Mars helicopter photographs Mars rover

Science

Yahoo News 28 April, 2021 - 04:35am 24 views

NASA's helicopter sends first aerial photos of the surface of Mars

The Hill 28 April, 2021 - 08:01am

The 4-pound helicopter used its built-in color camera during its second successful flight test Thursday to snap several photos of the planet’s barren surface. The photos show the planet’s rocky, reddish-orange surface with Ingenuity’s shadow visible at the bottom of one of the images. 

On Sunday, the aircraft carried out its third and most successful flight when it flew faster and farther than ever before. 

The small aircraft rose 16 feet into the air before flying about 164 feet, just over half the length of a football field, at a top speed of about 4.5 miles per hour. That’s up from about 1.1 miles per hour during its first two flights. The flight lasted about 80 seconds. 

The third flight was captured on video by Perseverance’s camera. 

“With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.” 

Ingenuity’s fourth flight is scheduled for later this week.  

This is the best video of NASA’s Mars helicopter yet

Yahoo Entertainment 27 April, 2021 - 06:15pm

In a new post on NASA’s website, the space agency shows off what its helicopter can truly do. The video, which lasts just over a minute, shows the helicopter taking off, sustaining a hover briefly, and then moving at a speed of 2 meters per second horizontally. It then returns to its takeoff location and lands softly and safely on the ground. The aircraft’s increasingly impressive demonstrations may give NASA and other space agencies around the world some idea of what an aerial exploration drone could do on Mars.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth. The helicopter took off at 4:31 a.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), just over half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second).

The video is pretty awesome, but what’s even more important is what this successful test means for the future of aerial vehicles on Mars and other worlds. NASA didn’t just send this helicopter to Mars for fun. It did so because it wants to know how feasible it would be to replace a rover in a future mission with an autonomous aerial vehicle that could cover more distance at a faster pace while also facilitating scientific discoveries.

Rovers are great platforms for research because they’re packed with instruments and weight isn’t usually an issue. They can be as heavy as they need to be because once they land they travel very slowly. This works well for taking samples, analyzing material, and taking pretty pictures, but it’s not great for exploration. An aerial drone equipped with similar scientific hardware could explore a larger area of a planet in a shorter amount of time and potentially even make more discoveries than a rover could.

There are no current plants for aerial exploration of Mars using a powered aircraft like Ingenuity, but the more tests that the chopper passes, the greater the odds of seeing one in the future.

NASA has released the first-ever aerial, color images of Mars, which the Ingenuity helicopter snapped on a recent flight. The post NASA Releases First-Ever Aerial Color Images of Mars appeared first on Nerdist.

Nasa's Ingenuity drone returns an in-flight image it took of the Perseverance rover on the ground.

NASA and SpaceX still appear to be pushing to meet the 2024 deadline to land astronauts back on the Moon first set by the Trump administration.The big picture: In its first 100 days, the Biden administration undid many of the Trump administration's policies but President Biden has largely hewed closely to Trump-era space policies.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeCatch up quick: Many in the space industry expected the 2024 deadline for the first Artemis landing would be quickly amended by the Biden administration, but NASA still appears to be working toward that ambitious goal."I think we all have to recognize that space is hard, and it's an ambitious timetable, but that is what has been stated," Bill Nelson, Biden's nominee for NASA administrator said during his confirmation hearing last week.NASA also just awarded SpaceX a contract to build a landing system that will take people to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. "We're going to build a lot of rockets and probably smash a bunch of them, but I think it will happen," SpaceX's Elon Musk said last week. "I think 2024 — it seems likely. We're going to aim for sooner than that, but I think this is actually doable."Yes, but: While NASA and SpaceX are optimistic, there is plenty of reason to doubt the current timeline.The space agency's Space Launch System rocket — designed to bring astronauts to orbit around the Moon — has already been delayed by technical problems, and it's not yet clear it if will fly for the first time before next year, possibly pushing the current timeline.NASA's acting administrator Steve Jurczyk has also said 2024 no longer appears to be possible.Some are also questioning NASA's decision to only select SpaceX for its human lander, saying the space agency is putting all of its eggs in one basket and landing on the Moon is no easy feat, particularly for a company that has never done it before.Blue Origin also filed a protest against the decision to award SpaceX the sole contract, saying the agency "moved the goalposts at the last minute."Go deeper: All the Moon landings, from Luna to Apollo to Chang'eMore from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

China plans to launch the core module for its first permanent space station this week in the latest big step forward for the country’s space exploration program. The Tianhe, or “Heavenly Harmony” module is set to be hurtled into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the southern island of Hainan. It would be the first of 11 missions to build and supply the space station for a three-person crew.

Researchers believe they may have found the earliest known human 'home' in a South African cave, with evidence of domesticity there dating as far back as two million years. The Canadian-Israeli team found traces of the earliest ever use of fire, at least one million years ago, and of hand tools in the 140-metre-deep Wonderwerk Cave in the southern Kalahari Desert. The cave has been studied by archaeologists ever since it was first discovered by local farmers in 1940 and has produced a steady stream of archaeological breakthroughs. In 2009, researchers documented the oldest evidence of non-functional symbolic objects in the form of crystals gathered by early humans. In a newly-published paper in Quaternary Science Reviews, Ron Shaar, Ari Matmon, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Yael Ebert and Michael Chazan detail evidence of burnt bones, stone tools and soil as well as ash at least 30 metres into the cavemouth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walked back a statement by the agency’s director regarding coronavirus vaccines for pregnant women. CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House press conference on Friday that the “CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.” Walensky cited a new preliminary report from the agency, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, that indicates that there is no evidence Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines pose a risk during pregnancy. However, the CDC said on Tuesday that its guidelines for pregnant women who wish to receive a coronavirus vaccine have not changed since they were initially released in March. Those guidelines state that “if you are pregnant, you may choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine” but caution pregnant women to weigh the risks posed by vaccination and the virus against one another. The guidelines do not explicitly “recommend” that pregnant women get vaccinated, as Walensky suggested Friday. “If facing decisions about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, people should consider risk of exposure to COVID-19, the increased risk of severe infection while pregnant, the known benefits of vaccination, and the limited but growing evidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy,” the CDC told CBS in an email. Other nations have recommended that pregnant women receive coronavirus vaccines. Israel currently urges pregnant women to get vaccinated, while the U.K. government states that “no safety concerns have been identified” among 90,000 pregnant Americans who have received “mainly” Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The apparent mismatch between Walensky’s comments and her agency’s own guidelines comes several months after controversy regarding the CDC’s recommendations to reopen schools. Walensky argued in July 2020 that social-distancing of three feet between students would be sufficient to reopen schools, but argued for distancing of six feet after she became CDC director. The CDC has since recommended distancing of three feet between students in classrooms.

Research shows how deepfake satellite imagery could be used to fool military strategists, politicians and others.

When a chunk of space rock makes it to the surface of Earth there's always a question as to where it originated. Scientists have gotten quite good at being able to trace the source of various pieces of space debris based on the makeup of the rock as well as the position of Earth and the direction the rock was traveling through space when it met up with our planet. In 2018, an asteroid that was being tracked through space resulted in debris that impacted Earth in Botswana in Southern Africa. After the rock was found, researchers began the task of tracing its origins, and a new paper published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science provides their conclusions. According to the scientists, the asteroid likely originated from a massive asteroid that astronomers have been keeping their eyes on for some time. The space rock is known as Vesta, and it's the second-largest known asteroid in our solar system. Vesta's history is clouded in mystery, but it's believed that impacts on the asteroid's surface created many pieces of debris and it looks like one of those chunks found its way to Earth. The pieces of the asteroid that landed in Botswana were relatively tiny. The asteroid that gave birth to them appeared as a flash of light in a sky survey conducted by the University of Arizona, and when it reached Earth it fragmented and the debris tumbled down in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Researchers canvased the area and found a total of 23 meteorites. "Combining the observations of the small asteroid in space with information gleaned from the meteorites shows it likely came from Vesta, second-largest asteroid in our Solar System and target of NASA's DAWN mission," Peter Jenniskens, leader of the study, said in a statement. "Billions of years ago, two giant impacts on Vesta created a family of larger, more dangerous asteroids. The newly recovered meteorites gave us a clue on when those impacts might have happened." Tracking the debris was a challenge as the observations were only made shortly before the rock reached Earth. Once it did, the scientists had to hunt down video footage that offered them clues as to where the debris landed. Once samples were found, the task of studying the rocky material began. After a lengthy investigation that helped to age the rock and narrow down its possible origins, the researchers finally arrived at the conclusion that it came from an impact with Vesta. Moreover, the debris is believed to have been chipped off of Vesta during an impact with another body roughly 22 million years ago. The science of tracking the source of asteroids has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. It's incredible to think that researchers can actually trace where a space rock came from after it already hit the Earth. These types of research projects are helping us learn more about our solar system and all of the material in it, and could open new avenues of research into asteroid formation.

The Cowboys are pleased by the progress that Dak Prescott has made from last year’s ankle fracture and dislocation, which leaves him on track to be their quarterback come September. Prescott’s backup for Week One remains an open question. Andy Dalton has moved on to the Bears, but the Cowboys still have Cooper Rush, Ben [more]

Chadwick's brother, Derrick Boseman, says the late actor never put "too much value on the Oscars anyway."

A San Francisco Bay Area man in his 30s is recuperating after developing a rare blood clot in his leg within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, University of California, San Francisco officials said. It involves unusual clots that occur together with low levels of blood-clotting platelets. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first male patient with VITT syndrome in the U.S. following the U.S. emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27, 2021," UCSF said in a statement.

Researchers fear the changes to ocean eddies could impact the ability of the seas to absorb heat and CO2 – and have huge knock-on effects.

Attorneys for the Brown family announced the results of an independent autopsy Tuesday, nearly a week after the 42-year-old Black man was killed in a police shooting.

Scientists just solved a mystery about life on ancient Mars

Inverse 27 April, 2021 - 08:30am

The answer may have been up in the air.

“Carbon dioxide alone is not enough,” Kite tells Inverse. “And so that's been a problem for years: What's the extra warming agent?”

That “extra warming agent” is a key to understanding the potential for life on Mars. There's not a good reason to think that it should have had liquid water. It only receives 44 percent of the sunlight of Earth. It’s cold and inhospitable today — and should, by all measures, always have been. But once, Mars had flowing rivers and pooling lakes. For a window of time, it had all the right ingredients for life.

Kite, assistant professor of geophysical science at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues dissected the history of early Mars, using data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to perform some forensics on the Red Planet. As it ends up, their answers were in the clouds, literally. Ancient clouds on Mars trapped in enough heat to keep water on the ground stable, and thus create all the right opportunities for life.

Their study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reconstructs Mars’ early history, and suggests that its clouds warmed the planet enough for it to hold patches of water on its surface. And with those patches of water came the potential for ancient life.

Although, Mars' atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is a known climate regulating greenhouse gas (meaning that it absorbs and then emits radiation, trapping heat in a planet’s atmosphere), that alone wasn’t sufficient to explain how it once had water.

Clouds can either cool or warm a planet. In Earth’s atmosphere, low clouds tend to cool the surface while high clouds tend to warm it. On Mars, the same sort of effect is in play, but the planet also has water-ice clouds for most of the year.

These clouds are in the equatorial region between about 6 to 19 miles above the surface, and they absorb infrared light emitted from the ground during daytime. Water ice clouds in the current atmosphere provide a minor warming effect of less than 1 Kelvin per year.

But during its early history, when Mars’ atmosphere was more substantial, water ice clouds could have provided significant greenhouse warming.

Kite’s team created a global climate model of Mars, simulating the greenhouse effect produced by Mars’ clouds which could have warmed the planet to temperatures capable of supporting liquid surface water.

Through their model, the team found that the greenhouse effect would have resulted in warm enough temperatures for areas of surface water features on Mars that are spaced further out from each other rather than entire oceans.

“Our models produced a warm, arid climate, but only if the spatial distribution of surface water is quite patchy,” Kite says.

Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist and director of science strategy for Planet Labs who was not involved in the study, says that scientists look for pieces of data to help them reconstruct a more complete picture of Mars.

“It really all ties back to answering that question about whether or not Mars ever had life, so we really want to understand how habitable Mars was back when we think it was warmer and wetter and more conducive to supporting life, at least as we know it,” Harrison tells Inverse.

The first detailed images of Mars obtained by spacecraft in the 1960s showed a dry desert with no signs of water. But as observations continued on the Red Planet in the ensuing decades, hints of past rivers and lakes were revealed.

“That means Mars at least had to be warm enough compared to today that you could have liquid water running rampant across the surface,” Harrison says. “That doesn't necessarily mean that it was, you know, a tropical oasis or anything like that.”

But in order to question whether or not Mars ever had life, scientists need to understand the planet’s history and past habitability.

Besides answering the question of habitability, Mars is also the most similar planet to Earth out of the Solar System. Therefore, revisiting Mars’ history allows us to peer back in time into the history of our own planet.

“We think that Mars and Earth were very similar early on in terms of temperature and evolution of the planets,” Harrison says.

But in recent months, the agency has a new tool in its arsenal. On February 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars to begin its mission of searching for clues of ancient life, improving on the instruments on-board the Curiosity rover.

Perseverance will explore Jezero Crater, a dried-up, ancient lake that may have once housed microbial life billions of years ago.

Exploring Jezero Crater will provide scientists with more clues since that environment used to house water billions of years ago.

“We care about the river delta for at least two reasons,” Kite says. “The first is that they tend to concentrate organic matters that are a good place to look for biomarkers and drill for samples that have a higher probability of evidence of past life. And the second reason is they're just telling us that the climate was a lot warmer and wetter in the past.”

“So that's the basic problem: how do you explain the climate being warmer, wetter?”

That answer may come soon.

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