Tag: Moon

Apollo 14 Astronauts May Have Found the Oldest Earth Rock Lying On the Moon

A moon rock brought back by Apollo 14 astronauts in 1971 may contain a tiny piece of the ancient Earth (the “felsite clast” identified by the arrow).

One of Earth’s oldest rocks may have been dug up on the moon.

A chunk of material brought back from the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts in 1971 harbors a tiny piece of Earth, a new study suggests.

The Earth fragment was likely blasted off our planet by a powerful impact about 4 billion years ago, according to the new research.

It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a better picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life,” study co-author David Kring, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, said in a statement.

The research team — led by Jeremy Bellucci, of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and Alexander Nemchin, of the Swedish Museum and Curtin University in Australia analyzed lunar samples collected by members of the Apollo 14 mission, which explored the lunar surface for a few days in early February 1971.




The scientists found that one rock contained a 0.08-ounce (2 grams) fragment composed of quartz, feldspar and zircon, all of which are rare on the moon but common here on Earth.

Chemical analyses indicated that the fragment crystallized in an oxidized environment, at temperatures consistent with those found in the near subsurface of the early Earth, study team members said.

An artist’s illustration of the Hadean Earth, when the rock fragment was formed. Impact craters, some flooded by shallow seas, cover large swaths of the Earth’s surface. The excavation of those craters ejected rocky debris, some of which hit the moon.

The available evidence suggests that the fragment crystallized 4.1 billion to 4 billion years ago about 12 miles (20 kilometers) beneath Earth’s surface, then was launched into space by a powerful impact shortly thereafter.

The voyaging Earth rock soon made its way to the moon, which was then about three times closer to our planet than it is today.

The fragment endured further trauma on the lunar surface. It was partially melted, and probably buried, by an impact about 3.9 billion years ago, then excavated by yet another impact 26 million years ago, the researchers said.

This photo by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Apollo 14 landing site and nearby Cone Crater. The trail followed by the Apollo 14 astronauts can be seen. Image width is 1 mile (1.6 kilometers).

This latest collision created the 1,115-foot-wide (340 meters) Cone Crater, whose environs Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell explored and sampled 47 years ago.

An Earth origin for the ancient fragment isn’t a slam dunk, study team members stressed.

However, it is the simplest explanation; a lunar birth would require a rethink of the conditions present in the moon’s interior long ago, the researchers said.

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Holy Crap! The Moon Was Struck By A Meteorite During The ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ Eclipse

A close-up of the impact flash.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Such is the philosophy of Jose Maria Madiedo, an astronomer at the University of Huelva in Spain, who, for over 10 years, has tried to capture a meteorite hitting the Moon during a lunar eclipse.

Last Monday, during the so-called “Super Blood Wolf Blood Moon,” it finally happened.

Monday’s much anticipated Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse, though badly named, did not disappoint.

Millions of people gazed into the night sky or onto video feeds to see a stunning coppery-red hue envelop our planet’s natural satellite.

As the January 21 eclipse unfolded, however, some observers noticed a tiny flash while watching the online broadcasts, said in a report.

Some suspected the flash was caused by a meteorite strike—and it turns out they were right. Jose Madiedo confirmed these suspicions, tweeting that a lunar impact occurred at 5:41am Spanish Peninsular Time.

A photograph released by Madiedo clearly showed a yellowish-white dot appearing in the darkened top left quadrant of the Moon during the totality phase of the eclipse.

 




Astronomers have filmed impact flashes on the Moon before, but this marks the first time a lunar impact was captured during a lunar eclipse—an achievement more than 20 years in the making.

Astronomers first started to systematically monitor impact flashes in 1997, an effort that evolved into the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS, a survey conducted by the University of Huelva and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia.

Madiedo joined the project in 2008. Using astronomical data from multiple observatories, MIDAS uses software to identify the moment a meteorite hits the darkened portions of the lunar surface.

The telescopes used by MIDAS are equipped with high-sensitivity video cameras and record video continuously during the observing session.

These videos are then analyzed by software, which automatically identifies lunar impact flashes and calculates their position on the Moon.

Madiedo said the system can detect the moment of an impact flash to an accuracy of about 0.001 seconds.

Since 2015, the team has applied photometric filters to some of their telescopes, allowing them to determine the temperature of these flashes.

As noted, MIDAS had (prior to yesterday) never captured a meteorite strike during a total lunar eclipse—but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Madiedo said he doesn’t know the exact number of eclipses MIDAS has monitored to date, but, weather permitting, he said every lunar eclipse has been monitored since the survey started.

Other groups have also tried to detect lunar flashes during an eclipse, said Madiedo, but none succeeded—until now.

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According Scientists, Earth Have Experienced A Massive Asteroid Strikes 290 Million Years Ago

Experts say the mysterious rise in strikes may have spelled doom for the dinosaurs, who were wiped out by an asteroid around 60million years ago.

It’s perhaps fair to say it was a date with destiny for the dinosaurs,” said study author Dr Thomas Gernon, from the University of Southampton.

Their downfall was somewhat inevitable given the surge of large space rocks colliding with Earth.” Space boffins at the University of Southampton examined asteroid craters on the moon to come to their finding.

Many of Earth’s ancient craters have worn away after millennia of eroding weather and tectonic plate shifts. The moon doesn’t have this problem, meaning its oldest impact holes are still in tact.

Because Earth and its neighbour have been hit by the same proportion of asteroids over time, scientists can date the moon’s craters to understand more about our own.




For the new study, experts tracked the age of the moon’s craters using images and thermal data from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) space probe.

If a crater gives off more heat, it means it is younger because it is surrounded by larger boulders.

Over millions of years, these boulders break down into fine moon dust that comes up cold on the LRO’s heat cameras.

Scientists studied craters formed in the past billion years, and found there were fewer before 290 million years ago.

In fact, the rate of crater formation since then has been two to three times higher than in the previous 700 million years.

It’s unclear what caused the jump, but scientists think it may be linked to massive collisions taking place in the asteroid belt before 290 million years ago.

This could have created a mass of debris that has since rained down on other parts of the solar system.

The team say asteroid strikes probably played a massive role in Earth’s big extinction events, including the destruction of the dinosaurs.

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China’s First Plants to Grow on the Moon Are Already Dead

One day after China announced it grew the first plants on the Moon, the fledgling plants have been pronounced dead. Rest in peace, lunar sprouts.

On Tuesday, China’s space program said that cotton seeds had germinated in a biosphere carried to the Moon by the nation’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander.

By Wednesday, mission leads had broken the news that the plants perished as the lunar night fell over the probe’s landing site.

The Sunday arrival of the lunar night, which lasts 14 days, deprived the plants of sunlight. During a lunar night, temperatures can plummet as low as −170°C (−274°F).

Meanwhile, daytime temperatures on the Moon can reach a sweltering 127°C (260°F). These massive fluctuations are one of the main obstacles encountered by lunar explorers.

The remaining seeds and fruit fly eggs contained in the mission’s biosphere are not likely to be viable after two weeks of light deprivation and freezing temperatures.




According to China’s National Space Administration, they will decompose and remain sealed to avoid contaminating the lunar surface.

Chang’e-4 went into sleep mode on Sunday to prepare for the harsh night. The lander will rely on a radioisotope heat unit (RHU) to stay warm until sunlight returns in late January.

The mission’s rover Yutu 2, which rolled off a ramp to the lunar surface on January 3, is also dependent on an RHU during the cold spell.

Chang’e-4 is the first spacecraft ever to land on the far side of the Moon, which is commonly mistaken for the “dark” side of the Moon.

Though the far side is always angled away from Earth, it is not always angled away from the Sun. Both lunar faces experience roughly 14 days of daylight and 14 days of darkness in a regular lunar cycle.

Chang-e-4’s biosphere may have only survived for a brief week, but it still made history as the first garden planted at the surface of an alien world.

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China Makes Historic First Landing on Mysterious Far Side of the Moon

Humanity just planted its flag on the far side of the moon.

China’s robotic Chang’e 4 mission touched down on the floor of the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater Wednesday night (Jan. 2), pulling off the first-ever soft landing on the mysterious lunar far side.

Chang’e 4 will perform a variety of science work over the coming months, potentially helping scientists better understand the structure, formation and evolution of Earth’s natural satellite.

But the symbolic pull of the mission will resonate more with the masses: The list of unexplored locales in our solar system just got a little shorter.




The epic touchdown—which took place at 9:26 p.m. EST (0226 GMT and 10:26 a.m. Beijing time on Jan. 3), according to Chinese space officials—followed closely on the heels of two big NASA spaceflight milestones.

On Dec. 31, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft entered orbit around the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, and the New Horizons probe zoomed past the distant object Ultima Thule just after midnight on Jan. 1.

Congratulations to China’s Chang’e 4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter Wednesday night, after word of the milestone began circulating on social media.

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First Photo Show China’s Lunar Rover Set Out Across The Far Side of The Moon

China’s far-side moon rover is already busy exploring its exotic new home.

On Wednesday night (Jan. 2), the Chang’e 4 rover and its stationary-lander companion pulled off the first-ever soft touchdown on the lunar far side, coming to a rest inside the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater.

The six-wheeled rover, known as Yutu 2, isn’t pausing to catch its breath, as a newly released photo shows.

Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature — the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Both Yutu 2 and the lander sport four science instruments, which they’ll use to study the surrounding dirt and rocks and probe the far side’s subsurface.




Such observations could help scientists better understand the moon’s composition, structure and evolution, Chinese space officials have said.

Chang’e 4’s images and data come home via a relay satellite called Queqiao, which is parked at a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon.

Queqiao, which launched in May 2018, is collecting some data of its own. The spacecraft totes an astronomy instrument, and it has sent home striking images of the moon and Earth from its unique vantage point in space.

The solar-powered Yutu 2 is designed to operate for at least three months on the lunar surface. The original Yutu was also a moon rover, which landed on the near side in December 2013 as part of China’s Chang’e 3 mission.

Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 were moon orbiters that launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Chang’e 5, which could launch as early as this year, will aim to bring moon rocks and dirt down to Earth.

The most recent such lunar sample-return flight was achieved in 1976, by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission.

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Moon Dust Is Super Toxic to Human Cells

In space, they say, no one can hear you sneeze. But Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt was doing a lot of that inside the Challenger command module when he visited the moon in 1972.

One day, after a lunar walk, Schmitt accidentally breathed in some of the abundant moon dust that he and his commander had tracked back in to the Challenger living quarters.

For a full day, Schmitt suffered from what he described as “lunar hay fever.” His eyes watered, his throat throbbed, and he broke into a sneezing fit.

No, Schmitt wasn’t allergic to the moon. NASA scientists now understand that pieces of moon dust — especially the smallest, sharpest particles — pose clear health risks to astronauts.

A recent study published in the April issue of the journal GeoHealth examined exactly how dangerous that dust can be on a cellular level — and the results are as ominous as the dark side of the moon.

In several lab tests, a single scoop of replica moon dust proved toxic enough to kill up to 90 percent of the lung and brain cells exposed to it.




A dusty dilemma

Dust on the moon behaves a little differently than dust on Earth. For starters, it’s sharp. Because there’s no wind on the moon, the dust never erodes.

Instead, grains of moon dust — which are largely the products of micrometeorite impacts — remain sharp and abrasive and can easily slice into an astronaut’s lung cells if breathed in too deeply.

On top of this, moon dust can float. With no atmosphere to protect the moon from constant bombardment by solar winds and the charged particles they carry, lunar soil can become electrostatically charged like clothing with static cling.

This charge can be so strong that the soil particles actually levitate above the lunar surface,” the authors wrote in the new study.

From there, it’s easy enough for dust to cling in the nooks and crannies of an astronaut’s spacesuit and follow him or her back inside living quarters.

These loose particles can clog sensitive equipment, jam zippers, ruin clothing and — as Schmitt discovered — wreak havoc on the human body if accidentally ingested by astronauts.

But as humans explore the moon in future decades, chance exposures are likely, the researchers wrote.

Fortunately, NASA has taken this problem seriously for a long time and is developing several dust-mitigation methods.

One promising strategy: Cover sensitive surfaces with an Electrodynamic Dust Shield — essentially, electrically charged panels that shoot currents through thin wires to zap dust away.

Early lab tests have shown that the shields work well, and some sample panels are currently being tested on the International Space Station. Whether the panels could be incorporated into astronauts’ spacesuits remain to be seen.

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Why Do People Believe The Moon Landing Is A Hoax

From Apollo 15.

Forty-nine years ago Friday, the Apollo 11 spacecraft delivered the first astronauts to the surface of the moon.

The footprints Buzz Aldrin left in lunar soil are still around — and so are the throngs of conspiracy theorists who claim the entire landing was faked.

For one thing, they argue, the flag the crew planted seemed to flutter in videos, which shouldn’t happen since there’s no wind on the moon. Besides, wouldn’t mini-meteors have killed the astronauts the moment they ventured outside?

The “moon landing hoax” was among the first conspiracy theories to gain traction with the American public. In the years since, the theories have multiplied like jack rabbits, swarming all corners of the cultural landscape.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, some fringe activists insisted the U.S. government, rather than al-Qaeda, had planned the attacks.

Conspiracies about President Trump’s ties to Russia compete with all the real news on the topic.

Pizzagate” conspiracists claimed Hillary Clinton was operating a pedophile ring in a D.C. pizza parlor, leading one true believer to fire a gun in the restaurant.

It’s tempting to dismiss conspiracy theorists as wearers of tinfoil hats. But the theories should be taken seriously for their effects on political and social discourse — and research suggests that, under the right circumstances, many people are susceptible to their allure.




While people’s attraction to conspiracy theories might seem illogical, it stems from a very logical desire to make sense of the world.

Assigning meaning to what happens has helped humans to thrive as a species, and conspiracy theories are internally cohesive stories that “help us to understand the unknown whenever things happen that are fearful or unexpected,” said Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a social psychologist at Vrije University in Amsterdam.

For some believers, the sense of comfort and clarity such stories bring can override the question of their truth value.

Conspiracy theorists often have a high degree of tolerance for contradiction that allows them to ignore evidence against their theories.

Conspiracy theories also supply a seductive ego boost. Believers often consider themselves part of a select in-group that — unlike the deluded masses — has figured out what’s really going on.

Rejection and hardship can intensify people’s need to believe a story that empowers them or justifies their situation, whether the story is true.

People who are dissatisfied with the state of the world — such as the unemployed or those who support extreme ideologies — are highly vulnerable to conspiracy theories, van Prooijen said: “If people are satisfied, they are less likely to pursue this sort of theory.

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China Launches Lunar Rover To Far Side Of The Moon

China is poised to become the first country to explore the far side of the moon with the launch of a lunar rover Saturday, another step to its goal of becoming a space superpower.

The Chang’e 4 lunar mission lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province in the early morning, confirmed by the Twitter account of the country’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

It’s expected to land in early January after 26 days of flight, said China’s Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The lander will conduct the first lunar low-frequency radio astronomy experiment, observe whether plants will grow in the low-gravity environment, and explore whether there is water or other resources at the poles.

Another function of the mission is to study the interaction between solar winds and the moon surface using a new rover.




Since the far side of the moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it’s an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can ‘listen’ to the deeper reaches of the cosmos,” said Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center for the China National Space Administration.

Because the far side of the moon is free from interference from radio frequencies, the mission requires a relay satellite to transmit signals that was launched into place this year.

The Chang’e 4 rover is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.

China is anxious to get into the record books with its space achievements,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College and an expert on China’s space program.

Beijing plans to launch its first Mars probe around 2020 to carry out orbital and rover exploration, followed by a mission that would include collection of surface samples from the Red Planet.

In comparison, despite its recent success in sending a robotic lander to Mars, the US space agency NASA has faced years of budgetary constraints.

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Planets Can Be Big, Small, But All Round

The eight planets in our solar system differ in lots of ways. They are different sizes. They are different distances from the sun. Some are small and rocky, and others are big and gassy.

But they’re all nice and round. Why is that? Why aren’t they shaped like cubes, pyramids, or discs?

Planets form when material in space starts to bump and clump together. After a while it has enough stuff to have a good amount of gravity.

That’s the force that holds stuff together in space. When a forming planet is big enough, it starts to clear its path around the star it orbits. It uses its gravity to snag bits of space stuff.

A planet’s gravity pulls equally from all sides. Gravity pulls from the center to the edges like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. This makes the overall shape of a planet a sphere, which is a three-dimensional circle.




Are they all perfect, though?

While all the planets in our solar system are nice and round, some are rounder than others. Mercury and Venus are the roundest of all. They are nearly perfect spheres, like marbles.

But some planets aren’t quite so perfectly round. Saturn and Jupiter are bit thicker in the middle. As they spin around, they bulge out along the equator. Why does that happen?

When something spins, like a planet as it rotates, things on the outer edge have to move faster than things on the inside to keep up.

This is true for anything that spins, like a wheel, a DVD, or a fan. Things along the edge have to travel the farthest and fastest.

Along the equator of a planet, a circle half way between the north and south poles, gravity is holding the edges in but, as it spins, stuff wants to spin out like mud flying off a tire.

Saturn and Jupiter are really big and spinning really fast but gravity still manages to hold them together. That’s why they bulge in the middle. We call the extra width the equatorial bulge.

Saturn bulges the most of all the planets in our solar system. If you compare the diameter from pole to pole to the diameter along the equator, it’s not the same.

Saturn is 10.7% thicker around the middle. Jupiter is 6.9% thicker around the middle. Instead of being perfectly round like marbles, they are like basketballs squished down while someone sits on them.

What about the other planets?

Earth and Mars are small and don’t spin around as fast as the gas giants. They aren’t perfect spheres, but they are rounder than Saturn and Jupiter.

Earth is 0.3% thicker in the middle, and Mars is 0.6% thicker in the middle. Since they’re not even one whole percentage point thicker in the middle, it’s safe to say they’re very round.

As for Uranus and Neptune, they’re in between. Uranus is 2.3% thicker in the middle. Neptune is 1.7% thicker. They’re not perfectly round, but they’re pretty close.

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