Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Is It?

Astronomers have found an object in the bowl of the Big Dipper that could be a supernova that has been exploding for 60 years.  Or, it could be two black holes in the process of merging.  Or it could be a huge variable star that will eventually become a supernova.  Further research will resolve the matter.

Nature has a deep bag of tricks.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Binary Planets

Researchers using computer simulations have found that two worlds the size of Earth could exist in orbit around each other.

They found the situation could be stable for billions of years if the planets orbited far enough away from their star that the star's gravity did not disrupt the delicate balance between the planets.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Philae Sniffs Organics

Before losing  power, sensors on the Philae lander detected organic compounds in the atmosphere of its comet.

Philae also found the comet's surface is much harder than previously thought.  That might be a factor in Philae's bouncing landing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lunar Mission One

Lunar Mission One is a Britain based non-profit, private effort to put a lander in the southern polar region of the Moon by 2024 and drill down perhaps 330 feet to obtain ancient rock samples.

LMO says such samples would be of immense scientific value, as well as being useful in determining whether that area could support a manned outpost.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Going Lunar

Momentum for settling the Moon seems to be building.  Several major nations have expressed interest in joining an international lunar base program, The Next Giant Leap Conference held in Hawaii last week (in which I was involved) seems to have successfully presented the case for lunar settlement, and an international group is now trying to push the idea ahead.

The point of the effort is to build a larger, wealthier economy that can provide real opportunity to every human.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Supercritical CO2

Researchers say supercritical CO2-- carbon dioxide under the right extreme temperature and pressure conditions-- acts very much like water and could possibly support life.

Such conditions exist deep in Earth's oceans and possibly on the surfaces of super-Earths.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Philae Goes Silent

Philae, the first human spacecraft to land on a comet, has fallen silent after its battery power ran out.

There is some chance contact with the probe can be reestablished if its solar panels can collect enough energy.  A bouncing landing left the panels ill-aligned and partially blocked from the Sun, but as the comet gets closer to the Sun, the power situation might change.