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First underwater entanglement could lead to unhackable comms

New Scientist Feed - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 3:20am
A Chinese experiment suggests submarines could use quantum communication to send messages secured by the laws of physics
Categories: Science

Wiping out a population of animals might help the species

New Scientist Feed - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 3:02am
Mass deaths might not be all bad, because local die-offs could help to ensure the survival of the species as a whole
Categories: Science

‘Alien megastructure’ star may host Saturn-like exoplanet

New Scientist Feed - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:00am
Rather than being caused by extraterrestrial construction, the bizarre dimming of Tabby’s star could instead be due to a closely orbiting, ringed planet
Categories: Science

Study of Moon Rocks Suggest Interior of the Moon is Really Dry

Universe Today Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 12:59pm

Long before the Apollo missions reached the Moon, Earth’s only satellites has been the focal point of intense interest and research. But thanks to the samples of lunar rock that were returned to Earth by the Apollo astronauts, scientists have been able to conduct numerous studies to learn more about the Moon’s formation and history. A key research goal has been determining how much volatile elements the Moon possesses.

Intrinsic to this is determining how much water the Moon possesses, and whether it has a “wet” interior. If the Moon does have abundant sources of water, it will make establishing outposts there someday much more feasible. However, according to a new study by an international team of researchers, the interior of the Moon is likely very dry, which they concluded after studying a series of “rusty” lunar rock samples collected by the Apollo 16 mission.

The study, titled “Late-Stage Magmatic Outgassing from a Volatile-Depleted Moon“, appeared recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Led by James M. D. Day of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, the team’s research was funded by the NASA Emerging Worlds program – which finances research into the Solar System’s formation and early evolution.

Collection site of 66095 (bottom left) and the “Rusty Rock” lunar rock sample obtained there (center). Credit: NASA

Determining how rich the Moon is in terms of volatile elements and compounds – such as zinc, potassium, chlorine, and water – is important because it provides insight into how the Moon and Earth formed and evolved. The most-widely accepted theory is that Moon is the result of “catastrophic formation”, where a Mars-sized object (named Theia) collided with Earth about 4.5 billion years ago.

The debris kicked up by this impact eventually coalesced to form the Moon, which then moved away from Earth to assume its current orbit. In accordance with this theory, the Moon’s surface would have been an ocean of magma during its early history. As a result, volatile elements and compounds within the Moon’s mantle would have been depleted, much in the same way that the Earth’s upper mantle is depleted of these elements.

As Dr. Day explained in a Scripps Institution press statement:

“It’s been a big question whether the moon is wet or dry. It might seem like a trivial thing, but this is actually quite important. If the moon is dry – like we’ve thought for about the last 45 years, since the Apollo missions – it would be consistent with the formation of the Moon in some sort of cataclysmic impact event that formed it.”

Cross-polarized light image of a portion of the interior of the lunar ‘Rusty Rock’. Credit: NASA

For the sake of their study, the team examined a lunar rock named “Rusty Rock 66095” to determine the volatile content of the Moon’s interior. These rocks have mystified scientists since they were first brought back by the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. Water is an essential ingredient to rust, which led scientists to conclude that the Moon must have an indigenous source of water – something which seemed unlikely, given the Moon’s extremely tenuous atmosphere.

Using a new chemical analysis, Day and his colleagues determined the levels of istopically light zinc (Zn66) and heavy chlorine (Cl37), as well as the levels of heavy metals (uranium and lead) in the rock. Zinc was the key element here, since it is a volatile element that would have behaved somewhat like water under the extremely hot conditions that were present during the Moon’s formation.

Ultimately, the supply of volatiles and heavy metals in the sample support the theory that volatile enrichment of the lunar surface occurred as a result of vapor condensation. In other words, when the Moon’s surface was still an ocean of hot magma, its volatiles evaporated and escaped from the interior. Some of these then condensed and were deposited back on the surface as it cooled and solidified.

This would explain the volatile-rich nature of some rocks on the lunar surface, as well as the levels of light zinc in both the Rusty Rock samples and the previously-studied volcanic glass beads. Basically, both were enriched by water and other volatiles thanks to extreme outgassing from the Moon’s interior. However, these same conditions meant that most of the water in the Moon’s mantle would have evaporated and been lost to space.

Near-infrared image of the Moon’s surface by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission
Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

This represents something of a paradox, in that it shows how rocks that contain water were formed in a very dry, interior part of the Moon. However, as Day indicated, it offers a sound explanation for an enduring lunar mystery:

“I think the Rusty Rock was seen for a long time as kind of this weird curiosity, but in reality, it’s telling us something very important about the interior of the moon. These rocks are the gifts that keep on giving because every time you use a new technique, these old rocks that were collected by Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Charlie Duke, John Young, and the Apollo astronaut pioneers, you get these wonderful insights.”

These results contradict other studies that suggest the Moon’s interior is wet, one of which was recently conducted by researchers at Brown University. By combining data provided by Chandrayaan-1 and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) with new thermal profiles, the Brown research team concluded that lots of water exists within volcanic deposits on the Moon’s surface, which could also mean there are vast quantities of water in the Moon’s interior.

To these, Day emphasized that while these studies present evidence that water exists on the lunar surface, they have yet to offer a solid explanation for what mechanisms deposited it on the surface. Day and his colleague’s study also flies in the face of other recent studies, which claim that the Moon’s water came from an external source – either by comets which deposited it, or from Earth during the formation of the Earth-Moon system.

Other studies indicate that evidence from ancient volcanic deposits suggests that lunar magma contained substantial amounts of water, hinting at water in the interior. Credit: Olga Prilipko Huber

Those who believe that lunar water was deposited by comets cite the similarities between the ratios of hydrogen to deuterium (aka. “heavy hydrogen”) in both the Apollo lunar rock samples and known comets. Those who believe the Moon’s water came from Earth, on the other hand, point to the similarity between water isotopes on both the Moon and Earth.

In the end, future research is needed to confirm where all of the Moon’s water came from, and whether or not it exists within the Moon’s interior. Towards this end, one of Day’s PhD students – Carrie McIntosh – is conducting her own research into the lunar glass beads and the composition of the deposits. These and other research studies ought to settle the debate soon enough!

And not a moment too soon, considering that multiple space agencies hope to build a lunar outpost in the upcoming decades. If they hope to have a steady supply of water for creating hydrazene (rocket fuel) and growing plants, they’ll need to know if and where it can be found!

Further Reading: UC San Diego, PNAS

The post Study of Moon Rocks Suggest Interior of the Moon is Really Dry appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Science

Self-powered paper-based 'SPEDs' may lead to new medical-diagnostic tools

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 12:36pm
A new medical-diagnostic device made out of paper detects biomarkers and identifies diseases by performing electrochemical analyses -- powered only by the user's touch -- and reads out the color-coded test results, making it easy for non-experts to understand.
Categories: Science

Self-powered paper-based 'SPEDs' may lead to new medical-diagnostic tools

Computers and Math from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 12:36pm
A new medical-diagnostic device made out of paper detects biomarkers and identifies diseases by performing electrochemical analyses -- powered only by the user's touch -- and reads out the color-coded test results, making it easy for non-experts to understand.
Categories: Science

Tricking the eye to defeat shoulder surfing attacks

Computers and Math from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 12:36pm
Researchers have developed the first application to combat 'shoulder-surfing' of PINS and passwords: a hybrid-image keyboard that appears one way to the close-up user and differently at a distance. The technology blends one image of a keyboard configuration with high spatial frequency and a completely different one with low spatial frequency. Experiments showed it was effective for mobile phones and when video cameras recorded PIN entry, as might happen at an ATM.
Categories: Science

Hubble's twisted galaxy

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:50am
Gravity governs the movements of the cosmos. It draws flocks of galaxies together to form small groups and more massive galaxy clusters, and brings duos so close that they begin to tug at one another. This latter scenario can have extreme consequences, with members of interacting pairs of galaxies often being dramatically distorted, torn apart, or driven to smash into one another, abandoning their former identities and merging to form a single accumulation of gas, dust and stars.
Categories: Science

Saturn-lit Tethys

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:47am
Cassini gazes across the icy rings of Saturn toward the icy moon Tethys, whose night side is illuminated by Saturnshine, or sunlight reflected by the planet.
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Large asteroid to safely pass Earth on Sept. 1

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:45am
Asteroid Florence, a large near-Earth asteroid, will pass safely by Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles, (7.0 million kilometers, or about 18 Earth-Moon distances).
Categories: Science

Brown dwarf weather forecasts improved

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:42am
Dim objects called brown dwarfs, less massive than the Sun but more massive than Jupiter, have powerful winds and clouds -- specifically, hot patchy clouds made of iron droplets and silicate dust. Scientists recently realized these giant clouds can move and thicken or thin surprisingly rapidly, in less than an Earth day, but did not understand why.
Categories: Science

New antennas are up to a hundredth the size of today’s devices

Science News Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:00am
A new type of antenna could be used in tiny electronics for wearable tech, injectable medical devices and more.
Categories: Science

These chip-sized spacecraft are the smallest space probes yet

Science News Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:30am
Space initiative dubbed Breakthrough Starshot sent the smallest spacecraft yet into orbit around Earth.
Categories: Science

Why aren’t we testing whether planes can survive a drone crash?

New Scientist Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:30am
It is time to fire a drone into a jet engine to properly assess the safety threat they pose to airliners, says Paul Marks
Categories: Science

The moving Martian bow shock

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:18am
Physicists throw new light on the interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind.
Categories: Science

Gravity, 'mechanical loading' are key to cartilage development

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:07am
Mechanical loading is required for creating cartilage that is then turned to bone; however, little is known about cartilage development in the absence of gravity. Now, bioengineers have determined that microgravity may inhibit cartilage formation. Findings reveal that fracture healing for astronauts in space, as well as patients on bed rest here on Earth, could be compromised in the absence of mechanical loading.
Categories: Science

Gravity, 'mechanical loading' are key to cartilage development

Space and time from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:07am
Mechanical loading is required for creating cartilage that is then turned to bone; however, little is known about cartilage development in the absence of gravity. Now, bioengineers have determined that microgravity may inhibit cartilage formation. Findings reveal that fracture healing for astronauts in space, as well as patients on bed rest here on Earth, could be compromised in the absence of mechanical loading.
Categories: Science

Getting hold of quantum dot biosensors

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 9:38am
Harnessing the nano-tractor-beam like abilities of optical tweezers, researchers have developed an all-silicon nanoantenna to trap individual quantum dots suspended in a microfluidic chamber.
Categories: Science

Speeding up chemical screening to prioritize toxicity testing

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 9:38am
Researchers have developed a high-throughput technique that can determine if a chemical has the potential to activate key genes in seconds rather than the typical 24 hours or more. The technique can be used to prioritize chemicals for in-depth testing to determine their toxicity.
Categories: Science

Microreactor made to study formation of methane hydrate

Matter and energy from Science Daily Feed - Tue, 08/22/2017 - 9:38am
Researchers are using a novel means of studying how methane and water form methane hydrate that allows them to examine discrete steps in the process faster and more efficiently.
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