worth scrolling all the way up to reblog
This went to a very different place then I though it would.
This is awesome/funny on one level and blows my mind on another
Pulling from 20 years of research since the first discoveries of planets beyond our solar system, scientists have concluded that Earth and its sibling worlds comprise what appears to be a relatively rare breed in a diverse cosmic zoo that includes a huge variety of planet sizes, orbits and parent stars. Read more
Holy hell … that’s gorgeous (and false-colored, sadly).
An important reminder that the universe has three spatial dimensions and is best appreciated with all three engaged*.
*engage fourth as needed for EXTREME MODE
...the aftermath of a cometary collision would be a scientific smorgasbord. If we ever needed to be “pushed” to send a manned mission to the surface of Mars, I can think of no better time than in the years after a massive comet strike.
These are 7 of the 125 photographs launched into space in 1977 aboard the Voyager spacecraft. If humanity ever destroys itself, or the earth, these photographs will be the only things other life will know of us. This is the imprint we’ve left on the universe.
See the rest under the cut:
I hate waking up to bad news.
Thanks to Congress and the White House failing to agree on budget cuts, and the subsequent “sequestration” (across-the-board, slash-and-burn, top-to-bottom money-trimming), NASA has announced that they are suspending all education and public outreach activities. It’s a suspension, not a cancellation … but uggghhhh.
NASA knows this sucks. But they’ve been put in a place where they have to choose whether they can support their actual missions with the money they have been given, and no matter how much they value the extras (and they do), it’s rock-and-a-hard-place time for space folks. It’s hard to put presents under the tree if you’re struggling to keep the lights on.
Projects like the Mars Curiosity Twitter account and NASA’s Twitter socials will continue. So what could we be saying goodbye to? These are the outreach programs that put Mars science in underprivileged classrooms, turning science into smiles. The programs that publish free ebooks of our Earth as art, erasing borders and instilling wonder in one fell swoop. Programs that allow us to travel beyond our planet in a single click. These are programs that plop down space telescope mock-ups in the middle of downtown Austin so the kid in me can do cartwheels with sciencey glee.
Today, online, there are so many wonderful places that can take up the slack (blogs and websites like this). But will we be able to do this effectively if NASA can’t even do it themselves? I don’t know. But we will try.
Because if we do try, then we can remind people who vote and people who make budgets of what NASA already knows: Whenever we look up, we are inspired to make new things possible, in sciences terrestrial and astronomical. And when we look back down at Earth, and those borders disappear, doesn’t it make you want to make this chart a little more even?
This rocks. Totally out of this world.
The number of places in our solar system that could have ever supported life now stands at 2!
The first, of course, is Earth, because … well, us. According to an awesomely exciting announcement today by NASA and JPL, we can add Gale Crater to that list!
What they found: Curiosity’s rock drill recently uncovered clay-like minerals below Gale Crater’s rusty red surface. These muddy minerals, pictured above, hint at a “Gray Mars” era, when Gale Crater and the ancient stream bed it holds could have been home to intermittent lakes. When the onboard instruments scanned the chemical makeup of the clay, it found carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur compounds, a group of elements known as “CHONPS” that have to exist in order to create life as we know it. Most importantly, the minerals were pretty neutral in pH and were found in forms that point to a possible chemical energy system (another key ingredient for life).
What remains unknown: This does NOT mean that anything ever actually lived there. But it is the first time that the ingredients for the evolution of microbial life, and the correct conditions to support it, have been directly observed beyond Earth. Mars still has water frozen at its poles, and once had quite a bit of water above and below the surface. The rover will poke around this site, called Yellowknife Bay, for a while longer before heading toward the mountainous center of Gale Crater. There, it will study the multiple layers of rock present on the hillside in order to piece together an even clearer picture of Gale Crater’s muddy, moist, maybe* microbial Martian past.
*Maybe. Just want to emphasize that part.
What if we could see how the Jovian moon Europa would look like if its ocean weren’t frozen over? This may just be a mere illustrative depiction as done by an artist but it still raises our curiosity and imagination. If creatures lived on such an ocean world without the freezing temperatures who knows what kind of species would rise what kind of intelligence they’d have, adaptation skills, and size! But let me not downplay the fact that species have been shown to survive even on freezing temperatures. This is why I love artistic representations on observations we’ve witnessed in nature. The ‘what if’ sensations shoot through the roof, and that’s okay.
Europa as It Is Today: Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth’s Moon. Like the Earth, Europa is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water.
Unlike on Earth, however, this ocean is deep enough to cover the whole surface of Europa, and being far from the sun, the ocean surface is globally frozen over.
Artist renderings inspire the imagination.