Friday, August 22, 2014

Finding Life

Most people probably think the likeliest place to find the first life beyond Earth in the Solar System is Mars.  Some scientists, however, would bet on Jupiter's moon Europa.

They suggest flying a probe through the plumes from erupting geysers on Europa could allow collection of samples from deep within the moon's huge subsurface ocean.  Such samples may speak to life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not Quite Martian Life

Scientists have decided that a cell-like structure in a Martian meteorite found in Egypt in 1911 is not, in fact, biotic in nature, though it is native to that rock.

Of course, in 1996, another Martian meteorite that sports another odd, cell-like structure ignited a debate about life on Mars.  That debate decided against life, as well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Novato Meteorite

A new study links a meteorite that crashed into a house in Novato, California in 2012 to the giant impact that led to the creation of the Moon.

By studying the rock's trajectory and composition, scientists have teased out an amazing story.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Detour For Curiosity

NASA's Curiosity rover may take a detour on its way to Mount Sharp.  It has encountered a patch of slippery sand controllers want to avoid.

Curiosity has traveled 5 miles across Mars, and has 2 miles to go to reach the mountain.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Black Hole Variety

Up to now, astronomers had found small black holes and supermassive black holes, but nothing in between.  A new study changes that, finding a medium-sized black hole in a galaxy 12 million light years away.

Supermassive black holes seem to be nearly as old as the universe, but physicists didn't think they could've gotten so big so quickly starting from small black holes.  The confirmation of the existence of medium-sized black holes eases that problem.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Soft Splashdown

SpaceX seems to have taken another small step towards reusable rockets.  After its latest Falcon 9 launch, the company successfully re-ignited the main engines of the first stage, deployed landing struts, and achieved a controlled descent to the ocean.

SpaceX has released video of the descent.

Friday, August 15, 2014

CFCs And White Dwarfs

White dwarfs are common stars in the universe; the Sun will be a white dwarf one day. Even though such tiny stars are cool, they still give off enough heat to have habitable zones, where life might exist.

Researchers suggest the habitable zones of white dwarfs may be good places to look for CFCs in planetary atmospheres as markers of industrialized civilizations.