NASA to test robot in Antarctica for extra-terrestrial exploration

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019   •   240

Sydney – The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will test an under-ice robot during Antarctica’s summer with a view to using it to look for extra-terrestrial life on one of Jupiter’s moons in 2025.

The one-meter (three feet) long robotic rover is buoyant and has two wheels to operate on the under-side of ice, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said in a statement.

“The rover is unique in that it uses buoyancy to stick to the underside of the ice and move upside-down using wheels, so it can get up close to the ice-water interface for sensitive measurements,” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Andy Klesh said.

The robot has already been deployed in Alaska and the Arctic and will be tested in Antarctica at Australia’s Casey research station for three weeks.

Much like a submarine, the rover can remain in one spot for long periods of time without expending energy.

In 2025, NASA plans to send a mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, believed to be one of the likeliest places in the solar system to find alien life.

“NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter in the late 1990s investigated the planet’s moons including Europa. They found strong evidence there was a salty ocean beneath Europa’s thick icy crust, as well as a rocky sea floor,” NASA scientist Kevin Hand said.

“This salty ocean could hold more than twice as much water as Earth and have all the right ingredients to support simple life organisms,” he added.

NASA would have to drill through between 10 to 20 kilometers (6-12 miles) of icy crust before it can reach the water, a matter that has not yet been resolved.

“We don’t really know how to manage this yet, but it’s likely we will have to drop transmission pucks every 100 meters to carry signals from the rover up to a surface base station, before the information is beamed back to Earth via satellite,” Klesh explained. EFE-EPA

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LOOK: NASA’s image of the day, the ‘Mystic Mountain’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 5, 2019

NASA posted the ‘Mystic Mountain’ as its image of the day.

It was like seeing a glimpse of colorful hues performing a chaotic waltz, a tempest of blue, red, and green. The contrasting colors created a masterpiece that was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The ‘Mystic Mountain’ lies in the Carina Nebula which is 7,500 light-years away.

According to NASA the image was captured in 2010. The colors in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green) and sulfur (red).—AAC

NASA presents panorama of southern sky

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 7, 2019

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has presented a panorama of the southern sky through the observations of its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

The panorama was completed last July 2019 and is divided into 13 sectors, each of them imaged by a month by spacecraft’s four cameras.

“TESS has imaged a comet in our solar system, followed the progress of numerous stellar explosions called supernovae, and even caught the flare from a star ripped apart by a supermassive black hole,” according to NASA.

NASA’s TESS is on its way north in order to begin a year-long study of the northern sky.—AAC

NASA shows pumpkin sun photo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2019

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared a photo of our sun showing a spooky glow, resembling a flaming jack-o’-lantern.

The photo was taken on October 8, 2014 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). According to NASA, the brighter areas seen in the photo is due to the higher amount of light and energy emitted.

NASA also said the image blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow to give that ‘spooky’ appearance.

Here is what the photo would look like in other sets of wavelengths.

The sun as imaged by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on Oct. 8, 2014, in 335 angstrom extreme ultraviolet light.
Credit: NASA/SDO
The sun as imaged by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on Oct. 8, 2014, in 304 angstrom extreme ultraviolet light.

“They [brighter areas of the sun] are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona,” according to NASA’s website.—AAC

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