Flowing Water on Mars
A really interesting set of images taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was announced this past week. Here’s one of Newton Crater taken from orbit and edited with 3D modeling1 to better show the slopes at the edge of the crater. The most interesting and relevant parts of the picture are the dark lines appearing on the surface. What makes these dark features really intriguing is that...
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense...– Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut
NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Orbiting Vesta
NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft is now in orbit around the asteroid Vesta. Late Friday night, Dawn became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around an object in the asteroid belt. Vesta was the fourth asteroid to be discovered, with an average diameter of 530 kilometers and the title of being the second most massive asteroid known. From the Earth, it is also the brightest asteroid viewable, and...
Are we alone in the universe? With SETI funding... →
In a country where some corporations do not pay taxes, millionaires get farm subsidies and a presidential candidate can run up a half-million-dollar tab at Tiffany’s, we’re deferring an attempt to answer one of our most enduring (and least inexpensive to answer) questions: Are we alone in the universe?
How I Watched the Last Shuttle Launch
I watched the last shuttle launch using my iPhone. Combining my Twitter feed with the live NASA TV stream of the launch gave a truly unique experience. Not only was I getting a great view of the launch, but I could also quickly switch to live incoming bits of information from people who had a much better idea on what was actually taking place down in Florida. This was in many ways invaluable, and...
A Photographic History of the Space Shuttle →
As the final mission of the space shuttle is underway, this page on the Atlantic is a great photographic look at the space shuttle history. Some of my favorites:
Quakes on Jupiter: a new look at a familiar object →
In much the same way as seismologists use earthquakes to study the Earth’s interior and moonquakes to study the Moon’s interior, astronomers use seismic quakes on astronomical bodies to learn about their structure. Helioseismologists look at seismic waves on the Sun, while asteroseismology extends these techniques to other stars. However, the waves astronomers study are different than those...
NASA Mission Suggests Sun And Planets Constructed... →
Researchers studying the oxygen of Genesis samples found that the percentage of O-16 in the sun is slightly higher than on Earth, the moon, and meteorites. The other isotopes’ percentages were slightly lower. […] “The implication is that we did not form out of the same solar nebula materials that created the sun — just how and why remains to be discovered,” said Kevin McKeegan, a Genesis...
The Star that Changed the Size of the Universe
Until the early 1920s, the size scale of the universe was not confirmed. Some astronomers believed that the Milky Way was the total universe. They argued that if other nebulae seen in the sky, like Andromeda, were in fact individual galaxies like our own, then they must be at a distance on the order of 108 light years, a simply incomprehensible distance scale that many were reluctant to accept....
Twisted Ring Of Gas Orbits Galactic Center →
The research team speculate that the ring may be conforming to the shape of a standing wave – perhaps caused by the spin of the central galactic bulge and the lateral movement of gas across the galaxy’s large central bar. The researchers suggest that the combination of these forces may produce some kind of gravitational ‘sloshing’ effect, which would account for the unusual movement of the...
Strange objects, which persist in showing a type of spectrum entirely out of...– Arthur Eddington, talking about Sirius B, a white dwarf star, in 1922. In astronomy, as is true in every other science, new discoveries arise when commonly held beliefs are challenged.
So Long, Spirit
A self portrait of Spirit from 2007. Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech Attempts to start again communications with the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit are coming to a close. The last transmission ended on May 25, ending the series of communication efforts since March 22, 2010, when the rover last talked with Earth. Spirit got stuck in soft soil in mid 2009, and numerous difficult maneuvers were...