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Oceans arrived early on Earth: Primitive meteorites were the likely source of water

Oceans arrived early on Earth: Primitive meteorites were the likely source of water | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: Where did Earth's water come from and when? While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.

 

"The answer to one of the basic questions is that our oceans were always here. We didn't get them from a late process, as was previously thought," said Adam Sarafian, the lead author of the paper published Oct. 31, 2014, in the journal Science and a MIT/WHOI Joint Program student in the Geology and Geophysics Department.

 

One school of thought was that planets originally formed dry, due to the high-energy, high-impact process of planet formation, and that the water came later from sources such as comets or "wet" asteroids, which are largely composed of ices and gases.

 

"With giant asteroids and meteors colliding, there's a lot of destruction," said Horst Marschall, a geologist at WHOI and coauthor of the paper. "Some people have argued that any water molecules that were present as the planets were forming would have evaporated or been blown off into space, and that surface water as it exists on our planet today, must have come much, much later -- hundreds of millions of years later."

 

The study's authors turned to another potential source of Earth's water -- carbonaceous chondrites. The most primitive known meteorites, carbonaceous chondrites, were formed in the same swirl of dust, grit, ice and gasses that gave rise to the sun some 4.6 billion years ago, well before the planets were formed. "These primitive meteorites resemble the bulk solar system composition," said WHOI geologist and coauthor Sune Nielsen. "They have quite a lot of water in them, and have been thought of before as candidates for the origin of Earth's water."

 

In order to determine the source of water in planetary bodies, scientists measure the ratio between the two stable isotopes of hydrogen: deuterium and hydrogen. Different regions of the solar system are characterized by highly variable ratios of these isotopes. The study's authors knew the ratio for carbonaceous chondrites and reasoned that if they could compare that to an object that was known to crystallize while Earth was actively accreting then they could gauge when water appeared on Earth.

 

To test this hypothesis, the research team, which also includes Francis McCubbin from the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico and Brian Monteleone of WHOI, utilized meteorite samples provided by NASA from the asteroid 4-Vesta. The asteroid 4-Vesta, which formed in the same region of the solar system as Earth, has a surface of basaltic rock -- frozen lava. These basaltic meteorites from 4-Vesta are known as eucrites and carry a unique signature of one of the oldest hydrogen reservoirs in the solar system. Their age -- approximately 14 million years after the solar system formed -- makes them ideal for determining the source of water in the inner solar system at a time when Earth was in its main building phase. The researchers analyzed five different samples at the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility -- a state-of-the-art national facility housed at WHOI that utilizes secondary ion mass spectrometers. This is the first time hydrogen isotopes have been measured in eucrite meteorites.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Your computer is about to achieve transendence

Your computer is about to achieve transendence | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

How NASA may be about to create the world's first computer with the ability to think with their Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Louise Donovan, 28/04/2014


Via Pierre Tran
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TRICHARD Véronique's curator insight, April 30, 7:38 AM

bits, qubits, ordinateur, quantique

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NASA testing lighter space suits for asteroid work

NASA testing lighter space suits for asteroid work | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. NASA is carrying out initial tests on a new, lighter spacesuit for use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft that is currently under development.
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Quantum Computer Passes Math Test, But Doesn't Answer the Big Question - Wired Science

Quantum Computer Passes Math Test, But Doesn't Answer the Big Question - Wired Science | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

A well-known problem called the “party problem” asks what the minimum number of guests you would need to invite to a gathering to ensure that a small subset is made of people who all know each other and another who all don’t. Solutions to this problem are given in what’s known as Ramsey numbers. Calculating the minimum number of guests to ensure groups of three strangers and three friends is fairly easy (the answer is six). But increasing the number of people makes the solution increasingly hard to calculate, with most Ramsey numbers being beyond the capability of our current computers.

D-Wave’s device was able to implement an algorithm to calculate Ramsey numbers for different configurations, though none that weren’t already known from previous work. The findings appeared Sept. 25 in Physical Review Letters.

Sharrock's insight:

from the article: "While noting that the D-Wave experiment’s calculations were correct, the authors of a commentary piece in the same issue wrote that “many more tests would be needed to conclude that the logical elements are functioning as qubits and that the device is a real quantum computer.”

 
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Scientists Begin to Unravel Gigantic Space Ribbon

Scientists Begin to Unravel Gigantic Space Ribbon | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
In 2009 astronomers using NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft accidentally came across a giant ribbon-like formation snaking its way across the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space.
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NASA tests prototype robotic planetary lander | News | The Engineer

NASA tests prototype robotic planetary lander | News | The Engineer | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The latest flight test of NASA’s experimental Project Morpheus lander was carried out last week.

 

The craft is an autonomous, rocket-powered vertical take-off and landing testbed that NASA is using to trial a variety of lander technologies.

 



Read more: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/aerospace/news/nasa-tests-prototype-robotic-planetary-lander/1018525.article#ixzz31iZ4bl2G

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6 Myths Everyone Believes about Space (Thanks to Movies)

6 Myths Everyone Believes about Space (Thanks to Movies) | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Yep, it's not enough for space to make us feel small -- it needs to make us feel stupid, too.
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irreverent but informative!
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Hubble Spots Water Plumes on Europa

Hubble Spots Water Plumes on Europa | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Water erupting from Europa's south pole may finally reveal whether its subterranean ocean is habitable.
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NASA rover confirms Mars origin of some meteorites that landed on Earth

NASA rover confirms Mars origin of some meteorites that landed on Earth | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

Examination of the Martian atmosphere by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover confirms that some meteorites that have dropped to Earth really are from the Red Planet.

 

A key new measurement of the inert gas argon in Mars’ atmosphere by Curiosity’s laboratory provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origin of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origin of other meteorites.

 

The new measurement is a high-precision count of two forms of argon — argon-36 and argon-38 — accomplished by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument inside the rover. These lighter and heavier forms, or isotopes, of argon exist naturally throughout the solar system. On Mars the ratio of light to heavy argon is skewed because much of that planet’s original atmosphere was lost to space. The lighter form of argon was taken away more readily because it rises to the top of the atmosphere more easily and requires less energy to escape. That left the Martian atmosphere relatively enriched in the heavier isotope, argon-38.

 

Years of past analyses by Earth-bound scientists of gas bubbles trapped inside Martian meteorites had already narrowed the Martian argon ratio to between 3.6 and 4.5 (that is 3.6 to 4.5 atoms of argon-36 to every one of argon-38). Measurements by NASA’s Viking landers in the 1970s put the Martian atmospheric ratio in the range of four to seven. The new SAM direct measurement on Mars now pins down the correct argon ratio at 4.2.

 

“We really nailed it,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, lead author of an Oct. 16 paper reporting the finding in Geophysical Research Letters. “This direct reading from Mars settles the case with all Martian meteorites.”

 

One reason scientists have been so interested in the argon ratio in Martian meteorites is that it was — before Curiosity — the best measure of how much atmosphere Mars has lost since the planet’s wetter, warmer days billions of years ago. Figuring out the planet’s atmospheric loss would enable scientists to better understand how Mars transformed from a once water-rich planet, more like our own, into today’s drier, colder and less-hospitable world.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Lead US Science Team for Dark Energy ... - Science Daily (press release)

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Lead US Science Team for Dark Energy ... - Science Daily (press release) | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Lead US Science Team for Dark Energy ... Science Daily (press release) The other two U.S.
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