been listed as a “Public Ivy” in Greene’s Guides since 2001, and is an elected member of the American Association of Universities. Among the faculty by 2012, there have been 151 members of American Association for the Advancement of Science, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 67 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 53 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 29 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 21 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 15 MacArthur Fellows, 9 winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, 5 winners of the National Medal of Science, 7 Nobel Prize laureates, 5 winners of Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, 4 members of the American Philosophical Society, 2 winners of the National Book Award, 2 winners of the National Medal of Arts, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 1 winner of the Fields Medal, and 1 member of the National Academy of Public Administration. Among UW students by 2012, there were 136 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars and 4 Gates Cambridge Scholars. UW is recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, ranking 2nd in the US in 2017.

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) has consistently ranked University of Washington as one of the top 20 universities worldwide every year since its first release. In 2019, University of Washington ranked 14th worldwide out of 500 by the ARWU, 26th worldwide out of 981 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 28th worldwide out of 101 in the Times World Reputation Rankings. Meanwhile, QS World University Rankings ranked it 68th worldwide, out of over 900.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Washington 8th out of nearly 1,500 universities worldwide for 2021, with University of Washington’s undergraduate program tied for 58th among 389 national universities in the U.S. and tied for 19th among 209 public universities.

    In 2019, it ranked 10th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. In 2017, the Leiden Ranking, which focuses on science and the impact of scientific publications among the world’s 500 major universities, ranked University of Washington 12th globally and 5th in the U.S.

    In 2019, Kiplinger Magazine’s review of “top college values” named University of Washington 5th for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state students among U.S. public colleges, and 84th overall out of 500 schools. In the Washington Monthly National University Rankings University of Washington was ranked 15th domestically in 2018, based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

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