Hayabusa2, a Japanese space probe named after a falcon, successfully touched down on asteroid Ryugu, which lies more than 300 million km (186 million miles) from Earth, on a mission to seek clues about the origins of life, said JAXA. Hayabusa 2 fired a small projectile into the asteroid that measures just 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter to collect particles scientists hope will be brought back to Earth for analysis. “We may have caused some worry due to the delay but we carried out our plan flawlessly over the past four months to bring it to a successful landing. It landed in the best circumstances among the scenarios we envisioned,” said project manager Yuichi Tsuda. Read more for the video conference and additional information.
NASA has formed a new research team devoted to finding extraterrestrial life beyond Earth, and it’s officially called the “Center for Life Detection Science” (CLDS), and will be part of the agency’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. “The search for life beyond Earth cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach… to give ourselves the best shot at success, we need to develop tools and strategies that are tailored to detecting life in the unique conditions of other worlds, which are very different not only from Earth but also from each other,” said Tori Hoehler, the principal investigator of CLDS and a researcher at Ames. Read more for a video explaining how a nuclear robot could tunnel for life on Europa and additional information.
According to NASA, a huge asteroid is set to fly past Earth at more than 30,000 mph on Tuesday. The Near Earth Object 2013 MD8 measures between 126 feet and 282 feet long, and is set to pass Earth at 12:55 p.m. EST at a speed of 30,418 mph. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry, as it will pass our planet at 15.1 lunar distances, or around 3 million miles away – each lunar distance is 238,900 miles. Read more for a video explaining NASA’s plan to save Earth from a huge asteroid.
Always wanted to make plasma at home? You can with just a grape, knife, and a microwave oven that you don’t mind potentially ruining. Simply cut a single grape nearly in half, leaving a bit of skin connecting the halves, then microwave it by itself, and after a few seconds, you’ll be able to view a bright fireball-like plume of plasma, or to be more scientific, a stream of charged particles called ions that leap from one half to the other, then rise upward. Read more for another video explaining why this happens.
Photo credit: Halfrain / Flickr
Stargazers will be treated to the largest, brightest supermoon of 2019 when it lights up the night sky on Tuesday, weather permitting. This will be the second of three back-to-back supermoons, with the first occurring on Jan. 21, and the third falling on March 21. For those who are unfamiliar with supermoons, it’s basically a full moon that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly elliptical orbit around our planet. This makes the moon appear larger and more luminous than ordinary full moons. Read more for another video providing more tips on getting the best view of this phenomenon.
The internet has bid farewell to the NASA Mars Opportunity rover after 15-years of service on Martian soil. This six-wheeled vehicle was built to operate for just three months but kept going for over a decade after it landed on the red planet. Flight controllers tried several times to make contact and sent one final series of recovery commands Tuesday night along with one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Unfortunately, there was no response from space, only silence. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.
An opal miner from Queensland, Australia recently captured the process of exposing one of these incredible minerals, or the hydrated amorphous form of silica in technical speak, on camera. Boulder opal basically consists of concretions and fracture fillings in a dark siliceous ironstone matrix, with it found sporadically in western Queensland, from Kynuna in the north, to Yowah and Koroit in the south. Read more for the video and additional information.
The ESA’s next Mars rover, set t be launched next year, has been named after famous scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose work led to the invention of the structure of DNA. In 1953, British chemist Franklin captured an X-ray picture of a strand of DNA, providing the first visible proof of its double-helix formation. She passed at the age of 37, and for years, her contribution to science was ignored, but that has slowly changed, and her identity now graces an asteroid as well as many structures. Read more for another video and additional information.
SeaWorld San Diego has just posted a fascinating time-lapse video of a Japanese spider crab shedding its old shell, and despite the clip being just 25-seconds long, the actual process took over six hours and enables the animal to eat more as well as grow larger. “It’s a perfectly natural occurrence for a spider crab. But for us as marine scientists to be able to witness Mother Nature in action in such an impressive way, that’s a great day at SeaWorld,” said aquarium curator Mike Price. Read more to watch.
MIT researchers have created Elowan, which is basically a cybernetic lifeform, or a plant in direct dialogue with a machine. This plant-robot hybrid is interfaced through its own electrochemical signals with a robotic extension that drives it towards light. Since plants have natural bioelectrochemical signals inside them, they get excited in response to environmental conditions and conduct these signals between tissues as well as organs. Read more for a video and additional information.