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NASA: The surface of Europa glows blue and green at night

NASA: The surface of Europa glows blue and green at night 86

Scientists have found that the surface of Europa, the moon of Jupiter, on which life can exist, should glow blue and green at night. This should be clearly visible with Europa Clipper cameras and other spacecraft and will help to map surfaces with good resolution. An article with the findings of the researchers was published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

“The surface of Europa is continuously bombarded by electrons and other charged particles, which direct Jupiter’s magnetic field towards it. These particles interact with ice and salt on Europa’s surface, which causes flashes of light in the visible part of the range. This is a green glow, clearly visible to the WAC cameras on board the Europa Clipper can be used to study the composition of its surface,” the researchers write.

Europa is one of the four largest moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in the 17th century. Its surface is covered with ice, under which there is an ocean of liquid water. Planetologists believe that living organisms can exist in this ocean. This is supported by the fact that this ocean exchanges gases and minerals with ice on the surface, as well as the fact that it contains substances that are necessary for the existence of microbes.

It is believed that the ocean on Europa remains liquid due to the fact that its bowels are constantly squeezed and stretched by tidal forces that arise due to the gravitational interactions of Europa and Jupiter. Similar processes, according to planetary scientists, occur in the bowels of three other Galilean satellites – Callisto and Ganymede, in the bowels of which there are also subglacial oceans, and Io, the most volcanic object of the solar system.

The first search for potential traces of this life will be carried out by the Europa Clipper apparatus, which is to be launched into space in 2024. The probe should reach Jupiter’s orbit approximately six years after launch. The Europa Clipper is to take detailed images of Europa’s surface and study the chemistry of its geyser emissions and surface sediments.

Jupiter’s moons shining

One of the main threats to the work of the Europa Clipper, according to one of the co-heads of the mission from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA) Murti Gudipati, will be radiation, the source of which is the powerful magnetic field of Jupiter. Therefore, NASA specialists have been studying the radiation situation in the vicinity of Europe and other satellites of Jupiter for many years.

While working on this, Gudipati and his colleagues pondered how the continuous “bombardment” of Europa’s surface with electrons and other high-energy particles would affect its chemical composition and physical properties. To understand this, scientists recreated the conditions prevailing in Europe in their laboratory and conducted a series of experiments there.

For this, astronomers prepared samples of water ice with a similar composition and structure, cooled them to a temperature of –173 ° C and began to bombard them with electron beams accelerated to near-light speeds.

It turned out that due to such “shelling” the surface of Europa can glow blue-green. At night, this glow should be clearly visible to NASA’s cameras and instruments. Previously, scientists doubted that this was possible, since ground-based telescopes did not record anything like this on the surface of Europa during solar eclipses on it.

Interestingly, the intensity of this glow will very much depend on what substances, besides ice, are on the surface of the satellite. 

For example, table salt and organics will weaken it, while deposits of epsomite, a mineral made from magnesium sulfate, will, on the contrary, enhance this glow.

Such a glow could be used to accurately and quickly compile a geological map of the surface of Europe. This can be done by Europa Clipper when it approaches the satellite’s surface. Scientists hope that thanks to this they will be able to understand what substances are in the subglacial ocean of Europe and whether it is suitable for the origin and existence of life.


In December, Earth’s inhabitants will be able to see a rare cosmic phenomenon

In December, Earth's inhabitants will be able to see a rare cosmic phenomenon 99

At the end of the year, astronomers expect to see a rare cosmic phenomenon dubbed the “Christmas star” in the sky. It will be caused by the fact that Saturn and Jupiter come close to each other at a minimum distance and almost collide to become one super-bright point of light.

These two planets became one straight line in the solar system a few weeks ago, but at the end of December they will be on it for observers from Earth. This will happen on December 21, 2020, on the day of the winter solstice, when the daylight hours are the shortest and the night is the longest. Jupiter and Saturn will look like a “double planet” for the first time since the Middle Ages, Forbes writes.

“The conjunctions of the two planets are extremely rare, but this particular conjunction is especially rare because the planets will be very close to each other,” Patrick Hartigan, astronomer at Rice University, USA said. “In order to observe a closer conjunction of these planets in the night sky, we would have to return on March 4, 1226.”

It is noted that the unusual celestial phenomenon can be observed from anywhere on the planet. The main thing is that the sky is clear. The “Christmas Star” can be seen in the western sky about an hour after sunset when viewed from the northern hemisphere.

“On the evening of their closest approach, December 21, they will appear as a twin planet, separated by less than 1/5 the diameter of the full moon,” Hartigan said. “For most amateur astronomers looking at the night sky through a telescope, both planets and several of their largest satellites will be in the same field of view this evening.”

In December, Earth's inhabitants will be able to see a rare cosmic phenomenon 100

Those who want to see Jupiter and Saturn converge in the sky as close, but will be higher above the horizon, will have to wait until March 15, 2080, Hartigan said. After that, a similar configuration for this planetary pair will not be observed until 2400.

Astronomers are already preparing equipment to analyze in detail the upcoming event. Everything is very serious, because the second such rapprochement between Jupiter and Saturn cannot be expected.

Of course, there will not be a collision of planets. You just get the impression that something terrible is about to happen in the solar system. Astronomers have assured that there is no reason to worry.

Is the “Christmas Star” an omen of things to come? Mark your calendars! 

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A giant asteroid worth $ 17.4 billion is approaching Earth

A giant asteroid worth $ 17.4 billion is approaching Earth 101

NASA announced the imminent flight of a potentially dangerous asteroid will pass the Earth. The website of the Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objects says that a celestial body ranging in size from 370 to 820 meters will approach the planet on November 29.

The asteroid, consisting of nickel, iron and cobalt, is approaching the Earth. The cost of minerals in its composition reaches $ 17.4 billion, with reference to the Asterank database, which contains data on 600 thousand asteroids.

The distance between the asteroid 153201 (2000 WO107) and the Earth will be more than 4 million kilometers, the Space Reference specified with reference to NASA data. It is noted that the distance from the Earth to the Moon is 10 times less, and the asteroid is considered dangerous because it crosses the orbit of our planet.

According to the NASA Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objects, the celestial body will approach the Earth on November 29. 

It is noted that this time the asteroid does not pose a threat to the planet, however, it belongs to the group of potentially dangerous ones, since its trajectory crosses the Earth’s orbit.

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Intrusive buzzing. The Perseverance rover recorded the space sounds of its flight to Mars

Intrusive buzzing. The Perseverance rover recorded the space sounds of its flight to Mars 102

NASA’s new rover is equipped with a microphone to record sounds during landing on the Red Planet.

NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is en route to Mars, has recorded its flight to the planet.

The new rover is equipped with a microphone designed to record sound when entering the atmosphere, descent and landing. The device should arrive on the Red Planet in February 2021.

But before the rover reached its destination, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released an audio file recording what the rover “hears” during its interplanetary voyage.

The 60-second recording, posted on SoundCloud, was captured on Oct.19 while checking the rover’s EDL and microphone system.

Experts explain that the buzzing sound comes from a pump that pumps fluid to regulate the rover’s temperature.

NASA compares the new hit for your playlist to the noise you hear on wired headphones when the wire rubs against your clothing. It was these mechanical vibrations that the Perseverance microphone picked up.

“Located at the rear of the starboard side of the Perseverance, the pump is part of the unit’s heat system that maintains operating temperatures for the equipment, even in the coldest locations,” JPL said in a statement.

“I apologize to the person who came up with the slogan for the film” Alien “(” No one in space will hear your scream “- ed.), Perhaps no one will hear the scream, but perhaps a pump to remove heat will be heard,” says a leading engineer at JPL Dave Gruel.

He added that the microphone picks up the hum of the pump through mechanical vibration.

The Perseverance rover is supposed to land on Mars on February 18, 2021 in the Jezero crater – it is believed that a riverbed used to pass through this area. This is one of those places where traces of living organisms on the planet could be preserved.

The main mission of the rover is to detect signs of life in order to advance the study of the ancient history of Mars. In addition, the device will become part of a mission to deliver samples from the surface of the red planet: it will dig out rock at certain points, and then another device will pick them up, which will send them to Earth.

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