NASA scientists have completed the first map showing the global geology of Saturn's largest moon Titan, according to a release of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Monday.
The map fully reveals a dynamic world of dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains, said the JPL.
"Titan is the only planetary body in the solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan what rains down is methane and ethane ... that behave as liquids in Titan's frigid climate," it said.
"Titan has an active methane-based hydrologic cycle that has shaped a complex geologic landscape, making its surface one of most geologically diverse in the solar system," Rosaly Lopes, a planetary geologist at JPL and lead author of new research used to develop the map, was quoted as saying by the JPL.
"Despite the different materials, temperatures and gravity fields between Earth and Titan, many surface features are similar between the two worlds and can be interpreted as being products of the same geologic processes," she said.
According to the release, Lopes and her team worked with fellow planetary geologist David Williams of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe. Their findings, which include the relative age of Titan's geologic terrains, were recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
"Lopes' team used data from NASA's Cassini mission, which operated between 2004 and 2017 and did more than 120 flybys of the Mercury-size moon. Specifically, they used data from Cassini's radar imager to penetrate Titan's opaque atmosphere of nitrogen and methane," said the JPL.
"In addition, the team used data from Cassini's visible and infrared instruments, which were able to capture some of Titan's larger geologic features through the methane haze," it said.
"This study is an example of using combined datasets and instruments," Lopes said.
"Although we did not have global coverage with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), we used data from other instruments and other modes from radar to correlate characteristics of the different terrain units so we could infer what the terrains are even in areas where we don't have SAR coverage," she said.
Ferrari hoped the Brazilian Grand Prix would bring some relief after poor performances and even accusations of cheating from opponents.
Instead, the Formula 1 team ended the weekend with a collision involving its two drivers as they fought for only fourth place at Interlagos.
Sebastian Vettel looked strong starting from second in Sunday’s race. Charles Leclerc, who began from 14th position because of an engine penalty, jumped to sixth in only 11 laps in Sao Paulo.
It was too good to last.
The two Ferrari drivers faced off on Lap 66 after a safety car restart, and contact between the cars gave Vettel a right-rear puncture, while Leclerc had a broken suspension. Both failed to finish.
“It is very disappointing for the team,” Vettel said after the race.
Leclerc said he wanted to see footage of the crash before reaching any conclusions. “It was a great race before that. But we can’t draw anything positive from this race,” he said.
Their exit allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the winner in Brazil, to jump to third place in the driver’s championship. He is 11 points ahead of fourth-place Leclerc with only the Abu Dhabi GP on Dec. 1 to go. Vettel is 30 points behind Verstappen and cannot claim a top three spot any longer.
Ferrari will also finish the season far behind Mercedes in the constructors championship.
Earlier this month at the United States GP, Leclerc finished almost a minute behind race winner Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes. Vettel retired early.
After that race, Verstappen suggested that Ferrari had been “cheating”. The Red Bull driver said on Dutch TV that the Italian team’s performance dipped at Austin because of a FIA directive on fuel flow systems.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the directive had no impact on the team’s engine.
After the Brazilian GP Binotto said "both of them (Vettel and Leclerc) have got at least a small percentage of responsibility" for the clash.
"At the end, they were free to fight," Binotto said.
China's Nanjing University of Science and Technology has unveiled a lens-free digital holography microscope "CyteLive" that can achieve high precision and a large field of view at the same time.
Developed by a team of the university's students, the instrument won the gold prize at the 5th China College Students' "Internet+" Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition last month in east China's Zhejiang Province.
Without a traditional optical lens, the instrument just comprises a light source and a sensor. It is only 0.8 percent the size of a conventional microscope which is usually bulky and large, and can be easily lifted with one hand, said project leader Lu Linpeng, also a doctoral candidate at the university.
By leveraging computational microscopic imaging technologies, students developed algorithms that can reconstruct a high-resolution image based on a series of low-resolution images.
According to Lu, the CyteLive can offer a field of view 200 times greater than that of a conventional microscope, with a single image reaching a whopping 100 megapixels. People can use it to observe 100,000 blood cells simultaneously.
"Because cells are transparent, researchers usually have to stain and label cells with artificial fluorophores before observation, which, however, can damage or even kill cells, reducing the observation time," said Zuo Chao, a professor from the university.
The new microscope can overcome this deficiency, enabling observation to last for several days without using any staining markers on cells, Zuo said.
It has been granted several patents and applied in some Chinese hospitals and medical institutions. The research team said the microscope will enter the market soon.
NASA scientists have discovered a potential place for its Mars 2020 rover to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater where the rover will land in February of 2021.
The study published Tuesday in the journal Icarus showed the existence of distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of the crater, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago.
The hardy structures of carbonates can survive in fossil form for billions of years on Earth. Those fossils include seashells, coral and some stromatolites, which are rocks formed by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines.
Scientists identified Jezero's shoreline as a prime scientific hunting ground since the stromatolite-like structures may exist there.
NASA's Curiosity rover had already found that parts of Mars could have supported microbial life billions of years ago.
It identified the seasonal changes of the oxygen and methane directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars, showing tantalizing signs of possible biological activity on Mars. However, the Curiosity rover is unable to analyze what causes the changes.
Mars 2020 is NASA's next-generation mission to study life throughout the universe. It will search for actual signs of past microbial life, taking rock core samples that will be deposited in metal tubes on the Martian surface.
Also, carbonates can reveal more about how Mars transitioned from having liquid water and a thicker atmosphere to being the freezing desert it is today.
The Mars 2020 rover will launch in July or August 2020. It is part of a larger program that includes missions to the moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Five new remote-sensing satellites were sent into planned orbit from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China's Shanxi Province Wednesday.
The five Ningxia-1 satellites were launched by a Long March-6 carrier rocket at 2:35 p.m. (Beijing Time).
The satellites are part of a commercial satellite project invested by the Ningxia Jingui Information Technology Co., Ltd. and will be mainly used for remote sensing detection.
The satellites and carrier rocket were developed by the DFH Satellite Co., Ltd. and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.
Wednesday's launch was the 318th mission for the Long March series carrier rockets.