Last week, I was having lunch with some friends, which included a number of programmers. One of them mentioned an old urban myth, that I hadn't heard in several years, which claims that, due to a programming bug (involving a misplaced semicolon), NASA once accidentally sent a probe into the Sun. I pointed out to my friend how implausible this was. … Continue reading NASA has never accidentally sent a probe into the Sun.
Well, it now looks like Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons, has a subsurface ocean. Ganymede's great distinction among moons - apart from its size - is that it has its own magnetic field. Hubble has managed to track that field's behaviour by watching how it draws in and excites space particles, generating a glow of … Continue reading Subsurface oceans everywhere and the possible pervasiveness of life
ratamacue0 sent me this interesting Slashdot post: Methane-Based Life Possible On Titan - Slashdot. Randym writes: With the simultaneous announcement of a possible nitrogen-based, cell-like structure allowing life outside the "liquid water zone" (but within a methane atmosphere) announced by researchers at Cornell (academic paper) and the mystery of fluctuating methane levels on Marsraising the possibility of methane-respiring … Continue reading Methane-Based Life Possible On Titan
First, in case you haven't heard: 70,000 Years Ago, Another Star Flew by the Edge of the Solar System | RealClearScience. According to an international team of astronomers, about 70,000 years ago a red dwarf star -- nicknamed "Scholz’s star" for the astronomer who discovered it -- passed by our solar system just 0.8 light years … Continue reading A close pass by a red dwarf star, and a note on interplanetary and interstellar distances
This is pretty nice. A short video by Erik Wernquist showing humans in various locations around the solar system, with a voiceover from Carl Sagan, always guaranteed to enrich the sense of wonder. via Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist on Vimeo. h/t Alex Parker
I always assumed that NASA had plans to explore other Kuiper Belt objects after the New Horizon's probe flew by Pluto. But I'm a bit surprised that they're just now working out what those objects will be: Two Kuiper Belt objects found: Hubble to proceed with full search for New Horizons targets -- ScienceDaily. Planetary scientists … Continue reading Two Kuiper Belt objects found: Hubble to proceed with full search for New Horizons targets
My initial reaction to this was, where are the gas giants? Then I woke up and realized this was about definable surfaces. (Click through for full sized version.) Note the tiny size of Pluto in relation to moons like The Moon and Titan. However, note also Mercury's size in relation to many of those moons. … Continue reading xkcd: Surface areas in the solar system
When pondering how likely life is to develop on other worlds, or what types of life might develop, we always have to always bear in mind that we currently only have one example to work with. And that example has one extremely unusual attribute, a large moon, at least large in relation to the size … Continue reading Did a cosmic fluke make life on land possible?
And speaking of the outer solar system, it seems that Neil deGrasse Tyson isn't interested in debating whether or not Pluto is a planet. If you were looking forward to seeing astrophysicist and "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson debate how Pluto should be classified, don't hold your breath. Tyson says he's done debating. The planetary scientist in charge of … Continue reading Neil deGrasse Tyson Turns Down Pluto Debate Challenge
Corey Powell, and editor at Discover Magazine, and Steven Sotor, co-writer of the new Cosmos series, have been having a back and forth about Giordano Bruno, who was highlighted in the first Cosmos episode. Your suggestion that Giordano Bruno was not the first to realize that the stars are suns is mistaken. You cited his … Continue reading Battle of the “Cosmos,” Round 3 – Out There | Discovermagazine.com