Planetary Science: In a 1st, NASA’s Perseverance rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars

[This is a first of a kind engineering breakthrough. How to make oxygen on Mars for humans! The results are good!! Clearly … humans on Mars … are coming. Jan]

NASA’s Perseverance rover has generated 4.3 ounces of breathable oxygen while on the Red Planet — enough to sustain an adult human for three hours.

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, NASA’s Perseverance rover has produced enough oxygen on Mars to keep an astronaut alive for three hours.

The rover, which first touched down on Mars in February 2021, produced the element using its Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) device — which generated the oxygen by converting carbon dioxide in periodic bouts over two years.

Since arriving on the Red Planet, the microwave-size device has generated 4.3 ounces (122 grams) of oxygen, according to NASA. This is equivalent to what a small dog breathes in 10 hours and gives scientists hope that human life could, one day, be sustained on the inhospitable planet.

"We’re proud to have supported a breakthrough technology like MOXIE that could turn local resources into useful products for future exploration missions," Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "By proving this technology in real-world conditions, we’ve come one step closer to a future in which astronauts ‘live off the land’ on the Red Planet."

Carbon dioxide is abundant on Mars, making up 95% of its thin atmosphere, according to NASA. By zapping small amounts of carbon dioxide over 16 experiments, the MOXIE device stripped oxygen atoms from CO2 and analyzed them for purity before sequestering them safely within a capsule. The leftovers were then emitted in the form of carbon monoxide.

The scientists say that oxygen extraction devices won’t just be useful for future colonists to breathe but for making rocket fuel too.

"MOXIE’s impressive performance shows that it is feasible to extract oxygen from Mars’ atmosphere — oxygen that could help supply breathable air or rocket propellant to future astronauts," Pamela Melroy, NASA’s deputy administrator, said in the statement. "Developing technologies that let us use resources on the Moon and Mars is critical to build a long-term lunar presence, create a robust lunar economy, and allow us to support an initial human exploration campaign to Mars."

Despite this small but significant step, many profound health challenges still stand in the way of a viable Mars colony. For starters, Mars is so cold that its average temperature of around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62 degrees Celsius) would freeze a human to death without a space suit, and its low atmospheric pressure would simultaneously boil their blood. This is without taking into account the bombardment of cancer-causing radiation from the lack of a protective ozone layer and the extreme losses to bone-density brought on by the journey there.

Until these problems are overcome, humanity’s closest view of the Red Planet is still from rovers such as Perseverance. As a key part of NASA’s $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, the robot, alongside the Curiosity rover, is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars’ surface by collecting dozens of rock samples for eventual return to Earth. The rover is accompanied by the Ingenuity helicopter, which has so far made 57 flights over the Martian surface.


Science: Archaeology: Were Whites making star maps 3,000 Years ago?

The latest debate erupted within the field of archaeology Monday over the discovery of a roughly 3,000-year-old stone disk that appears to show a celestial map.

A giant stone disk, about the size of an average car tire, featuring what appears to be a celestial map, was discovered in northeastern Italy some years ago, according to a study published in the journal Astronomical Notes. The disks were found at the entrances to graveyards near two Protohistoric hill forts, believed to have been settled between 1800 and 1650 B.C.

Patterns carved into the stone were analyzed by researchers, and appear to line up with existing asterisms (star charts, or the placement of stars in our night skies). Of the 29 marks on the stones, nine line up with the Tail of Scorpius, five with Orion’s Belt, including Rigel and Betelgeuse, Pleiades and Cassiopeia. Twenty-eight of 29 of the marks line up with existing astronomy.

But there’s at least one mark that suggests a failed supernova event in our deep past, which is why we can’t see the same mark in the sky today.

A carved stone disk discovered at a hillfort in northeastern Italy that was in use between 1800 and 400 B.C. may have been an ancient celestial map.

— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) January 10, 2024

But at least one astronomer is unconvinced by the work put forward by the researchers, according to Live Science. Griffith Observatory director Ed Krupp, who had nothing to do with the original research, thinks our ancient ancestors lined up their carvings on this stone disk accidentally.

“Could these marks represent asterisms? They could,” he said. But “does the paper argue a persuasive case? No, it doesn’t,” Krupp said, getting his 15 minutes of fame and contributing absolutely nothing of substance to the discussion. So why say anything at all? (RELATED: ‘100% Probability’ Major Global Catastrophe Destroys All Technology, Dennis Quaid Explains To Tucker Carlson)

My gut tells me that if we finally admit our ancestors were far more technologically savvy than we’ve given them credit for, we’ll have to start asking big scary questions about why we aren’t more developed as a species today. And if we really dig into why we’re going backward in our scientific exploration and social standing, a lot of very powerful people stand to lose all the control and money they’ve made from making our lives worse.

And we simply can’t have that, can we?


Science: Intergalactic stream of stars 10 times longer than the Milky Way is the 1st of its kind ever spotted

Astronomers have accidentally discovered the first known intergalactic trail of stars. The gigantic "stellar stream," which is around 10 times longer than the Milky Way, suggests that more of these structures could be lurking in deep space, a new study reveals.

Stellar streams are elongated threads of gravitationally entwined stars that have likely been ripped away from their parent galaxies or nebulas by the gravitational pull of other nearby galaxies. Scientists have mapped dozens of these streams within galaxies, including the Milky Way. But until now, none had been discovered in intergalactic space, meaning the space between galaxies.

In the study, which was published Nov. 30 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the researchers identified and mapped the first-ever intergalactic stellar stream, which stretches through the Coma Cluster, also known as Abell 1656, a group of more than 1,000 small galaxies located around 321 million light-years from Earth. The researchers named the first-of-its-kind structure the Giant Coma Stream — so named because it is also the largest stellar stream ever found.

"This giant stream crossed our path by coincidence," study lead author Javier Román, an astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, said in a statement. The team was initially studying halos of dispersed stars around the Coma Cluster, in an attempt to measure the dark matter that surrounds the galaxy group, when they came across the starry trail.

A map of galaxies with a large stream of stars running through it

Study co-author R. Michael Rich, an astronomer at the University of California, Los Angeles, made the first observations of the Giant Coma Stream with his personal telescope. The team then turned to the more powerful William Herschel Telescope, located on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain, to properly study the stream.

The researchers were surprised to find the stellar stream lurking within the galaxy cluster. The structure is "a rather fragile structure amid a hostile environment of mutually attracting and repelling galaxies," study co-author Reynier Peletier, an astronomer at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said in the statement. Normally, you would expect something like this to be ripped apart by the more massive galaxies, he added.

The team is unsure how the stellar stream has persisted and grown so large, but one explanation could be the elusive material they were originally looking for — dark matter. While this mysterious entity makes up most of the matter in the universe, it is effectively invisible and can be detected only through its gravitational interactions with visible matter. It’s possible, the team said, that dark matter lurking within the galaxy group helped to stretch the stellar stream into its current shape.

The researchers are planning to study the stream with more powerful telescopes to learn more about the mysterious structure and its origins. They also hope to analyze individual stars within the stream to see if they are unique in any way.

The discovery of the Giant Coma Stream also opens the door for more intergalactic stellar streams to be found. The researchers believe there could be many more out there and hope that increasingly advanced telescopes, coupled with their findings, could help other astronomers find more of these stellar streams.


Science: A new success in Cloning: Cloned Rhesus Monkey

[Science continues to move forward. All these experiments with animals are good. We have the right to do this. I don't worry about morality and screeching. Jan]

A genetically cloned rhesus monkey has survived into adulthood for the first time, according to new research published yesterday. The healthy 3-year-old named Retro is just the third instance of a cloned primate to reach maturity after two 6-year-old long-tailed macaques born in 2018.

The achievement marks a rare success in a complex procedure—known as somatic cell nuclear transfer—which sees the vast majority of implanted primate embryos fail to reach birth. Researchers tweaked the process—the same used to produce Dolly the Sheep in 1996, the first cloned adult mammal—to prevent developmental defects associated with the cloned embryo’s placenta. Some medical researchers believe cloned primates could prove more effective than commonly used mice in lab settings, while animal advocates argue the procedures cause undue stress to intelligent primates.

Thousands of animals—including carp, horses, wolves, and more—are cloned each year for agriculture and research, as well as for the preservation of personal pets.

Science: German Scientist says: Sun might have a Liquid Surface – Not Gas! – My Comments

[This is very weird for me, but I think this German scientist might be on to something. He makes some interesting points and apparently there is another scientist who also thinks the same. It would be pretty wild if the sun has a liquid surface. Could you get some type of probe that can test it? That could be wild. Jan]

Here’s the video: