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Carbon’s Role In Atmosphere Formation


A new study of how carbon is trapped and released by iron-rich volcanic magma offers clues about the early atmospheric evolution on Mars and other terrestrial bodies.

The composition of a planet’s atmosphere has roots deep beneath its surface. When mantle material melts to form magma, it traps subsurface carbon. As magma moves upward toward the surface and pressure decreases, that carbon is released as a gas. On Earth, carbon is trapped in magma as carbonate and degassed as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that helps Earth’s atmosphere trap heat from the sun. But how carbon is transferred from underground to the atmosphere in other planets — and how that might influence greenhouse conditions — wasn’t well understood.

“We know carbon goes from the solid mantle to the liquid magma, from liquid to gas and then out,” said Alberto Saal, professor of geological sciences at Brown and one of the study’s authors. “We want to understand how the different carbon species that are formed in the conditions that are relevant to the planet affect the transfer.”

Full Story: http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2013/04/magma

International Dark Sky Week 5 – 11 April, 2013


IDSW_smCelebrate the stars! Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, IDSW has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. The goals of IDSW are to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and to raise awareness of how poor-quality lighting creates light pollution.

Light pollution is a growing problem. Not only does it have detrimental effects on our views of the night sky, but it also disrupts the natural environment, wastes energy, and has the potential to cause health problems.

Full Story and Important Links: http://www.darksky.org/resources/109-international-dark-sky-week

Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” Name And Message Campaign


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch the asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2”*1 on the H-IIA Launch Vehicle in 2014. The Hayabusa2 will arrive at an asteroid in 2018 to investigate it for one and half years, before returning to Earth in 2020.

JAXA will record and load your names, messages and illustrations on onboard devices (the target marker*2 and re-entry capsule*3) of the Hayabusa2. Through this campaign and Hayabusa2’s six-year space mission, we would like people to deepen their understanding of Japan’s space probe activities.

Full Story: http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2013/03/20130329_hayabusa2_e.html

Stanford Scientist Closes In On A Mystery That Impedes Space Exploration


New research by Stanford aeronautics and astronautics Assistant Professor Sigrid Close suggests she’s on track to solve a mystery that has long bedeviled space exploration: Why do satellites fail?

In the popular imagination, satellites are imperiled by impacts from “space junk” – particles of man-made debris the size of a pea (or greater) that litter the Earth’s upper atmosphere – or by large meteoroids like the one that recently exploded spectacularly over Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Although such impacts are a serious concern, most satellites that have died in space haven’t been knocked out by them. Something else has killed them.

The likely culprit, it turns out, is material so tiny its nickname is “space dust.”

These natural micro-meteoroids are not directly causing satellites harm. When they hit an object in space, however, they are traveling so fast that they turn into a quasi-neutral gas of ions and electrons known as plasma. That plasma, Close theorizes, has the potential to create a radio signal that can damage, and even completely shut down, the satellites they hit.

Full Story: http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2013/pr-space-dust-threat-022613.html

Eclipse Calculator: A New Application To Simulate Eclipses On Your Mobile, Developed At The UB

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Which future eclipses will be visible from my location? How will they be like? How long will they last? These are some of the questions answered by the new application Eclipse Calculator, designed for Android mobiles by the researcher from the UB Eduard Masana.

It is a new appealing tool for those who love astronomy; it is easy to use and it provides information about all solar and lunar eclipses or planetary transits from 1900 to 2100. The application, public and free, can be downloaded from the Google Play website (https://play.google.com/store). At first, it has been developed in Catalan, Spanish and English, but it is planned to translate it to other languages.

Full Story: http://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2013/01/041.html

NASA’S Webb Telescope Team Completes Optical Milestone

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Engineers working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope met another milestone recently with they completed performance testing on the observatory’s aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp’s facilities in Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system.

“Completing Aft Optics System performance testing is significant because it means all of the telescope’s mirror systems are ready for integration and testing,” said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Since last May, the AOS has undergone a series of thermal, vibration and cryogenic testing to demonstrate that it can withstand the rigorous vibration environment of the rocket launch and remain precisely aligned in order to function at the extremely cold temperatures in space.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/news/aft-optics.html
Also: http://www.ballaerospace.com/page.jsp?page=30&id=511

A New Year’s Gift From NASA And Penn State

January 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Omega Centauri (also known as NGC 5139). Credit: NASA/Swift/S. Holland (GSFC), M. Siegel and E. Fonseca (PSU)

Omega Centauri (also known as NGC 5139). Credit: NASA/Swift/S. Holland (GSFC), M. Siegel and E. Fonseca (PSU)

A large new collection of space photos taken at wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye and blocked by Earth’s atmosphere has been released as a New Year’s gift to the people of Earth by NASA and Penn State University. The images were captured by a telescope on board NASA’s Swift satellite, whose science and flight operations are controlled by Penn State from the Mission Operations Center in State College, Pennsylvania, using the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope, which resulted from Penn State’s collaboration with the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of the University College-London. The telescope is one of just a few that study ultraviolet light, much of which is blocked by the atmosphere surrounding Earth.

“This extensive image gallery has some of the best pictures ever taken by this telescope, including some very early images that have not been published until now,” said Michael Siegel, a Penn State research associate in astronomy and astrophysics who is the lead scientist for the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope.

Full Story and Links: http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2013-news/Siegel1-2013