Archive for the ‘space’ category: Page 8

Mar 15, 2024

SPARCI: Advancing Lunar Science with Ground-Penetrating Radar

Posted by in categories: evolution, science, space

How deep is the lunar regolith and megaregolith, the latter of which consists of the cracked lunar crust layers resulting from billions of years of impact craters? This is what the Synthetic Pulse Artemis Radar for Crustal Imaging (SPARCI, pronounced “sparky”) instrument hopes to address as the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was recently awarded a 3-year, $2,041,000 grant from NASA’s Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI) program as part of advancing lunar exploration technologies.

Image of the Synthetic Pulse Artemis Radar for Crustal Imaging (SPARCI, pronounced “sparky”). (Credit: Southwest Research Institute/Bryan Pyke)

“Learning more about the lunar megaregolith will help us gain a wider understanding of the Moon’s formation and that of similar bodies with thin, sparse atmospheres,” said Dr. David Stillman, who is a geophysicist at SwRI and SPARCI’s principal investigator. “If we are able to pinpoint exactly where this layer begins, we can use that to create more accurate formation and evolution models.”

Mar 15, 2024

Ice Shell Thickness reveals Water Temperature on Ocean Worlds

Posted by in category: space

Cornell University astrobiologists have devised a novel way to determine ocean temperatures of distant worlds based on the thickness of their ice shells, effectively conducting oceanography from space.

Available data showing ice thickness variation already allows a prediction for the upper ocean of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, and a NASA mission’s planned orbital survey of Europa’s ice shell should do the same for the much larger Jovian moon, enhancing the mission’s findings about whether it could support life.

The researchers propose that a process called “ice pumping,” which they’ve observed below Antarctic ice shelves, likely shapes the undersides of Europa’s and Enceladus’ ice shells, but should also operate at Ganymede and Titan, large moons of Jupiter and Saturn, respectively. They show that temperature ranges where the ice and ocean interact — important regions where ingredients for life may be exchanged — can be calculated based on an ice shell’s slope and changes in water’s freezing point at different pressures and salinities.

Mar 15, 2024

James Webb telescope confirms there is something seriously wrong with our understanding of the universe

Posted by in category: space

Depending on where we look, the universe is expanding at different rates. Now, scientists using the James Webb and Hubble space telescopes have confirmed that the observation is not down to a measurement error.

Mar 14, 2024

World’s largest computer chip WSE-3 will power massive AI supercomputer 8 times faster than the current record-holder

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space, supercomputing

Cerebras’ Wafer Scale Engine 3 (WSE-3) chip contains four trillion transistors and will power the 8-exaFLOP Condor Galaxy 3 supercomputer one day.

Mar 14, 2024

IceCube identifies seven astrophysical tau neutrino candidates

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a cubic-kilometer-sized neutrino telescope at the South Pole, has observed a new kind of astrophysical messenger. In a new study recently accepted for publication as an Editors’ Suggestion by the journal Physical Review Letters and available on the arXiv preprint server, the IceCube collaboration, including Penn State researchers, presented the discovery of seven of the once-elusive astrophysical tau neutrinos.

Mar 14, 2024

NASA Engineers Make Progress Toward Understanding Voyager 1 Issue

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, space

Since November 2023, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has been sending a steady radio signal to Earth, but the signal does not contain usable data. The source of the issue appears to be with one of three onboard computers, the flight data subsystem (FDS), which is responsible for packaging the science and engineering data before it’s sent to Earth by the telemetry modulation unit.

On March 3, the Voyager mission team saw activity from one section of the FDS that differed from the rest of the computer’s unreadable data stream. The new signal was still not in the format used by Voyager 1 when the FDS is working properly, so the team wasn’t initially sure what to make of it. But an engineer with the agency’s Deep Space Network, which operates the radio antennas that communicate with both Voyagers and other spacecraft traveling to the Moon and beyond, was able to decode the new signal and found that it contains a readout of the entire FDS memory.

The FDS memory includes its code, or instructions for what to do, as well as variables, or values used in the code that can change based on commands or the spacecraft’s status. It also contains science or engineering data for downlink. The team will compare this readout to the one that came down before the issue arose and look for discrepancies in the code and the variables to potentially find the source of the ongoing issue.

Mar 14, 2024

Breaking Barriers: Groundbreaking All-Light Network Bridges Space, Air, and Sea

Posted by in categories: computing, space

Scientists have created a communication network entirely based on light that enables seamless connectivity across space, air, and underwater environments. The new network design combines different types of light sources to ensure connectivity no matter the environment.

“In today’s world, data transmission is critical for communication, navigation, emergency response, research, and commercial activities,” said research team leader Yongjin Wang from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications and Suzhou Lighting Chip Monolithic Optoelectronics Technology Co. Ltd., both in China. “This new wireless network enables uninterrupted connectivity across environments, facilitating two-way real-time data transmission between the network nodes that carry out communication and data exchange within and between networks.”

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Mar 14, 2024

Water found on asteroid surfaces

Posted by in category: space

The first detection of water molecules on the surface of asteroids has been confirmed, following spectral analysis of two large main‑belt objects.

Credit: Courtesy of NASA/Carla Thomas/SwRI

Using data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) – a joint project of NASA and Germany’s space agency – scientists have, for the first time, discovered water molecules on the surface of an asteroid. A team of researchers looked at four silicate-rich asteroids using an instrument known as Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), which isolated the mid-infrared spectral signatures indicating molecular water on two of them.

Mar 14, 2024

US ditches LIDAR, develops self-driving stealth tech to tackle lasers

Posted by in categories: food, military, robotics/AI, space

Researchers at the US Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have developed camera-based autonomous driving tools that can work without deploying technologies like LIDAR and RADAR.

The technology can potentially deliver stealth capabilities for the military while finding applications in space and agriculture.

Modern autonomous driving solutions rely extensively on light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors to visualize objects around the vehicle. A software solution then identifies the objects nearby and helps the vehicle’s computer decide whether to halt or slow down.

Mar 13, 2024

Unraveling the origins of life: Scientists discover ‘cool’ sugar acid formation in space

Posted by in categories: biological, nanotechnology, space

A critical molecule for the metabolism of living organisms has been synthesized for the first time by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers at low temperatures (10 K) on ice coated nanoparticles mimicking conditions in deep space, marking a “cool” step in advancing our understanding of the origins of life.

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