SpaceFlight Insider 11 Sep 2018, 20:22 UTC NASA’s Curiosity rover has imaged Martian terrain that features an unprecedented variety of colors and textures at Vera Rubin Ridge, a 250-mile-wide outcrop that forms a distinctive layer on Mount Sharp. The rover has been exploring this Martian mountain since its arrival in 2012. One of four unique terrains on Vera Rubin Ridge contains the iron oxide mineral hematite, a type of rock that typically forms in water and holds clues to the area’s ancient environment. This makes it an ideal site to look for evidence that liquid water once flowed on the Red Planet’s surface. Approximately eight stories tall, the ridge sits in front of a trough that holds clay minerals.
Centauri Dreams 11 Sep 2018, 16:38 UTC A major and sometimes neglected aspect of SETI as it is reported in the media is the fact that such careful observation can turn up highly useful astronomical information unrelated to any extraterrestrial technologies. Worden’s comment underlines the fact that we are generating vast data archives as our multiplying space- and ground-based instruments continue to scan the heavens at various wavelengths. It is not inconceivable that the signature of a distant civilization or a novel astrophysical process is buried deep within data that is years or decades old. The case in point this morning comes through Breakthrough Listen’s observations of the Fast Radio Burst (FRB) 121102. FRBs seize the attention because they are a recent and puzzling detection. The first, the so-called Lorimer Burst (FRB 010724) was found no more than eleven years ago. FRBs are also highly unusual, appearing as radio pulses of extremely short duration, usually milliseconds. They are believed to originate in distant galaxies and one of them, FRB 121102, stands out because unlike all others thus far detected, it sends out repeat bursts.
Starts With a Bang! 11 Sep 2018, 14:01 UTC It’s treated as though it’s an unassailable scientific truth: 13.8 billion years ago, the Universe as we know it emerged from a hot, dense state known as the Big Bang. While there were a number of serious alternatives considered for decades, throughout the 20th century, a scientific consensus emerged more than 50 years ago with the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background. Despite many attempts to revive a variety of the discredited ideas, as well as attempts to formulate new possibilities, all have fallen away under the burden of the full suite of astronomical data. The Big Bang reigns supreme as the only valid theory of our cosmic origins. Here’s how we discovered our Universe started with a bang.
Parabolic Arc 11 Sep 2018, 08:14 UTC On August 27, 2018, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a “Joint Statement on Collaborative Efforts for Lunar Exploration and Beyond.”
SpaceFlight Insider 11 Sep 2018, 04:01 UTC The Aug. 29, 2018, discovery of an air leak at the International Space Station raised some troubling questions about how the U.S. travels to and from the outpost. However, one question doesn’t appear to have received a lot of attention—how did the astronauts figure out where the leak was originating from?
Geekwire 11 Sep 2018, 01:30 UTC Researchers at Breakthrough Listen, a multimillion-dollar campaign to seek out signals from alien civilizations, still don’t know exactly what’s causing repeated bursts of radio waves from an distant galaxy — but thanks to artificial intelligence, they’re keeping closer tabs on the source, whatever it turns out to be. A team led by Gerry Zhang, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, developed a new type of machine-learning algorithm to comb through data collected a year ago during an observing campaign that used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Astrobiology Magazine 10 Sep 2018, 20:00 UTC Machine learning algorithms applied to Listen data from the Green Bank Telescope find new pulses from the mysterious repeating source FRB 121102. Machine learning algorithm also helping Listen search for new kinds of candidate signals from extraterrestrial intelligence.
Astrobiology Magazine 10 Sep 2018, 17:45 UTC Scientists at Southwest Research Institute studied an unusual pair of asteroids and discovered that their existence points to an early planetary rearrangement in our solar system. These bodies, called Patroclus and Menoetius, are targets of NASA’s upcoming Lucy mission. They are around 70 miles wide and orbit around each other as they collectively circle the Sun. They are the only large binary known in the population of ancient bodies referred to as the Trojan asteroids. The two swarms of Trojans orbit at roughly the same distance from the Sun as Jupiter, one swarm orbiting ahead of, and the other trailing, the gas giant.