Welcome to Kasma Magazine
Worth a Look - Science News
Shenzhou-10: Chinese capsule docks with space laboratory
"The procedure came two days after the crew blasted off from Inner Mongolia on a Long March 2F rocket.
The team plans to spend just under two weeks at the orbiting module, in what will be China's longest manned space mission yet.
The Xinhua news agency reported that the automated docking occurred at 13:11 Beijing time (05:11 GMT).
A good seal was confirmed seven minutes later.
After pressure checks, Xinhua said, the astronauts - Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping - opened the hatch and entered Tiangong at 16:17 Beijing time.
This is China's fifth manned space mission, designated Shenzhou-10, and is scheduled to last 15 days in total..." More
June 9, 2013 - Mars rover Opportunity uncovers watery past, heads to new terrain
"NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has scraped away at some of the oldest rock it's examined and found the strongest signs for water it has ever discovered over its 9.5-year mission, scientists for the Mars Exploration Rover project said Friday. The scrappy little rover is now heading down Endeavour Crater’s rim to Solander Point, on what is in some ways a brand new mission, officials said.
"We consider it 'Sol 1' all over again for Opportunity," said John Callas, the mission’s project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A sol is a Martian day.
Just before leaving a spot called Cape York on its southbound journey, Opportunity examined a rock called Esperance using its X-ray spectrometer and microscopic imager, finding clear evidence that it held clay minerals that had been altered by water – a whole lot of it. It's a far cry from many of the previous findings on Martian moisture, said mission lead scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University..." More
June 4, 2013 - Home-baked idea? Nasa mulls 3D printers for food replication
"Nasa can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it's ever going to put humans on the red planet, it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission. So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.
Yes, it's another case of life imitating Star Trek (remember the food replicator?). In this case, though, the creators hope there is an application beyond deep-space pizza parties. The technology could also be used to feed the hungry on Earth.
Texas-based Systems and Materials Research has been selected for a $125,000 grant from Nasa to develop a 3D printer that will create "nutritious and flavourful" food suitable for astronauts, according to the company's proposal. Using a "digital recipe", the printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of, well, actual food. Including smell.
The project was presented at the Humans 2 Mars summit in Washington last month. At the presentation, Anjan Contractor, an engineer at SMRC and the project manager, explained how the idea originated: he had used a 3D printer to print chocolate for his wife..." More
June 3, 2013 - Space: Arkyd 100 unveiled as first crowdfunded space scope
"Want to take a closer look at the moon, or spy on your favourite nebula? Here’s your chance. For a few hundred dollars, you can take control of the Arkyd 100, the first crowdfunded space telescope, to be built by private would-be asteroid-mining firm Planetary Resources.
Today the company, based in Bellevue, Washington, announced a Kickstarter campaign that aims to raise $1 million to launch the orbiting observatory. If they are successful, the telescope could fly by early 2015.
Backers who give $200 or more will get 30 minutes of observing time and will be able to choose their target. The resulting digital picture will be theirs to keep and analyse for possible scientific value.
Lower-budget options will allow backers to donate observing time to students or scientists. Or they may elect to take a “space selfie”. This would involve sending a digital photo into orbit and having it displayed on a screen on the telescope’s back while an externally mounted camera photographs the screen, with the telescope and the Earth below, all in one frame..." More
June 2, 2013 - Saturn’s Moon Dione Shows Signs of Activity
"NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found more evidence that Saturn's moon Dione was geologically active in the past and that it could still be active now.
Cassini's magnetometer has detected a faint particle stream coming from the moon, and images showed evidence for a possible liquid or slushy layer under its rock-hard ice crust.
Other Cassini images have also revealed ancient, inactive fractures at Dione similar to those seen at Enceladus, another of Saturn's moons, that currently spray water ice and organic particles.
"A picture is emerging that suggests Dione could be a fossil of the wondrous activity Cassini discovered spraying from Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus or perhaps a weaker copycat Enceladus," said Bonnie Buratti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who leads the Cassini science team that studies icy satellites..." More
June 1, 2013 - An Answer to a Lunar Mystery: Why is the Moon’s Gravity So Uneven?
"Ever since the first satellites were sent to the moon to scout landing sites for Apollo astronauts, scientists have noticed a peculiar phenomenon: As these probes orbited the moon, passing over certain craters and impact basins, they periodically veered off course, plummeting toward the lunar surface before pulling back up.
As it turns out, the cause of such bumpy orbits was the moon itself: Over the years, scientists have observed that its gravity is stronger in some regions than others, creating a “lumpy” gravitational field. In particular, a handful of impact basins exhibit unexpectedly strong gravitational pull. Scientists have suspected that the explanation has to do with an excess distribution of mass below the lunar surface, and have dubbed these regions mass concentrations, or “mascons.”
Exactly how these mascons came to be has remained a mystery — until now..." More
June 1, 2013 - Round Trip to Mars Would Push Radiation Safety Limits
"Although a private effort hopes to send some people on a one-way trip to Mars, chances are good that the first people to reach the red planet will be government-supported astronauts who will be taking a round trip. But one of NASA's own instruments has just suggested that there might be an advantage to a one-way journey: a far lower dose of radiation.
The work takes advantage of a bit of hardware that NASA sent to Mars for a completely unrelated project: the radiation detector on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. The Radiation Assessment Detector is actually two sensors; one tracks radiation via the energy it deposits in silicon, and the other watches for flashes of light that occur as radiation travels through a hunk of plastic. Agreement between the two sensors is used to determine the amount of radiation the detector is receiving.
The hardware is meant to sample the radiation environment on Mars (which also has significant implications for future exploration). But a large team of scientists realized that its travel to Mars provided a glimpse of the sorts of exposures crew members might receive during their journey through interplanetary space to Mars..." More
May 31, 2013 - Big Asteroid with its Own Moon Flies by Earth
"An asteroid the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park, and which has its own moon, zipped past the Earth today, NASA says
At 4:59 p.m. ET Friday, the pair of space rocks, known together as a binary asteroid, made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries at 5.8 million kilometres away, or about 15 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. That is considered a safe distance and the asteroid is not at risk of hitting the Earth.
The 2.7-kilometre-wide asteroid, 1998 QE2, was discovered 15 years ago, but no one knew about its travelling companion until the smaller rock showed up in radar images captured Wednesday evening. The satellite or moon is about 600 metres wide or about three times the width of Toronto's Rogers Centre..." More
May 15, 2013 - NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Telescope Disabled
"Planet-hunting scientists were dealt a major blow Wednesday when NASA officials announced that a crucial wheel on the Kepler space telescope had ceased to function and that the craft had been placed in safe mode.
Even as NASA officials raised the possibility that they could get the telescope back up and running, scientists began mourning the potential loss of a spacecraft that they said had fundamentally altered our understanding of alien planets in the Milky Way — and Earth's place in an increasingly crowded galaxy.
With more than 2,700 candidate planets identified and 132 confirmed since its 2009 launch, the Kepler telescope revolutionized scientists' appreciation of the number and variety of so-called exoplanets, the bodies that orbit other stars, Marcy said. Its initial 3.5-year mission was extended last year through 2016 [for the paranoid: perhaps the telescope's malfunction is not an accident. Maybe something out there doesn't think we are ready for first contact]..." More