SPACE

space

Enceladus' extremely alkaline underground ocean

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is home to a vast underground ocean that erupts to the surface at the moon’s south pole in a giant plume of gas, ice and dust. Scientists studying observational data of this plume collected by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, have recently learned more about the chemistry of Enceladus’ hidden ocean. 
 
24 Nov 2015

Buckyballs behind Milky Way mystery

For almost a century, astronomers have observed gaps in the broad spectrum of light reaching Earth from other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. These gaps, called diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs), arise when dust and molecules in interstellar space absorb specific wavelengths of light, thus darkening those bands of light from view. Although hundreds of distinct DIBs have been recognized, scientists have only been able to hypothesize as to the identity of the molecules responsible, until now. In a new study published in Nature, scientists say they have “positively identified” one of the interstellar light-absorbers: nanometer-wide carbon cages named buckminsterfullerene, or “buckyballs.”
 
17 Nov 2015

Red Planet Roundup: November 2015

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.
 
14 Nov 2015

Does the sun trigger autoimmune disease?

For hundreds of years, humans have charted the appearance of sunspots, the changing frequency of which marks highs and lows in the sun’s 11-year solar cycle. Peaks in the solar cycle cause surges in the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth, which can lead to changes in weather and climate, and can disrupt radio signals and electrical grids. Now, researchers have found that the solar cycle may also affect human health, with cases of rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis seeming to spike in concert with solar fluctuations.
 
01 Nov 2015

Rosetta spies cometary sinkholes

Large circular pits seen on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft may be sinkholes rather than craters left by explosive eruptions or impacts, according to scientists who analyzed images taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera.
 
22 Oct 2015

Geomedia: Film: 'The Martian' puts the magnificence and messiness of science at the fore

“The Martian,” in both movie and book form, is all about elevating science — with all its attendant magnificence and messiness — as well as the best of the collective human spirit. In this, it succeeds mightily.

02 Oct 2015

Benchmarks: September 26, 1991: Crew sealed inside Biosphere 2

It takes about an hour to drive from Tucson, Ariz., to the Biosphere 2 research facility, perched atop a plateau in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Through its glittering glass walls, you can still see the shadowy silhouette of the Brazilian rainforest that grows inside. Indeed, the facility once enclosed numerous small-scale experimental ecosystems — from a swath of swaying savanna to a 700,000-gallon ocean complete with its own coral reef. And, beginning on Sept. 26, 1991, Biosphere 2 enclosed a crew of four men and four women who would call the bubble home for two years.
 
26 Sep 2015

Red Planet Roundup: September 2015

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.
 
15 Sep 2015

MESSENGER mission ends with a bang, and more data

After 11 years in space and more than 4,100 laps around Mercury since entering orbit in 2011, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft was decommissioned in heroic fashion on April 30, slamming into the planet’s surface at more 14,000 kilometers per hour after it had run out of propellant. Fittingly, it gouged a 16-meter-wide crater of its own amid the myriad others it observed there.
 
12 Sep 2015

Comment: Exoplanets: Life on the Terminator

New missions are searching for potentially life-bearing exoplanets around small, cool, red dwarf stars. On many of these exoplanets, the habitable zone lies on the line between sunlight and shadow, which, ironically, is called “the terminator.” Would life be able to exist in the terminator zones?

10 Sep 2015

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