April 2019

A solution to the mystery of the origin of long gamma-ray bursts

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” offers a solution to the problem of the origin of photons that make up a long duration gamma-ray burst. A team of researchers coordinated by the Riken Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan created a series of simulations based on the Yonetoku relation, an equation devised by Daisuke Yonetoku, one of the authors of the research, which links the peaks of energy and brightness in gamma-ray bursts concluding that their photons originate in the photosphere, the area of ​​a star in which normal light is emitted.

The Hayabusa 2 space probe generated a crater on asteroid Ryugu

A few hours ago the Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 generated a crater on asteroid Ryugu, an operation that aims to remove materials from its surface to be able to take samples of subsoil materials that weren’t altered by exposure to space weather. The system called Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) launched a 2.5 kg copper bullet that was fired into the surface by an explosive system. In a couple of weeks, Hayabusa 2 is scheduled to return to the site to take debris samples.

The Progress MS-11 cargo spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Progress MS-11 spacecraft blasted off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its ultra-fast track in its resupply mission to the International Space Station also called Progress 72 or 72P. After almost 3.5 hours it reached the International Space Station docking with its Pirs module.

An independent confirmation of a methane peak on Mars

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” reports an independent confirmation of the detection of a methane peak on the planet Mars, east of Gale Crater, where NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity is operating and detected the presence of methane. However, a team of researchers led by Marco Giuranna of the Italian National Astrophysics Institute in Rome used measurements of ESA’s Mars Express space probe’s PFS instrument to find methane. Independent detections carried out in orbit and on the ground with very different instruments are crucial in this research because methane can be produced by biological processes but also by geological processes.