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Laughing gas in space could mean life

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To date, over 5000 exoplanetary systems have been discovered. Biosignatures are chemical components in a planet’s atmosphere that may indicate life, and they frequently include abundant gases in our planet’s atmosphere.

Scientists at UC Riverside suggest something is missing from the typical roster of chemicals astrobiologists use to search for life on planets around other stars — laughing gas.

Eddie Schwieterman, an astrobiologist in UCR’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said, “There’s been a lot of thought put into oxygen and methane as biosignatures. Fewer researchers have seriously considered nitrous oxide, but we think that may be a mistake.”

To reach this conclusion, scientists determined how much nitrous oxide a planet like Earth could conceivably produce. After that, they created simulations of that planet orbiting various types of stars and calculated the amounts of N2O that could be captured by a telescope like the James Webb Space Telescope.

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Nitrous oxide, or N2O, is a gas produced in various ways by living things. Microorganisms continuously convert other nitrogen molecules into N2O through a metabolic process that can produce useful cellular energy.

Schwieterman said, “Life generates nitrogen waste products that are converted by some microorganisms into nitrates. In a fish tank, these nitrates build-up, which is why you have to change the water. However, under the right conditions in the ocean, certain bacteria can convert those nitrates into N2O. The gas then leaks into the atmosphere.”

N2O can be found in an environment and still not be an indication of life in some situations. This was considered in the new modeling. For instance, lightning can produce a small amount of nitrous oxide. However, lightning also produces nitrogen dioxide, giving astrobiologists a hint that non-living meteorological or geological processes produced the gas.

Others who have considered N2O as a biosignature gas often conclude it would be difficult to detect from so far away. Schwieterman explained that this conclusion is based on N2O concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere today. Because there isn’t much of it on this planet, which is teeming with life, some believe it would also be hard to detect elsewhere.

Schwieterman said“This conclusion doesn’t account for periods in Earth’s history where ocean conditions would have allowed for the much greater biological release of N2O. Conditions in those periods might mirror where an exoplanet is a today.”

“Common stars like K and M dwarfs produce a light spectrum that is less effective at breaking up the N2O molecule than our sun is. These two effects combined could greatly increase the predicted amount of this biosignature gas on an inhabited world.”

The study was conducted in collaboration with Purdue University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, American University, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Journal Reference:

  1. Edward W. Schwieterman, Stephanie L. Olson et al. Evaluating the Plausible Range of N2O Biosignatures on Exo-Earths: An Integrated Biogeochemical, Photochemical, and Spectral Modeling Approach. The Astrophysical Journal. DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac8cfb

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See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby – SciTechDaily

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The Earth is seen setting from the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver which would bring it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence on Sunday, November 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Credit: <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

NASA
Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is &quot;To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.&quot; Its core values are &quot;safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion.&quot;

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>NASA

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On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moon, passing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew.

The Earth and Moon are tidally locked, which means that the Moon spins on its axis exactly once each time it orbits our planet. Because of this, people on Earth only ever see one side of the Moon. In fact, humans didn’t see the lunar far side until a Soviet spacecraft flew past in 1959. This side we never see is known as the “far side of the Moon.” Sometimes it is called the “dark side of the Moon,” which some people consider a misnomer because it gets just as much sunlight as the near side of the Moon. However, “dark” in this case is referring to unknown, rather than a lack of light.

Here are the detailed images of the Moon captured by Orion’s optical navigation camera:

Orion Far Side of MoonOrion Far Side of Moon 2 Orion Far Side of Moon 3 Orion Far Side of Moon 5 Orion Far Side of Moon 6 Orion Far Side of Moon 7 Orion Far Side of Moon 8 Orion Far Side of Moon 9 Orion Far Side of Moon 10 Orion Far Side of Moon 11 Orion Far Side of Moon 12 Orion Far Side of Moon 13 Orion Far Side of Moon 14 Orion Far Side of Moon 15


NASA’s live coverage of the Artemis I Close Flyby of the Moon.

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Mission Accomplished: UVic Satellite Reaches International Space Station – Abbotsford News

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While the International Space Station was travelling over the Pacific Ocean early Sunday (Nov. 27) morning, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying a miniature satellite built by University of Victoria students autonomously docked to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

UVic’s optical reference calibration satellite, known as ORCASat, embarked on its journey into space at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Witnessing the launch was a major relief for ORCASat project manager Alex Doknjas, who nervously watched from his family’s living room in Campbell River on Saturday morning.

“It was pretty awesome,” Doknjas, a recent graduate of UVic’s engineering program, told Black Press Media. The initial launch scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22 was scrapped due to poor weather.

UVic’s ORCASat won a national competition funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canadian CubeSat Project, which saw 15 teams of students from each province and territory design and build their own CubeSat with the guidance of CSA experts and representatives from the Canadian space industry.

As a result, UVic’s satellite was one of two post-secondary projects from Canada chosen to be part of Saturday’s launch, alongside a satellite built by students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

“It’s pretty remarkable, especially because UVic isn’t a huge school,” Doknjas said. “I think that’s pretty impressive.”

More than 100 full-time researchers, co-op and volunteer students from UVic Satellite Design, UBC Orbit and Simon Fraser University Satellite Design have all contributed to the project which began in 2018.

Tristan Tarnowski, ORCASat team member and UVic engineering student, during assembly of the UVic satellite. (Courtesy ORCASat)

ORCASat is comparable to the size of a two litre carton of milk or tissue box, and only weighs about two-and-a-half kilograms. Once sent out into earth’s orbit the satellite will act as an artificial star, serving as a reference light source in orbit that can be viewed by telescopes back down on earth, said Doknjas.

“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate this concept of calibrating telescopes,” he said. “If you’re a telescope on the ground observing a star, you’re observing the light that the star emits and that light travels through earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is constantly changing and as light passes through it, the light gets scattered, and that effect of how light reacts in the atmosphere is not well understood.”

The difference between ORCASat and an actual star, however, is that scientists on earth can communicate with ORCASat, allowing them to know exactly how bright the satellite is, in addition to how bright it appears through a telescope.

“Now you have two separate measurements. You know exactly how bright it actually is, and you know bright it appeared to you. From those two measurements you can calculate the difference, which is how much of that light is lost in the atmosphere,” explained Doknjas.

Doknjas said that although the concept isn’t new, it’s the first time that a light source capable of performing an experiment like this has been carried on a satellite into space. He added that the technology could be used in the future for earth observation, or even methane detection for climate change.

ORCASat will remain at the International Space Station before being released into earth’s orbit to collect data for approximately one year, but that depends on factors like sun flares and solar radiation that impact the life of the satellite.

ALSO READ: BC Aviation Museum seeking donations for a new exhibit


Do you have a story tip? Email: austin.westphal@saanichnews.com.

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Crack or Survive? YouTuber Mark Rober Just Dropped an Egg from Space for Humanity – News18

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YouTuber Mark Rober Dropped Egg from Space. (Image: Youtube/@MarkRober)

YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has now dropped a couple of eggs from space.

Popular YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has done another experiment. In his recent YouTube video, he dropped a couple of eggs from space that fell in the Victor Valley. This was done earlier this year, however, the “Egg Drop From Space” video was uploaded to YouTube on Black Friday. In the video, the team could be seen driving on Bear Valley Road toward Deadman’s Point in Apple Valley. A shot from the weather balloon in space showed the Victor Valley, including landmarks such as Spring Valley Lake and the Mojave River.

The video, since uploaded, has garnered 9.9 million views. The team included rocket and propulsion specialist Joe Barnard, of BPS Systems. He majorly helped with the rocket’s guidance system and design. Have a look:

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His original plan was to fix an egg on a rocket that would be lifted by a giant weather balloon.

Meanwhile, earlier, the YouTuber talked about his son. He revealed that his son has special needs. This was the first time Mark talked about his son’s condition and explained how children with autism view the world differently. In the video, which is around 10 minutes, Mark shared some intimate moments that showed him and his son engaged in heartwarming conversations. Mark explained that he felt protective about his son, which is why he never shared anything about him.

He had launched a fundraiser in collaboration with Next for Autism organisation where several celebrities will join him to raise funds for autistic adults. Mark explained that there are several organisations that help kids with autism but as they grow up and step into the real world not much support is extended to them. Autistic adults also need special support to get them through education and jobs, and hence with this upcoming fundraiser Mark and several celebrities hope to generate that awareness and money.

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