June 28-July 3, 2016
Aging an Exoplanet Will Tell Us Whether or Not It Has Water?!
Mass and size alone aren’t enough to determine whether or not an exoplanet contains water. Yann Alibert, of the University of Bern in Switzerland, came up with an idea to use the planet’s age. By measuring the radii of young and old planets, scientists can determine whether or not the planets’ are contracting, which may indicate the presence of water.
Cavemen Had Observatories?
A new theory is speeding through the scientific circuit. A recent study suggests that prehistoric humans may have used “passage-graves” to study the stars. These “igloo-shaped structures” were used across Europe from 6,000 to 2,000 B.C. and scientists believe were used to examine small parts of the sky.
Ceres and Her Riddles:
Ceres is a funny little dwarf planet living in the Asteroid Belt. Containing salt and ammonium carbonate deposits like Uranus and Neptune, it has a lot in common with our outer planets and Kuiper Belt objects...Only problem is that NASA’s Dawn Vesta/Ceres probe discovered it has a lot less ice that we originally thought, only 30-40%. Will we ever solve the dwarf planet’s formation riddles? Only time will tell.
Climate Change is Affecting THIS?!
The sex ratio for valerian plants in the Rocky Mountains has changed since the 1970’s. Back then, males made up just over 33% of the plant population, a population that predominantly lived at elevations approximately 3,000 meters high. Today, only about 5.5% exist at that height. Scientists claim this is a result of global climate change and that the plants are migrating to higher elevations for more favorable growth conditions. HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL DENY THAT CLIMATE CHANGE EXISTS?
Defying Physics - A Journey Through the Center of the Earth:
Traveling through the center of the Earth is impossible, physicists claim. Tunnel wall friction and air resistance drag mean it would take a year to reach the center alone...but that’s not the impossible part. Once at the center, “thanks to the energy lost due to friction, you wouldn’t be able to overcome the pull of gravity to make it to the other side.”
Guess Who Just Got Mission Extensions?!
TWO of NASA’s spacecrafts have received mission extensions: New Horizons and Dawn. Both record-breaking ships, New Horizons was made famous for its rendezvous with Pluto, and Dawn has spent the last year orbiting Ceres. What’s next for these two space gems? New Horizons will go deeper into the Kuiper Belt to gather data and Dawn just might be sticking it out with her protoplanet pal, Ceres.
Helium Shortage Hoax:
The jig is up, everyone. We are NOT running out of helium!! A massive amount of it was just discovered in Tanzania, but apparently, we don’t even need that. Helium is present in natural gas, but until the recent “shortage,” oil companies haven’t been incentivized to remove it. Now that helium prices are up, the gas is flooding the market place. What a relief!
Infrared Jupiter is Awesome:
A new, infrared image of Jupiter, from the Very Large Telescope in Chile, shows heat emanating from deep within the gas giant’s core. And boy, it is breathtaking. The image was put together in preparation for Juno’s descent into Jupiter’s orbit today. Take a look! It’s absolutely beautiful!
June 30th was Asteroid Day...Are YOU Prepared for Impact?
Started just last year, Asteroid Day is an opportunity for scientists, doomsday survivalists, and everyone in between, to gather and discuss asteroid awareness, preparedness, and safety. In 1908, with 185 times the energy of Hiroshima's atomic bomb, a 40-meter-wide asteroid devastated Siberia. Remember, we’re only one impact away from total extinction...
Today, Juno falls into Jupiter’s orbit and will begin a two year mission collecting data from underneath the Gas Giant’s famous cloud cover. As you can imagine, the astrophysical world is BUZZING in anticipation. Here’s a brief summary on all things JUNO!
5 Fun Facts About Juno:
As far as man-made vessels go, Juno is the fastest, EVER.
There have been 5 other spacecrafts sent to Jupiter. Juno is the 6th.
Juno will orbit at the Gas Giant’s poles.
“The craft is built like Fort Knox.”
Three LEGO figurines will travel with Juno, and be the first toys to orbit Jupiter, EVER.
Want to Take a Look At Jupiter?
To celebrate Juno’s descent, the Slooh Observatory is offering a unique chance to behold the spectacular Jupiter. Coverage will begin TONIGHT at 7:30pm PDT and links to the feed can be found by visiting their website, here. http://live.slooh.com/stadium/live/juno-arrives-at-jupiter
How Will Juno Survive the Plunge?
It will take Juno 35 minutes of engine work to dive into Jupiter’s tumultuous atmosphere. Think success is a sure thing? Think again.
These Missions Are Next In Line for Jupiter!
Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission, sometime in the 2020’s
Io Volcano Observer, 2021
Advanced Jovian Asteroid Explorer, 2021
Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, 2022
Why is NASA Leaving Juno to Die?
Juno cost us 1.1 BILLION dollars...so why aren’t we trying to bring the spacecraft back to Earth? Well for one, it doesn’t have enough fuel to climb out of Jupiter’s atmosphere and two, returning spacecrafts run the risk of bringing alien microbes with them. And we don’t know WHAT they’re capable of...
Mercury’s Shallow Core:
The little planet closest to our Sun doesn’t get much air time, so when it does, I want to pay attention! Ralph McNutt, a NASA MESSENGER project scientist, has created a series of experiments to recreate activity on Mercury. He has discovered that many of the rocks on the planet’s surface actually came from its shallow core.
New Discovery on Mars Could Answer Questions About Atmosphere:
A new type of wind ripple has been found in the sands of Mars. On Earth, we have two different sizes: large and small. The Red Planet boasts both of these PLUS a medium sized wind ripple! The size and spacing of these airborne phenomena are determined by a planet’s atmosphere, meaning these new little (or should I say medium?) discoveries should be able to tell us a little more about how the Red Planet ticks.
Oh, Rosetta! Oh Don’t You Die On Me!
Rosetta’s life is coming to an end. The European Space Agency’s spacecraft will land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on September 30, 2016. There, her communications systems will fail and her operations will cease. BUT, the “final hours of descent will enable Rosetta to make many once-in-a-lifetime measurements, including high resolution imaging, boosting Rosetta’s science return with precious close-up data achievable only through such a unique conclusion.” Not a bad way to go out, old girl. Not bad at all.
Should We Be Looking at These Chemicals to Find Aliens?
Humans have been looking for extraterrestrial life for a while now...but are we any closer to finding it? Scientists are now looking for biosignature gases, “molecules in a planet’s atmosphere that could only be produced by living organisms.” They need to start studying these chemicals (oxygen and methane miiight be a good place to start) and determine which “best telegraph the presence of life.”
Want to Know More About the Universe’s First Galaxies?
Let’s face it, we don’t know much about the universe’s first galaxies because they aren’t emitting a whole lot of light. Observatories around the globe are desperately trying to locate details of these galactic babies, but until the James Webb Space Telescope goes into orbit until 2018, their results may prove fruitless. Want to learn everything scientists currently know about the first galaxies? Check out the video in this article.
We Just Looked 13 BILLION Years Back In Time:
We have data on galaxies that are over 13 billion years old, a mere billion years after the Big Bang. Data on 250,000 galaxies to be exact. We have never before seen this many images from this deep in space. Ever. And of course, “the farther away from Earth you look in the universe, the farther back in time you see.” So yeah, we just time travelled, y’all.
Who Needs the Northern Lights with Aurorae Like This?
Juno is already delivering data about Jupiter, and it hasn’t even reached the Red Giant’s orbit yet. Partnering with Hubble’s ultraviolet capacity, the data depicts dazzling aurorae at Jupiter’s poles. Aurorae are “created when high-energy particles enter a planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas.”
Sources: Science News, Wired, Astronomy Magazine