Thursday, December 18, 2014

Platform Touchdown

SpaceX will attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket softly on a platform in the Atlantic after its next launch.

That launch is now scheduled for January 6.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Organics On Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover has drilled into a rock on Mars and found organic chemicals-- the building blocks of life.

The discovery doesn't mean life exists or has existed on Mars, but it does further strengthen a case for life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Glaciers On Mars?

A new study suggests glaciers may have carved at least part of the Mariner Valley, the huge canyon system on Mars.

That would have happened in a colder yet wetter period than today.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lunar Visions

Science fiction authors have imagined spectacular cities on the lunar plains.  Businesspeople have envisioned resorts in the magnificent crater Copernicus.  Those might exist someday. but the first lunar bases and settlements could well be built underground. perhaps in lava tubes.

Such sites would be protected by the rock overhead against deadly radiation.  They would also not have the extreme temperature shifts the surface endures/

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Water On Earth

Results from Rosetta suggests comets may not have delivered most of Earth's water.  The particular signature of the water on the comet Rosetta is studying differs significantly from that of the water in Earth's oceans.

If that conclusion holds, asteroids would become the prime candidates to be the bringers of water.

Friday, December 12, 2014

An Astronomical First

A ground-based astronomical observatory in the Canary Islands has observed the transit of a super Earth across the disk of its star, a first for a telescope on Earth.

As space probes discover more and more exoplanets, it's important ground-based facilities be able to follow up.  The technology enabling that is arriving.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Life On Titan?

Dr. Christopher McKay speculates we may already have evidence of life on Saturn's moon Titan.

As the Huygens probe was about to land on Titan, he argued methane-based life might consume hydrogen.  In fact, Huygens found plenty of hydrogen in the upper and middle layers of Titan's atmosphere, but a diminished amount in the lower layer, where life would presumably be.

The idea needs more work, as McKay acknowledges, but it's sure provocative.