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Nereidum Montes Helps Unlock Mars’ Glacial Past

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Nereidum Montes perspective view. Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

On 6 June, the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express revisited the Argyre basin as featured in our October release, but this time aiming at Nereidum Montes, some 380 km northeast of Hooke crater.

The stunning rugged terrain of Nereidum Montes marks the far northern extent of Argyre, one of the largest impact basins on Mars. Nereidum Montes stretches almost 1150 km and was named by the noted Greek astronomer Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870–1944).

Based on his extensive observations of Mars, Antoniadi famously concluded that the ‘canals’ on Mars reported by Percival Lowell were, in fact, just an optical illusion.

The images captured by Mars Express show a portion of the region, displaying multiple fluvial, glacial and wind-driven features.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMO3S52Q8H_index_0.html

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Protoplanet Vesta: Forever Young?

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Vesta, as seen by Dawn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS
/DLR/IDA/Brown

Like a movie star constantly retouching her makeup, the protoplanet Vesta is continually stirring its outermost layer and presenting a young face.

New data from NASA’s Dawn mission show that a common form of weathering that affects many airless bodies like Vesta in the inner solar system, including the moon, surprisingly doesn’t age the protoplanet’s outermost layer. The data also indicate that carbon-rich asteroids have been splattering dark material on Vesta’s surface over a long span of the body’s history.

Over time, soils on the moon and on asteroids have undergone extensive weathering. Scientists see this in the accumulation of tiny metallic particles containing iron, which dulls the bright, fluffy outer layers of these bodies. Yet Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) and framing camera detected no accumulation of these tiny particles on Vesta, and the protoplanet (sometimes called a giant asteroid) remains bright and pristine.

Full Story: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/protoplanet-vesta-forever-young-240211.aspx
Also: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-342

CALIFA Survey Publishes Intimate Details Of 100 Galaxies

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

The Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area survey (CALIFA survey) has published a first set of data, offering views of one hundred galaxies in the local Universe at an unprecedented level of detail. The new data represent the first large-scale effort at “two plus one” mapping of galaxies: for every pixel within each two-dimensional image, a detailed (“spectral”) analysis can be performed, providing information about dynamics and chemical composition. These, in turn, yield key information that will allow scientists to reconstruct the structure and dynamics of galaxies, as well as their evolution over time.

Galaxies are the large-scale building blocks of the cosmos. Their visible ingredients include between millions and hundreds of billions of stars as well as clouds of gas and dust. “Understanding the dynamical processes within and between galaxies that have shaped the way they are today is a key part of understanding our wider cosmic environment.”, explains Dr. Glenn van de Ven, a member of the managing board of the CALIFA survey and staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA).

Full Story: http://www.mpia.de/Public/menu_q2e.php?Aktuelles/PR/2012/PR121031/PR_121031_en.html#images