Stories tagged space

Mysterious material on the landing strut of the Phoenix Mars Lander
Mysterious material on the landing strut of the Phoenix Mars LanderCourtesy NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech
In photographs taken by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander there appear to be droplets of some kind of liquid. Is it water from just below the planet's surface? Some scientists suspect that this is exactly what you see in the photograph here. Although the temperature of the area where the photographs were taken never warmed above -15 degrees Fahrenheit during the spacecraft's mission, scientists think that salts called Perchlorates may have lowered the freezing point of the water, making liquid droplets possible at this temperature. Other scientists disagree, saying that the low-resolution photographs show clumps of frost or may have been formed by heat from the spacecraft's thrusters. This article explains more about the debate. What do you think?

Black hole: An artist's drawing shows a large stellar-mass black hole pulling gas away from a companion star.
Black hole: An artist's drawing shows a large stellar-mass black hole pulling gas away from a companion star.Courtesy NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet
This, apparently.


More cool black hole information can be found here.

From the above site I learned that our own sun can never aspire to be a black hole.

The sun does not have enough mass to collapse into a black hole. In billions of years, when the sun is at the end of its life, it will become a red giant star. Then, when it has used the last of its fuel, it will throw off its outer layers and turn into a glowing ring of gas called a planetary nebula. Finally, all that will be left of the sun is a cooling white dwarf star.


The moon stands alone: Astronomers are trying to determine if transient lunar phenonena on the moon are strange gas emissions from the satellite's core.
The moon stands alone: Astronomers are trying to determine if transient lunar phenonena on the moon are strange gas emissions from the satellite's core.Courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center - Earth Sciences and Image Analysis (NASA-JSC-ES&IA)
The moon is just one big dead hunk of rock circling around our Earth, right?

Well, not exactly. Some astronomers are getting curious about an annoying habit that shows up frequently enough in their telescopic viewings of the moon. They want to know if it is, um, cutting the cheese in regular intervals, if you know what I mean.

Since folks with telescopes have been looking at the moon for over 400 years, they’ve observed this occasional weird phenomenon where specific areas of the moon suddenly get bright and/or blurry for a few minutes. Over the age of astronomy, about 1,500 such events have been witnessed and recorded.

Is it just their tired eyes playing a trick on them or is there something odd going on here?

Some contend the effect – scientifically called transient lunar phenomena (TLP) – is just a funky lighting effect of the sun’s rays grazing a crater at an odd angle. But astrophysicist Arlin Crotts of Columbia University thinks there’s more to the situation.

His theory is that the moon is still undergoing geological changes. The TLPs are the result of radon-like gas releases from the moon’s core working their way to the surfacing and kicking up lunar dust.

Well, the moon can’t be sneaky with its TLP efforts anymore. Two observatories are now keeping the moon in their sights permanently with robotic telescopes well into 2010. One is located in New York and the other in Chile. They’ll be taking images of the moon every 20 seconds looking for TLPs. The images are then put into a computer and analyzed. If a TLP is spotted, moon-orbiting satellites are notified to zoom their attention to the site or a better look.

Why all this effort to see if the moon really has a gas problem?

First, learning more about this geological behavior could tell us more about the moon’s creation and early life, researchers say. Also, learning more about the moon’s geology – and any potential water resources that might be under its surface – could be a huge boom for future space missions to the moon’s surface.

Plus, and this is just my own reasoning, if we can determine TLPs are indeed gas emissions from the moon, we’ll have a reliable source to blame for all rude odors that no one wants to take credit for.

Each week, CNN posts a collection of space images. This week, you can see the green comet Lulin, thousands of satellites orbiting Earth, and some photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Making what is believed to be its first pass through our solar system, Comet Lulin will be passing by Earth tonight at its closest point to us on its celestial voyage. Full details are here from National Geographic. Despite its close tracking tonight to our planet, about 38 million miles, you'll still need to use a telescope or binoculars to see it. As a new comet, Lulin has just started to burn the frozen chemicals that make up its composition on this pass around the sun, giving astronomers a rare chance to see what happens with a brand-new comet

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamondsCourtesy Travis Metcalfe and Ruth Bazinet, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, astronomers discovered a star Feb. 13, 2004 that is thought to be a diamond crystal weighing 10 billion trillion trillion carats.

Click this link to learn more about Lucy, the star made out of diamond.

The collision between two large satellites on February 10 has created a cloud of debris that likely will cause problems in Earth orbit for decades.
Source: Universe Today.


This morning when I work up, it was a clear sky, and the moon was very bright. To me, the moon this morning was the same size but definitely brighter. It was an amazing view. I'll have to post a picture of it tonight if the sky is clear. But I just read this on about this morning moon sighting:

Did you read the last part to this article? What did you think about it?


Greetings from lunar orbit, Dec 24, 1968

Forty years ago the crew of Apollo 8 delivered a live, televised Christmas Eve broadcast after becoming the first humans to orbit another space body.

"The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth," Lovell said. Wired

First public radio broadcast, Dec. 24, 1906

Speaking of famous Christmas eve broadcasts, it's worth remembering that Reginald Fessenden made what is generally recognized as the first public voice-over-radio broadcast on Dec. 24, 1906.

NASA is now entertaining offers for its three space shuttles – Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour – that are scheduled to be retired in 2010. The estimated $42 million price tag includes $6 million in transportation costs to fly a shuttle to atop a 747 to the nearest major airport near the purchaser. Click here for more details. One of the three will likely be put on display at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Where and how would you like to see the other two be repurposed?