The spacecraft attempted to suck up rocks and dirt from the asteroid, which could aid humanity’s ability to divert one that might slam into Earth.

 

[How much of Bennu did NASA’s OSIRIS-REX collect? We’re waiting to find out.]

 

A NASA robot pogo-sticked off an asteroid on Tuesday and grabbed a sample of dirt and rocks, material that could give scientists new insights to the birth of the solar system.

From first impressions recorded 200 millions away on Earth, the OSIRIS-REX spacecraft pulled off its collection of bits of asteroid, a carbon-rich rock known as Bennu, perfectly. It then backed away and headed back to orbit.

 

“Transcendental,” Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the mission, said moments later. “I mean, I can’t believe we actually pulled this off.”

 

It will take a few more days before scientists can completely declare success. At present, they can only say that the spacecraft executed its instructions exactly as programmed. What is not yet known is how much material was actually grabbed. Scientists are hoping for at least a couple of ounces, but the sampling mechanism can hold up to four pounds. “It’s up to Bennu now to see how the event went,” Dr. Lauretta said. If it succeeded in its goal of sucking up some rocks and dirt from the asteroid’s surface, it could potentially unlock secrets to what the solar system was like when it first formed 4.5 billion years ago.

 

“The asteroids are like time capsules, floating in space, that can provide a fossil record of the birth of our solar system,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said during a news conference on Monday. Many asteroids — including Bennu — cross the orbit of Earth and could collide with our planet someday. A better understanding of these space rocks, which come in many types, could aid humanity’s ability to divert one that might slam into Earth.

 

The name OSIRIS-REX is a shortening of Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nytimes.com

An international team has found a way to potentially prevent the novel coronavirus from infecting cells, as well as clues as to why it is more infectious than similar viruses.

 

University of Bristol researchers Dr Yohei Yamauchi and Professor Peter Cullen identified where the virus binds when it is infecting host cells and then joined forces with Dr Kai-En (Kevin) Chen and Professor Brett Collins from IMB to find out more.

 

Putting more pieces of the puzzle together, Dr Chen and Professor Collins were able to show exactly how the virus binds to a host cell by modelling the site where they interact. “The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses a protein called Spike to bind and enter host cells, and we now know that in addition to the already known ACE2 receptor, the Spike binds to a second receptor on the host cells called neuropilin,” Professor Collins said. “We used X-ray crystallography to see the structure of proteins at the atomic level and visualize the binding sites at a spectacular level of detail.”

 

The University of Bristol team then looked at the effect of disrupting the binding between the virus and the second receptor.

"We discovered that by blocking the virus protein from binding neurophilin on the cells, it was possible to reduce the infection rate of the virus," Dr Yamauchi said. “If we can make a drug that blocks the virus from binding to cells, this has potential as a new therapy for treating COVID-19."

Sourced through Scoop.it from: imb.uq.edu.au

Outwitting Albert Einstein just got even tougher. More than 100 years ago, the famous physicist published his explanation of gravity, known as general relativity (GR), which successfully explains everything from the orbits of planets to the bending of starlight. Still, some physicists have been trying to invent theories that can solve puzzles GR cannot—for example, by explaining away the need for invisible dark matter, whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies. But the first direct image of a black hole, revealed last year, has now provided a tough new test for theories of gravity. Fail it and your theory is dead. “It’s a new hoop to jump through and a fairly narrow one,” says Feryal Özel, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona who helped devise the new test.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.sciencemag.org

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have proposed a novel method for finding dark matter, the cosmos’s mystery material that has eluded detection for decades. Dark matter makes up about 27% of the universe; ordinary matter, such as the stuff that builds stars and planets, accounts for just 5% of the cosmos. A mysterious entity called dark energy, accounts for the other 68%.

 

According to cosmologists, all the visible material in the universe is merely floating in a vast sea of dark matter — particles that are invisible but nonetheless have mass and exert a gravitational force. Dark matter’s gravity would provide the missing glue that keeps galaxies from falling apart and account for how matter clumped together to form the universe’s rich galactic tapestry. 

 

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nist.gov

Soon, astronauts on moon missions won’t have any excuse for not answering their texts.

NASA has awarded Nokia of America $14.1 million to deploy a cellular network on the moon. The freaking moon. The grant is part of $370 million worth of contracts signed under NASA’s "Tipping Point" selections, meant to advance research and development for space exploration. 

Nokia’s plan is to build a 4G/LTE network, and eventually transition to 5G (just like the rest of us). It will be "the first LTE/4G communications system in space," according to NASA’s announcement.

"The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards," the announcement also reads.

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: mashable.com

OmniVision OV6948 enters the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest camera.

 

OmniVision OV6948 measures in super-small at just 0.575 x 0.575 x 0.232mm and is good for 40,000-pixel color images using an RGB Bayer back-side-illuminating chip. This new camera is ridiculosuly small, but it’s for specific use cases in surgery.

With the OmniVision OV6948 surgeons can have a camera so small it will fit into the smallest veins inside of the human body.

 

This technology provides surgeons and doctors that have the OmniVision OV6948 with next-gen camera access for future surgeries. Until now, surgeons do this without any camera — acting blind. The only cameras capable of anything close to this are very few, but they also have a much lower resolution fiber optic feed. The new OmniVision OV6948 captures images at 30FPS, and can have analog output at over 4mm away with minimal noise.

 

The OmniVision OV6948 has a 120-degree super-side angle field of view, something that on a regular camera would come up as 14nm on a full-frame sensor. The depth of field for the OmniVision OV6948 spans between 3mm and 30mm.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.tweaktown.com

Gravitational wave detectors have opened a new window to the universe by measuring the ripples in spacetime produced by colliding black holes and neutron stars, but they are ultimately limited by quantum fluctuations induced by light reflecting off of mirrors. LSU Ph.D. physics alumnus Jonathan Cripe and his team of LSU researchers have conducted a new experiment with scientists from Caltech and Thorlabs to explore a way to cancel this quantum backaction and improve detector sensitivity.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: phys.org