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March 31, 2011

White Dwarf Stars may be the Key to Life

According to the article, research done at The Astrophysical Journal Letters by University of Washington Professor Eric Agol says that planets near white dwarf stars are likely to be more habitable in terms of life than on any other places in the universe. The key link is that planets close to white dwarf stars have the right temperature for liquid water to exist on the surface.

This could be a critical finding for astronomers such as Agol. Perhaps his work will set a precedent for other astronomers as to where in the solar system to explore life. There are constant studies being done on Mars and also on gas giant planets, where we have basically come to agree that life could not exist currently. This could aid astronomers in their search for habitability.

Agol suggests astronomers seek the 20,000 closest white dwarfs to Earth. While expensive, perhaps it may prove worthwhile if it can lead to habitability elsewhere. Who knows what kind of life may exist on other planets? This surely intrigues people, particularly astronomers and perhaps Agol's research could be the key to finding an answer to this pressing question.

Here is the link:

Posted by nikraman at 11:27 PM | Comments (3)

Astronomers Take a Look Inside Red Giant Stars

Recent developments in the Kepler mission have found data that can help humans understand the workings and dynamic of Red giant Stars. The mission returned evidence of a regular changes in the brightness of the star. "Their regularity resembles steady drumbeats at different, precise rhythms." However, they did notice certain anomalies in the way the beats carried out. These other patterns were caused by gravity. The waves caused by these patterns are allowing the instruments aboard the Kepler mission to probe deep into the red giant star to understand more about the nature of its chemistry and density. The information is also allowing astronomers to understand more about the life cycle of stars.

Here is the link :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330131312.htm

Posted by jnana at 09:13 AM | Comments (2)

March 30, 2011

The rose-red glow of star formation

Just recently, European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) took a picture of a region of glowing hydrogen surrounding the star cluster NGC 371. This star cluster marks the location of a stellar nursery that lies in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The image, which can be seen in the link below, shows a region of ionized hydrogen - known as Hll regions - that contains high rates of star birth. NGC 371 is an open cluster surrounded by a nebulae.

Stars in open cluster all originate from the same Hll region, and over time the majority of hydrogen surrounding the cluster is used up by star formation leaving behind a shell of hydrogen, that can be seen in the picture, along with a cluster of hot young stars.

The Small Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy about 200,000 light-years away which makes it one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way.

I find this really interesting, especially because I saw a stellar nursery located in the Great Nebulae of orion. I think it is amazing how the universe can recycle old stars to make new stars.

Full article can be read at:

Posted by mackenro at 10:24 PM | Comments (1)

"It's like CSI in the snow"

About six months ago, scientists traveled to one of the coldest places on Earth, Ny-Alesund on the island of Svalbard, to look for extremophiles that survive on little food, extreme fluctuations in temperature, extreme UV radiation, and dehydration. The scientists say that this glacial environment is especially good to investigate because it is similar to the icy poles of Mars or other icy bodies like Europa. They hope that their discoveries about extremophiles in this area will help them discover similar extremophiles on these other bodies in our solar system. In particular, they are collecting samples of snow algae that makes carotinoids pigments to protect from the UV radiation, turning the snow red. Some pictures of this are in the second link below. I think that this mission as well as other AMASE (Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition) missions are a very exciting, cost-effective, and practical way to research extemophiles on Earth before looking for them on Mars and other celestial bodies.

Link to article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100806125556.htm

Here's another link to the blog of one of the researchers from a similar mission in 2009. This site contains some very cool pictures of their sample collection as well as the overall environment and landscape at Ny-Alesund: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.rss.spacewire.html?pid=32070

Posted by emslade at 03:40 PM | Comments (5)

March 29, 2011

12-Year-Old Astrophysics Prodigy

So essentially this is a smaller article to highlight the possible future of astrophysics. Kid sounds pretty smart to me, I'd like to see what all of you think.


Posted by strodel at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)

Spring Showers on Titan

The Cassini spacecraft spotted the first evidence for methane rain soaking Saturn's moon's surface around its equatorial regions. The storm developed in late September last year, with an area the size of New Mexico and Arizona combined being darkened due to the methane rain. Until now, it was uncertain whether methane rains were responsible for some of the surface features seen in the equatorial regions.

Titan's methane-rich weather systems form as part of an Earth-like water cycle, with methane-filled lakes present in the moon's polar regions. These storm outbreaks may be the Titan equivalent of what creates Earth’s tropical rainforest climates. However, tropical rain clouds on Earth are present year-round and only shift slightly with the seasons, whereas on Titan it seems that these tropical storms only dominate near the equinoxes.

The rest of the article can be found at:

Posted by schultka at 12:47 AM | Comments (3)

March 27, 2011

Black Hole Found in Binary Star System: More Than Five Times Greater in Mass Than Our Sun

Researchers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) have discovered the existence of a black hole 5.4 times greater in mass than that of our Sun, located in the X-ray binary system, stellar systems composed by a compact object and a 'normal' star. They then undergo the absorption process of accretion. They managed to obtain the first spectroscopic date from this binary system to be published.

Black holes are the remains left by a massive star after its death. Most of the known neutron stars have a mass around 1.4 times that of the Sun, though in some cases, values up to over twice the mass of the Sun have been measured. Astronomers believe that when greater than three times the solar mass, neutron stars are not stable, and end up collapsing and forming a black hole.

This is most likely what happened in the formation of this massive Black Hole

To Find out more information: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325082725.htm

Posted by skritt at 05:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 26, 2011

New NASA Craft Developed which could land on Asteroids

NASA is now in the process of creating a creating a new spacecraft, Orion, which can be used to land on asteroids. On this spacecraft, there is "a module for crew and cargo, a service module for propulsion, electrical power and other requirements, and a launch-abort system to carry the capsule to safety if the booster rocket fails." While it was originally meant to transfer astronauts to the moon, after President Obama's funding cuts, it is only used to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station. However, NASA understands Orion's potential to be able to land astronauts on asteroids by 2019.
I am very excited by this news because if we can get astronauts onto asteroids, we can do proper tests on them to see how many organic molecules are present and whether or not we can attribute our plethora of organic molecules to these foreign bodies. Fortunately, NASA continues to show that Orion will be a successful spacecraft.

Here's the link to the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1368732/Test-version-Nasa-Orion-craft-built-given-new-lease-life-Space-Station-docking-vehicle.html

Posted by jeffkong at 03:29 PM | Comments (2)

March 24, 2011

Suzaku Shows Clearest Picture Yet of Perseus Galaxy Cluster

The Suzaku X-ray astronomy satellite, a project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), recently made X-ray observations that provide scientists with the clearest picture of the size, mass and chemical content of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster. This cluster is located about 250 million light-years away and is the brightest extended X-ray source beyond our own galaxy. Using the data collected researchers were able to measure the density and the temperature of the gas. This allowed them to infer qualities about the gas and the cluster, such as that it is 11.6 million light-years across and that it contains more than 660 trillion times the mass of the sun. Also, by discovering clumping of gas in the galaxy scientists were able to correct previous overestimates of the density and composition.

The article can be found at

Posted by emschnei at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Death of a Spacecraft

Later today around 7, the NASA spacecraft Stardust will fire its engines one last time. The spacecraft was first launched in 1999 and since then it has traveled billions of miles. Throughout its 40 major flight maneuvers, Stardust has collected data on comets. The engines will burn fuel until there's nothing left, and this will be compiled into data which will help NASA determine how much fuel to give spacecrafts in the future depending on how far they are to go. According to NASA's Planetary Protection directives, the spacecraft must be far from entering planets' orbits to ensure that the spacecraft does no harm.

It's interesting that they take so many details into account when they let a spacecraft go. And I always wondered what happened to spacecraft after they're launched and they've been traveling through space for a long time. Some are intentionally sent through the Jovian planets' atmosphere so that they'll be destroyed.

For more information, follow this link:

Posted by brdoss at 04:09 PM | Comments (2)

New Mars rover gets a test taste of Mars conditions

Between November 25 and December 18, 2011, the U.S. plans to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. However, preparations are starting now, beginning with the rover being tested inside a 25 foot chamber, which will represent various environmental conditions simulating those on Mars. After these tests, Curiosity will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center before taking flight. It will be sent to one of four places on Mars suspected to possibly contain life: Eberswalde, Gale, Holden, or Mawrth. I believe this is a great news item, as just today we attempted to find a suitable landing site on Mars during discussion section, and it is actually happening as we speak in the real world. Researchers have found these four sites to be suited for both life and safe landing. The outcomes of this rover mission could bring outstanding results that shape the future of biological astronomy.

Article Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321101916.htm
Mars Sites Link: http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/msl/memoranda/sites_jan11/Golombek_MSL_LS_2011.pdf

Posted by sekoch at 03:22 PM | Comments (3)

Astronomers May Have Spotted Distant Baby Planet's Birth, A Cosmic First

Recently, scientists have discovered what appears to be a baby planet forming around a sun-like star 350 light years from Earth. This process was observed using “The Very Large Telescope” in the constellation Chameleon. It was discovered while scientists were attempting to view another star and noticed a gap within the surrounding disc of dust and gas.

It is a small object, implying that it is either a budding planet or a brown dwarf. But scientists plan to observe it over the next months to chart its growth. While the formation of other protoplanets have been observed, this occurrence would mark the “earliest stage of planet birth that has ever been seen.”

For more information, the full article can be found at:

Posted by ecfo at 01:53 AM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2011

New Enceladus Observation

Scientists have recently discovered that Enceladus' geysers have around 2.6 times the power first thought. As we all know, Saturn's moon, Enceladus, is currently known to be geologically active as displayed by its powerful geyser(s) on its south pole. This discovery is especially appealing because it means that Enceladus has the possibility to be much warmer than scientists originally believed.

"The possibility of liquid water, a tidal energy source and the observation of organic (carbon-rich) chemicals in the plume of Enceladus make the satellite a site of strong astrobiological interest," Howett said.

Who knows? Maybe we'll find life there yet.


Posted by strodel at 11:40 AM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2011

First spacecraft to orbit Mercury carries University of Michigan Device

Two very exciting things in this article:
1. MESSENGER, NASA's spacecraft to orbit Mercury, has finally reached its orbit. It is the first spacecraft to actually orbit Mercury, and with that, NASA hopes to get more information about the mysterious planet.
2. A new device, FIPS (Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer), was designed and built here at the University of Michigan. It is the first plasma instrument to discover the plasmas of Mercury.

This spacecraft and the new device will help scientists see things on Mercury never before seen. Both NASA and Michigan have made accomplished a big step in furthering the way we conduct research in space and furthering our understanding of our solar system.

The full article can be found at:

Posted by nelalam at 08:31 PM | Comments (3)

March 21, 2011

Webb Telescope Sunshield Is Like an Umbrella on the Shores of the Universe

There is a new telescope that has new technology to block heat and light of the sun. It is said to be an "umbrella popping open on the shores of the cosmos that allows the instruments beneath it to see far into the universe". This telescope has five layers and sensitive infrared instruments that are under the sunshield. This new telescope will let astronomers and scientists to see further into the galaxy and it will allow them to gather more information on our solar system which is exciting. We know that telescopes are important instruments that have been used for many many many years, but now this is just a special telescope. Here is the link to the whole article. Hopefully we can see what new knowledge this telescope will bring us.

Posted by melmccor at 07:19 PM | Comments (3)

Stars Gather in 'Downtown' Milky Way

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope took a picture of the Milky Way and found an area around the center that is glowing with stars in a colorful manner. The "myriad" of stars in the center glows blue. The green color is from carbon containing dust molecules. The yellowish/reddish regions are glowing from warm dust. The green colored areas are filled with young stars according to NASA. This in a way relates to what we studied for the last exam. For example, how colors portrayed on planets correlate with specific chemical compounds like Neptune and methane!

Read the full article at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321101101.htm

Posted by melmccor at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

Next Mars Rover gets a Test Taste of Mars Conditions

Last month I wrote an entry about the new Mars rover, Curiosity, as a mission that will inspect aging on the surface of the planet. An update about the mission tells us that the rover has started its environmental testing with the usage of Nvacs and shaker tables. The Nvacs (nitrogen-cooled vacuum chambers) are used to simulate the vacuum of space while the shaker tables are to simulate the vibrations produced by the spacecraft during take-off. I found this very interesting because my internship this past summer allowed me to get an up-close view at these different environmental tests. My job required me to work with these machines every day. What the article didn't explain is that vacuum chambers are also used for out-gassing of different components. Which basically means free particles or contaminants are removed through vacuum so that they are sterilized and clean for take-off. You don't want out-gassing in space, or it could affect other components in the launch.

article update:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321101916.htm

Posted by emmatula at 03:59 PM | Comments (1)

Disovery of new bacteria broadens our expectations for life elsewhere

Following our discussion in class today about the rise of unicellular organisms...

Scientists recently found a rare breed of bacteria in Mono Lake, California, an isolated body of water similar to the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Mono Lake is known not only for its high sodium content (2.5 times levels found in the ocean), but also for its extremely alkaline acidity level. These conditions make it very difficult for even unicellular organisms to survive, so they have been forced to evolve extensively to survive over the long term.

This recently found strain of bacteria is capable of incorporating arsenic in place of phosphorous into its DNA/RNA, a previously unseen evolutionary mechanism in modern life. This unique adaptation broadens our idea of what "habitable conditions" are for the rise of early life on a planet. This discovery means unicellular life is even more flexible than we thought to environmental changes, and may be capable of still existing in worlds we think to have gone extinct long ago.


Posted by rborden at 02:17 PM | Comments (3)

March 20, 2011

Interesting Astronomy Website!

I came across this pretty cool Astronomy Website just now and I thought I'd share it with all of you!

This is the link to the page that gave me a good laugh today, especially since we just learned about Mars!

If you are interested in the link to the actual website, this is it:

Posted by ninagav at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

NASA's MESSENGER Spacecraft Begins Historic Orbit Around Mercury

As planned, NASA's Messenger spacecraft is into orbit around Mercury. "This mission will continue to revolutionize our understanding of Mercury during the coming year," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. This is exciting because even though it is fairly close to Earth, it has not been explored thoroughly. It is obviously the closet to the Sun, and that is why it has been hard to study previously, but now that we have the chance there should be some awesome information coming within this year.


Posted by scottymg at 10:27 PM | Comments (1)

Seasonal Rains Affecting Titan's Surface

The Cassini spacecraft has recently spotted "Spring" showers on the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons. As we know, it is far too cold where the Jovian planets reside for liquid water to exist on the surface. Instead, it is methane rain that wets Titan's surface. This methane fills lakes on the surface, creates clouds in the atmosphere, and falls as rain.

The spacecraft captured a storm appearing during the equivalent of early April on Earth. Scientists observed a region of the satellite's surface darken considerably, which could only be explained by the wetting of the methane rain. The weather is comparable to the weather over Earth's tropics. Though it seems that it is most similar to the weather over the tropical oceans. And, unlike Earth's tropics, this weather may only occur near the equinoxes and move much higher in the atmosphere as the planet approaches the solstices.

In any event, this finding is simply more empirical evidence that scientists can use to further understand how the weather on Titan and other Jovian worlds works.


Posted by hartadam at 07:08 PM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2011 'Supermoon'

Well, last night I stepped outside and bam! There it was, the moon, except bigger and brighter than usual. For the first time since 1993, the moon was at its closest point to the earth on March 19, 2011. The article goes on to highlight the "Big Moon Rising," which was 14% larger and 30% brighter than earth's furthest full moons. Another interesting part, however incorrect, were the few skeptics that claimed the moon was to blame for all the recent disasters.

Hopefully you enjoyed the supermoon nonetheless, and if you didn't, don't worry! In the second paragraph, there is also a link to photos from around the world of the rare event.


Posted by ddeemidd at 04:02 PM | Comments (2)

Russian-USA Space Rides

Nasa has recently agreed to a deal with the Russian space program to share rides to the International Space Station through 2015. The agreement is being reached because NASA is no longer sending manned missions to the station. However this agreement has not come without a hefty pricetag. At a total cost of 753 million the program will enable 12 astronauts ride to the station, this translates to 63 million per astronaut. This lucrative contract has prompted the private sector in the United States to investigate into funding their own space shuttle programs.


Posted by evanski at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

Gliese 581g - Can We Expect Life?

Astronomers have recently discovered an Earth-like planet about 20 light years away from planet Earth. Research supports that Gliese 581g has many qualities that can make it habitable.

According to the article, the planet is where "temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to make the existence of life (as we know it) impossible. The planet has an atmosphere, gravity and temperatures that are cold, but not so cold as to make it uninhabitable."

In the video included with the article, Steven Vogt explains that with present-day technology, we could send a probe to Gliese 581g to gather more information, but it would probably be another 200 years before any of that information got back to us.

With this in mind, we have to consider whether or not it is worth spending millions of dollars on a probe to gather information that won't get within our own lifespans. We also have to figure out what the likelihood is that this planet may contain life, be it microbial or more evolved. As we read Chapter 4, "The Habitability of Earth" in our textbook, it will be interesting to take what we learn about what makes a planet sustainable for life, and how that compares to the features offered on Gliese 581g.


Posted by alymro at 09:54 AM | Comments (3)

IAU Declares February No Longer a Month - Funny Article

In leiu of our recent discussion about Pluto being officially taken off the list of planets, I thought it would be funny to share this article entitled "Astronomers Declare February No Longer a Month" written by Michael Haber. In the article, he pokes fun at the IAU for making Pluto a dwarf planet. He creates a fake scenario in which the IAU takes February off the list of official months because it is "too short".

From the article;
“It only seems fair,” said IAU President Ron Eckers. “February reaches a peak size of 29 days, averaging only 28 days for 75 percent of the time. Recent research has shown that other periods, such as the Time Between When You Were Supposed to Get Your Oil Changed and When You Actually Did, often exceed this meager time frame. In fact, this erratic behavior only strengthens our case that February does not belong in the same classification as the eleven ‘true’ months.”

I can't help but think that Haber is probably a supporter of Pluto as a planet, as he mocks the recent decision of the IAU to take it off the list. This article is probably more humorous for other supporters of Pluto as a planet as well, and may be not funny at all to those who support the decision of the IAU. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see the different reactions about Pluto's new status, and it will probably continue to spark different reactions for centuries to come.

Here's the link to the article;

Posted by alymro at 12:35 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2011

Full Moon the Biggest in About 20 Years

The full moon that we will be able to see this weekend, referred to as a "perigee moon," is supposed to be the biggest moon we've seen in approximately the past 20 years. This event is said to be very rare and has not happened since March of 1993. Due to the moon's elliptical orbit, full moons are able to look different. A perigee moon happens when the moon is around 50,000km closer to the Earth than normal. In addition, perigee moons are said to be about 30% brighter and 14% bigger than the apogee side moons which are those moons that happen at the farthest point of the moons orbit.

Full article can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/18/nasa.moon/index.html?hpt=C2

Posted by rmousigi at 11:04 AM | Comments (3)

March 09, 2011

Stunning views of the Sun

This is not too informative, but amateur astrophotographer Alan Friedman captured amazing photographs of the sun. He already has a large collection of outer space images, and he continues add magnificent photos.

Here is a link to the newest photo of the Sun: http://www.avertedimagination.com/img_pages/massive_floater.html

If you would like to see his collection, see: http://www.avertedimagination.com/best_1.htm

Source: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/

Posted by ccastel at 07:27 PM | Comments (2)

March 08, 2011

Massive Stars Form Alone

This article explained how massive stars actually have a major impact on environments that surround them. These stars also have very powerful stellar winds; so powerful, in fact, that they stop “any other star formation that might happen in the area.” Another really cool thing the article explained about the stars is that after they die they form elements that are needed for life, and the terrestrial planets specifically. These qualities are all very interesting since this is basically what this whole section of the course is about. After explaining the qualities of these massive stars, the article goes into the current debate of their formation. One theory states that they formed in “massive clusters with lots of lower mass stars”, and the second theory suggests that they may be able to form alone, maybe with the help of a few nearby stars. Graduate students ran experiments to test these theories and ultimately found the second to be true in their experiments.


Posted by ninagav at 09:51 AM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2011

Solar Experts Detect Waves in Giant Magnetic Holes the Size of the UK

The sun is perhaps the most important yet mysterious star in our solar system. Recently a team of solar scientists led by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, discovered massive waves in giant magnetic holes on the surface of the Sun. The team studied a magnetic region of the Sun much smaller than a sunspot, however its size was still many times greater than the size of the UK.The magnetic hole that they observed, also known as a pore, is able to channel energy generated deep inside the Sun along the magnetic field to the Sun´s upper atmosphere. The magnetic field emerging through the pore is over 1,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of Earth.

The energy being transported is in the form of a very special form of waves, known as `sausage waves´ which the scientists were able to observe using a UK-built solar imager known as ROSA (Rapid Oscillations of the Solar Atmosphere). This is the first direct observation of `sausage waves´ at the solar surface.The experts hope these giant magnetic holes will play an important role in unveiling the longstanding secrets behind solar coronal heating.

more on the article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110224103041.htm

Posted by chomingc at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Extraterrestrial life!!?!?!? Not...

NASA recently denied a claim made by Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist, that alien life was found in a meteorite sample. The astrobiologist published a paper on his research on the topic in the online Journal of Cosmology, which was believed to be a refutable source. After Hoover challenged any scientist to test his claim and gave an interview to Fox News, NASA issued a statement. Apparently the fact that Hoover's journal was not peer-reviewed seriously impaired its potential credibility. In a sense, he seems to have jumped to conclusions without properly proving his theory. Below is NASA's statement:

"NASA is a scientific and technical agency committed to a culture of openness with the media and public. While we value the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry, NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts. This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission. NASA also was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper's subsequent publication. Additional questions should be directed to the author of the paper." - Dr. Paul Hertz, chief scientist of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington


What I find interesting is that this entry does not give any other reason as to WHY this claim was discarded, other than the fact that the journal it was published in was not peer-reviewed. NASA does not make clear in their statement why this is, or if they plan to have others review the research. They pretty much just say it wasn't peer-reviewed....soo...what?? I want to know what they're planning on doing with it.

Posted by kailjoyb at 10:04 PM | Comments (2)

Auroras on Jupiter

When we first learned about the Northern Lights that occur in Alaska, I was amazed. The images I found on the Internet of the auroras were spectacular. Then, today when learning about Jupiter, I learned that Jupiter also has auroras of its own. Earth’s auroras are caused by solar wind that send charged particles toward Earth’s atmosphere. However, Jupiter fast rotation creates its own auroras by creating a strong electrical field. In order to have auroras, you need particles. For Jupiter, these come from its moon, Io. Like we learned in lecture today, Io has volcanoes that send particles toward Jupiter that are captured at Jupiter’s poles, creating a constant aurora. The colors of Jupiter’s auroras are not at spectacular as they are on Earth, but they are still just as interesting!

Check out this article out!


Posted by jnscott at 07:39 PM | Comments (1)

Evidence of alien life on meteorite

The search for life outside of earth has taken a step forward. According to a NASA scientists, forms of aliens do exist in the universe. Dr. Richard B. Hoover took samples of meteorites near the poles of earth, and found evidence of bacterial life, which suggests that there are alien lifeforms that exist in the universe. However, many NASA scientists are hesitant to label this finding as a concrete indicator that there indeed does exist extraterrestrial life in the universe, claiming that these findings need to be examined more carefully, to pinpoint where these fossilized bacteria came from. What are your thoughts on this discovery? Are you convinced that alien life exists?

Read the article here:

Posted by mameltz at 02:00 PM | Comments (3)

NASA helps cancer patients

NASA created a light technology that can now be used as a far red/near infrared Light Emitting Diode treatment called High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate (HEALS) to treat oral mucositis - a common and extremely painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Originally this technology was intended for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions; however, NASA has managed to develop the HEALS technology for use in medical fields. WARP 75 light delivery system (the HEALS device) allows LED chips to function at their maximum irradiancy without emitting heat. These LEDs release long wavelengths of light that stimulate cells to aid in healing. This provides a proactive therapy for symptoms of mucositis, helping suffering cancer patients around the world.

I find it amazing that NASA, an organization dedicated to the universe beyond Earth, has managed to invent a technology that will impact the lives of some many here on Earth.

To read more about HEALS and the use for it in the future, visit this website:

Posted by ccastel at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2011

NASA's Glory Satellite Fails to Reach Orbit

A few days ago, NASA launched a TAURUS XL rocket from Vandenberg base in California in an attempt to reach Earth's orbit and improve our understanding about the Earth's climate. However, the protective shell atop did not separate as expected only 3 minutes after its launch.

Although it would have provided the researchers at NASA insights on the sun, aerosols and their effects on Earth's climate, the mission was not successful. This relates to what we are currently learning in Astro101 regarding the various types of satellites/rockets/ missions we launch in space. For example, one type of object that is launched is powered by only enough fuel to reach a certain orbit and then the orbit carries that object for the rest of its time in space.

More about TAURUS XL at:

Posted by aarthi at 10:06 AM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2011

One of the Most Powerful Telescope in the World to be built in Hawaii

After a lengthy process, the TMT telescope has finally been approved to be built on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The $1.3 billion telescope is highly anticipated because not only will it be one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, but it will measure in a variety of wavelengths, from IR to UV.
It will have a 98 foot primary mirror, that will enable the TMT to reach nine times the light-collecting power of existing telescopes operating in optical and IR wavelengths today.
Construction is supposed to begin by 2012 and studies using the telescope should be able to start in 2020.


Posted by stoneswt at 06:44 PM | Comments (3)