In a groundbreaking discovery, NASA confirmed on October 31 that its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) found water trapped inside the sunlit surface of the Moon. Confirming that there could be more water on the moon than previously thought of, NASA said, water is not limited to cold, shadowed lunar places but instead is distributed across the entire lunar surface.
“SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere,” NASA revealed in an official release to the press.
It added, that the space administration’s scientific team had detected some form of hydrogen earlier, but all the previous observations have now been confirmed.
Moon has water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface, NASA said in an announcement, adding, that roughly makes a 12-ounce bottle of water on the Earth. Further, the astronauts published the results of the findings in the journal Nature Astronomy. Often confused with hydroxyl (OH) chemical component, the water on the lunar surface detected in the data of the previous observations had confused the scientists.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration,” he added.
Under its Artemis program, the space administration is now learning more about the presence of water on the moon to determine its accessibility for use as a resource. Furthermore, NASA I planning to send the first woman and next, a man to the lunar surface in 2024 to establish a human presence on the lunar surface by the time this decade ends. “SOFIA’s results build on years of previous research examining the presence of water on the Moon. When the Apollo astronauts first returned from the Moon in 1969, it was thought to be completely dry. Orbital and impactor missions over the past 20 years, such as NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, confirmed ice in permanently shadowed craters around the Moon’s poles,” NASA revealed, elaborating the journey of the mind-boggling discovery.
[Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water. Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter]
Earlier, as NASA confirmed, several observatories and spacecraft such as NASA’s Cassini mission and Deep Impact comet mission, Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, and NASA’s ground-based Infrared Telescope Facility, have found the presence of hydrogen on the lunar surface although it wasn’t established until now by the scientists whether it was H2O or OH.
Lead author who published the results from her graduate thesis work at the University of Hawaii at MÄnoa in Honolulu said in the release that the astronauts did, although, speculate that there was some kind of hydration. “But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like drain cleaner,” she added.
[The Clavius crater on the moon as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The SOFIA observatory has detected water ice in shadowed regions of this sunlit lunar location. Credit: NASA/Moon Trek/USGS/LRO]
SOFIA’S discovery of water
NASA’s modified Boeing 747SP jetliner with a 106-inch diameter telescope flew at an altitude of up to 45,000 feet and used its Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) that picked the wavelength unique to water molecules at 6.1 microns on the moon’s Clavius Crater. Researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Honniball said that the finding now raises mystery for the scientists that what got the water trapped on the lunar surface. “Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there,” he said.
According to NASA, the water on the moon was trapped into tiny beadlike structures in the soil that formed out of the high heat created by micrometeorite impacts. Meanwhile, according to scientists the water could have been hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from the sunlight all this while, which potentially makes it “more accessible than water trapped in beadlike structures.”
Winchcombe meteorite is first UK find in 30 years – BBC News
Several rocky fragments have been recovered from the fireball that lit up the sky above southern England just over a week ago.
They came down in the Winchcombe area of Gloucestershire.
A householder first alerted experts after noticing a pile of charred stone on his driveway. Other members of the public have since come forward with their own finds.
It’s 30 years since meteorite material was last retrieved in the UK.
Researchers are particularly thrilled because of the rarity of the rock type.
It’s carbonaceous chondrite – a stony material that retains unaltered chemistry from the formation of our Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.
Dr Ashley King from London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) said nothing like it had ever been recorded in the UK before.
“Carbonaceous chondrites are particularly special because they are essentially the left-over building blocks of our Solar System.
“Many contain simple organics and amino acids; some of them contain minerals formed by water – so, all the ingredients are there for understanding how you make a habitable planet such as the Earth,” he told BBC News.
Thousands of people reported seeing a blazing light rush across the sky at 21:54 GMT on Sunday 28 February. But, crucially, the event was also captured on the array of special cameras operated by the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFAll).
Their information was able to pinpoint the likely area of debris fall.
“Somewhere north of Cheltenham, over towards Stow-On-The-Wold”, was the prediction. This would still have been “a needle in a haystack” quest, but researchers were in luck.
Some of the meteorite had smashed down on to a Winchcombe resident’s front drive.
Dr Richard Greenwood was despatched to see the Winchcombe resident, who wishes to be anonymous.
“I looked in this plastic bag he’d been told to put it in, and my legs went wobbly. It was unbelievable. This is a very special meteorite,” the Open University researcher recalled.
A search team was immediately sent out to comb the local area for more fragments. And, in the meantime, other property owners started notifying scientists of their discoveries, too.
All told, there must be 300-400g of material, most of it now lodged with the NHM.
The pieces are small – marble-sized. Prof Monica Grady, also from the OU, describes them as looking like “a broken barbecue briquette. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen”, she told BBC News.
It’s hard to overstate just how significant this is for British meteoritic science.
Of the approximately 65,000 meteorites in collections worldwide, only 1,206 had eyewitnesses to their fall, and of these only 51 are of the carbonaceous chondrite type.
Because this fireball was tracked via camera on entry to Earth’s atmosphere, its orbit has been worked out. The object came from the outer asteroid belt, out towards Jupiter.
This means its composition almost certainly will be very primitive.
“Basically, that’s part of the Solar System we regard as like a deep freeze of material that’s 4.5 billion years old,” explained the NHM’s Prof Sara Russell.
“It hasn’t had a chance to change at all from pre-planetary time. It will give us an insight into what our Solar System was like before the planets were there.”
The American and Japanese space agencies have despatched probes to bring back similar material from the asteroids themselves. But the Winchcombe meteorite would make almost as good a subject for study, said Dr Greenwood.
“Yes, it will have been affected by passage through the atmosphere, but it must be very close to pristine. The chap in Winchcombe who collected it did so within 12 hours of falling. It’s as good as you will ever get collected here on Earth.”
The last space rock fall recovered in the UK was in 1991 – the so called Glatton Meteorite, because it fell in the village of Glatton near Peterborough.
Mr Arthur Pettifor was tending his onions in his garden when a 10cm rock dropped into his hedge.
It’s quite possible more fragments of the Winchcombe meteorite still await discovery.
Scientists urge people in the local area to remain vigilant. They should be looking for small blackish stones, or even a mound of dark dust.
Anyone who finds what they think might be a meteorite is asked to photograph it in situ, noting the GPS co-ordinates from a phone, if that’s possible.
The object should then be placed in foil without direct handling. And the absolute no-no: do not put a magnet near the material. This could destroy important information needed to study the rock.
The Winchcombe investigation has also included scientists from the universities of Glasgow, Manchester, Plymouth, and Imperial College London.
B.C. looking at easing restrictions for sports, religious services in the ‘coming weeks’ – Saanich News
Restrictions that have seen British Columbians heavily limit their interactions for months could be loosened in the coming weeks, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
In a press conference Monday (March 8) where she announced more than 1,400 new cases over the weekend, Henry said that with more and more vaccine approved and the immunization program ramping up, restrictions could be reconsidered in the spring.
“In the weeks ahead we can start to look at this modified return of some of the activities that have been on pause for the last months of winter,” she said.
“In the coming weeks we hope to see the return of sports and religious ceremonies.”
Henry said health provincials are working with religious leaders to bring back in-person worship, but warned that it will be a phased approach.
There are several religious holidays coming up, including Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi and Ramadan.
“How do we make sure that people can celebrate those things safely? And yes that’s our plan,” she said, but noted that B.C. is still in the middle of a pandemic.
“It may not be what Easter celebrations have been in the past, but they will be celebrations. Unless things go off the rails we are planning for them to be in person.”
Henry said that as the weather gets warmer, and people can spend more time outside, gatherings could return.
“What we are looking at, as we head into March break, spring break, at the end of this week and into this week is seeing the return of things like gatherings outside, where it’s safer, activities outside that we can do in groups with precautions in place,” Henry said.
“Small groups that we can do for games, summer camps, spring camps and safe small groups with masks and safety precautions in place.”
However, she warned that it is not yet time for large-scale events and gatherings.
“We will be in a much different place by the time we head into summer,” she said.
“[But] we’re not yet in a place where we can go back to our pre pandemic gatherings.”
Henry also said the province was looking at how safe travel within B.C. could return.
“The risk is different in different communities in this province and we need to be mindful of that.”
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Alluxa's Optical Filters Landed on Mars – Novus Light Today – Novus Light Technologies Today
Alluxa, Inc., a global leader in high-performance optical coatings and filters and thin-film deposition technologies, developed specialty optical filters used aboard the Perseverance Rover, which landed safely on Mars on February 18, 2021. Alluxa’s special notch filter is optimized for high performance over a wide angle range in order to provide in-band light to the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) imager.
Alluxa’s filters help enable non-contact detection and characterization of organics and minerals on Mar’s surface. Developed in conjunction with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, the SHERLOC instrument, part of the Perseverance payload, is a Deep UV (DUV) resonance Raman and fluorescence spectrometer that will scan for past life on Mars and help identify rock samples for possible return to Earth.
SHERLOC operates at the end of rover’s robotic arm, using two distinct detection modes that include two types of UV light spectroscopy, plus a versatile camera. According to Luther Beegle, principal scientist and investigator at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “It can detect an important class of carbon molecules with high sensitivity, and it also identifies minerals that provide information about ancient aqueous environments.”
Mike Scobey, Chief Executive Officer at Alluxa, notes, “All of us at Alluxa are delighted to have worked hand-in-hand with JPL to develop a specialized notch filter with ultra high transmission, which will aid in groundbreaking discoveries on Mars via the Perseverance Rover’s SHERLOC imager. We are proud to have been part of this historic mission.”
PHOTO CAPTION: This illustration depicts NASA’s Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance landed at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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