Short Science, December 9, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 1:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 4:01am

Moon's crust more battered than thought

New images of the moon's crust point to a violent past in which it was battered by comets and asteroids during its first billion years, US scientists say. The new findings come from a pair of spacecraft named Ebb and Flow orbiting the moon and measuring its gravitational field. "It was known that planets were battered by impacts, but nobody had envisioned that the [moon's] crust was so beaten up," said Professor Maria Zuber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist leading the mission. "This is a really big surprise and is going to cause a lot of people to think about what this means for planetary evolution," she said of the findings, published last week in the journal Science. Unlike the earth's crust, which is repeatedly recycled through plate tectonics, the moon's crust dates back billions of years, offering clues to the birth of the solar system. AFP


Voyager 1 probe at 'magnetic highway'

Nasa's Voyager 1, which is heading out of the solar system, has reached a "magnetic highway" leading to interstellar space, scientists said. The probe, launched 35 years ago to study the outer planets, is now about 18 billion kilometres away. At that distance, it takes radio signals travelling at light speed 17 hours to reach earth. Reuters


Fossils may belong to earliest dinosaur

Researchers have found what could be the earliest known dinosaur lurking in the corridors of London's Natural History Museum. A mysterious fossil specimen that has been in the museum's collection for decades has now been identified as most likely coming from a dinosaur that lived about 245 million years ago - 10 to 15 million years earlier than any previously discovered examples. The creature, about the size of a Labrador dog, has been named Nyasasaurus parringtoni. Reuters


Nasa's goals out of sync with its budget

Nasa suffers from a mismatch between its goals and its budget, says a panel that said the US space agency may need a complete overhaul. The National Research Council, which convened an independent group of scientists, urged the White House to set a clear agenda for the agency amid disagreement in the country regarding just where the agency should be going. AFP