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Potential ‘diamond factory’ may have existed at the core-mantle boundary for billions of years – Tech Explorist

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The Carbon and water cycles in the Earth’s interior are linked to key planetary processes, such as mantle melting, degassing, chemical differentiation, and advection. However, the role of water in the carbon exchange between the cover and core is not well known.

At the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, Byeongkwan Ko, a recent Ph.D. graduate from Arizona State University, and his team have been conducting experiments where they compressed water and iron-carbon alloy to the pressure and Temperature anticipated for the Earth’s core-mantle boundary, melting the iron-carbon alloy.

Scientists found that water and metal react and make iron oxides and hydroxides, just like rusting on Earth’s surface. They also found that for the conditions of the core-mantle boundary, unlike rusting on Earth’s surface, Carbon comes out of the liquid iron metal alloy and forms a diamond.

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Since Carbon is an element that loves iron, it is anticipated that the core will contain a substantial amount of Carbon while the mantle is thought to have relatively low Carbon. According to scientists, the mantle actually includes much more Carbon than was previously thought.

Dan Shim, a professor at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and a co-author on the paper, said, “Temperature at the boundary between the silicate mantle and the metallic core at 3,000 km depth reaches to (about 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit), which is sufficiently high for most minerals to lose H2O captured in their atomic-scale structures. The Temperature is high enough that some minerals should melt at such conditions.”

Shim said, “At the pressures expected for the Earth’s core-mantle boundary, hydrogen alloying with iron metal liquid appears to reduce the solubility of other light elements in the core. Therefore, the solubility of Carbon, which likely exists in the Earth’s core, decreases locally where hydrogen enters into the core from the mantle (through dehydration).”

“The stable form of Carbon at the pressure-temperature conditions of the Earth’s core-mantle boundary is diamond. So the Carbon escaping from the liquid outer core would become diamond when it enters the mantle.”

Ko said, “Carbon is essential for life and plays an important role in many geological processes. The discovery of a carbon transfer mechanism from the core to the mantle will shed light on understanding the carbon cycle in the Earth’s deep interior. This is even more exciting given that the diamond formation at the core-mantle boundary might have been going on for billions of years since the initiation of subduction on the planet.”

“This new study shows that carbon leaking from the core into the mantle by this diamond formation process may supply enough carbon to explain the elevated carbon amounts in the mantle.”

Scientists also predicted that diamond-rich structures could exist at the core-mantle boundary and that seismic studies might detect the structures because seismic waves should travel unusually fast for the structures.

Shim said“The reason seismic waves should propagate exceptionally fast through diamond-rich structures at the core-mantle boundary is because diamond is extremely incompressible and less dense than other materials at the core-mantle boundary.” 

Journal Reference:

  1. Byeongkwan Ko, Stella Chariton, et al. Water-Induced Diamond Formation at Earth’s Core-Mantle Boundary. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2022GL098271

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft breaks Apollo 13 flight record

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The Artemis 1 Orion crew vehicle has set a new record for a NASA flight. At approximately 8:40AM ET on Saturday, Orion flew farther than any spacecraft designed to carry human astronauts had ever before, surpassing the previous record set by Apollo 13 back in 1970. As of 10:17AM ET, Orion was approximately 249,666 miles ( from 401,798 kilometers) from Earth.

“Artemis I was designed to stress the systems of Orion and we settled on the distant retrograde orbit as a really good way to do that,” said Jim Geffre, Orion spacecraft integration manager. “It just so happened that with that really large orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to pass the Apollo 13 record. But what was more important though, was pushing the boundaries of exploration and sending spacecraft farther than we had ever done before.”

Of all the missions that could have broken the record, it’s fitting that Artemis 1 was the one to do it. As Space.com points out, Apollo 13’s original flight plan didn’t call for a record-setting flight. It was only after a mid-mission explosion forced NASA to plot a new return course that Apollo 13’s Odyssey command module set the previous record at 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometers) from Earth.

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With a limited oxygen supply on the Aquarius Lunar Module, NASA needed to get Apollo 13 back to Earth as quickly as possible. The agency eventually settled on a flight path that used the Moon’s gravity to slingshot Apollo 13 back to Earth. One of the NASA personnel who was critical to the safe return of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise was Arturo Campos. He wrote the emergency plan that gave the Command and Service Module enough power to make it back to Earth. Artemis 1 is carrying a “Moonikin” test dummy named after the late Arturo.

Earlier this week, Orion completed a flyby of the Moon. After the spacecraft completes half an orbit around the satellite, it will slingshot itself toward the Earth. NASA expects Orion to splash down off the coast of San Diego on December 11th.

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Shocking! This asteroid CRASHED into Earth, says NASA; Check asteroid impact site – HT Tech

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NASA has revealed that an asteroid crashed into the Earth on Saturday, November 19. Here’s where this asteroid hit Earth.

In the midst of all the terrifyingly close asteroid flybys, NASA has now revealed that an asteroid actually crashed into the Earth just days ago! NASA keeps a watch on these asteroids by studying data collected by various space and ground-based telescopes and observatories such as the Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey and the NEOWISE telescope. However, this asteroid was seemingly missed by all of them and was discovered just hours before impact!

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NASA has revealed that the asteroid lit up the sky as it flew over Southern Ontario, Canada on Saturday, November 19. What’s shocking is that this 3-foot asteroid was detected just 3.5 hours before impact! However, such small-sized asteroids do not pose a risk to the planet.

The tech that tracked the asteroid

The asteroid was first spotted by NASA’s Catalina Sky Survey and the observations were then reported to the Minor Planet Center. NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system calculated the asteroid’s trajectory and possible impact sites by analyzing the data. Just minutes after getting the data, a 25 percent probability of hitting Earth’s atmosphere was calculated.

Shantanu Naidu, navigation engineer and Scout operator at JPL said in a NASA JPL blog, “Small objects such as this one can only be detected when they are very close to Earth, so if they are headed for an impact, time is of the essence to collect as many observations as possible.”

“This object was discovered early enough that the planetary defense community could provide more observations, which Scout then used to confirm the impact and predict where and when the asteroid was going to hit,” he added further.

Asteroid impact site

The possible impact sites ranged from the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of North America to Mexico. According to NASA, the asteroid is likely to have burned up upon entering the planet’s atmosphere and scattered small meteorites over the southern coastline of Lake Ontario.

Calculating the asteroid’s trajectory and impact site was a community effort with added inputs from amateur astronomers from the Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas, who tracked the asteroid for more than an hour and provided the critical data required to accurately calculate the asteroid’s path and impact site.


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China plans to build nuclear-powered moon base within six years – The Province

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China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028, ahead of landing astronauts there in subsequent years as the country steps up its challenge to NASA’s dominance in space exploration.

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The lunar base will likely be powered by nuclear energy, Caixin reported. Its basic configuration will consist of a lander, hopper, orbiter and rover, all of which would be constructed by the Chang’e 6, 7 and 8 missions.

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“Our astronauts will likely be able to go to the moon within 10 years,” Wu Weiran, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV earlier this week. Nuclear energy can address the lunar station’s long-term, high-power energy needs, he said.

China has ramped up its ambitions in space in recent years, sending probes to the moon, building its own space station and setting its sights on Mars. The plans have put it in direct competition with the U.S. NASA has a rover on the Red Planet and is seeking to return astronauts to the moon this decade for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s.

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Both China and the U.S. are spending billions of dollars to not just put humans on the moon, but also to access resources that could foster life on the lunar surface or send spacecraft to Mars.

In 2019, China became the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon, and later brought back its first lunar samples. The base is intended to be the first outpost on the moon’s South Pole, an area scientists think is the best place to find water. NASA is also targeting that part of the moon. China aims to eventually expand the base into an international research station.

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