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Topic: Astrobiology

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter makes it through First Night on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has emerged from its first night on the surface of Mars.

Evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical components and damage the onboard batteries required for flight.

Surviving that first night after being deployed from where it was attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on April 3rd is a major milestone for the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4th, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4th, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover makes safe Landing on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 2:55pm CT (12:55pm PT).

Packed with groundbreaking technology, the Mars 2020 mission launched July 30th, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Perseverance rover mission marks an ambitious first step in the effort to collect Mars samples and return them to Earth.  

Members of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover team watch in mission control as the first images arrive moments after the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, Thursday, Feb. 18th, 2021, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Members of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover team watch in mission control as the first images arrive moments after the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, Thursday, Feb. 18th, 2021, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft image of Impact Craters on Saturn’s moon Titan reveals Surface Weathering

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have used data from NASA’s Cassini mission to delve into the impact craters on the surface of Titan, revealing more detail than ever before about how the craters evolve and how weather drives changes on the surface of Saturn’s mammoth moon.

Like Earth, Titan has a thick atmosphere that acts as a protective shield from meteoroids; meanwhile, erosion and other geologic processes efficiently erase craters made by meteoroids that do reach the surface. The result is far fewer impacts and craters than on other moons. Even so, because impacts stir up what lies beneath and expose it, Titan’s impact craters reveal a lot.

This composite image shows an infrared view of Saturn's moon Titan from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, captured in 2015. Several places on the image, visible through the moon's hazy atmosphere, show more detail because those areas were acquired near closest approach. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Idaho)

This composite image shows an infrared view of Saturn’s moon Titan from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, captured in 2015. Several places on the image, visible through the moon’s hazy atmosphere, show more detail because those areas were acquired near closest approach. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Idaho)

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NASA research study shows how Electrical Energy on the Sea Floor may have spawned Life on Earth

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet’s living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

A new study from researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and the Icy Worlds team at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life.

Michael Russell and Laurie Barge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, are pictured in their Icy Worlds laboratory, where they mimic the conditions of Earth billions of years ago, attempting to answer the question of how life first arose. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Michael Russell and Laurie Barge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, are pictured in their Icy Worlds laboratory, where they mimic the conditions of Earth billions of years ago, attempting to answer the question of how life first arose. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA researchers use Fuel Cells to study Origins of Life on Earth

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life’s basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown.

A new study led by Laurie Barge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, demonstrates a unique way to study the origins of life: fuel cells.

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NASA’s Johnson Space Center Scientists discover new evidence of Water in Mars Meteorite

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A team of scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, has found evidence of past water movement throughout a Martian meteorite, reviving debate in the scientific community over life on Mars.

In 1996, a group of scientists at Johnson led by David McKay, Everett Gibson and Kathie Thomas-Keprta published an article in Science announcing the discovery of biogenic evidence in the Allan Hills 84001(ALH84001) meteorite.

This scanning electron microscope image of a polished thin section of a meteorite from Mars shows tunnels and curved microtunnels. (NASA)

This scanning electron microscope image of a polished thin section of a meteorite from Mars shows tunnels and curved microtunnels. (NASA)

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NASA answers the question, “If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?”

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life.

This artist's concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Europa's potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Europa’s potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers water jets on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

 

Is it Snowing Microbes on Enceladus?

Written by Dauna Coulter
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – There’s a tiny moon orbiting beyond Saturn’s rings that’s full of promise, and maybe — just maybe — microbes.

In a series of tantalizingly close flybys to the moon, named “Enceladus,” NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed watery jets erupting from what may be a vast underground sea. These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon’s icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is uniquely accessible in all the solar system.

Dramatic plumes, both large and small, spray water ice from many locations near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. More than 30 individual jets of different sizes can be seen in this image captured during a flyby of NASA's Cassini spacecraft on November 21st, 2009. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Dramatic plumes, both large and small, spray water ice from many locations near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. More than 30 individual jets of different sizes can be seen in this image captured during a flyby of NASA's Cassini spacecraft on November 21st, 2009. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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