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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA’s Messenger mission finds ice, lots of it, at the poles of Mercury, scientists announce. A U. S. and European science team quantifies ice melts in Greenland and Antarctica attributed to climate change over the past two decades. Their measurements are based on a correlation of satellite observations. A NASA statement seeks to end several days of speculation over findings by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Organics have not been found in the Martian soil, the agency says. Space spider Nefertiti retires to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. South Korea faces another setback in its bid to launch an indigenous rocket with a satellite. Washington State University engineers demonstrate a 3-D printer that could furnish space explorers with custom tools made from alien soil. Scientists find an amazingly powerful quasar.
1. From The New York Times: NASA’s Messenger mission spacecraft has discovered ice in the recesses of the cratered terrain of the tiny planet’s two poles, scientists announced Thursday. Messenger is the first probe to orbit the planet closest to the sun. The temperatures on Mercury, as much as 800 degrees Fahrenheit, make the presence of ice, at least 100 billion tons of it, a surprise to many.
A. From Discovery.com: In another surprise, Messenger scientists identify a thin layer of organic material covering Mercury’s ice. The carbon based compounds form the building blocks for biological activity.
B. From Space.com: The web site features a video that explains how scientists working on the Messenger mission found water on Mercury.
2. From The Washington Post: Greenland and Antarctica are losing three times as much ice as they were two decades ago, according to an international team of 47 scientists. The melts are adding to a rising sea level that has experts concerned for low lying coastal areas, according to the study published in the journal Science. Greenland’s melt accounts for most of the sea level rise, but the findings may clarify a debate over whether Antarctica is losing or gaining ice. The study was the first to pull together 50 different ice-sheet loss estimates over the period and reconcile the research methods and findings into a single report.
3. From U. S. News and World Reports: NASA, in a statement Thursday, says it will disclose findings from the agency’s two year Mars Curiosity mission on Monday at a science conference in San Francisco. Nothing in the findings suggests evidence of current or past life, assures NASA on Thursday. The Curiosity rover landed on Mars in early August, and the statement addresses several days of speculation that the mobile science lab had found something related to biological processes in the Martian soil.
4. From USA Today: The spider Nefertiti retires to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air & Space Museum in Washington D. C., following a 100 day stay aboard the International Space Station.
5. From Spaceflightnow.com South Korea faces a new setback in its third bid to launch a rocket of its own design. Another attempt to launch the Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle will await troubleshooting of a steering system issue that surfaced late in the countdown. South Korea’s attempts to launch a rocket of its own design failed in 2010 and 2009.
6. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: Engineers at Washington State University demonstrate the use of a 3-D printer and a lunar soil simulant to produce tools that could be used by far away space explorers.
7. From The Los Angeles Times: Scientists identify the most powerful quasar yet. The energy coming from this far off object equals two trillion times that produced by the sun.
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