For the first time ever, scientists are witnessing the formation of a new moon as it forms within Saturn’s outer rings. According to a recent report, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently discovered this icy formation, currently being called “Peggy,” on April 15th as it disturbed the smooth lines of the ring system. But will it grow any larger, leave the ring system, or will it fizzle out and break apart?
Tonight you might go out and see an extra bright orange dot in the sky. Well, that’s not a star you’re seeing, that’s Mars.
I’m well aware of what today is. Believe me, I debated on whether or not to make a fake April Fools Day blog posting along the lines of “NASA announces the discovery of intelligent life on planet Eps Eri 04-01a,” or “50,000 year old space ship discovered in Antarctica.” However, there’s stuff out there in space that’s real and strange enough to bring to light without having to result in phoney gags. For example, a couple of days back I heard about the discovery of a pink planet way out in space. So here’s the rundown on the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun, GJ 504b that just happens to be pink.
It seems that just about every week or so scientists are discovering something weird out there in space. Some of these discoveries are more exciting than others, i.e., finally discovering water ice on Mars or discovering a star that’s potentially the size of the orbit of Saturn. But then sometimes new discoveries come and go and few people pay attention to them. I would like to talk about one such discovery: the discovery of possible ocean waves on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Could these possible waves be caused by Titan’s winds or something else that lies beneath?
Everyone has imagined how excited people would be if alien life were finally discovered. You’ve all seen those movies where one day a huge spaceship breaks through the clouds and imposes its presence on the world. I, for one, sometimes think what it would be like if I’m driving down the interstate and suddenly this enormous mothership slowly looms over the horizon. I’d hunch over my steering wheel and look up at the sky in shock, but then I’d immediately get mad at the other drivers because they would all pull over, or stop right there on the road, just so they can get out and look at it. “Come on, people. I’ve got places to be. Yeah, there’s a spaceship; let’s move on. I have to be at work in, like, five minutes.” Well, that’s if the aliens came knocking on our door. In reality, there are a few ways that scientists search for extraterrestrial life, e.g., searching for radio signals, laser signals, or evidence of neutrinos. And now we can add one more new way to search for alien life: analyzing for something called “dimers.”
Have you ever heard of the exoplanet, Tau Boötis b? Well, it was discovered back in 1996 and is one of the closest exoplanets to us. Tau Boötis b is about 51-light-years away and is considered to be a “hot Jupiter” because it is a gas giant orbiting close to its parent star. Now, with the advances in techniques used to scan planetary atmospheres, something else has been discovered about Tau Boötis b: the fact that it has water vapor.
It’s a happy Valentines Day on the surface of Mars. Thanks to the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team we can check out a collection of heart-shaped surface features.
Back in 1960, Astronomer Frank Drake started scanning two sun-like stars with an 85-foot wide antennae in West Virginia. His goal: search for signs of life. Over the past 50 years, thanks to the advantage of significant advances in electronics, digital technology, and some help from other people, that search has really ramped up. This month, Seth Shostak of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, CA, claims it is now estimated that by 2040 enough star systems will have been scanned to have discovered alien-produced electromagnetic signals.
Besides the Sun and Moon, Venus is the brightest celestial body. It’s so bright that you can even see it during the daytime. Tomorrow morning, and the rest of the week, you can see Venus in the morning sky just before sunrise. That is, if it is a clear sky when you go out. Depending on where you are, Venus is about two fists above the horizon.
In order to test whether or not a satellite could withstand the sound blast of a launcher as it takes off and flies through the atmosphere, the scientists at the European Space Agency have developed a sound system so extreme it may be able to kill a human being if they stood in front of it.