Saturday, June 21, 2014

Asteroid impact tied to Eocene extinction and other space and astronomy news

I've already shared today's top astronomical news in Happy Summer Solstice 2014!  It's time to pass along all the space and astronomy stories I collected for Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Fathers Day).  First, Becky Oskin of LiveScience reports on an ancient disaster in  Russia's Popigai Meteor Crash Linked to Mass Extinction.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New evidence implicates one of Earth's biggest impact craters in a mass extinction that occurred 33.7 million years ago, according to research presented here Wednesday (June 11) at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles precisely dated rocks from beneath the Popigai impact crater in remote Siberia to the Eocene epoch mass extinction that occurred 33.7 million years ago. Popigai crater is one of the 10 biggest impact craters on Earth, and in 2012, Russian scientists claimed the crater harbors a gigantic industrial diamond deposit.

The new age, which is later than other estimates, means the Eocene extinction — long blamed on climate change — now has another prime suspect: an "impact winter." Meteorite blasts can trigger a deadly global chill by blanketing the Earth's atmosphere with tiny particles that reflect the sun's heat.
Apophis Day may be postponed until 2068, but it is coming.  We should be prepared.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the week's space and astronomy news.

NASA begins with general U.S. space news in Carbon Observing Mission previewed on This Week @NASA.

This past week, YouTube did something to prevent the text for their videos from being copied and pasted.  Follow the link to read it.

Daily Kos had two diary entries about space news.  The general news is in This week in science: the spice must flow by DarkSyde.  A specific story about space history is told in 65 Years Ago Today: Remembering a Forgotten Space Pioneer by Richard Riis.

Two ScienceCasts from Science at NASA this week. First, ScienceCasts: Solar Mini-Max.

Next, ScienceCasts: Rosetta Comet Comes Alive.

JPL/NASA elaborates on a topic mentioned in This Week at NASA in Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2): NASA's New Carbon Counter.

For the last video, Discovery News declares The Mystery Of The Moon Is Finally Solved!

Next, the space and astronomy news from campuses on the campaign trail, beginning with two from the University of Colorado.  First, Astronomers discover first Thorne-Zytkow object, a bizarre type of hybrid star.
In a discovery decades in the making, scientists have detected the first of a “theoretical” class of stars first proposed in 1975 by physicist Kip Thorne and astronomer Anna Z.ytkow. Thorne-Z.ytkow objects (TZ.Os) are hybrids of red supergiant and neutron stars that superficially resemble normal red supergiants, such as Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. They differ, however, in their distinct chemical signatures that result from unique activity in their stellar interiors.

TZ.Os are thought to be formed by the interaction of two massive stars--a red supergiant and a neutron star formed during a supernova explosion--in a close binary system. While the exact mechanism is uncertain, the most commonly held theory suggests that, during the evolutionary interaction of the two stars, the much more massive red supergiant essentially swallows the neutron star, which spirals into the core of the red supergiant.

While normal red supergiants derive their energy from nuclear fusion in their cores, TZ.Os are powered by the unusual activity of the absorbed neutron stars in their cores. The discovery of this TZ.O thus provides evidence of a model of stellar interiors previously undetected by astronomers.
The second is CU-Boulder payload selected for launch on Virgin Galactic spaceship.
A University of Colorado Boulder payload carrying a novel device designed to reduce the weight and cost of spacecraft fuel pumping systems has been manifested for launch on a suborbital space plane called SpaceShipTwo developed by the aerospace company Virgin Galactic.

The CU-Boulder payload consists of a lubrication-free, pistonless rocket fuel pump, said aerospace engineering sciences Associate Professor Ryan Starkey, principal investigator on the project. The device represents a potential advancement for rocket propellant pressurization and transfer that would reduce the weight and cost of spacecraft fuel systems.

Led by CU-Boulder, the project was initiated as a university-industry partnership between the university and Flometrics, a specialized engineering firm based in Carlsbad, Calif., that holds the patent on the device. Known as The Pistonless Pump Technology Demonstrator, the project was developed using a grant from NASA’s Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development program.
Next, University of North Dakota presents UND student-launch rocket project overcomes series of setbacks to successfully lift off over Utah Salt Flats by Amy Halvorson, University & Public Affairs student writer.
UND student-launch rocket project overcomes series of setbacks to successfully lift off over Utah Salt Flats

Frozen Fury, University of North Dakota's rocket team, recently produced a successful flight in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Student Launch 2014, a NASA-sponsored national rocketry competition in Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

The NASA program is a rigorous one, said Tim Young, UND associate professor of physics and astrophysics. This year, NASA increased the research requirements related to the payload aboard competition rockets in addition to the usual four in-depth reports and presentations that it requires.

"Our team knew it was going to be hard, going from one payload experiment, as we had done the last six years, to three payload experiments compounded the complexity beyond just three times the work," he said.

The payload experiments are aligned with current research in the new NASA Space Launch System project. Along with designing and building the rockets and payloads, UND students had to develop a website, reach more than 100 middle school students, design and sew their own parachutes for rocket retrieval, and fundraise all the money for their rocket, fuel and payload.
Finally, UNLV describes the medical aspects of space travel in Protecting Astronauts from Radiation by Kevin Dunegan
Professor’s research examines how much cosmic radiation is too much, and what damage it can cause.

Frank Cucinotta, a professor of health physics and diagnostic sciences, has been fascinated with space and space travel since he was a kid. And when he began his work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), that fascination morphed into studying how radiation in space, or cosmic radiation, affects astronauts.

All living things on the planet are protected from the intense radiation of space by a thick layer of shielding provided by the Earth’s atmosphere, which is equal to 10 meters of water. Radiation does get through to the surface of the planet, but at significantly lower levels than people would be exposed to in space.

Outside that protective layer, the cosmic radiation is intense and the biological damage produced by cosmic rays may be alien to the body’s natural defense mechanisms. One estimate is that a single day in space is equivalent to a year’s worth of natural radiation on Earth. And the effect is cumulative — it doesn’t dissipate when the astronauts return home.
That's it for this week's space and astronomy news.  It's time to collect the rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment