NICK STROBEL: Analysis continues on 1972 Artemis moon missions

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It’s been nearly 50 years for the reason that final human exploration of the moon with the Apollo 16 and 17 missions in 1972. NASA’s Artemis program may get people strolling round on the moon within the subsequent three to 4 years. Mars can be at the very least 10 years after that. The Apollo missions introduced again over 800 kilos of rocks and soil for detailed evaluation of the composition and geologic historical past of the moon.

In an instance of foresight unusual right this moment, NASA put aside a small quantity of the samples for future analysis 50 years later, with the belief that future generations of scientists and engineers would have developed extra refined evaluation strategies and know-how.

The Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) challenge on the Johnson Space Center is now engaged on samples from 50 years in the past. An unsealed core pattern was opened in 2019 (50 years after Apollo 11) and this 12 months, the group is analyzing a pristine, vacuum sealed core pattern from Apollo 17. The ANGSA group has been working for just a few weeks to very rigorously pierce the interior seal of the core pattern and slowly collect any lunar gases nonetheless contained in the pattern.

Modern mass spectrometry know-how will likely be delivered to bear on the tiny quantity of fuel anticipated to be contained in the pattern. The mass spectrometer can exactly decide the mass of unknown molecules and use that information to exactly establish them. The collected fuel could be divided into smaller parts and shared with extra analysis groups than what we may do a long time in the past. The rocks and soil from the core pattern will likely be rigorously eliminated within the subsequent few months.

The strategies used within the ANGSA challenge will likely be used to research the samples returned by the Artemis missions. You can discover out extra in regards to the ANGSA challenge at . Three members of the ARES group — Andrea Mosie, Charis Krysher, and Juliane Gross — created an excellent video in regards to the processing of lunar samples within the Apollo Lunar Laboratory and the ANGSA challenge. It is posted on YouTube at

Mars movie on faucet at planetarium

Tickets go on sale Monday for the exhibiting of “MARS One Thousand One” on the William M Thomas Planetarium that will likely be introduced on April 21. 

“MARS One Thousand One” (aka “MARS 1K1”) is the story of 1 attainable mission to Mars. Space reporter Miles O’Brien guides you thru the primary human mission to Mars — a daring 1,000-day mission to fly a global crew to the purple planet and return them safely to Earth.

“MARS 1K1” is a bit longer than the opposite full-dome movies proven on the planetarium, so the whole presentation, with the tour of the night night time sky utilizing the Goto Chronos star projector that’s completed with each presentation, will run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. The doorways open at 7 p.m. and are locked when the present begins at 7:30 p.m.

Go to the planetarium’s web site at to get the hyperlinks for details about shopping for tickets on the BC Ticket Office or on-line by way of Vallitix.

While it is now not required to be masked indoors at BC, with the vaccination price at simply 54% in Kern County, it’s possible you’ll take into account carrying a masks contained in the closed house of the planetarium, particularly if in case you have or live with somebody with a compromised immune system.

No black gap in HR 6819  

In a column a few years in the past, I reported in regards to the attainable detection of a black gap comparatively close by within the star system known as HR 6819 simply 1,000 mild years away. HR 6819 is a binary system with two brilliant blue stars a lot hotter and extra large than the solar. One of the celebrities appeared to have a 40-day wobble, indicating the presence of an unseen companion. The dimension of the wobble was too massive to be made by some other compact object apart from a black gap.

The discovery was introduced in a peer-reviewed journal as a result of the proof was sturdy sufficient and the logic based mostly on the proof was sound sufficient to publish it.

The paper’s authors knew, nonetheless, that the invention was tentative and it must be independently confirmed within the second a part of the peer assessment course of. The authentic discovery group and skeptics of the declare joined forces to make use of the beautiful imaging and spectroscopy gear on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope facility in Chile. They discovered that the 2 blue stars are a lot nearer collectively than initially thought, so the 40-day wobble might be defined by simply the 2 stars alone. No black gap wanted. Sigh! We’ll must journey 5,100 mild years to get to the closest black gap.

In the night time sky

The season of spring formally started right this moment at 8:33 a.m. The flowers in my yard have been celebrating a number of weeks prematurely. On the morning of March 25, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will type a gorgeous triangle within the east-southeast earlier than dawn. Three mornings later, on March 28, the waning crescent moon will be a part of them. I hope you can take pleasure in a really darkish sky stuffed with stars someday this month!

Contributing columnist Nick Strobel is director of the William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College and writer of the award-winning web site

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