Physics Today Daily Edition
BBC: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has taken a picture of the area where the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli probe is believed to have crash-landed on Mars. Schiaparelli ceased communications during its descent, and data from before contact was lost suggest that the probe's landing systems did not operate properly. In the MRO imagery, a dark patch roughly 15 m × 40 m is visible about 5.5 km west of the probe's planned landing site; previous images show no such mark. The dark patch is likely debris thrown up by the impact. Additionally, the MRO may have spotted the lander's 15-m-wide parachute about 1 km south of the probable crash site.
Chattanooga Times Free Press: On 19 October, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) officially connected the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant to the electrical grid. Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first nuclear reactor to be added to the US's power system in 20 years. The last reactor added was the plant's Unit 1, which opened in 1996. The $4.7 billion reactor started generating power in May but has been undergoing tests and evaluations ever since. It is the TVA's seventh nuclear reactor. Together the TVA's seven reactors provide nearly 40% of the regional utility's power generation. Unit 1 and Unit 2 each provide 1150 MW. The TVA has no plans to construct more reactors, however, because regional electricity demand has leveled off. Unit 2 will serve as a replacement for older coal plants that have been closed.
International Business Times: On 14 October, researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany turned on the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino (KATRIN) experiment. The €60 million ($66 million) facility houses a 220 ton spectrometer that will be used for the next five years to attempt to measure the exact mass of neutrinos. In the standard model of particle physics, neutrinos were predicted to be massless; however, the discovery that neutrinos have different flavors and oscillate between them suggests that the particles do have mass. Whereas electrons have a mass of 511 000 eV, neutrinos may have a mass of just 2 eV. KATRIN, which has a sensitivity of 0.2 eV, is designed to find a precise measurement of neutrino mass by studying the particles that are released by the decay of tritium atoms. Guido Drexlin, one of KATRIN's spokespersons, says that the research team hopes to have clear data to present as early as sometime next year.
New York Times: Early Monday morning local time, China's space agency launched two astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on a mission to dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab, which the agency put into orbit last month. The astronauts are scheduled to spend 30 days aboard the orbital lab, which will more than double the duration of the previous longest mission by a Chinese astronaut. The mission is the sixth crewed mission by China. Aboard Tiangong-2, astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will test computers and station equipment and conduct other experiments. China hopes to launch a longer-lived station, Tianhe-1, in 2018.