Monday, March 11, 2019

UA Planetary Scientist to Study Unopened Moon Samples

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 2:27 PM

  • BigStock
Astronauts in the Apollo Program not only walked on the moon, but they also collected samples to bring back to Earth. Now, one UA planetary scientist will be among the first to study these previously unopened samples.

Jessica Barnes is starting at the UA next semester as an assistant professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She and her research team have been chosen by NASA to receive funding to study the lunar samples.

  • Courtesy UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
  • Jessica Barnes
Scientists nationwide participating in the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis, or ANGSA Program, will study samples that were brought to Earth in the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 programs from 1971 and 1972.

Barnes and her team will be studying rock from Apollo 17, the last mission where humans visited the moon on Dec. 11, 1972. Since the samples were brought to Earth, they have been stored frozen and undisturbed.

"The question we want to answer is, are we measuring the true moon signature? Or are there terrestrial influences that have affected the samples during their storage?'" Barnes said in a release. "The beauty of a frozen sample is that it's been kept curated in a different way from the samples stored at room temperature. We could not do this research without opening the frozen samples."

The research team will encase the samples in resin and slice them microscopically thin to analyze their chemical makeup.

Barnes and her team hope that their research will inform the handling and storage of samples collected by the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission currently en route to retrieving samples from asteroid Bennu.

Barnes' full team includes Tom Zega, also at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Jeremy Boyce and Scott Messenger at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Jed Mosenfelder of the University of Minnesota, Carolyn Crow of the University of Colorado Boulder and Maryjo Brounce of the University of California Riverside.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

UA Astronomers Join $242 Million NASA Mission

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 2:48 PM

NASA's SPHEREx mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems. - COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY VIA UA NEWS
  • Courtesy of California Institute of Technology via UA News
  • NASA's SPHEREx mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems.

Astronomers at NASA have embarked on a new space mission to study the evolution of our universe and the commonality of ingredients for life on other planets. Two astronomers from the University of Arizona will participate in the mission.

The mission, called the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx mission was recently given the go ahead by NASA's Explorer program and will launch in 2023.

Elisabeth Krause and Tim Eifler, who both joined the UA as junior faculty members last fall, will be working on the mission over the coming years.

Krause is an assistant professor of astronomy and physics at the UA and is a mission co-investigator on the SPEREx mission. Eifler is an assistant professor of astronomy at the UA and is a SPHEREx collaborator.

Every six months, SPHEREx will survey the entire sky to create a map in 96 different color bands, far more than any other sky map.

"This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a press release. "It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing 'fingerprints' from the first moments in the universe's history. And we'll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang?"

Until the mission is launched, the SPEREx team will be designing, building and testing the space telescope.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Flandrau Science Center Provides “Moon Music Serenade” for Upcoming Eclipse

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 2:58 PM

  • BigStock
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium at the University of Arizona is off to the moon, hosting its first ever Moon Music Serenade event pairing music, telescopes, and a special moon presentation.

A lunar eclipse will begin on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 8:30 p.m. when the Earth’s shadow starts to cross over the Moon, leading to a full lunar eclipse around 9:40 p.m. when the shadow moves to cover the entire Moon.

“When people see things happening in the skies with their own eyes or through telescopes, it inspires their curiosity about planetary science,” said Shipherd Reed, Associate Director of Communications at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.

Flandrau has partnered with the UA Lunar & Planetary Lab, and Tucson Amateur Astronomers Association for this event. Volunteers from TAAA will provide telescopes for the public to enjoy and participate in the lunar eclipse.

Attendees also have the chance to capture some pictures of the eclipse. TAAA will provide smartphone photography adaptors right on their telescopes, so people can capture pictures of this lunar event.

“It’s a great opportunity to tap into what the UA has to offer the Tucson community,” Reed said.

The event will beheld outside on the UA mall. UA Chamber Winds will accompany the eclipse and the telescope gazing with wind, brass, and percussion instruments. The Chamber Winds, comprised of students from the Fred Fox School of Music, will play music themed by the stars and moon, according to Martin Gaines, a UA doctoral conducting student. Gaines will lead the Chamber Winds group for this event.

The Chamber Winds will play three songs while the lunar eclipse is happening, including Mozart Serenade in C Minor and an André Chaplet piece. The songs are paired just right for the event, according to Gaines.

“We’re doing a piece by Mozart that was written in 1782 and this is a wind serenade that was meant to be played at essentially an outdoors social event,” Gaines said. “I think it’s going to be fun to hear that in kind of the way that it was originally conceived to be performed.”

Steve Kortenkamp, a UA planetary scientist, will present about the Moon prior to the Chamber Winds performance at 7 p.m. His presentation will include talks about the Moon, what we already know and what we want to discover from the NASA research spacecraft that is orbiting the Moon.

The concert, the telescope viewings, and Flandrau exhibits will be free and open to the public. The Moon presentation by Kortenkamp and “Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon” Laser light show are $5 each. The event will start at the same time of the eclipse, at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 20, 2019 on the UA mall just outside of the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Stay Up to See Sunday's 'Super Blood Wolf Moon'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 4:50 PM

Tucson is in the perfect spot for viewers to see the lunar eclipse clearly. - COURTESY OF ACCUWEATHER
  • Courtesy of AccuWeather
  • Tucson is in the perfect spot for viewers to see the lunar eclipse clearly.

If you need reason to stay up on a school night, the dramatic name of this lunar event should be  enough to keep you up. This Sunday's lunar event called a Super Blood Wolf Moon is an event not to miss.

Need another reason? Sunday night, Jan. 20, will be the last total lunar eclipse of the decade. The moon will appear red in the night sky as the moon passes directly through the Earth's shadow. The red color gives this lunar event it's nickname of blood moon.

The moon will also be "super" this Sunday, as it appears larger because it is within the closest part of its orbit around Earth.

  • Courtesy BigStock
Where does the wolf come in? Full moons in January have historically been nicknamed wolf moons.

“In Native American and early Colonial times, the full moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac reported.

We are pretty lucky here in Tucson that the conditions will be just right for us to have a great view of the moon throughout the night.

The first phase, or the penumbral phase of the eclipse will start at 8:30 p.m. The shadow will then start to move across the moon, covering more and more of it until 9:40 p.m. when the entire moon will be covered for the total lunar eclipse.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

OSIRIS-REx Breaks Record: Smallest Object Ever Orbited by Spacecraft

Posted By on Tue, Jan 1, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The University of Arizona-led spacecraft OSIRIS-REx celebrated New Years its own way, by entering into orbit with the asteroid Bennu. When OSIRIS-REx completed its first orbit of the 1,614-foot long spherical asteroid, Bennu became the smallest celestial object ever orbited by a human spacecraft.
  • Courtesy

“The team continued our long string of successes by executing the orbit-insertion maneuver perfectly,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator and UA professor. “With the navigation campaign coming to an end, we are looking forward to the scientific mapping and sample site selection phase of the mission.”

For the next year, OSIRIS-REx will map and photograph the surface of Bennu, searching for an ideal site to collect samples. Scientists chose Bennu, roughly the size of Pusch Ridge on the Catalinas, as the mission goal due to its carbon-rich surface and near-Earth orbit. From the collected samples of dust and rocks, researchers hope to examine the origins of life on Earth.

However, OSIRIS-REx will not be landing on Bennu to collect the cosmic samples. Instead, the spacecraft will perform a very close flyby, blast the asteroid with gas to knock loose some rocks and dust, and gather the propelled materials. Sample collection is scheduled for early July 2020. Afterward, the spacecraft will fly back toward Earth before jettisoning the "Sample Return Capsule" in September 2023.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Evidence of Water Found in Asteroid Bennu's Past

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 12:31 PM

Artist's conception of OSIRIS-REx contacting Bennu's surface - NASA
  • NASA
  • Artist's conception of OSIRIS-REx contacting Bennu's surface
In the first scientific data returned from the OSIRIS-REx mission, hydrated minerals have been found on Bennu's surface. For hydrated minerals to be formed, they must come in contact with water at some point.

"These hydrated minerals have evidence of liquid water in Bennu's past," said Amy Simon, Deputy Instrument Scientist for the OSIRIS-REx mission. "It's one of the things we were hoping to find... we're super excited." 

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Monday, December 3, 2018

OSIRIS-REx Has Arrived at Asteroid Bennu

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2018 at 10:13 AM

OSIRIS-REx, the NASA space probe built and managed by the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab with various partners, has arrived at Asteroid Bennu, some 80 million miles away, and is ready to begin the next stage of its mission.

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Monday, Dec. 3

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2018 at 1:00 AM

  • courtesy
REEL Rock 13. For this event, The Loft and Rocks & Ropes climbing gym have gathered the year's best climbing films for an extravaganza with enough mountains, ropes and alpine trails to give the whole audience vertigo. This year's lineup includes The Age of Ondra, about a 25-year-old Czech exploring "a new realm of human potential in climbing"; Up to Speed, about climbing in the 2020 Olympics; Queen Maud Land, about an elite team of climbers hoping to scale the remote frozen peaks of Antarctica; and many more. 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3. 3233 E Speedway Blvd. $15. Details Here.

  • NASA
Eos Planetarium Theatre Show: Black Holes. On Monday, Dec. 3 UA Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium is hosting its documentary on Black Holes. Take a dive into modern science and discover more of what scientists have learned in the recent years. With a fresh, new and updated theater you will be sure to be comfortable while your eyes are on the screen listening to the sweet voice of Academy Award nominated actor Liam Neeson! 4 p.m. 1601 E. University Blvd. Details Here.

Einstein's Legacy: The New Era of Multimessenger Astronomy. Enjoy the last round of the 2018 Steward Public Lectures and learn about the legacy Einstein left behind. Steward Observatory has been hosting public lectures since 1922 so if you're into traditions; this definitely is one. Free. 933 N. Cherry Ave. 7:30 p.m. Details Here.

Events compiled by Brianna Lewis, Emily Dieckman, B.S. Eliot and Jeff Gardner.

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Staff Pick

Menopause the Musical!

The cast of four fabulous women shop for laundry at a Bloomingdale’s sale, sing 25 songs about… More

@ The Gaslight Music Hall Tue., March 19, 6-8 p.m., Wed., March 20, 6-8 p.m., Thu., March 21, 6-8 p.m., Fri., March 22, 6-8 p.m., Sun., March 24, 2-4 & 6-8 p.m., Mon., March 25, 6-8 p.m., Tue., March 26, 6-8 p.m., Wed., March 27, 6-8 p.m., Thu., March 28, 6-8 p.m., Fri., March 29, 6-8 p.m., Sun., March 31, 2-4 & 6-8 p.m., Mon., April 1, 6-8 p.m., Tue., April 2, 6-8 p.m., Wed., April 3, 6-8 p.m. and Thu., April 4, 6-8 p.m. 13005 N Oracle Rd

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