India launches mission to the moon
Early this week, India’s first mission to the moon, called Chandrayaan-I, was launched successfully. The PSLV-C11 rocket is an upgraded version of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle designed by the Indian Space Research Organization.
The spacecraft has been launched into a very elongated orbit around the Earth. In about two weeks, it will enter the lunar orbit. Then its orbit around the moon will be lowered to an altitude of 100 kilometers in order to eject the Moon Impact Probe.
The Moon Impact Probe will provide crucial information about the lunar surface. The rest of the mission will be carried out from orbit with the help of the 11 scientific instruments on board. These include three from Europe and two from NASA.
Sticky tape produces X-rays
Researchers have discovered that when sticky tape is peeled off its roll, it produces energy in the form of visible light and also as X-rays.
The X-rays generated are very strong and are even capable of showing the bones in the fingers. But the tape has to be in vacuum for this to happen. It does not produce X-rays in ambient conditions because the electrons responsible for the X-rays are slowed down by gases in the air. It is claimed that this energy can be used for nuclear fusion experiments. Only 10 times the energy produced by this experiment is required for nuclear fusion reactions.
Unique dinosaur fossil discovered
A fossil has been newly identified by the South African Museum to mark Heterodontosaurus, a species of dinosaur, as one of the most unusual of its kind. The species presents a possible link between the meat-eating dinosaurs and the plant-eating dinosaurs. The baby dinosaur’s skull is the same size as that of a rat’s head.
The skull is 45 millimeters long. It has a snub nose and large eye sockets. It also has the meat-tearing canine teeth normally found in adults. While the canines are present in the front of the mouth, it also has characteristics similar to those of herbivores — it has molars at the back. Researchers claim that Heterodontosaurus may have chewed vegetation with the molars, while the canines could be present solely for display, like those of a male warthog. This theory is yet to be confirmed.
High greenhouse gas levels recorded
New results released last week indicate that levels of nitrogen trifluoride, a powerful greenhouse gas, are four times higher than they were thought to be. There are about 5400 metric tons of nitrogen trifluoride in the atmosphere, and this is increasing by 11 percent each year.
It is believed that nitrogen trifluoride, which is used in lasers and to etch silicon wafers, warms the Earth 17,000 times more than an equal mass of carbon monoxide. These reports are a result of data collected over the last 30 years under the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment funded by NASA. They indicate that the levels of nitrogen trifluoride need to be highly regulated in the future.