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Asteroid Bennu Could Shed Light on How Ingredients for Life Reached Earth | Smart News

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A series of studies published last week in the journals Science and Science Advances offer a new, detailed look at the makeup of a small asteroid called Bennu. The studies come just before NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft plans to pick up a sample from the asteroid’s surface on October 20 and return with it to Earth in 2023.

Before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached the asteroid in 2018, astronomers could only study it with telescopes that couldn’t make out details smaller than cities or states, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. OSIRIS-REx allows astronomers to map details the size of basketball courts, sheets of paper and postage stamps, depending on the imaging tool they used.

“The reason there’s so much interest in asteroids is a lot of them are very primitive, from when the Solar System formed, and they didn’t change with wind and water, or weather like on Earth,” planetary scientist Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center tells Passant Rabie at Inverse. “They’re still more pristine than anything you could find in the universe.”

Researchers chose Bennu for close study and a sample-return mission because it is a relatively rare type of asteroid that’s rich in carbon-containing molecules, or organics, and because it formed early in the history of our solar system, Neel Patel reports for the MIT Technology Review. It’s also relatively close to Earth.

Bennu is about a third of a mile wide, made of a pile of rubble that is loosely held together by its own gravity, per National Geographic. The rubble resulted from a collision with a 60-mile-wide object in the asteroid belt that destroyed Bennu’s parent body, a larger asteroid. Bennu probably formed between 700 million and two billion years ago somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, and has drifted closer to Earth

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College student from N.J. killed in Ohio shooting remembered as ‘light in everyone’s life’

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A former New Jersey high school football player shot to death early Sunday near Ohio State University is being remembered as a “light” in the lives of those who knew him.



Chase Meola is shown in a 2015 photo while playing football for Mahwah High School. Meola, 23, was killed Sunday in a shooting near Ohio State University, where he was a student.


© Steve Hockstein/Steve Hockstein | For NJ Advance Media/nj.com/TNS
Chase Meola is shown in a 2015 photo while playing football for Mahwah High School. Meola, 23, was killed Sunday in a shooting near Ohio State University, where he was a student.

Chase Meola, 23, a Mahwah native and fifth-year marketing major at Ohio State, was gunned down as he was leaving a party, officials said.

“He was always very outgoing. He’s from New Jersey, so he definitely had that loud, outgoing personality,” friend Ashley McCartney told Ohio television station 10 WBNS.

A GoFundMe set up to pay for funeral costs had already exceeded its $50,000 goal by Monday afternoon.

“He was light in everyone’s life and will be dearly missed by those he touched,” organizers wrote. The organizers, identified as friends of Meola’s, did not respond to a request for comment.

Meola, once a star football player for the Mahwah High School Thunderbirds, was earning an MBA, his LinkedIn said, with a goal of working on Wall Street.

“The Ohio State University community is in mourning, and our deepest condolences and support go to the family and friends of Chase,” the university said in a statement.

Meola was leaving a party around 2 a.m. on Sunday when an “altercation occurred outside,” university officials said. Meola was shot in an alley near the party and pronounced dead at the scene.

Kintie Mitchell Jr., 18, of Columbus, has been charged with murder. His first court date is on Tuesday, WCMH 4 reported.

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College grads struggle to launch careers in a pandemic economy. ‘I chose the worst year to get my life together’

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CHICAGO — Kevin Zheng had big plans lined up as he prepared to graduate in the spring with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The 23-year-old thought he’d enter the job market well-prepared, with an internship at the Chicago Police Department on his resume.

But the COVID-19 health crisis upended that plan. His internship was canceled, his graduation was delayed until August, and he sat in his bedroom for the virtual commencement ceremony. Now he’s looking for a job in a pandemic-induced recession.

“I chose the worst year to get my life together,” said Zheng, a first-generation college graduate who lives in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood.

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, Zheng and other recent college graduates are grappling with a tight job market, high unemployment rates and pressure to find work to pay off student loans.

At the start of the year, Generation Z, typically defined as those born after 1997, was headed into the workforce during the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. But now the unemployment rate in Illinois for those ages 20 to 24 is 15.5%, one of the highest among all age groups in the state, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

With more employers cutting jobs and some boosting qualifications for open positions, recent college graduates are worried they’ll fall behind in their careers. Some are saving money for student loan payments by cutting expenses, while others are applying for part-time and low-wage jobs. Many still live with their parents.

Zheng, who lives with his parents and owes about $30,000 in student loans, said he is considering picking up part-time work, but he’s seen how difficult it can be. Both his parents work in the restaurant industry, often cobbling together shifts at different dining

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How could a toxic gas be a sign of life of Venus?

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Scientists recently announced that they had found possible signs of life in the clouds of Venus. We probably should have suspected as much all along.

Venus is a natural place to look for life beyond Earth. It is Earth’s twin — almost the same size and structure — and closer to us than Mars, the current favorite of astronomers looking for life elsewhere in the solar system. Venus is also closer to the Sun, which provides the warmth necessary for life as we know it. In the past, a few scientists have suggested that Venus was a source of primordial life that was later seeded on Earth. That theory, lithopanspermia, never gained popularity because current conditions on Venus seemed very inhospitable to life. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Venus ensures that the planet has a runaway greenhouse effect that makes its surface incredibly hot, way hotter than your oven, which kills off microorganisms. And the clouds in its atmosphere are acidic. So scientists turned their attention elsewhere, to Mars and the moons of Saturn. So far, no definitive signs of life have been found on any of them.

But the latest announcement about Venus is a tantalizing one. Astronomers haven’t actually seen life on Venus. Instead, they have observed evidence of a gas called phosphine in the planet’s clouds. What could phosphine have to do with extraterrestrial life?

Phosphine is a highly toxic gas formed when one atom of phosphorus combines with three atoms of hydrogen. Giant planets such as Jupiter have a lot of hydrogen in them and in their atmospheres, and are known to produce phosphine. But on Venus and Earth, there is very little hydrogen in the atmosphere. So, the thinking goes, any phosphine detected is likely associated with life, because someone

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Gen Z college grads struggle to launch careers in pandemic economy. ‘I chose the worst year to get my life together.’

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Kevin Zheng had big plans lined up as he prepared to graduate in the spring with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.



a man looking at the camera: Jesus Mendoza, 23, at his Southeast Side home Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Mendoza graduated from Chicago State University in May with a business administration degree.


© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Jesus Mendoza, 23, at his Southeast Side home Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Mendoza graduated from Chicago State University in May with a business administration degree.

The 23-year-old thought he’d enter the job market well-prepared, with an internship at the Chicago Police Department on his resume.

But the COVID-19 health crisis upended that plan. His internship was canceled, his graduation was delayed until August, and he sat in his bedroom for the virtual commencement ceremony. Now he’s looking for a job in a pandemic-induced recession.



a man sitting on a bench in front of a laptop: Jesus Mendoza, 23, graduated from Chicago State University in May with a business administration degree.


© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Jesus Mendoza, 23, graduated from Chicago State University in May with a business administration degree.

“I chose the worst year to get my life together,” said Zheng, a first-generation college graduate who lives in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood.

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, Zheng and other recent college graduates are grappling with a tight job market, high unemployment rates and pressure to find work to pay off student loans.

At the start of the year, Generation Z, typically defined as those born after 1997, was headed into the workforce during the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. But now the unemployment rate in Illinois for those ages 20 to 24 is 15.5%, one of the highest among all age groups in the state, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.



a man sitting in front of a building: Kevin Zheng, 23, a first generation college graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, poses for a photo in the backyard of his parents' home, Oct. 9, 2020.


© Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Kevin Zheng, 23, a first generation college graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, poses for a photo in the backyard of his parents’ home, Oct. 9, 2020.

With more employers cutting jobs

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