Category Astronomy/ Space

NASA’S OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Slingshots past Earth

This artist's concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona.

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona.

NASA’s asteroid sample return spacecraft successfully used Earth’s gravity on Friday to slingshot itself on a path toward the asteroid Bennu, for a rendezvous next August. At 12:52 p.m. EDT on Sept. 22, the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer) spacecraft came within 10,711 miles (17,237 km) of Antarctica, just south of Cape Horn, Chile, before following a route north over the Pacific Ocean.

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Positive, Negative or Neutral, it all matters: NASA explains Space Radiation

Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) are of most concern to NASA. It is challenging to shield against GCRs. They come from exploding stars called supernovae. Credit: NASA

Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) are of most concern to NASA. It is challenging to shield against GCRs. They come from exploding stars called supernovae. Credit: NASA

Charged particles may be small, but they matter to astronauts. NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) is investigating these particles to solve one of its biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars: space radiation and its effects on the human body. “One of our biggest challenges on a mission to Mars is protecting astronauts from radiation,” said NASA Space Radiation Element Scientist Lisa Simonsen, Ph.D.. “You can’t see it; you can’t feel it. You don’t know you’re getting bombarded by radiation.”

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Detecting Cosmic Rays from a Galaxy far, far away

At the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, cosmic rays have been detected from far off galaxies. Credit: Pierre Auger Observatory

At the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, cosmic rays have been detected from far off galaxies. Credit: Pierre Auger Observatory

Where do cosmic rays come from? Solving a 50-year-old mystery, a collaboration of researchers has discovered it’s much farther than the Milky Way. In an article published today in the journal Science, the Pierre Auger Collaboration has definitively answered the question of whether cosmic particles from outside the Milky Way Galaxy. The article notes that studying the distribution of the cosmic ray arrival directions is the first step in determining where extragalactic particles originate.

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Hope to Discover Sure Signs of Life on Mars? New research says look for the element Vanadium

Top Photo: A rendering of the Mars 20/20 Rover, courtesy of NASA. Top right photo: False-color micro-XRF distribution maps for V, Fe, and S of a single leiosphaerid. Maximal area densities are given in µg/cm2 for each element at the top of each map. The scatter is shown in the Sa, which can be used as an indicator of thickness and density of the sample. Bottom right: Bright field photomicrograph image of the large leiosphaerid acritarch analyzed in this work. Photos courtesy Craig Marshall.

Top Photo: A rendering of the Mars 20/20 Rover, courtesy of NASA.
Top right photo: False-color micro-XRF distribution maps for V, Fe, and S of a single leiosphaerid. Maximal area densities are given in µg/cm2 for each element at the top of each map. The scatter is shown in the Sa, which can be used as an indicator of thickness and density of the sample.
Bottom right: Bright field photomicrograph image of the large leiosphaerid acritarch analyzed in this work. Photos courtesy Craig Marshall.

A new article suggests NASA and others hunting for proof of Martian biology in the form of ‘microfossils’ could use the element vanadium in combination with Raman spectroscopy to confirm traces of extraterrestrial life...

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