It’s been one helluva week for space images. Deepest view of the cosmos ever? Tick. A couple of major rocket launches? Tick. The year’s last supermoon rising? Tick. That’s only the start, with two new surprising views of Jupiter and a Hubble classic helping create a landmark week in cosmic photography.
Here are the standout images from the week just gone and the story behind them:
Webb’s ‘Cosmic Cliffs’
A close-up of the Carina Nebula—a nursery 7,600 light-years distant—shows apparent ridges, valleys and pillars of hot dust and gas. Like all of Webb’s first targets it’s in the southern hemisphere’s night sky—that just happened to be where Webb was pointed during July 2022.
Webb’s ‘Southern Ring’ Nebula
This colorful object is a planetary nebula—an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. It’s around 2,000 light years distant in the constellation Vela.
Webb’s first ‘deep field’
One of the deepest images of our universe that has ever been taken, this incredible “deep field” shows a massive foreground galaxy cluster called SMACS 0723 magnifying and distorting the light of objects behind it.
Webb’s galaxy quintet
About 290 million light-years aways in the constellation Pegasus, this is a group of five galaxies, four of them comprising the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1787. Also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, three have distorted shapes, spiral arms and clumps of stars tell-tale signs that they’ve had close encounters with each other.
A rising ‘Buck Supermoon’ over Massachusetts
The third “supermoon” of 2022 and the first full Moon of summer 2022, the “Buck Moon” rose in dramatic red and orangey hues on Wednesday.
Hubble’s glittering globular
Not to be totally outdone by its newer space telescope rival, the Hubble Space Telescope casually snapped this globular cluster called Terzan 2. In the constellation Scorpio, it’s a tightly gravitationally bound cluster of tens of thousands of stars whose heart is crowded with glittering, colorful stars.
Europe launches its new Vega-C rocket
The European Space Agency’s brand new Vega-C rocket lifted off for its inaugural flight this week from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. It will help the ESA move away from using Russian Soyuz rockets, which used to launch from French Guiana until Russia invaded Ukraine.
NASA’s Juno flew by Jupiter
The Juno spacecraft sent back yet another batch of data from its latest close flyby on July 7, which were this week processed by citizen scientists—such as the prolific Kevin M. Gill, above—into exquisite close-ups of the planet’s swirling storms and cloud tops.
Webb’s ‘secret’ image of Jupiter and Europa
Days after Webb’s first images NASA decided to publish new images of Jupiter acquired while testing various facets of the telescope’s capabilities. Included were some spectacular images of the giant planet and its moon Europa taken by NIRCam. Also included were images of Jupiter’s delicate rings.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
University of Calgary study examines if Mars could have once supported life – Ottawa.CityNews.ca
Was there ever life on Mars?
Using data from the Curiosity rover, a University of Calgary (UofC) scientist is studying Mars’ geology “for signs the planet could have once supported life.”
It’s part of the NASA-led Mars Science Laboratory mission to examine the rocks on the surface of Mars, as they could offer evidence of life on the Red Planet.
“Our goal is to place constraints on whether Mars was habitable,” Tutolo said. “And if Mars was habitable, then we can think about whether it actually did evolve life.”
#UCalgary scientist, Dr. Benjamin Tutolo, studies Mars’ geology for signs the planet could have once supported life, using data from the Curiosity Rover https://t.co/dQTRewP5sR @UofC_Science pic.twitter.com/PRtwOCDP3o
— U Calgary (@UCalgary) August 12, 2022
The study will be using data collected by Curiosity as it was slowly climbing Mount Sharp 10 years ago to finally land in the centre of the Gale crater.
The rover has analyzed the chemistry and minerology of 1,211 samples of rocks and soil surfaces and sent 2,659 results back to Earth.
Tutolo and his team will do experiments in the laboratory to better understand and interpret the results. They will also conduct field research in British Colombia and run numerical models on a computer.
Study focuses on geological transition of rocks
The team will focus on examining the geological transition of rocks from the oldest layers of sediments to the younger layers “deposited in the crater and which formed Mount Sharp around 3½ billion years” ago.
Tutolo’s study suggests the oldest rocks in the crater are from a lake that is river-fed – “fluviolacustrine environment” –while the younger sediments contain extremely soluble salts – magnesium sulphate salts – such as Epsom salt that can be used for bathing. As these salts are extremely soluble, precipitating them requires all the water to be evaporated.
“We think that it must have been drier on Mars in order to precipitate those minerals. What we’re exploring is how that transition is recorded in the rocks,” Tutolo said.
The research is also taking advantage of the “rare-on-Earth” Basque Lakes near Cache Creek, B.C., that contain magnesium sulphate where the same sulphate minerals found on Mount Sharp on Mars are actively precipitating.
Tutolo is trying to answer this question: “Is there a point where it gets so salty that nothing could live there?”
Since Mars is red as a result of all the iron on its surface where its atmosphere doesn’t have similar levels of oxygen to Earth’s atmosphere, the team is using special tools in the lab to examine sensitive substances in the absence of oxygen, such as an anaerobic chamber that simulates conditions on Mars.
Mars’ geology helps understand Earth’s evolution
Understanding the geological transition on Mars will provide information on whether the planet’s environment would still be habitable in drier and colder environments and whether there’s a potential that life evolved and existed on Mars’ surface at that time. If life did evolve, what evidence can we get from the rocks?
“There was probably a period of time when Mars was getting warm and having water again, and going back and forth (from warmer to colder),” said Tutolo.
He explained that the Earth has experienced ice ages and greenhouse climates as a result of the slight variations in its movement through space, whereas Mars’ movement changes a bit more dramatically, making those cycles more enhanced.
Tutolo also adds that the geological history of early Mars helps understand the history of early Earth as there’s limited access to its geological record from that time.
The limited access to early Earth’s geology is attributed to “plate tectonics whereby, over the eons, the surface gets subsumed into the planet’s mantle as continent-sized slabs of rock collide.”
“But on Mars, all of those rocks have been there since they were deposited, some 3½ billion years or more ago,” Tutolo said. “So we can see those rocks on Mars and understand how life evolved on our planet, going from totally abiotic, or without life at all, to what it is today.”
Blaxtair Inc. embedded pedestrian detection system – Canadian Occupational Safety
Blaxtair is an embedded pedestrian detection system for industrial vehicles, designed to prevent collisions between vehicles and pedestrians in co-activity zones. It has a smart 3D camera able to distinguish a person from other obstacles in real time and alerts operators in case of danger, without unnecessary alarms.
Blaxtair can be equipped to any industrial vehicle, including but not limited to forklifts and wheel loaders, and is perfect for sites within any industry where co-activity between pedestrians and vehicles poses a safety threat (logistics, warehousing, recycling, mining, construction, etc.)
Blaxtair is made up of 3 main parts:
Starburst galaxy shines in new 'whirlpool of gold' photo – Space.com
A mesmerizing new photo captures bright, golden swirling clouds of gas that generate an exceptionally high rate of star formation.
This stellar nursery, a spiral galaxy known as NGC 4303 or Messier 61, is located 50 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. NGC 4303 is one of the largest galactic members of the Virgo Cluster — a large, nearby grouping of galaxies.
NGC 4303 is considered a starburst galaxy, where an unusually high amount of stars are born. In turn, studying this type of galaxy helps astronomers to better understand star formation across the universe, according to a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
“Stars form when clouds of cold gas collapse,” ESO officials wrote in the statement. “The energetic radiation from newly born stars will heat and ionize the surrounding remaining gas.”
The photo, taken using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, shows bright swirling clouds of the ionized gas, appearing as a “whirlpool of gold.” The swirling clouds are like cosmic breadcrumbs, tracing the path of new stars being born, according to the statement.
Astronomers using the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the VLT observed NGC 4303 at different wavelengths of light to create this “jewel-like” image. Combining their observations revealed a glowing golden whirlpool, speckled with gas clouds of ionized oxygen, hydrogen and sulfur shown in blue, green and red, respectively.
The recent observations were collected as part of a project called the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS), which aims to uncover nearby galaxies across all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, according to the statement.
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