Thirty years after Apollo 16’s lunar module, Orion, landed at the western edge of the Descartes Mountains on 21 April 1972, there is still much that we don’t know about the Moon. For instance, how was it created? And what role did it play in the formation and evolution of Earth?
ESAs SMART-1: testing solar electric propulsion and studying the Moon
We may be closer to answering those, and many other questions, thanks to ESA’s mission to the Moon, known as SMART-1. Due to be launched early in 2003, the main purpose of the SMART-1 mission is to flight-test the new Solar Electric Propulsion technology – a kind of solar-powered thruster that is ten times more efficient than the usual chemical systems employed when travelling very long distances. If all goes well, such a system could be providing the propulsion system for future ESA missions into deep space, such as BepiColombo.
And, in the process, the mission will be providing some fascinating science. For instance, SMART-1 will be mapping the Moon more accurately than ever before, flying over all the Apollo landing sites. Thirty years ago, Apollo 16 carried six hand-held cameras to photograph the Moon’s surface. SMART-1 will be leading the way in the latest imaging techniques. Images taken from many different angles and X-ray and infrared detection work will allow scientists to draw up new three-dimensional models of the Moon’s surface.
SMART-1 will be looking at the darker parts of the Moon’s south pole for the first time. And it will be accurately mapping the Peak of Eternal Light, an eerie mountaintop that is permanently bathed in sunlight, while all around are dark craters never touched by the Sun. These craters are believed to harbour ice in the soil. SMART-1 will help scientists to understand if ice is present at the lunar poles.
Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star
23.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
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Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
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For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
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A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
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