Meteorite Madness: Feb 5 2013

Show Notes:  February 5, 2013 (GMT)

Title: Meteorite Madness
Ryan, Paul

This Week in History:

4 February 1906 – Clyde Tombaugh is born – discovered Pluto (1930) @ Lowell Observatory
5 February 1971 – Apollo 14 lands on the moon (Sheppard, Roosa, Mitchell)
4 February 2004 – Ulysses makes closest approach to Jupiter

Major Topics Covered:

1. Mercury Meteorite
Meteorite NWA 7325 (NWA ‘North West Africa’) fell in 2012. The fall left 35 fragments totalling over 300 grams of material. The meteorite contains very little iron but a large amount of magnesium, aluminum, and calcium silicates. MESSENGER has also notices similar materials in the surface crust of Mercury. Speculation has arisen that this may be a ‘Mercury Metorite,’ which, if true, would be the first of its kind discovered. It is important not to be definitive yet, as the ratio of calcium silicates in the meteorite do not match the crust of Mercury exactly. Though, the researchers indicate the rock could have come from deeper into the crust of Mercury, or perhaps solar radiation changed the chemical composition.
Calcium Silicates – A molecule containing Calcium, Silicon, and Oxygen in varying amounts.
This is the paper on the meteorite by Irving et al., to be presented at the 44th lunar and planetary science conference this march –

MESSENGER ( is a robotic spacecraft that entered into orbit around Mercury on 18 March 2011, it sent back the first image of the ‘dark side’ of Mercury late March 2011.

2. Tweetup at the Canadian Space Agency
The Canadian Space Agency is organizing a special event on 7 February 2013, inviting some space tweeps (‘twitter peeps’) to the John H. Chapman Space Centre. The informal meeting in Montreal, Quebec will be themed ‘A Day in the Life of Chris Hadfield on the ISS.’ The event will include a tour, talks by PIs from Canadian Experiments aboard the ISS, and a live connection with Cmdr Hadfield himself. Hosts of YorkUniverse, Jesse Rogerson and Harrison Ruess, will be attending the event. And Tweeting! Follow all the action on twitter:
York Universe Radio: @YorkUniverse
Harrison Ruess: @zambonipilot
Jesse Rogerson: @jesserogerson

3. Curiosity Drills
The infamous Curiosity rover drilled into its first rock on Sol 174, or Jan 31st. This will allow Curiosity to collect and analyze ‘pristine’ material from Mars, i.e., material that has not been weathered in anyway.

4. Variable Star Research at the York University Astronomical Observatory

5. Hubble and Spitzer Probe cloud layers on Brown Dwarf – Hubble Release – Spitzer Release – research paper
Using Hubble (optical) and Spitzer (infrared) have found ‘planet size’ wind driven clouds. Both Hubble and Spitzer observed as the brown dwarf varied in its brightness. This particular brown dwarf varies its brightness in a periodic manner every 90 min. The astronomers found the timing of the variability changed depending on the wavelength of infrared light they were observing. They attribute these changes to different atmospheric layers. This is because light at certain wavelengths can be absorbed by the brown dwarfs atmosphere. By looking at different wavelengths of light, Hubble and Spitzer are viewing deeper into the clouds.

The light curves at all wavelengths are roughly the same peak-to-peak period, however, they are out of phase with each other. They found that the further a light curve was behind the higher in the atmosphere it was.

This is reminicent of the story talking about the storms on Saturn: