Showing posts with label solar planets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solar planets. Show all posts

14 Apr 2017

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Dec 2016

Tides and Our Moon’s Origin

Scientists have been wondering how our moon formed, and why its orbit isn't over Earth's equator.

It looks like our moon formed after something about the size of Mars hit Earth, roughly 4,500,000,000 years back.

But the giant-impact hypothesis didn't explain why our moon orbits Earth only five degrees away from Earth's orbital plane. The math had said that our moon would be orbiting pretty much over Earth's equator....

...God is Large and In Charge

I occasionally wonder if I should keep explaining why reality doesn't offend me, and why facts don’t threaten my faith....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Sep 2016

Europa, Mars, and Someday the Stars

Scientists think they've detected more plumes of water, shooting up from near Europa's south pole. It's early days, but we may have found a comparatively easy way to collect samples from the Jovian moon's subsurface ocean.

Stephen Hawking says humanity needs to keep exploring space. I agree, although not quite for the reasons he gave.

SpaceX tested an engine they plan to use on their Mars transport, and Gaia's data seems to have raised as many questions as it answers.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

8 Sep 2016

Philae, Jupiter, and Life

Scientists spotted Philae, the European Space Agency's spacecraft that crash-landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014: which will help them make sense of data sent back while the probe still functioned.

Other scientists think they’ve worked out where carbon near Earth's surface came from, and the Juno orbiter has been sending pictures of the giant planet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Jul 2016

Studying Thousands of New Worlds

Scientists studied the atmospheres of two exoplanets, planets orbiting another star, earlier this year. Both planets are roughly Earth-sized, with atmospheres a bit like the Solar System's terrestrial planets.

Juno arrived at Jupiter last month, and will start its science mission in October.

Finally, scientists found more than a thousand new planets; including more than a hundred Earth-sized ones.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

8 Jan 2016

Barsoom Development Ltd.

The Curiosity Mars Rover sent a 'postcard' from Mars, a 360-degree view of dunes and a mountain in Gale Crater....

...As usual, I'll ramble on about science, technology, and being human before getting to the interesting stuff: assuming that you think a robotic selfie from Mars is interesting.

Not-entirely-as-usual, I wasn't finished rambling when I started the 'postcard' stuff, so this post has an afterword. I've done that before....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

1 Jan 2016

On Mars by 2040?

Robots have orbited Mars, landed there, driven around, taken pictures, and studied Martian rocks.

But humanity's exploration of Mars has been by proxy: Nobody's gotten farther from Earth than Lunar orbit.

That could change before 2040. NASA has worked out a step-by-step plan for getting humans back into deep space: provided that Congress doesn't change its mind.

Even if that happens, my guess is that it wouldn't be long before someone else decides that people should act like humans....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Dec 2015

SpaceX, Mars, and Someday the Stars

First of all: Merry Christmas! I'll have something more seasonally-appropriate ready by Sunday. That's the plan, at least.

Today I'll be talking about spaceships, practical and otherwise: and why NASA cancelled InSight's March 2016 launch....

...Instead of trying to analyze the reasons, I'll just get started with the December 1938 issue of Amazing Stories, Columbus, Robert Goddard, the Hanseatic League, and why airlines don't use disposable airplanes — not necessarily in that order....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Dec 2015

Ceres, Pluto: There’s More to Learn

That's part of a picture from New Horizons: a sample from the highest-resolution images the spacecraft has started sending back.

We're pretty sure that the mountains are frozen water, and the flat parts softer "ice:" probably including frozen nitrogen.

The first journal paper using New Horizons' flyby data was published in October: but there's a great deal left to study, and even more still stored on New Horizons. (November 13, 2015)

Other scientists think they've found evidence that those bright spots in Occator Crater are frozen water, exposed when something hit Ceres. If they're right, the impact(s) happened recently. I'll get back to that.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Nov 2015

Pluto’s Cup-Capped Mountains

Before the New Horizons mission, we knew Pluto was very cold, had little or no atmosphere, and that was about it. (October 30, 2015; July 10, 2015)

Now scientists think they've spotted 'ice volcanoes' on Pluto that look a lot like shield volcanoes on Earth and Mars....

...we're rational creatures, created in the image of God, and "little less than a god." Studying this universe, and using that knowledge is part of our job. So is using our power responsibly....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Oct 2015

Kerberos, Mars: Answers Raise New Questions

Images sent back from New Horizons gave scientists their first opportunity to see how big Kerberos is. It's much smaller than they expected, which raises new questions.

Meanwhile, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's instruments provided evidence that there's running water on Mars: every summer, on some crater slopes. It's not the Mars of Burroughs' Barsoom tales: but I think the planet is getting more interesting, the more we learn about it.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

4 Sep 2015

New Horizons and Ceres

New Horizons will pass by another Kuiper Belt object in January, 2019, if NASA's proposal gets the go-ahead.

Closer to home, Dawn is still sending back data from Ceres: including an image of a very odd-looking mountain....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

31 Jul 2015

Pluto, Earth 2.0, and Life in the Universe

Pluto may have nitrogen glaciers, and the planet's air pressure is much lower than scientists expected.

Kepler 452b, "Earth 2.0," isn't the first roughly Earth-size planet found in a star's habitable zone: but the star, Kepler 452, is remarkably similar to our sun.

Another planet, HIP 11915b, is the first we've found that's around Jupiter's size: and orbiting its star at about the same distance as Jupiter. This is the first other planetary system that 'looks like' our Solar system.

Scientists still haven't found life elsewhere in the universe: but the odds seem to be getting better that we will, eventually....

...A 'science threatens faith' op-ed got my attention this week, so I wrote about beliefs, reasonable and otherwise, before getting around to the interesting stuff. Feel free to skip ahead to Pluto's Probable Glaciers, take a walk, or whatever suits your fancy....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Jul 2015

Pluto's Unexpected Terrain; SETI, Radio, and Drums

Pluto's still in the news, as New Horizons starts sending data from its July 14 flyby. That will take more than a year, but there have already been surprises: including "not easy to explain terrain" near Pluto's equator.

Meanwhile, the DSCOVR Solar weather monitor sent back a snapshot of Earth; and Professor Stephen Hawking is supporting a new search for intelligent life in the universe.

I think the Royal Society in London's Breakthrough Initiatives group will collect interesting facts while listening for extraterrestrial radio broadcasts. But I also think that our neighbors could easily have been using wireless telegraphy when Oldowan tools were our high tech.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Jul 2015

New Horizons: Past Pluto, Outward Bound

New Horizons has started sending back data from its Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015.

Pluto and Charon don't have nearly as many craters as scientists expected. One patch, at least, seems to be very new, on the cosmic time scale. Something, maybe Pluto's equivalent of volcanic eruptions, resurfaced that terrain in the last 100,000,000 years.

There's something odd about Charon's north polar region, too. Interesting, anyway.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Jul 2015

Pluto’s ‘Whale,’ Comet 67P’s Sinkholes

New Horizons is closer to Pluto than it was when I started writing this post, and should send back about 5,000 times as much data as Mariner did in its Mars flyby, 50 years ago. (BBC News)

The ESA's Philae lander 'woke up' last month, but the big news from the Rosetta mission are Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko's sinkholes: and the jets of gas and dust coming from at least some of them.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Mar 2015

A Hidden Crater, Lava Tubes, and Mercurian Ice

A bit shy of eight decades ago, a pilot and navigator set off on a round-the-world flight that should have provided ample material for her next book. Instead, shortly after midnight, July 2, 1937 GMT, the modified Lockheed Model 10 Electra disappeared.

She's still famous — and now has an invisible Lunar crater named after her. Eventually, Fred Noonan may have some rock named after him, or maybe not. In a perfect world, folks in the support crew would get a tad more recognition — my opinion — but this isn't a perfect world.

What's remarkable about Earhart Crater is that it's big, on the side of Earth's moon facing our planet — and buried under billions of years' of accumulated debris. Scientists found it while sifting through gravitational data.

Other scientists found that lava tubes would be strong and safe enough to house a Lunar base, and Messenger took pictures of ice on Mercury.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Mar 2015

Dawn's Arrival at Ceres; Sims and "Chaos"

Dawn became the first spacecraft to orbit two asteroids or planets other than Earth last week. More to the point, we're learning more about these survivors from the early Solar System.

Meanwhile, from the world of infotainment, "chaos" and the early Solar System....

...Either way, Vesta and Ceres are — most likely — the last remaining large protoplanets: which makes them valuable samples of the early Solar System.

Apart from size and distance from our sun, they're very different: which also makes them intriguing places to study. Scientists have working ideas about how Vesta and Ceres ended up where they are, but those hypotheses may change when we learn more from the Dawn mission.

There's quite a bit of data to work with already, from Dawn's stopover at Vesta....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jan 2015

Alien Worlds, Martian Methane, Looking for Life

Someone's made a 'top 10' list of "top exoplanet discoveries of 2014," including the first potentially habitable Earth-size world.

Mars had an ocean: billions of years ago. Scientists are piecing together the story of how Mars became the world it is now: and trying to figure out where Martian methane comes from.

Other scientists have discovered another reason to look for life on planets orbiting red dwarf stars: and there's the ongoing discussion of how to define "life."

We're learning more about this universe, and discovering that there's much more to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Oct 2014

New Maps for Earth and Moon, and India's Mars Mission

Mars Color Camera from an altitude of 8449 km, spatial resolution of 439 m, centered around Lat: 20.01N, Lon:31.54EScientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography discovered thousands of previously-unknown submerged mountains in data from satellites designed for measuring ice caps and ocean currents. Other scientists found a long-buried rift system on Earth's moon, and India's space program put a spacecraft in Mars orbit — on their first try....

...I'm pretty sure that most 'pure science' has practical applications: given time. Sometimes, given a lot of time. It took about two millennia for the aeolipiles of Vitruvius and Hero of Alexandria to make the transition from laboratory curiosities to steam engines and spaceship motors....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

We haven't found life on — or in — Enceladus. But we've found organic compounds in the Saturnian moon's salt-water geysers. Sc...