Mars may become a ringed planet someday
In a few tens of millions of years, the Red Planet may completely crush its innermost moon, Phobos, and form a ring of rocky debris, according to the new work. Phobos is moving closer to Mars every year, meaning the planet’s gravitational pull on the satellite is increasing. Some scientists have theorized that Phobos will eventually collide with Mars, but the new research suggests that the small moon may not last that long.
“The main factor affecting whether Phobos will crash into Mars or break apart is its strength,” Tushar Mittal, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the authors of the new research paper, told Space.com by email. “If Phobos is too weak to withstand increasing tidal stresses, then we expect it to break apart.”
After its launch in 2009, NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft observed 163 comets during the WISE/NEOWISE prime mission. This sample from the space telescope represents the largest infrared survey of comets to date. “This is the first time we’ve seen such large statistical evidence of carbon monoxide taking over as a comet’s gas of choice when they are farther out from the sun,” said James Bauer, deputy principal investigator of the NEOWISE mission.
The NEOWISE mission hunts for near-Earth objects using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. Funded by NASA’s Planetary Science division, the NEOWISE project uses images taken by the spacecraft to look for asteroids and comets, providing a rich source of measurements of solar system objects at infrared wavelengths. These measurements include emission lines that are difficult or impossible to detect directly from the ground.
Hera Systems enters crowded smallsat imaging field
A California company announced plans Nov. 19 to develop a constellation of small remote sensing satellites, entering a field that has become increasingly crowded in the last year.
Hera Systems of San Jose, California, is planning to launch nine cubesat-class spacecraft in late 2016 that will be able to provide images at resolutions of up to one meter over several spectral bands, as well as video. That initial constellation could grow in time to up to 48 satellites, allowing the company to take images of the same location several times a day.
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Build up your space industry coding portfolio by participating in a challenge: try to land a model of the Mars Lander. Which algorithms will you use for this? More information