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July 6, 2016

NASA\’s Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter Orbit

NASA’s Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter orbit

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Yesterday, NASA announced their spacecraft Juno has reached Jupiter orbit. It was launched almost five years ago to investigate the largest planet of the Solar System, especially its past.

Juno approaching Jupiter; simulation.
Image: NASA.

Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, said, “Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter”. He also added the spacecraft would help study the evolution of the Solar System and explore Jupiter’s radiation belts.

NASA spent US$1.1 billion for Juno. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reported Juno was confirmed in Jupiter’s orbit at 0353 UTC. Including the camera, the probe has nine scientific instruments. Juno has covered 2.7 billion kilometres (1.7 billion miles) to reach Jupiter.

NASA said non-essential equipment was turned off for the approach. They expect photos in some days. The first orbital revolution period is 53 days. Juno is expected to orbit the planet 37 times keeping an altitude of 5000 kilometres (3100 miles) above the Jovian clouds and then fall into the planet in 2018.

NASA’s Galileo, launched in 1989, found evidence of saline water on Jovian satellites Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

The electronics have been encased in titanium to protect them from high-energy radiation.



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Final piece added to China\’s new radio telescope

Final piece added to China’s new radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday China announced the final panel attached to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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Final panel added to China\’s FAST radio telescope

Final panel added to China’s FAST radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday, China announced the attachment of the final panel to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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May 9, 2016

NASA releases first topographical map of Mercury

NASA releases first topographical map of Mercury

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Monday, May 9, 2016

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On Friday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first ever global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury.

The DEM was created using data gathered by NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, including over 100,000 photographs, and shows a variety of Mercury’s topographical features including the planet’s highest and lowest points. MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon said they hope the information will be used to investigate Mercury’s geological history.

MESSENGER image of Mercury from file, 2008.
Image: NASA/JPL.

The highest elevation on Mercury is at 4.48 kilometres (2.78 miles) above Mercury’s average elevation, located just south of the equator in some of Mercury’s oldest terrain. The lowest elevation, at 5.38 kilometers (3.34 miles) below Mercury’s average, is found on the floor of the Rachmaninoff basin, a double-ring impact basin suspected to host some of the most recent volcanic deposits on the planet.

The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched in 2004 to study Mercury, including its chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field. MESSENGER began orbiting Mercury in March 2011, becoming the first spacecraft to do so. In April 2015, having completed its mission, MESSENGER dropped out of orbit and impacted the surface of Mercury.



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October 31, 2015

NASA releases complete image of Pluto\’s crescent

NASA releases complete image of Pluto’s crescent

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

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On Thursday, NASA released the first complete picture of Pluto’s crescent from the New Horizons probe. The probe captured the image with its Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14, fifteen minutes after closest approach to the planet.

After nine years’ journey, New Horizons made closest approach to Pluto on July 14 and released the first coloured photo of the dwarf planet‘s atmospheric haze on October 8. An incomplete crescent photo of Pluto was released in September.

The photo shows different layers of the haze of Pluto’s faint atmosphere with Sputnik Planum, an icy plain, visible on the right side and uneven plateaus on the dark left side.

Charon’s Craters[]

Scientists also announced their discovery that 5km wide Organa crater on Charon, the largest satellite of Pluto, absorbed large amount of radiation of wavelength 2.2µm in an infrared scan, evidence of frozen ammonia. A nearby crater, named Skywalker, of comparable size showed the presence of water ice.

Will Grundy from the New Horizons composition team said “Why are these two similar-looking and similar-sized craters, so near to each other, so compositionally distinct?” He also proposed various ideas about the abundance of ammonia. The impact creating the crater could be more recent, or may have hit a subsurface ammonia pocket, or brought ammonia with it.

Studies in 2000 revealed that Charon has ammonia, but its concentration in the Organa crater was extraordinarily high.

Bill McKinnon, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging deputy lead, called it “a fantastic discovery”. He further said “Concentrated ammonia is a powerful antifreeze on icy worlds, and if the ammonia really is from Charon’s interior, it could help explain the formation of Charon’s surface by cryovolcanism, via the eruption of cold, ammonia-water magmas.”


Crescent Pluto.
Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

Organa crater.
Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.




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October 9, 2015

After Mars, NASA announces water ice on Pluto

After Mars, NASA announces water ice on Pluto

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Friday, October 9, 2015

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The blue haze of Pluto.
Image: NASA.

NASA released yesterday the first coloured pictures of Pluto‘s blue atmosphere and water ice on the surface taken by the space probe New Horizons.

NASA said the haze particles may be grey or red in colour, but the scattering of light producing blue colour indicates the size of the particles. Smaller particles results in the scattering of the blue light. Scientists calls those soot like grey-red particles tholins.

The scientists suggest nitrogen and methane in the upper atmosphere, exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, break and combine to form more complex macromolecules similar to a process first observed on Titan, Saturn‘s satellite. Some of them grow to tholins. Eventually they are coated with volatile gas frost and fall to the surface, contributing to its red color.

Water ice on Pluto.
Image: NASA.

The data collected from the probe’s Ralph spectral composition mapper shows several small zones of water ice on Pluto. Alex Parker from Southwest Research institute (SwRI) tweeted, “We expected water-ice to be there, but we’ve searched for water-ice in Pluto’s spectrum for decades and not seen it before now”.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt?”, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of SwRI remarked; “It’s gorgeous.” “This world is alive […] It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology.”

The space probe has traveled over 100 million km (over 60 million miles) further since gathering the data on its Pluto flyby of July 14.


Related news[]

  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015
  • “NASA’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto” — Wikinews, July 17, 2015

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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Atmosphere of Pluto

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October 8, 2015

After Mars, NASA announces water on Pluto

After Mars, NASA announces water on Pluto

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

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The blue haze of Pluto.
Image: NASA.

NASA released yesterday the first coloured pictures of Pluto‘s blue atmosphere and water ice on the surface taken by the space probe New Horizons.

NASA said the haze particles may be grey or red in colour, but the scattering of light producing blue colour indicates the size of the particles. Smaller particles results in the scattering of the blue light. Scientists calls those soot like grey-red particles tholins.

The scientists suggest nitrogen and methane in the upper atmosphere, exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, break and combine to form more complex macromolecules similar to a process first observed on Titan, Saturn‘s satellite. Some of them grow to tholins. Eventually they are coated with volatile gas frost and fall to the surface, contributing to its red color.

Water ice on Pluto.
Image: NASA.

The data collected from the probe’s Ralph spectral composition mapper shows several small zones of water ice on Pluto. Alex Parker from Southwest Research institute (SwRI) tweeted, “We expected water-ice to be there, but we’ve searched for water-ice in Pluto’s spectrum for decades and not seen it before now”.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt?”, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of SwRI remarked; “It’s gorgeous.” “This world is alive […] It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology.”

The space probe has traveled 100 million km further since July 14.


Related news[]

  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015
  • “NASA’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto” — Wikinews, July 17, 2015

Sister links[]

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Atmosphere of Pluto

Sources[]

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October 1, 2015

NASA announces water on Mars

NASA announces water on Mars – Wikinews, the free news source

NASA announces water on Mars

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Mars from the Viking Orbiter, 1980.
Image: NASA/USGS.

Warm season flows on slope in Newton Crater
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

On Monday, NASA announced that signs of liquid water have been found on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found evidence of the liquid on the Martian surface, in long dark spots on the Red Planet thought to be formed because of water flow.

In a news conference, NASA’s planetary science director, Jim Green said, “We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes […] but something has happened to Mars, it lost its water.”

Water is thought to flow down slopes in the warm summer months and dry up as the temperature drops seasonally. Scientists have different theories about the water’s origin, as perhaps from the Martian atmosphere or from ice below the surface.

In 2011, Lujendra Ojha proposed the theory of water on the Martian surface, after studying salt samples from Martian soil. The temperature of Mars is close to the freezing point of water, but the presence of salt lowers the freezing point. Alfred McEwen, professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona, described the water as “briny”. Moreover, the recurring slope lineae (RSL) on the surface of Mars are found to slide down the slope in the hotter season indicating the presence of water.

NASA’s associate administrator John Grunsfeld said those observations gave a better picture about the planet’s resources that could be helpful in the future. Grunsfeld tweeted Water on Mars, not just frozen. Is anything drinking it? Someday we wil find out on our #JourneyToMars.

To mark this discovery, Google created a doodle in which Mars is sipping water.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Water on Mars
  • Commons-logo.svg Water on Mars

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September 28, 2015

NASA has found water on Mars

NASA has found water on Mars – Wikinews, the free news source

NASA has found water on Mars

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Monday, September 28, 2015

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Planet Mars From The Viking Orbiter -1980
Image: NASA/USGS.

NASA announced today that, with the help of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, they discovered signs of both liquid and frozen water on the Mars. Scientists spotted long, dark streaks on the surface of the planet that are believed to have been formed by flowing water. The discovery provides a glimpse into Mars’ past as a planet featuring oceans, lakes, and rivers, much like our Earth. This discovery of one of the key elements necessary to sustain life is expected to propel the continued scientific search for extraterrestrial life on Mars and an eventual manned mission to the planet.

“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, the lead scientist on NASA’s Mars exploration program, told The Guardian. “Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.”

NASA scientists suggest the streaks were formed as a result of salty “flows” or “seeps” because they bear a striking resemblance to the shapes and curves that water on Earth makes as it flows along the surface of the ground.

These water flows could point NASA and other agencies towards the most promising sites to find life on Mars, and to landing spots for future human missions where water can be collected from a natural supply. While today’s discovery is huge, it is small compared to the rivers, lakes and vast oceans that are believed to have flowed on Mars billions of years ago. The findings, however, are a boon for a future human mission to Mars since the existence of water could help lighten astronauts’ load.

“These may be the best places to search for extant life near the surface of Mars,” said Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at the University of Arizona and senior author on the study. “While it would be very important to find evidence of ancient life, it would be difficult to understand the biology. Current life would be much more informative.”

For now, researchers are focused on learning where the water comes from. Porous rocks under the Martian surface might hold frozen water that melts in the summer months and seeps up to the surface.



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July 17, 2015

NASA\’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto

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Friday, July 17, 2015

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On Tuesday, NASA’s space probe New Horizons reached near Pluto. It was launched about nine-and-a-half years ago on January 19, 2006 to collect data about the dwarf planet, amongst other targets. With its flyby on Tuesday it became the first spacecraft to explore Pluto closely.

NASA collected data regarding the geology of the planet. The space probe had seven scientific instruments and massed about 450 kilograms (about 1000 lb). The probe has Pluto and the Kuiper Belt as its highest priorities. Scientists released images from the flyby on Wednesday. Mission scientist John Spencer said, “We have not found a single impact crater on this image. This means it must be a very young surface”. He put the age of the current surface at no more than 100 million years.

The images also did not show craters on its natural satellite, Charon. NASA said mountains on the planet may be made of water-ice.

In February 2007 the space probe flew by Jupiter. The future mission is to explore the Kuiper Belt.

The Atlas V 551 rocket, used to launch New Horizons, being processed a month before launch.
Image: NASA.

View of Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41, with the Atlas V carrying New Horizons on the pad.
Image: NASA.

NASA TV footage of New Horizons launch from Cape Canaveral. (4:00)
Video: NASA.

A composite image of Jupiter and Io, taken by New Horizons on February 28 and March 1, 2007 respectively. Jupiter is shown in infrared, whereas Io is shown in near true-color.
Image: NASA.

A composite false-color image of Oval BA, otherwise known as the “Little Red Spot”, using New Horizons LORRI and the Hubble Space Telescope‘s WFPC2.
Image: NASA.

2015: Pluto image (color) by New Horizons from 18 million km away, late last month.
Image: NASA.

Pluto as viewed by New Horizons, July 13, 2015.
Image: NASA.

Icy landscape on Pluto.
Image: NASA.



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