December 17, 2011
Comet Lovejoy Survives Passing Through Sun's Atmosphere
On the evening of December 15, experts observed a comet Lovejoy fly through the hot atmosphere of the sun and emerge intact, which was previously thought impossible. This event was recorded by at least five spacecraft including NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, twin STEREO probes, Europe's Proba2 Microsatellite, and ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
Comet Lovejoy was first discovered on December 2. It was identified to belong in the Kreutz family of sungrazing comets. However It appeared at least 10 times larger than the usual Kreutz sungrazer.
As it flew through the atmosphere it had a large wiggling tail. This may be a sign that the comet was being buffetted by plasma waves coursing through the corona, or it could be bouncing back and fourth off great magnetic loops known to permeate the sun's atmmosphere, but no one knows for sure. There is still a possibility that the comet will start to fragment, so scientists will continue to observe Lovejoy.
For full article, go to
December 13, 2011
Early Black Holes Grew Big Eating Cold, Fast Food
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology have discovered what caused the rapid growth of early supermassive black holes -- a steady diet of cold, fast food. Supermassive black holes are the largest black holes, with masses billions of times larger than that of the sun. Typical black holes have masses only up to 30 times larger than the sun's. We now have new research on how these formed. And since when a galaxy forms when a black hole forms, the results could also shed light on how the first galaxies formed, giving more clues to how the universe came to be.
A Small Step for Lungfish, a Big Step for the Evolution of Walking
The African Lungfish is being studied by University of Chicago scientists and have seen something truly remarkable. The lungfish is able to take its fins and "walk" on the bottom of a tank. This fish is being recorded by camera's and has shown that it can do this feature plenty of times. Scientists are amazed and are reporting on how much this helps the evolution of walking on land. By just looking at the bones of an African Lungfish, scientists would most likely dismiss this idea, but with this proof, it is almost impossible to throw away. Read more about the African Lungfish:
Divers Retrieve Prehistoric Wood from Lake Huron
Two professors from our University of Michigan have found a piece of wood at the bottom of Lake Huron. Using carbon dating, they found it to be 8,900 years old. Professor O'Shea and Meadow have been diving at the bottom of this lake searching for clues about the PaleoIndian hunters who may have lived there many years ago. This piece of wood brings up points about how the land went under water since they found it i between two rocks, they believe this shift may have been fast and smooth. However, they are still looking for clues under the water to further this idea. To learn more about this discovery see:
One Step Closer to Dark Matter in Universe
Researchers have came close to solving the mysteries of Dark Matter. We only know about 5% of the universe, and the dark matter, which consists of large proportion of the space is unknown to us: 23% consists of dark matter and 72% with dark energy. We cannot observe dark matter as it is invisible. However, we can find the traces the matters have left. Based on these traces, we could learn more about these dark matters.
We know that it is there, but it is the question about what it really is.
It would be a very interesting and ground breaking discovery if we solve the mysteries of dark matter.
To learn more about the new method to find Dark Matter and the research, go to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111031081920.htm
2012 Research and Technology Studies at JSC
The NASA Research team and Johnson Space Center (JSC) are going to conduct research on Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV), a vehicle that is capable of many different functions. MMSEV is said to have a flexible function, being able to rove around planetary soils or fly in space. If NASA and JSC are successful, we could have human expeditions to outer space where we have not discovered yet. This vehicle will also have both wheels and sled as transportation tools.
The phase 1 research will begin in Dec. 13-15, 2011, and Jan. 18-20, 2012.
To learn more about the Phase 1, go to http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/desertrats/ratsjsc.html
December 12, 2011
Super Fast Neutron Star After Supernova
Remains of an old star has been discovered by astronomers.As seen from the photograph on NASA's website, it's red and are remains of a supernova and was later given the name Puppis A. The shock waves from the explosion are heating up the dust and gases surrounding the explosion's aftermath. Although much of the material from the star escaped, much of it remained to form the neutron star.
The neutron star moves at 3 million miles per hour and due to its super high speed, astronomers have named it the "Cosmic Cannonball."
The other green dust seen in the photo are remnants of another supernova.
NASA may send landers to Europa in 2020
NASA may send two landers to Europa in order to search for potential life. NASA researchers are currently developing concept missions that would send landers in 2020 that would land around 2026. Since there is a good chance that Europa has an ocean of water under it's surface, it is possible that there would be life there. Out of the three requirements for life, the most difficult to find is the liquid medium. If that is found on a planet, it almost certainly will contain an energy source and the raw ingredients necessary for life. Europa is considered to have the best chance to contain life in the solar system, besides earth. These lander missions would be significant because it would allow us to determine the composition of the surface and whether life exists or could have ever existed there.
To learn more about the potential mission visit: http://www.space.com/13883-nasa-jupiter-moon-europa-lander-mission.html
Robotic Telescope Network With Access Via Internet to Be Built
In Europe, a new citizen science project is being developed in which a world network of robotic telescopes will be able to be accessed by European citizens. Citizens of European countries will be able to access 17 telescopes across 4 continents for observation time. This is very exciting because it will allow anyone who is interested in astronomy to appreciate its wonders without leaving their homes. This will also be useful for anyone from an astronomy expert to just the average Joe. It will be free to all and will be easily accessible via the internet from any computer. Hopefully, this will expand the interest in the field of astronomy, as well as keeping people informed.
Astronomers Take a Photograph of the Youngest Supernova Right After Its Explosion
In late November this year, astronomers were able to obtain a radio astronomical photograph of the youngest supernova. This photo was taken in Europe and it occurred right after the explosion. It occurred about 23 million light years away and with a combination of several telescopes in Finland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, astronomers were able to capture a very clear picture. This is groundbreaking because "it is the earliest high resolution image of a supernova explosion" and this has astronomers very excited about things to come (Science Daily 1).
Cassini to Make a Double Play
In an action-packed day and a half, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be making its closest swoop over the surface of Saturn's moon Dione and scrutinizing the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon.
Star Explosion Leaves Behind a Rose
About 3,700 years ago, people on Earth would have seen a brand-new bright star in the sky. It slowly dimmed out of sight and was eventually forgotten, until modern astronomers later found its remains, called Puppis A. In this new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), Puppis A looks less like the remains of a supernova explosion and more like a red rose.
December 11, 2011
The Edge of the Solar System
The Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new outer region at the edge of the solar system. In this newly discovered region three significant characteristics have been taken note of: the calming of wind particles from the sun, the piling up of our solar systems magnetic field and the leaking of inner solar system energy particles into interstellar space. This new discovery helps paint the picture of the limits of our solar system and the stagnant region's unique properties to those in the other regions.
Kepler's Discoveries-Including an Earth-Like Planet
A planet which is said to have a high probability of being "Earth's Twin" was found through the Kepler search for other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. It has approximately the same amount of days in a year (290 instead of 365) and is at approximately the same distance from its home star as Earth. Kepler's design for locating planets is clearly honing in on possible habitable planets, which means it is achieving what it was designed to do. It is estimated that there are nearly 3 trillion planets in our galaxy alone. Think of how many "Earths" there are in the entire universe.
Mineral found on Mars which needs water to form
Opportunity found a mineral, called gypsum, which is deposited by water. This was found in a vein that had to have contained water. This relates to our current unit in class- talking about life on other planets. I like how I knew about "Opportunity" because of this class.
NASA planet discovery to 'generate publicity'
The article talks about recently discovered planet Kepler 22-b that is a potential candidate for life, since it is located in the habitable zone and is similar in size to Earth. However, some astronomers are skeptical about this discovery. A leading astronomer from Northern Ireland, Don Pollacco, from Queen's University, said that NASA has already discovered more than 1000 planets that potentially can have life on them, and that the real reason that NASA is making a big deal out of it is to "generate publicity" for its space programme, and to get more funding.
Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16046733
Mars rover Opportunity finds 'most powerful' water clue
NASA's Mars rover Opportunity discovered bright veins of a mineral, apparently gypsum, deposited by water. If the mineral is confirmed to be gypsum, it will indicate that there might be water on Mars.
The article also talks about how Opportunity rover still travels on Mars even though it has been there since 2004, and how soon it will become a rover that has travelled the most among all wheeled space vehicles.
Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16082935
Last lunar eclipse until 2014
Yesterday morning marked the last lunar eclipse until 2014. It could be seen throughout western Canada and the United States along with those in Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and central and eastern Asia. This eclipse was "low-hanging" in the sky, so those who got to witness it saw a large inflated, reddened moon! Canada and the United States got the best seats in the house for this event, but for most of us who missed it, here is a link to the pictures which are beyond beautiful : http://www.space.com/13894-photos-total-lunar-eclipse-december-2011.html.
So definitely check them out as well as the original article: http://news.yahoo.com/lunar-eclipse-stuns-skywatchers-bright-red-moon-175401975.html
Asteroid Crash May Explain Mercury's Strange Spin
In the article I read based on a new study, "A collision with an asteroid might have set the planet Mercury whirling oddly in its orbit" (space.com).
For a long time scientists have assumed that the Sun and Mercury were tidally locked, just like our Moon is with Earth. Recently, however, scientists have observed Mercury using radar and found that the planet is rotating 3 times for every 2 orbits around the sun. "Now, researchers suggest that Mercury was once tidally locked, initially spinning in the opposite direction to its orbit" (space.com).
Mercury's largest impact crater, Caloris Basin, is the main focus for this idea due to the fact that it matches the impact predictions in size, age and location.
The full article is really interesting, I suggest you check it out!
December 10, 2011
SETI's Search for Intelligent Alien Life Resumes
"Astronomers have rebooted their search for intelligent life on alien planets, and they've got thousands of targets to scan.
After hibernating for more than seven months, a set of radio telescopes run by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute has once again begun listening for signals from the many alien planet candidates discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope, researchers announced Monday (Dec. 5)"
Read more at: http://www.space.com/13832-seti-ata-search-kepler-planet-candidates.html?mid=5499443
Astronomers Find Biggest Black Holes Yet
Astronomers have found 2 absolutely massive black holes 330 million light years away. The smallest of the two has a mass of about 10 billion suns. The largest has a mass of about 21 billion suns! The former largest black hole discovered was a mere 7.7 billion sun masses. Who knows what else could be out there?
Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/science/space/astronomers-find-biggest-black-holes-yet.html?_r=2
Extraordinary Long Gaseous Tails in Two Groups of Galaxies
ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2011) — An international group of astronomers led by Tom Scott at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Granada, Spain, has discovered extraordinary long one-sided gaseous tails in two groups of galaxies that are amongst the longest structures ever observed in such environments.
The tails emanate from CGCG 097-026 and FGC1287, two spiral galaxies in small groups in the outskirts of the galaxy cluster known as Abell 1367 in the constellation of Leo, at a distance of 300 million light years. The new work, which could lead to a major shift in our understanding of galaxy evolution, is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Clusters of galaxies are the biggest structures in the Universe that are held together by gravity. They are like a huge metropolis populated by galaxies that interact with one another and with their environment, the hot gas trapped within the cluster's gravitational field. In the last few decades, astronomers have revealed that, in order to enjoy life in these big cities, galaxies have to pay an entrance fee: they are stripped of their cold hydrogen gas when they enter.
Without this gas, the fuel for future star formation, they age much more quickly than their counterparts who shun the big conurbations. Scientists believe that this is why clusters of galaxies have a significantly larger fraction of passive, quiescent objects where stars are no longer forming than is found in lower density environments. The research by Scott and his team might change this view, showing that galaxies can be robbed of their gas reservoir well before reaching the outskirts of the metropolis.
The astronomers made their discovery after using the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA to study Abell 1367 in detail. "When we looked at the data, we were amazed to see these tail structures" says Tom Scott.
'The projected lengths of the gaseous tails are 9 to 10 times that of the size of the parent galaxies, i.e., 520,000 and 815,000 light years respectively. In both cases the amount of cold hydrogen gas in the tails is approximately the same as that remaining in the galaxy's disk. In other words, these galaxies have already left behind half of their fuel for star formation before entering the sphere of influence of the cluster."
The commonly accepted scenario invoked to explain the loss of gas in galaxies is based on the idea that when galaxies enter a big cluster, they lose their gas interacting with the hot intra-cluster medium. Like a meteor entering Earth's atmosphere, the atomic hydrogen is stripped by the pressure that builds up from moving through the dense, hot gas that pervades the cluster, the stripped gas being dispersed within the intergalactic medium. Scientists call this mechanism ram-pressure stripping.
However, in this case, the perturbed galaxies are still well outside the sphere of influence of this cluster medium and it is not clear which mechanism is responsible for these unique gas tails.
"We considered the various physical processes proposed by theorists in the past to describe gas removal from galaxies, but no one seems to be able to explain our observations" says Luca Cortese, researcher at ESO-Garching, Germany, and co-author of this work. "Whereas in the case of CGCG97-026, the gravitational interaction between the various members of the group could explain what we see, FGC1287 is completely different from any case we have seen before."
Indeed, ram pressure stripping does not seem to be a viable explanation in this case. As this galaxy is located in the outskirts of the cluster, it lies beyond what is thought to be the sphere of influence of the hot and diffuse gas in Abell 1367. To make things even more complicated, gravitational interactions are apparently unable to explain the extraordinary length of the tail and the lack of any sign of disturbance in the stellar body of the galaxy.
The origin of these extraordinary tails still remains a puzzle for scientists, and they perhaps require some physical mechanism that has not been considered before.
"Although the mechanism responsible for this extraordinary gas tail remains to be determined, our discovery highlights how much there still is to learn about environmental effects in galaxy groups" says team member Elias Brinks, a scientist at the University of Hertfordshire. "This discovery might open a new chapter in our understanding of environmental effects on galaxy evolution."
Successor of Hubble
This is an article about our Hubble telescope and how it is getting old. It discusses plans for its successor and the new technology that it will have on it and subsequently the new things that it will be able to do. Very interesting.
The End of the World in 2036?
In June of 2004, astronomers discovered an asteroid known as Apophis with a slightly offset orbit to that of Earth's. It is 320 meters (1050 feet) across. It's been speculated that on Friday, April 13th, 2029, Apophis will make a very close flyby within 5 Earth diameters. But, the exact path that this asteroid follows after its flyby in 2029 will determine if it will smash into the Earth seven years later...
You can find the full article by following this link:
NASA's Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge
Recently, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has now reached the farthest point in space that a man-made object from earth has ever traveled. It is not quite in interstellar space, however it is certainty right on the edge. The spacecraft is traveling at a speed of around 13km/s, and is now over 11 billion miles away. Even at this point, it is still experiences some charged particles from the sun. It seems amazing that even at this distance from the sun, the spacecraft can detect activity from it..... If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will continue to fly into interstellar space until the year 2030 where it will run out of all remaining fuel.
December 09, 2011
Extraordinary Long Gaseous Tails in Two Groups of Galaxies
In a recent Science Daily article, a team of scientists discovered two extremely long gaseous tails in two groups of galaxies, and these are now officially the longest structures observed in environments such as this. This work could lead to a major shift in how we think about the evolution of galaxies, and the article is pretty interesting.
December 08, 2011
A Global Astronomy Social Network To Let Amateurs Peep Through Robotic Telescopes
Telescopes at Tenerife and 13 other institutions will become available to access online around the world for free. Users will be able to control the telescope and make observations and discoveries on their own. The goal of the project is to connect as many remote controlled telescopes as possible to the new "social network" and increase awareness and excitement about astronomy in the youth.
I think this is great for Astronomy as non-professsionals will have the opportunity to make discoveries that were once only possible for training scientists. The study of distance solar systems and stars can now become a hobby with no cost.
NASA Rover Finds Convincing Evidence of Water on Ancient Mars
The Opportunity rover, which landed on Mars nearly eight years ago, has discovered a thin, bright mineral vein along the rim of a huge crater called Endeavour. This mineral is believed to be gypsum, that was deposited by liquid water billions of years ago. The mineral vein is about 20 inches long and about the width of a human thumb. NASA scientists believe that there was a fracture in the rock billions of years ago, water flowed through it, and the gypsum was precipitated from the water. The gypsum vein is also intriguing for scientists interested in whether or not Mars was ever capable of supporting life. Some of the ancient wet environments that Opportunity has found were likely very acidic. However, with this new discovery, gypsum formation is consistent with a more neutral pH level and gives hope to scientists who believe there was once life on Mars. For the full article, go to:
As we know, every day, the technology used advances, making many discoveries possible. This new camera reveals a galaxy's hidden nooks in vivid imaging! It still amazes me how we are able to capture beautiful photos like this to learn more about the universe and it gives hope that in the future, we will be able to see galaxies even further.
Two Supermassive Black Holes Discovered
Two black holes are discovered and reported this week, both have billions of solar masses. As the previous record holder was only 6.3 billion solar masses, the newly discovered ones, with 9.7 billions and possibly more, are definitely striking. The article says that the "event horizon" is "5 times the orbit of Pluto", which means any closer than that, anything will not be able to escape the gravitational pull. One researcher said discovering black holes like these is like "finally encountering people nine feet tall, whose great height had only been inferred from fossilized bones".
December 07, 2011
UFO near Mercury?
When a solar flare was washing over Mercury, NASA observed a "cloaked ship" next to Mercury.
There is a video:
Giant Super-Earths Made of Diamond Are Possible, Study suggests
A new study suggests that some stars in the Milky Wy could harbor "carbon super-Earths" that contain up to 50 percent diamonds. These planets are likely devoid of life, that is, if they even exist. The study took place at Ohio State University where researchers recreated the temperatures and pressures of Earth's lower mantle to study how diamonds form there. The main goal was to comprehend what happens to carbon inside planets in other solar systems, and whether solar systems that are rich in carbon could produce planets that are mostly made of diamond. The result of the study concluded that it was possible for planets that are as big as fifteen times the mass of the Earth to be half made of diamond. It is believed that a diamond planet must be a very dark and cold place with no geothermal energy, no plate tectonics and ultimately no magnetic field or atmosphere.
For the complete article and further details of the study go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205140531.htm
I thought this was pretty neat. It's a science contest youtube is hosting with the primary objective being to garner interest in space exploration and the sciences among American youth. The winning experiment gets to be performed on the international space station and will be live streamed. Plus, some other neat prizes. Not to mention the intro video is narrated my Stephen Hawking.
Is this the way to garner interest in science study? Is youtube going to become an educational device? At any level? What do you think?
December 06, 2011
Vesta's Color Palette
Vesta has a beautiful rainbow colored palette. The colors are supposedly because of various rocks and mineral types. Vesta's iron core makes it like a terrestrial planet.
Texas Astronomers New Discovery
NASA has announced for the first time ever the discovery of a planet located in the "habitable zone" around a star. This means a "just-right" orbit that's not too hot or too cold for water to exist in liquid form. This makes life as we know it here possible. Astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory involved in this and other Kepler research will present their findings at a conference this week. Kepler is a space telescope launched in 2009 that looks for minute dips in the light from a star that might indicate a planet is passing in front of the star. This specific event is called a "transit. To date, 400 candidate stars have been vetted by these astronomers — including the “star” of this week’s announcement, Kepler-22
Gamma Ray Burst on Christmas Day 2010
On Christmas Day 2010, a Cosmic explosion was detected by NASA's swift observatory. There are two scenarios that can account for this explosion. One possibility is a comet falling into a neutron star. the other is a neutron star falling into its companion star.
Article is quite interesting and should be read since it's almost christmas and this was discovered on christmas day.
Enjoy the video which shows the two possible scenarios and how they could have occurred.
December 05, 2011
Largest Black Holes Discovered
Astronomers at the University of California - Berkeley have discovered the largest black holes thus far - the black holes have masses equal to 10 billion suns. They are at the center of two galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away from Earth. These particular black holes threaten an area five times the size of our own solar system where they could consume anything and everything, and that includes light.
Visit full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205140609.htm
Scientists Confirm Existence of Earth-Like Planet Kepler-22b
In this article, NASA announces perhaps the most exciting discovery from the Kepler spacecraft to date. About 600 lightyears away, Kepler has identified planet Kepler 22b, a planet not so different from Earth. Kepler 22b is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, has a pleasant surface temperature of 72 degrees fahrenheit, and orbits a star at just the right distance to allow water to exist in liquid form. Kepler 22b could potentially be an important milestone in the search for life outside our solar system.
NASA discovers planet in the habitable zone
For the first time, NASA's telescope, Kepler, has discovered a planet within the hospitable zone of its star. Dubbed Kepler 22-b, the planet is approximately 14 times the size of earth (the radius is 2.4 times larger than earth's), but orbits its star within the "goldilocks zone", the area where liquid water could potentially exist. Assuming that Kepler 22-b has a similar greenhouse effect to Earth, the average temperature would be around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is far from the first of Kepler's discoveries. Although most still need to be confirmed, the telescope has been used to discover over 2,300 planets outside the solar system, quadrupling the number scientists had discovered previously. Among the those planets, about 68 are Earth sized and 54 are in the habitable zone. We may not be able to get a spacecraft there for thousands of years, but discovering such a planet is a huge boon for scientists in their quest to find life. Assuming that we cannot find any in our own solar system, Kepler 22-b may just be our best bet for finding alien life. You can read the whole article here:
By Mike Wall
Potentially Earth-Like Planet Has Right Temperature for Life
Scientist have found a planet 600 light years away named Kepler-22b or its nickname the Christmas planet because it was found so near the holiday. I resides in the habitable zone of a star just a little smaller and cooler than our own sun. It was found by using the Kelper telescope which is an orbiting telescope. They saw something that blocked a small fraction light from the star.Nothing is known about the composition of the planet but because it resides in the habitable zone there is much hope that it will have liquid water and be rocky just like Earth so it could possibly harbor life.
Biggest Black Holes
Astronomers have reported to have found the biggest black holes ever measured. Sizing up ten times bigger than our solar system, and some weighing as much as 21 billion suns, these giants have ate up billions of suns.
The ridiculous size of these black holes might call their accuracy into question but a graduate student at Cal, Berkeley said, “these are the most massive reliably-measured black holes ever.”
The previously largest black hole weighed in at 6.3 billion suns, so these new ones easily surpassed that. Who knows how big the next biggest ones will be?
Read the entire story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/science/space/astronomers-find-biggest-black-holes-yet.html?_r=1&ref=space
Given today's lecture I think it's rather fitting that Earth's 'twin' has been found....albeit 600 lightyears away.
Hot on Trail of ‘Just Right’ Far-Off Planet
For this entry I found another article that was written by Dennis Overbye. It had to do with planets being discovered in stars habitable zones which directly relates to what we have been discussing in class. These discoveries have made some scientists hopeful that in the near future they will be able to find a very Earth-like planet. They think they are very close to finding a planet that contains single cell organisms. They say their chances of finding anything more than single cell organisms are highly unlikely. They will be very happy if they are able to find any kind of microbe. I thought this was a great article to read because it covered so many things that we have been discussing in class recently like the habitable zone and the possibility for life on other planets.
You can find the full article here:
December 04, 2011
Space Washing Machine Could Blast Laundry with Microwaves
NASA is looking to find a way to clean astronauts' clothes on their long duration trips to Mars and beyond. NASA has contracted with the UMPQUA Research Company to construct a combination wash/dryer that is water and energy efficient and doesn't involve a tumbling process, which requires the Earth's gravitational force to operate. With UMPQUA’s proposed machine, astronauts would place their dirty laundry in an air-tight bag connected to tubes that shoot in a soap/water solution and bend the clothes back and forth. Microwaves would complete a drying process, and air jets apparently would make the laundry super soft. UMPQUA, which received a NASA Small Business Innovative Research grant to conduct further research on the machine, has been manufacturing water purification and disinfection flight hardware for manned space missions since the 1970s.
The article indicates that the astronauts’ only alternative would be to fly naked. I'm sure they would prefer this option!
Here is the link to the article:
December 03, 2011
New Jupiter-size alien planets
The astronomers found the new planets by looking for stars that "wobble" under gravitational tug of an orbiting planet.The 18 Jupiter-size planets were found by searching the "wobbling" stars' spectra for Doppler shifts which are lengthening and contracting of wavelengths due to motion away or toward the observer. The new finds, according to the researchers, represent a 50 percent increase in the number of planets that have been found in the orbit of massive stars. The finds are important because they aid understanding of how planets form. The researchers also say the new findings support the core accretion theory that planets arise from seed particles that clump gas and dust in disks surrounding newborn stars. The core accretion theory predicts that stellar mass will have a relationship to planet size and number in a planetary system
Near Earth-Sized Planet Discovered
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory discovered Kepler-21b, a planet which is close to the size of earth and only about 352 light years away. This discovery is significant that the planet is relatively Earth-sized while its mass is about 10 times the size of Earth and its radius is only 1.6 times the size of Earth's. However, the new planet has a star which is a bitbigger and hotter than Earth's sun(younger). Also since the planet is too close to its star, the planet is too hot to contain liquid water.
For more information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/30/kepler-21b-new-planet-discovered_n_1121938.html
Astronomers Find 18 New Planets: Discovery Is the Largest Collection of Confirmed Planets Around Stars More Massive Than the Sun
The recent discovery of 18 new planets revolving stars more massive than our Sun brings us a step closer, however small, to finding other forms of life. We heave learned in class that stars more massive than our sun typically have shorter life spans due to the faster rate at which they undergo fusion, which means a shorter time for intelligent life to develop and exist in those star systems. However, larger mass stars have a wider habitable zone for which planets can reside in, resulting in more "chances" for life to develop on planets in said star systems.
December 02, 2011
Future Human Exploration of Mars
As we discussed in class, NASA launched Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) into space just this past week on November 26. The purpose of this launch is to measure the past and present habitability of Mars. Curiosity will land on Mars' surface and it will be equipped with 10 instruments used to find elements of life, including water and carbon-based materials. It will also measure the radiation environment on Mars. Don Hassler, science program director at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), says, "The other primary objective of RAD -- Radiation Assessment Detector -- is to help NASA plan for future human missions to Mars by helping to determine the amount of radiation shielding required to keep astronauts safe on the surface of the planet, as well as during the long journey to get there and back."
Curiosity will land on Mars in roughly nine months and will collect data for two years. Hopefully after this mission is completed we can find ways to safely send humans to Mars.
For more information go to:
Most Recent Mars Probe Failure
European nations have decided to give up on contacting the Russian Mars probe that was launched in November. The probe is currently orbitting the Earth and contact was lost fully about a week and a half ago. This is a huge shame given the extreme costs of a probe and instead of offering a larger insight on Mars it is not another piece of space junk that will continue to orbit the Earth.
If Space Worms can survive, then so can we.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have used Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a microscopic worm which is biologically very similar to the human being, to help us understand how humans might cope with long-duration space exploration.
The researchers blasted 4,000 of these "space worms" into space onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and found that that they were able to survive under the harsh conditions of space travel. And because these microscopic species are biologically similar to humans, scientists have inferred that humans could survive under similar conditions.
So what do you all think of this research? Are evidence collected from observing "space worms" strong enough to justify the conclusions that are being stated? can we survive the harsh conditions of long-distance space travel?
the link for the article can be found below:
December 01, 2011
Lightning-Made Waves in Earth's Atmosphere Leak Into Space
ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2011) — At any given moment about 2,000 thunderstorms roll over Earth, producing some 50 flashes of lightning every second. Each lightning burst creates electromagnetic waves that begin to circle around Earth captured between Earth's surface and a boundary about 60 miles up. Some of the waves -- if they have just the right wavelength -- combine, increasing in strength, to create a repeating atmospheric heartbeat known as Schumann resonance. This resonance provides a useful tool to analyze Earth's weather, its electric environment, and to even help determine what types of atoms and molecules exist in Earth's atmosphere, but until now they have only ever been observed from below.
Now, NASA's Vector Electric Field Instrument (VEFI) aboard the U.S. Air Force's Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite has detected Schumann resonance from space. This comes as a surprise, since current models of Schumann resonance predict these waves should be caged at lower altitude, between the ground and a layer of Earth's atmosphere called the ionosphere.
"Researchers didn't expect to observe these resonances in space," says Fernando Simoes, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But it turns out that energy is leaking out and this opens up many other possibilities to study our planet from above."
Simoes is the first author on a paper about these observations that appeared online Nov. 16 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and will appear in the print publication in December. He explains that the concept of resonance in general is fairly simple: adding energy at the right time will help any given phenomenon grow. Think of a swing -- if you push it back just as it hits the top of its arc, you add speed. Push it backwards in the middle of its swing, and you will slow it down. When it comes to waves, resonance doesn't occur because of a swing-like push, but because a series of overlapping waves are synchronized such that the crests line up with the other crests and the troughs line up with the other troughs. This naturally leads to a much larger wave than one where the crests and troughs cancel each other out.
The waves created by lightning do not look like the up and down waves of the ocean, but they still oscillate with regions of greater energy and lesser energy. These waves remain trapped inside an atmospheric ceiling created by the lower edge of the "ionosphere" -- a part of the atmosphere filled with charged particles, which begins about 60 miles up into the sky. In this case, the sweet spot for resonance requires the wave to be as long (or twice, three times as long, etc) as the circumference of Earth. This is an extremely low frequency wave that can be as low as 8 Hertz (Hz) -- some one hundred thousand times lower than the lowest frequency radio waves used to send signals to your AM/FM radio. As this wave flows around Earth, it hits itself again at the perfect spot such that the crests and troughs are aligned. Voila, waves acting in resonance with each other to pump up the original signal.
While they'd been predicted in 1952, Schumann resonances were first measured reliably in the early 1960s. Since then, scientists have discovered that variations in the resonances correspond to changes in the seasons, solar activity, activity in Earth's magnetic environment, in water aerosols in the atmosphere, and other Earth-bound phenomena.
"There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of studies on this phenomenon and how it holds clues to understanding Earth's atmosphere," says Goddard scientist Rob Pfaff, Principal Investigator of the VEFI instrument and an author on the GRL paper. "But they're all based on ground measurements."
C/NOFS, of course, measured them much higher -- at altitudes of 250 to 500 miles. While models suggest that the resonances should be trapped under the ionosphere, it is not unheard of that energy can leak through. So the team began looking for waves of the correct, very low frequency in the observations from VEFI -- an instrument built at NASA Goddard with high enough sensitivity to spot these very faint waves. And the team was rewarded. They found the resonance showing up in almost every orbit C/NOFS made around Earth, which added up to some 10,000 examples.
Detection of these Schumann resonances in space requires, at the very least, an adjustment of the basic models to incorporate a "leaky" boundary at the bottom of the ionosphere. But detecting Schumann resonance from above also provides a tool to better understand the Earth-ionosphere cavity that surrounds Earth, says Simoes.
"Combined with ground measurements, it provides us with a better way to study lightning, thunderstorms, and the lower atmosphere," he says. "The next step is to figure out how best to use that tool from this new vantage point."