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Science Ticker

NASA has a plan for putting rock from asteroid in moon’s orbit

Asteroid Redirect Mission

A future spacecraft will abscond with a boulder from an asteroid, illustrated here, and return it to lunar orbit where it will await a human rendezvous, NASA announced March 25.

Sponsor Message

Okay, here’s the plan: In 2020, we’ll fly a probe to an asteroid, look for a boulder to steal, pluck it off the asteroid with robotic arms, try to deflect the asteroid using our spacecraft’s gravity, fly back home, deposit the boulder in orbit around the moon, and wait for humans to visit the space rock around 2025.

This is the concept NASA has selected for its Asteroid Redirect Mission, announced March 25 at a news conference. The plan is one of two that were under consideration for the mission.

The purpose of the mission is to test technologies and deep space rendezvous maneuvers deemed necessary for a manned mission to Mars. NASA hasn’t yet selected an asteroid to visit; they won’t make that decision until one year before launch. 

Science & Society,, Numbers

John Nash, Louis Nirenberg share math’s Abel Prize

By Lila Guterman 4:53pm, March 25, 2015
John Nash and Louis Nirenberg will receive the 2015 ‘Nobel of mathematics’ for their work on partial differential equations.
Quantum Physics

One photon wrangles 3,000 atoms into quantum entanglement

By Andrew Grant 2:00pm, March 25, 2015
A single photon can trigger the creation of quantum entanglement between thousands of atoms.
Microbiology,, Agriculture

A vineyard's soil influences the microbiome of a grapevine

By Helen Thompson 7:00am, March 25, 2015
Vineyard soil microbes end up on grapes, leaves and flowers, study finds.
Neuroscience

The brain sees words, even nonsense ones, as pictures

By Ashley Yeager 5:28pm, March 24, 2015
Once we learn a word, our brain sees the string of letters as a picture, even if the word isn't a real one.
Chemistry,, Neuroscience,, Health

Today’s pot is more potent, less therapeutic

By Beth Mole 12:32pm, March 24, 2015
The medicinal qualities of marijuana may be up in smoke thanks to years of cross-breeding plants for a better buzz.
Planetary Science,, Astrobiology

Potentially life-friendly nitrogen compounds found on Mars

By Lila Guterman 3:53pm, March 23, 2015
“Fixed” nitrogen has been found in Mars deposits, raising the possibility that ancient life could have used it to build biomolecules.
Planetary Science

Bright patches on Ceres are plumes of water, maybe

By Christopher Crockett 10:49am, March 20, 2015
Bright patches on Ceres could be plumes of water venting into space.
Animals

Why orangutans cup their mouths to sound an alarm

By Helen Thompson 6:18pm, March 19, 2015
Orangutans might use their hands to lower the pitch of alarm calls, a study suggests.
Animals,, Ecology

Parasites make cannibal shrimp hungry

By Helen Thompson 8:00am, March 19, 2015
Parasites make sometimes-cannibalistic shrimp more cannibalistic, a new study suggests.
Genetics,, Ancestry

History of the United Kingdom revealed in its genes

By Tina Hesman Saey 2:49pm, March 18, 2015
A genetics study finds subtle differences that reveal secrets about the history and ancestry of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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