Curiosity Rover Discovers Organic Molecules on Mars

The Mars Perseverance Rover has made great progress in exploring the mysterious red planet since its launch on July 30, 2020. The full audio recordings Perseverance collected while traversing the Martian surface, as well as the rustling of the planet’s solar winds had scientists and astronomy enthusiasts excited. The mission’s goal began last year by drilling for Martian rock samples in the Jezero crater. Analysis of data provided by Perseverance indicates that Mars may have had ancient flash floods in the area. The clarity of the images showing massive lake and river formations have scientists undoubtedly excited. The evidence gives insight into how Mars was formed, the planet’s hydrology, its layers and composition, among others. By the time studies from future launches in 2030 are complete, researchers hope to have collected approximately 30 samples for analysis. 

Initial attempts to collect Martian samples were conducted by the Curiosity Rover in 2016, but the larger drill bit shattered during its attempt on Mount Sharp, sidelining the mission for several years after. However, in the wake of this setback, NASA shifted gears to analyzing organic molecules present in loose samples the rover had previously collected. The ‘wet chemistry lab’ aboard Curiosity has only 9 cups of solvent and each one is single use, so samples must be chosen carefully and with great intention. The most difficult part of the experiment is collecting organic molecule samples without them breaking down into smaller molecules due to heat. The solvent avoids this problem by reacting with the compounds first to ensure they can be collected for analysis with the least risk of them breaking down. From the sand Curiosity had collected from Ogunquit Beach, researchers found ammonia, benzoic acid, among others, including several compounds that had not been found on Mars before. As of yet, no amino-acid like molecules have been discovered, so we still cannot conclusively say if there was life on Mars or not. 

Even if scientists are unable to discover proof of organic life on our red sister planet, the success of this new experiment paves the way for further research into not just extraterrestrial bodies, but our own planet.  

For more information, click here.  

Click here, to read some of Lenox Laser’s past blog posts covering NASA missions. 

Spectrometer Analysis of Exoplanets Revolutionizes Extraterrestrial Study

NASA has explored planets a variety of ways in the past, from rockets to astronauts to satellites and probes.  Now, they have a new tool to aid in their passion for discovery, an instrument called NEID, a massive spectrometer that will do deep dive studies of exoplanets in and around our solar system. Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other existing stars, and over the summer, the new instrument brought back data from our sun. The spectrometer’s main purpose is to locate, categorize, and define new planets and their locations within the solar system, and it does so by detecting
small shifts in light from nearby stars. Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona is currently where NEID resides. Pointing at the sky, the spectrometer will bring back data that shows the mass, size, and environmental makeup of these exoplanets, giving scientists a better overall understanding of their habitability and even potential evidence of life
within them. Presently exoplanets are found by detecting light fluctuations within surrounding stars. The spectrometer will provide scientists more exact analysis of these planets as they are discovered, which until now had only been hypothesized. 

The spectrometer operates by splitting light into its various color wavelengths, which allows scientists to identify the molecular makeup of the exoplanets orbiting the star it is analyzing. It is not yet known when the findings of this study will be completed but the hope that it will give us further insight into our evolving understanding of the solar system around us and planets in general. 

Space is an ever-growing challenge to understand, but with today’s technology, solving its mysteries has never been more possible and whatever is found out there is sure to be treated with the utmost respect and will be one for the history books. We at Lenox Laser are excited to see what the NEID will discover and teach us about the world beyond
our atmosphere.

Click here, for more info on the NEID.

To see past Lenox Laser posts covering NASA milestones, click here.

New Advancements in Brain Mapping Efforts

Understanding the inner workings of the human brain eluded scientists for many years, how and why it functions the way that it does. The movements and reactions in our day-to-day life may seem minuscule, but it is the key to unlocking answers in a new study being conducted in part by UC Berkeley. The recent study was conducted over five years, and its findings were accumulated into 17 different studies covering the mapping of brain cells and their pathways. To achieve this, scientists studied neurological signals from the central cortex of the brain to help them understand things like muscle movement, reaction time and vital motor function. Getting proper mapping was of the utmost importance so the cells were grouped by things like gene type, size, particle structure and gene marker. This study was done with hopes that therapies could be developed to assist with things like disabilities, brain disorders, and other illnesses. This presented a challenge because they had to find ways to merge the data in the clusters as it was found quickly as data was discovered. 

While a full atlas of the human brain will not be completed in the near future, it is hoped that eventually diagnosing a person’s ailment or disease in the brain will be a matter of reference to this massive guide and be able to select the appropriate treatment. To help further understanding, groups of mice were used with certain gene therapies to understand cell growth, neurological movement and more. What this breakthrough could mean for the future of science and medicine, no one knows at this point, but it is hoped that better understanding of the human body and its inner workings is achieved. The evolution of medicine through the use of medical technology has broadened our knowledge exponentially in recent years, here’s hoping that similar breakthroughs continue to be discovered.  

To read more about these efforts by UC Berkley, click here, here, and here.

Click here, to read through past Lenox Laser blog posts.

Powerful Lasers Pioneering Recent Advancements in Particle Physics Research

The laser has been the driving force of our expertise at Lenox Laser for 40 years, however the question remains, what are most powerful lasers in the world right now? We are surrounded by lasers in modern life, from laser printers, to barcode scanners, to medical equipment, and optical hard drives. This past March, CERN in Geneva, known for their particle physics laboratory and particle accelerator, conducted an experiment to cool down antimatter for the first time ever using a laser. They achieved this by making antihydrogen atoms with antiprotons and driving the energy state of the atoms to the lowest possible state.  

The ZEUS laser at the University of Michigan, which is currently studying plasmas, is reportedly the most powerful laser in the United States. Once it is moved into a vacuum chamber, it can then begin precision focus on selected targets delivering extremely fast and short pulses of light. Scientists will measure the volume of gas and using the high energy beam, turn that volume into ionized plasma. The CoReLS(Center for Relativistic Laser Science) laser in South Korea is capable of exceptionally fine cuts thanks to a 28 cm beam using extremely fine parabolic mirrors and glass optics to achieve its precision. Currently, the most powerful laser in the world exists in Osaka, Japan with an outstanding output of 2000 trillion Watts. It is called the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX).  

All these places around the world are being used to re-create environmental space areas to learn more about the universe. The laser facilities that house these mammoth sized projects are not just for storage but for theoretical research as well. For our part in the laser business, Lenox Laser has a wide variety of laser systems for many different applications and is always interested in the forefront of laser technology and pioneering. From laser drilling, to optics, to precision custom-made orders using laser accuracy, we can drill almost anything. Feel free to visit our services page to learn more about our products and capabilities. We look forward to assisting you and want to thank our long-time customers for supporting us over the 40 years of innovation. 
 
To read more about the recent CERN research, click here

For more about the world’s most powerful lasers, click here

Click here, for more about the ZEUS laser. 

SpaceX Hopeful for the Future of Consumer Spaceflight after Inspiration4 Mission Concluded Successfully

The recent Inspiration4 mission by SpaceX, the first ever space flight with a private citizen crew, was a complete success. The crew consisted of four people who participated in astronaut training, never having been in space before. The crew members were in great spirits when they returned last week on Saturday, September 25. The idea of the mission began as a charter flight fundraiser benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and raised over 200 million dollars. One of the crewmembers, Haley Arceneaux was a patient at St. Jude and is a cancer survivor. The mission lasted three days; intending to provide everyday civilian a chance to experience real spaceflight by floating within Earth’s orbit, giving them views from space that previously only seasoned astronauts could witness. The splashdown happened around 7:07 PM on September 25, with the flight capsule being retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean with medical personnel another other aid standing by to attend to the crewmembers and make sure that they acclimate to the rapid environmental changes upon return. All involved in the mission are thrilled at how the it turned out. 

 The mission was so successful that SpaceX is considering expanding crewmember size by dealing with several different contracts for future missions. With these contracts, they hope to resolve the issue of the capsules’ quantity and short lifespan, with each capsule only having the capacity of five flights, and one of them having already completed two launches. One of the contracts will allow for a space tourism company called Space Adventures. A much larger spaceship simply called Starship, a vessel larger than SpaceX’s Dragon, is in the works but has not had a first trip yet. It would explore space in much the same way as Dragon, just with greater capacity for personnel aboard. With the Success of Inspiration4 combined with future visions of innovation, ingenuity seems endless and we at Lenox Laser wish SpaceX and all involved the greatest of success in their future space fairing efforts. 

To read more about the Inspiration4 splashdown, click here

For more about SpaceX’s future plans, click here

Click here, to read some of Lenox Laser’s previous coverage of the SpaceX missions. 

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