Space sciences roundup – May.2.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images from space-related science news items:

** Latest Mars exploration news:

“Navcam Right image showing the newest “Kilmarie” drill hole on the right, <1 m away from the “Aberlady” drill hole on the left.” – NASA JPL
“Landslide in Hydraotes Chaos” – Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

… In perusing the April image release from the high resolution camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), I came across the image above, cropped and reduced to post here, of the discovery of another landslide within Hydraotes Chaos, one of the largest regions of chaos terrain on Mars. The image above was taken on February 9, 2019, and has since been followed up with a second image to create a stereo pair.

This is not the first landslide found in Hydraotes Chaos. I highlighted a similar slide on March 11. Both today’s landslide as well as the previous one likely represent examples of gravitational collapses as shown in this science paper about Martian ground water. Some scientists have proposed that Hydraotes Chaos was once an inland sea, and as the water drained away the loss of its buoyancy is thought to cause this kind of landslide at the base of cliffs and crater rims.

The past presence of water also helps explain the soft muddy look of this landslide. When this collapse occurred the material was likely saturated with water. Today it is most likely quite dry and hardened, but when it flowed it flowed like wet mud. Its size, almost a mile long and a quarter mile across, speaks to Mars’s low gravity, which would allow for large singular collapses like this.

** Ocean Worlds in the Outer Solar System is the title of a Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture given recently by Kevin Hand of NASA JPL:

Dr. Kevin Hand of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory asks where the best place is to find life beyond Earth. He concludes it may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it! Dr. Hand explains the science behind our understanding of these worlds, with a special focus on Jupiter’s intriguing moon Europa, which is a top priority for future NASA missions.

** Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are discussed by Bill Diamond, director of the SETI Institute, and Andrew Siemion, director of the UC Berkeley SETI Research Center:

** Highlights of CRS-17 science payloads that will go to the ISS on the upcoming SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission:


Moon Rush: The New Space Race