The Junior Age

Category: Science News

Human Impact on The Moon Worries Scientists

Did you know that in the last 60 years more than a hundred spacecraft have landed on the Moon? Geologists from the University of Kansas, US have expressed concern about the ways in which humans can have a negative impact on the Moon, such as leaving junk on the surface.

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It’s estimated that humans have left around 226,800 kg of waste on the Moon surface. That is more than twice as heavy as a Blue Whale, the largest animal on Earth today. Scientists have said that some measures should be put in place to prevent more damage.

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Send Your Name To Space

NASA is asking people to send in their names so they can be blasted off on a space mission, deep into our galaxy. The ‘Message in a Bottle’ campaign wants to give people the chance to have their name sten-cilled onto a microchip which will ride on the Europa Clipper space-craft, past Mars, and all the way to Jupiter and its moon, Europa. So far, about 700,000 names have been submitted and the deadline is December 31, 2023.

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You can do so on: https://europa.nasa.gov/message-in-a-bottle/sign-on/.

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NASA Capsule Returns To Earth With Asteroid Dust

Recently, a capsule carrying samples of a distant asteroid, collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft landed safely in the desert in Utah (US). These samples are the largest amount of asteroid material ever returned to Earth and were taken from a mountain-sized asteroid named Bennu. Scientists believe that this sample could help them answer the age-old question: where do we come from?

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OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016, and spent two years travelling through space to reach Bennu. The goal of the mission was to collect samples from the asteroid.

Bennu is over 320 million km away from the Earth. When the spacecraft reached the asteroid, It began to orbit it. Finally, in 2020, the spacecraft touched the surface of the asteroid for the several seconds, using a special arm to blow air and suck up dust and pebbles. Since then, the OSIRIS-REx has been heading back towards the Earth. The Capsule has been taken to NASA’s Johnson Space Center In Houston, Texas, where a very special lab has been set up to handle the asteroid sample.

System, and how life might have begun on the Earth. Scientists will look for chemicals that are important to life, such as amino acids – the building blocks of proteins.

What is asteroid Bennu?

Asteroid Bennu is a very big mass of rock weighing around 78 billion kg, in space. According to NASA, the asteroid probably broke off a much bigger one around 2 billion years ago. Because Bennu looks so similar to asteroids found on Earth scientists think it could contain some of the universe’s oldest ma-terials. This is why NASA is so keen to investigate it – it could help scientists find out more about where we come from.

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Ground Breaking – NASA Makes Oxygen On Mars

NASA has succeeded in producing enough oxygen on Mars to allow an astronaut to breathe for several hours. NASA has achieved this by using a device, which is about the size of a toaster, called Moxie, onboard NASA’s Perseverance Rover. NASA has made 122g of oxygen. This is enough for an astronaut to breathe for around three hours. NASA hopes that future human missions will take much bigger versions of Moxie to the Red Planet rather than carrying tanks of breathable oxygen with them on rockets from Earth.

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The atmosphere of the Red Planet is mostly made up of carbon dioxide – 96% of the planet’s air contains carbon dioxide. Only 0.13% oxygen is found in its atmosphere. Whereas 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxy-gen. Moxie is able to strip the oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.

Did You Know?

The Perseverance Rover landed on Mars in February 2021. It was the first time a mission has gone to Mars with such an advanced set of equipment, and it is the first time a robot has been sent. The main mission of the Perseverance Rover is to find evidence of past life on Mars.

Word Check 

A molecule is made up of two or more atoms that have bonded together. The amount and kind of atoms in a molecule and their arrangement determine its composition Almost everything is made up of atoms and molecules.

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Is There A Mystery Planet In Our Solar System?

Researchers may have discovered proof of a new planet similar to Earth.

A team of astronomers in Japan, including those from the country’s National Astronomical Observatory, believe that there is an unknown planet that may be circling the Sun in an orbit past Neptune. As of now, we know for sure that there are eight planets in our solar system. Their order from nearest the Sun to furthest away goes: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Satum, Uranus, Neptune and then a possible Planet Nine.

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The published research suggests that this possible Planet Nine, could be hiding in the Kuiper Belt. The researchers found that the way that some of the objects in the Kuiper Belt behave suggests there could be a small planet among them. The astronomers think this new planet could be three times as big as Earth but it would not have life as we know it, because the temperatures would be too cold. The team say finding this new discovery near the Kuiper Belt, could lead to finding more possible planets.

Word Check

According to NASA, the Kuiper Belt is a doughnut shaped region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune – the eighth and most distant planet in our solar system.

Did You Know?

For more than 70 years, Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system. However, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet. A dwarf planet orbits the sun just like other planets, but it is smaller.

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