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Sun's radiation to blast spacecraft.


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Sun's radiation.
Sun's radiation equivalent of 1,500 suns.

Future Titan Mission Shield Blasted By Radiation.

NASA and Sandia National Laboratories have been using a powerful solar tower to test new spacecraft materials. The tower reflects and focuses the Sun's radiation to blast spacecraft shields with the equivalent of 1,500 suns. This research effort is tied to a potential future mission to Saturn's Moon Titan, which orbits in a very high-radiation environment. They have mimicked Titan's nitrogen-rich atmosphere for the tests, and the shield materials seem to have passed with flying colours.

Earth-Like planets Should Be Easy To Spot.

Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis have developed a "field guide" for planet hunters searching for other Earths. They modeled the Chemistry of silicate vapour and steam rich environments, similar to the early stages when an Earthlike planet is forming. During this stage, the planet is covered with a magma ocean which vapourises. This is a very distinct moment in the lifetime of a planet, and should be detectable because silicon monoxide gas is easy to see in Infrared and radio wavelengths.

Asteroid Ceres Could Have Water.

New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope indicate that the largest asteroid in the Solar System, Ceres, might have huge reserves of water ice under its surface. Ceres is approximately 580 miles (930 kilometers) across, and resides with many other asteroids in a belt of material between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres' crust shows evidence of water-bearing minerals. In fact, if Ceres is 25% water, it would have more fresh water than what we have here on Earth.

Tempel 1's Ingredients.

When Deep Impact excavated a crater in Comet Tempel 1, it released a spew of material that has existed since our solar system first formed, billions of years ago. By analyzing this material, scientists have come up with better recipes for how to make planets, comets and asteroids. They were expecting to see water ice and silicates, but they were surprised to see materials like clay and carbonates (ingredient in seashells), since it was believed they required liquid water to form.

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