New lander version split in two, Perseverance Mars samples delayed until 2033

In order to bring the samples collected by the Perseverance rover back to Earth, NASA has plans to launch new landers, rovers and Mars ascent vehicles to connect the samples. But after some thought, NASA and ESA decided to revise the lander design to reduce the risk of failure and postpone the sample return mission to 2033.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is wandering around the Jezero crater and is expected to collect dozens of surface samples during its work period, waiting for the SRL lander (Sample Retrieval Lander) to take the Mars Ascent Vehicle (Mars Ascent Vehicle) in a few years. , MAV) arrived with another fetch rover, took these samples and handed them over to MAV, which then launched from the surface of Mars into Mars orbit, transferred the samples to the ERO orbiter, and finally brought the material back to Earth in 2031.

However, after further analysis, since a single lander needs a larger heat shield protection, the diameter is estimated to be 5.4 meters, which in turn requires a larger fairing to fit into the lander; in addition, whether the large lander can enter smoothly , descent and landing on Mars “unproven”, so NASA and ESA decided to change the design and split the SRL lander into two, one to carry the rover and the other to carry the MAV, so that the dual lander can be designed to carry the same The same system on Perseverance and Curiosity.

After the design change, the launch of the dual lander will be postponed to 2028, the launch of the ERO orbiter will be postponed from 2026 to 2027, and the Mars sample return mission will be postponed to 2033. NASA has yet to decide who will build the SRL2 lander that will carry the rover, which is expected to be announced in June.

The latest search results of the ninth planet, once again failed

After examining about 3,500 candidate sources tentatively identified as Planet Nine, astronomers announced the latest search results, still none of them are Planet Nine.

Since Caltech astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown released a powerful statement in 2016, astronomers have believed that there is a planet called Planet Nine in the outer solar system. The celestial bodies are waiting to be discovered. The mass is estimated to be 5 to 10 times that of the earth and the distance from the sun is 200 to 800 AU. It affects more than 30 celestial bodies in the Kuiper belt to form extremely exaggerated, inclined and self-clustered orbits, but the ninth planet is also too large. Good at hiding, astronomers can only highly suspect but never find evidence.

At such a distance from the sun, the amount of sunlight reflected by celestial bodies is so rare that even telescopes like the Wide-field Infrared Survey Satellite (WISE), which hunt for infrared radiation, have been trying for years to find Planet Nine.

The team at the University of Oslo, Norway, who published the new study, chose to use the Atacama Large Millimeter and Submillimeter Array (ALMA), an array of radio telescopes typically used to search for the cosmic microwave background radiation, but its relatively high angle. The resolution and sensitivity are actually good for searching for Planet Nine, too.

In the past 6 years, the team has exhausted all means to search 87% of the sky in the southern hemisphere, looking for any faint sources that may be the ninth planet. Because the position and direction of the ninth planet’s movement are unknown, the researchers calculated 100 million possibilities, It brought about 3,500 candidate objects, but none were statistically significant, and none were confirmed, and everything was still empty.

The researchers admit that finding Planet 9 is really difficult, but they have selected 10 other signals for more research. Astronomers believe that if Planet 9 exists, there is a good chance of using the under-construction vibranium in the next five years. It was discovered by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.

Severing ties with Russia, European Space Agency officially suspends cooperation on Exomars Mars mission

The ExoMars mission is a Mars exploration plan that the European Space Agency has cooperated with Russia’s Roscosmos for many years. It was finally finalized to launch a lander and a rover in September this year, but with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency officially announced that it will suspend continued cooperation with Russia, Start looking for other opportunities to launch probes.

In order to keep up with the exploration of alien planets, the European Space Agency also launched the ExoMars Mars mission, which was originally in cooperation with NASA, but the then-President Obama administration cut the Mars budget and withdrew from the program, which led to the ExoMars mission being destroyed for a time in 2012. Cancellation, it was the intervention of Russian aerospace company Roscosmos that helped fill the hole left by NASA’s departure.

Therefore, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos have cooperated with the ExoMars project, which consists of two sub-missions: the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which was first launched in 2016, to study the chemical composition of Mars; and the original plan for 2018. The Rosalind Franklin rover and Mars landing platform, which were launched but were delayed due to parachute problems and were finally scheduled for launch in September 2022, hope to keep up with the various exploration results of NASA and China on the surface of Mars.

However, in late February this year, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, which triggered a full-scale international censure. Western countries have resorted to economic and technical sanctions. For example, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which has always remained politically neutral in the past, broke the principle and announced that Russian researchers are prohibited from continuing. Participating in the Large Hadron Collider experiment, the European Space Agency also stated earlier that the ExoMars rover would refuse to ride on the Russian proton launch vehicle, preferring to spend hundreds of millions of euros in addition to develop or buy a new Mars lander.

Now the European Space Agency has re-announced that the ExoMars mission has officially suspended cooperation with Russia, and will hold a committee meeting in the next few weeks to discuss how to continue promoting ExoMars without Russia’s participation. The possibility of launching in September this year has been approaching zero.

It is difficult to go to Mars. First, the earth and Mars orbit the sun at different speeds and distances. The longest distance from each other can reach 400 million kilometers, and the shortest distance is only 56 million kilometers. Flying to Mars during the closest distance can minimize rocket fuel and time consumption.

This period is therefore called the “Mars window period”. There will be an optimal time period for a probe to fly to Mars every 26 months, compressing the flight time to Mars to about 7 months.

The ExoMars mission missed this year’s schedule due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, and will have to be delayed until at least 2024 (and resume cooperation with Roscosmos) to launch again. If the partnership with Roscosmos has not been resumed, the European Space Agency has said that the ExoMars mission will continue to wait until 2026 or later, because some of the rover’s own instruments and heating devices are from Russia.

According to Foust, the agency is considering a partnership with NASA to develop a new rover.

Closely related to the sun’s magnetic field, coronal loops may not be loops

When the sun is active, we can see structures called coronal loops appear on the surface. Some of the mechanisms of solar physics rely on coronal loops, such as why the region of the corona is heated to millions of degrees. However, a new observation suggests that the coronal loop is likely to be an “optical illusion” and that it is not actually a ring structure, which will challenge existing models of the sun.

The coronal loop, discovered around the 1960s, is a towering and closed structure on the sun’s surface. Magnetic field lines are pushed up into the sun’s atmosphere and fixed on the sun’s surface at both ends. Sometimes they are related to sunspots. If you want to understand the energy inside the sun How to transmit to the corona through the transition zone, the coronal loop is an ideal structure for observation. Solar scientists have also been studying the coronal loop to understand the characteristics of the sun, such as: magnetic field, atmospheric density and temperature, etc. One of the puzzles is the coronal heating mechanism.

The surface temperature of the sun is about 6,000°C, but the temperature of the corona around the sun is as high as millions of degrees, which is as puzzling as “why is the temperature of the outer pot hotter than the heart of the furnace?” Magnetic fields play a role in the heating process, especially the Alfvén waves, which are generated below the corona and where the plasma propagates in the direction of the magnetic field.

However, when the team of astrophysicist Anna Malanushenko of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) was running a model of the solar corona, they found that some coronal loops exist alone, while others are folded into plasma sheets like wrinkles. We may need new observation methods and Data analysis techniques to further study how many coronal loops are real and how many are optical illusions.

Unlike other planets, Saturn’s upper winds prove to provide ‘fuel’ to drive powerful auroras

Scientists have long wondered that some of Saturn’s auroras arise from cyclones in the atmosphere. After all, on Earth or other planets like Jupiter, auroras come from charged particles interacting with the magnetosphere. A team from the University of Leicester has recently discovered an unprecedented mechanism that suggests that strong winds in the upper reaches of Saturn’s north pole are responsible for fueling Saturn’s auroras.

The Pioneer 11 spacecraft first saw signs of Saturn’s auroras when it flew by Saturn in 1979; Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys of Saturn in the early 1980s also provided observations of the giant magnetic bubble around Saturn, just like Earth , Saturn’s magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind to form the auroras.

The magnetosphere isn’t the only driving force behind Saturn’s auroras, however, and Saturn is a unique planet so far observed in that some of the auroras are produced by winds in Saturn’s own atmosphere.

When the Cassini probe set out to measure the overall rotational speed by measuring radio-emission pulses from Saturn’s atmosphere, it was astonished to find that Saturn’s rotational rate had changed over 20 years, and that Saturn’s rotational period would drift eerily north-south and at different speeds in different seasons. rotate. We determined that the internal rotation rate of Saturn must remain constant, so there must be other mechanisms outside affecting the observations.

So far, various theories trying to explain changes in Saturn’s magnetic field have surfaced, such as Saturn’s rings, the methane atmosphere of Titan, and the eruption of Enceladus’ volcanoes, etc., but none of the above seems to be correct.

New research by a team from the University of Leicester has detected winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere for the first time and provides evidence that these winds are what tug on Saturn’s magnetic field and provide the ‘fuel’ to produce the auroras. Dragging the planet’s magnetic field so that the latter keeps changing makes it impossible for scientists to measure the speed of Saturn’s rotation or to know how long Saturn’s day is (but then scientists figured out a way to measure Saturn’s rotation period using Saturn’s ring system).

The researchers believe that the system is driven by the energy of Saturn’s thermosphere, and the ionospheric wind speed falls between 0.3 and 3 kilometers per second, determining the origin of the radio pulse variation and dispelling our confusion about the variation of Saturn’s rotation speed.

Where does Earth’s water come from?

The source of Earth’s water has been debated. Recently, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) made a new discovery by studying lunar rocks, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The mainstream theory holds that the Earth-Moon system was formed by the collision of two large celestial bodies in the early stage of the evolution of the solar system, so the formation histories of the Earth and the Moon are closely related. The Moon’s lack of plate tectonics and weathering makes it a good place to look for clues about the history of Earth’s water sources.

Although nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, scientists believe that where the Earth is relatively dry compared to other celestial bodies in the solar system, the Moon is drier. Conventional wisdom holds that the Earth and Moon were formed by violent impacts that depleted volatile materials (such as water).

But studying the isotopic composition of lunar rocks, scientists found that the impacting bodies involved in the formation of the Earth-Moon system had very low levels of volatiles before they hit. The team found that based on the analysis of the composition of rubidium 87 and strontium 87, the celestial bodies that participated in the impact were believed to be relatively dry at the beginning. “Either the Earth was born with water, or was struck by an object composed of pure water, there is no other option,” said Greg Brennecka, co-author of the paper.

This statement, combined with the results of the team’s paper, is equivalent to removing meteorites or asteroids as a possible source of water for Earth, and strongly points to the “innate” argument.

Unlike other planets, Saturn’s upper winds prove to provide ‘fuel’ to drive powerful auroras

Scientists have long wondered that some of Saturn’s auroras arise from cyclones in the atmosphere. After all, on Earth or other planets like Jupiter, auroras come from charged particles interacting with the magnetosphere. A team from the University of Leicester has recently discovered an unprecedented mechanism that suggests that strong winds in the upper reaches of Saturn’s north pole are responsible for fueling Saturn’s auroras.

The Pioneer 11 spacecraft first saw signs of Saturn’s auroras when it flew by Saturn in 1979; Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys of Saturn in the early 1980s also provided observations of the giant magnetic bubble around Saturn, just like Earth , Saturn’s magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind to form the auroras.

The magnetosphere isn’t the only driving force behind Saturn’s auroras, however, and Saturn is a unique planet so far observed in that some of the auroras are produced by winds in Saturn’s own atmosphere.

When the Cassini probe set out to measure the overall rotational speed by measuring radio-emission pulses from Saturn’s atmosphere, it was astonished to find that Saturn’s rotational rate had changed over 20 years, and that Saturn’s rotational period would drift eerily north-south and at different speeds in different seasons. rotate. We determined that the internal rotation rate of Saturn must remain constant, so there must be other mechanisms outside affecting the observations.

So far, various theories trying to explain changes in Saturn’s magnetic field have surfaced, such as Saturn’s rings, the methane atmosphere of Titan, and the eruption of Enceladus’ volcanoes, etc., but none of the above seems to be correct.

New research by a team from the University of Leicester has detected winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere for the first time and provides evidence that these winds are what tug on Saturn’s magnetic field and provide the ‘fuel’ to produce the auroras. Dragging the planet’s magnetic field so that the latter keeps changing makes it impossible for scientists to measure the speed of Saturn’s rotation or to know how long Saturn’s day is (but then scientists figured out a way to measure Saturn’s rotation period using Saturn’s ring system).

The researchers believe that the system is driven by the energy of Saturn’s thermosphere, and the ionospheric wind speed falls between 0.3 and 3 kilometers per second, determining the origin of the radio pulse variation and dispelling our confusion about the variation of Saturn’s rotation speed.

The new paper is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Confirmed the Earth’s little follower +1, found the second Trojan asteroid that shared the Earth’s orbit

There are two groups of well-known Trojan asteroids in front of and behind Jupiter, they orbit the sun together with Jupiter, and the earth has also been confirmed to have a small follower of Trojan celestial bodies in the past, 2010 TK7. Now, after 10 years of searching and 1 year of data analysis, a team led by scientists from the Universities of Alicante and the University of Barcelona’s Institute for Cosmological Sciences (ICCUB) has confirmed the existence of the second Earth Trojan asteroid, 2020 XL5

Trojan objects refer to asteroids that share orbits with planets and are located at the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points before and after the planets. In the past few decades, we have known that Trojan asteroids exist in Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, etc. The planet’s orbit, but the discovery of the first Earth Trojan asteroid was not confirmed until 2011.

Among them, the most famous is Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid. The number of nearly 10,000 asteroids may be comparable to the number of asteroids in the main asteroid belt. The goal of NASA’s Lucy launched in October last year is to explore 7 of these asteroids; followed by Neptune Trojan asteroids, 28 are known to be discovered, but scientists predict that the number of Neptune Trojan asteroids may be one order of magnitude more than Jupiter Trojan asteroids; Mars Trojan celestial bodies include Eureka 5261, 2007 NS2 and other 9.

2010 TK7 is the first confirmed Earth-Trojan asteroid, discovered by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Satellite (WISE), with an orbital period of 365.394 Earth days, similar to the Earth’s orbital period (365.256 Earth days), located in the distant L4 Lagrangian point (the closest distance to the Earth is more than 50 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon).

In December 2020, the Pan-STARRS telescope discovered the 2020 XL5 asteroid for the first time, but at that time it was not possible to determine whether its orbit intersected the Earth, and further follow-up observations were required using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR).

After a year of analysis, a team led by planetary scientist Toni Santana-Ros of the University of Alicante in Spain announced that 2020 XL5 has been confirmed as the second small follower of the Earth in history, also located at the L4 Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system. It will share an orbit with Earth around the sun for thousands of years.

To find Earth-Trojan asteroids, telescopes must look at the horizon at the lowest elevation limit before or after sunrise to see these Earth-trailing objects, which are extremely challenging observations. However, with the increasing number of low-orbit satellites launched, the “stripes” left by these artificial satellites in telescope images are also causing more and more headaches for astronomers.

New discovery of why Uranus and Neptune are different colors

The eight planets in the solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are the most like twins, with similar size, mass, composition and structure, and even rotational speed. However, Neptune has a fascinating and dreamy sky blue, and there are visible rotating storms, while Uranus is a monotonous light cyan color. The planets are so similar, but the colors are obviously different, why?

The team, led by planetary physicist Patrick Irwin at the University of Oxford, found that a layer of haze has diluted Uranus’ blue hue. Uranus and Neptune are very similar in structure, with small rocky cores covered by water, ammonia and methane ices; gaseous atmospheres are composed of hydrogen, helium and methane, but like other planets in the solar system atmospheres are not evenly distributed but layered . The research team analyzed the visible light and near-infrared observations of the two planets to construct a new atmosphere model that fully replicates the observations.

In the model, both planets have a layer of photochemical haze, haze particles created by ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaking down atmospheric aerosol particles, which the researchers call the Aerosol-2 layer. On Uranus, the Aerosol-2 layer is almost twice as opaque as Neptune, because these particles absorb ultraviolet light and have a nearly white visible reflection spectrum, so Uranus observes lower ultraviolet reflectance, which explains why Uranus is more visible to the human eye than Neptune. The blue is lighter, and why the black dots are easier to observe on Neptune.

The Aerosol-1 layer below the Aerosol-2 layer is a deeper haze layer, which is haze particles from the re-evaporation and deposition of methane, which condense into submicron crystals of hydrogen sulfide, with spectral characteristics consistent with ice and black fog, the team believes, Aerosol- Region 1 is where the dark features such as blobs and bands observed on Neptune originate, and these features would be more apparent if the Neptune Aerosol-2 layer was thinner and more transparent.

It’s unclear why Neptune’s Aerosol-2 layer is less dense than Uranus, but researchers believe that Neptune’s atmosphere may be more effective at releasing methane than Uranus to clear the haze.