Ingenuity Snaps Another Shot of Perseverance on the Move

This image of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover at the rim of Belva Crater was taken by the agency's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during the rotorcraft's 51st flight on April 22, 2023, the 772nd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission. At the time the image was taken, the helicopter was at an altitude of about 40 feet (12 meters).
This image of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover at the rim of Belva Crater was taken by the agency's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during the rotorcraft's 51st flight on April 22, 2023, the 772nd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission. At the time the image was taken, the helicopter was at an altitude of about 40 feet (12 meters). Check out the chopper's shadow in the lower right, and Perseverance off in the distance at upper left. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Our favorite Martian helicopter did it again. The tiny Ingenuity chopper recently did its 51st flight on Mars. It traveled 188 meters this time (about 617 feet) on April 22, 2023, and reached a maximum altitude of 12 meters (about 39 feet) over the Martian surface. During that time, it snapped another image of its Perseverance mothership, waiting patiently on the horizon.

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What Would be in a Moon Salad?

SINTEF researcher Galina Simonsen pictured here demonstrating the growing medium for Moon salad in the laboratory at the CIRiS/NTNU Social Research Centre in Trondheim. Photo: Jana Pavlova
SINTEF researcher Galina Simonsen pictured here demonstrating the growing medium for Moon salad in the laboratory at the CIRiS/NTNU Social Research Centre in Trondheim. Photo: Jana Pavlova

Imagine you’re a lunar astronaut, putting in a hard day’s work building your lab or excavating moon rocks. You get back into the hab and ask, “What’s for dinner?” The answer could be “We’re starting with a Moon salad” featuring lettuce and other goodies grown on the lunar surface. It’s an idea scientists are researching as part of a project called LunarPlant, an effort to figure out ways to grow healthy veggies on the Moon.

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A Supermassive Black Hole and its Jet, All in a Single Picture

Here's the jet and shadow of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy shown together for the first time. The observations were obtained with telescopes from the Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), of which ESO is a partner, and the Greenland Telescope. Credit: R.-S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)
This image shows the jet and shadow of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy together for the first time. The observations were obtained with a set of three radio telescopes. Courtesy ESO.

In May 2022, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team released the first-ever radio image of M87’s central black hole. It was a stunning revelation based on observations made using a worldwide array of radio telescopes. Recently, they re-released a newer, sharper image of the black hole’s “ring of light.”

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China’s New Solar Observatory is Almost Ready for its Trials

The infrared system for the accurate measurement of solar magnetic field (AIMS) at Lenghu Astronomical Observation Base in the city of Mangya, Northwest China’s Qinghai Province Photo: IC
The infrared system for the accurate measurement of solar magnetic field (AIMS) at Lenghu Astronomical Observation Base in the city of Mangya, Northwest China’s Qinghai Province Photo: IC

There’s a new solar observing facility taking shape in China. It lies far up on a mountain near Mangya City in the Mongol and Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Qinghai. The telescope is reputed to be the world’s first mid-infrared telescope built for accurate measurements of the solar magnetic field.

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If a Star Has Less Metals, it Might Have a Better Chance to Spark Life

An illustration of the variations among the more than 5,000 known exoplanets discovered since the 1990s. Could their stars' metallicity play a role in making them habitable to life? Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
An illustration of the variations among the more than 5,000 known exoplanets discovered since the 1990s. Could their stars' metallicity play a role in making them habitable to life? Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the hunt for habitable worlds around other stars, planetary atmospheres provide fertile places to look. But, as a group of scientists at the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Studies in Germany found, maybe astronomers should focus on a star’s metallicity, too. That’s because there seems to be a direct link between their metallicity, how much UV radiation they give off, and the atmospheres of rocky planets orbiting them. It turns out that metal-poor stars provide better conditions for life on their planets than metal-rich ones do.

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Mount Everest from Space

Clouds gather on Nepal's sub-tropical side of the Himalayas with Mount Everest at the center of this photograph taken by an external high definition camera on the International Space Station as it orbited 263 miles above the Indian subcontinent. Courtesy NASA.
Clouds gather on Nepal's sub-tropical side of the Himalayas with Mount Everest at the center of this photograph taken by an external high definition camera on the International Space Station as it orbited 263 miles above the Indian subcontinent. Courtesy NASA.

Earth is a favorite target for the cameras and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This week, NASA shared an amazing picture of the Himalayan mountain range as seen from space. This jagged set of mountains stretches out across Asia above the Indian subcontinent and is home to Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth. It’s centered in the image.

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NASA Was Hoping for 5 Helicopter Flights on Mars. Ingenuity Just Completed its 50th!

This image taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter is a composite of a single Left- and Right-Mastcam-Z camera photo, both taken at a local mean solar time of 2:25 pm Wednesday, 8 March 2023. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.
This image taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter is a composite of a single Left- and Right-Mastcam-Z camera photo, both taken at a local mean solar time of 2:25 pm Wednesday, 8 March 2023. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.

The Ingenuity chopper on Mars is the little helicopter that just keeps on going. It’s doing that, even as it takes on flights over some pretty tough ground on the Red Planet. On April 13, Ingenuity made its 50th flight of the mission, 45 more than it was originally scheduled to do.

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Neutron Star Behaves Like a Mini-quasar

MIT astronomers mapped the “disk winds” associated with the accretion disk around Hercules X-1, a system in which a neutron star is drawing material away from a sun-like star, represented as the teal sphere. The findings may offer clues to how supermassive black holes shape entire galaxies. Credits:Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares, MIT. Based on an image of Hercules X-1 by D. Klochkov, European Space Agency.
MIT astronomers mapped the “disk winds” associated with the accretion disk around Hercules X-1, a system in which a neutron star is drawing material away from a sun-like star, represented as the teal sphere. The findings may offer clues to how supermassive black holes shape entire galaxies. Credits:Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares, MIT. Based on an image of Hercules X-1 by D. Klochkov, European Space Agency.

There’s a wobbly X-ray-bright binary object in our galaxy called Hercules X-1 that’s blowing a mighty wind off to surrounding space. The system consists of a neutron star paired with a sun-like star. The neutron star is drawing material away from its companion. Its resulting accretion spins rapidly, and that whips up powerful winds. They affect the region of nearby space. That’s eerily similar to how a quasar’s central black hole sends out winds to influence its entire host galaxy.

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NASA Plans Threaten the Future of New Horizons

Since its last flyby, of the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth, the New Horizons mission has been exploring objects in the Kuiper Belt as well as performing heliospheric and astrophysical observations. Courtesy: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute//Roman Tkachenko
Since its last flyby, of the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth, the New Horizons mission has been exploring objects in the Kuiper Belt as well as performing heliospheric and astrophysical observations. Courtesy: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute//Roman Tkachenko

The New Horizons mission currently flying through the Kuiper Belt could be facing an unexpected change of plans. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is soliciting input on turning the spacecraft into a heliospheric science probe. The agency wants to do it much sooner than mission planners intended. If that happens, it will stop further planned planetary exploration of objects in that distant regime of the Solar System.

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Not Snowball Earth, More of a Slushball Earth

DNDXCB View of Earth 650 million years ago during the Marinoan glaciation. the idea of Slushball Earth may change how we view that past ice age. Credit: University of St. Andrews.
Artist's impression of Earth 650 million years ago during the Marinoan glaciation. Credit: University of St. Andrews.

Our planet hasn’t always been the warm, inviting place we know today. At least five times in its history, Earth froze over, locked in the grip of an ice age. Scientists sometimes refer to these periods as “Snowball Earth.” The popular idea is that everything was covered with ice, making life difficult, if not impossible. But, there’s new evidence that during at least one of these icy periods, parts of Earth’s surface could have been more like a giant mushy ball of slush.

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