May 2016

Progress phases of BEAM's expansion (Image NASA TV)

Yesterday the BEAM experimental module, connected to the International Space Station on April 16, has been inflated and pressurized after the first attempt began on Thursday was interrupted. The installation operations will be completed when the pressure inside it will be equalized with that in the rest of the Station. At that point, the crew can begin the testing phase, which will go on for approximately two years.

Two different articles, one to be published in the journal “Icarus” and one published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society”, describe different aspects of a study that offers a new model to describe the tidal effects that might cause fractures on the surface of icy moons. According to a University of Rochester team led by Alice Quillen the tidal effects of a close encounter could explain very extensive fractures.

Representation of a solar superflare (Image NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes a study on the relationship between super solar flares of a few billion years ago and the emergence of life forms on Earth. According to a team of NASA scientists led by Vladimir Airapetian those gigantic storms provided the energy needed to warm up the Earth and to trigger some chemical reactions needed to form complex molecules such as RNA and DNA on which life is based.

Artistic representation of a supermassive black hole seed. The inset boxes show a candidate seen by Chandra (top) and by Hubble (bottom) (Image X-ray: NASA/CXC/Scuola Normale Superiore/F. Pacucci, et al. Optical: NASA/STScI. Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

An article that will be published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a research on the origin of supermassive black holes. A team of Italian scientists led by Fabio Pacucci of Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa used NASA’s space telescopes to identify two ancient objects that represent the best candidates black hole “seeds” found so far.