Liftoff! –Perseverance Mission Heads to Mars Ancient Jezero Landing Site

Liftoff! --Perseverance Mission Heads to Mar's Ancient Jezero Landing Site

 

On Tuesday we wrote that Mars tugs at the human imagination like no other planet. “It’s there,” said astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “waiting to be reached.” Today, NASA launched the Perseverance rover that will, if all goes as planned, touch down at the Jezero Crater landing site in February 2021 as a robotic explorer. Jezero, a 45-kilometre-wide crater is home to the remains of an ancient river delta. NASA researchers have detected deposits of hydrated silica from previous flybys –a mineral that’s especially good at preserving microfossils and other signs of past life.

(more…)

“Is There Life There, HAL?” –NASA Announces Intelligent AI Systems Installed on Probes of Distant Planets

ExoMars Landing Map

 

In Space Odyssey 2001, HAL 9000, the Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer, consigned the crew commander to his death by refusing to open the pod bay doors. Leaping forward to today, with life hopefully transcending Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction, NASA has announced a visionary step: that intelligent computer systems will be installed on space probes to direct the search for life on distant planets and moons, starting with the 2022/23 ESA ExoMars mission, before moving beyond to moons such as Jupiter’s Europa, and of Saturn’s Enceladus and Titan.

(more…)

“Mapping Ghosts” — Ancient Pulsars, Objects So Dense They Warp Spacetime

NASA Pulsar

 

Astrophysicists are radically expanding our knowledge of image of pulsars, the ancient remains of exploded stars so dense their gravity warps nearby space-time, using NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), an X-ray telescope aboard the International Space Station to create the first-ever map of million-degree hot spots on the surface of J0030 in an isolated region of space 1,100 light-years away in the constellation Pisces.

(more…)

“Stranger Than Imagined” –Weird Dynamics of Earth’s Star

 

NASA Parker Probe

 

Since it’s launch in 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has returned unprecedented data from near the Sun, culminating in new discoveries published on Dec. 4, 2019, in the journal Nature revealing that the dynamics of our star are even stranger than once imagined.

(more…)

Mars’ Global Dust Storms –“The Cause of Vanished Water Over Eons?”

 

Mars Global Dust Storm

 

“Global dust storms are really unusual,” said Mars Climate Sounder scientist David Kass of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We really don’t have anything like this on the Earth, where the entire planet’s weather changes for several months.”

(more…)

“Unrecognizable Life?” –Antarctic Proving Grounds for Extraterrestrial Exploration of Ocean Moons

BRUIE NASA Submersible

 

Arthur C. Clarke harshly warned his fellow Homo sapiens not to attempt a landing on Jupiter’s ocean moon, Europa. Ignoring his warning, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers are developing BRUIE, or the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration for underwater exploration in lunar oceans, such as those on Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It will spend the next month testing its endurance at Australia’s Casey research station in Antarctica, in preparation for a mission that could one day search for life in ocean worlds beyond Earth.

(more…)