Astronomical News

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
5,938
Likes
14,083
Points
294
More from Mars

Nasa Mars rover finds organic matter in ancient lake bed


Curiosity digs up carbon compounds that could be food for life in sediments that formed 3bn years ago





Nasa’s veteran Curiosity rover has found complex organic matter buried and preserved in ancient sediments that formed a vast lake bed on Mars more than 3bn years ago.

The discovery is the most compelling evidence yet that long before the planet became the parched world it is today, Martian lakes were a rich soup of carbon-based compounds that are necessary for life, at least as we know it.

Researchers cannot tell how the organic material formed and so leave open the crucial question: are the compounds remnants of past organisms; the product of chemical reactions with rocks; or were they brought to Mars in comets or other falling debris that slammed into the surface? All look the same in the tests performed.

But whatever the ultimate source of the material, if microbial life did find a foothold on Mars, the presence of organics meant it would not have gone hungry. “We know that on Earth microorganisms eat all sorts of organics. It’s a valuable food source for them,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

etc
https://www.theguardian.com/science...over-finds-organic-matter-in-ancient-lake-bed
 

blessmycottonsocks

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
2,960
Likes
4,162
Points
154
Location
Wessex and Mercia
Today's Guardian contains a well-written article promoting the idea of establishing a Moon-base.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/12/life-on-moon-chris-hadfield#comments

Sadly, a lot of the comments are of the typical Guardianista variety arguing that it would be wrong to create extraterrestrial colonies before we've sorted out all the problems on Earth.

With that Luddite attitude, humankind would never have left Olduvai Gorge or invented the wheel.

Surely, the best way to preserve our environment on Earth is to expand our horizons from this finite chunk of rock, with its rapidly dwindling natural resources, to the potentially virtually infinite space out there?
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
47,867
Likes
19,189
Points
284
Location
Eblana
Today's Guardian contains a well-written article promoting the idea of establishing a Moon-base.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/12/life-on-moon-chris-hadfield#comments

Sadly, a lot of the comments are of the typical Guardianista variety arguing that it would be wrong to create extraterrestrial colonies before we've sorted out all the problems on Earth.

With that Luddite attitude, humankind would never have left Olduvai Gorge or invented the wheel.

Surely, the best way to preserve our environment on Earth is to expand our horizons from this finite chunk of rock, with its rapidly dwindling natural resources, to the potentially virtually infinite space out there?
We can't leave all of our eggs in the one basket. Forward to Mars and the asteroid Belt.
 

Tribble

Furry Idiot
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
1,917
Likes
3,489
Points
154
With that Luddite attitude, humankind would never have left Olduvai Gorge or invented the wheel.
As a great man once said,

"This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."


I'd reckon the main advantages of going off-world would be the advances in science and engineering that would result. Just maybe, some of those advances could be used to make things a little better on this planet. Water purification, efficient power generation and GM crops that can survive harsh environments spring to mind - this planet is going to be desperately in need of all three in the not-too-distant future.
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
26,875
Likes
11,374
Points
284
Today's Guardian contains a well-written article promoting the idea of establishing a Moon-base.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/12/life-on-moon-chris-hadfield#comments

Sadly, a lot of the comments are of the typical Guardianista variety arguing that it would be wrong to create extraterrestrial colonies before we've sorted out all the problems on Earth.

With that Luddite attitude, humankind would never have left Olduvai Gorge or invented the wheel.

Surely, the best way to preserve our environment on Earth is to expand our horizons from this finite chunk of rock, with its rapidly dwindling natural resources, to the potentially virtually infinite space out there?
That's sweet to believe that humanity's problems will be solved one day.
 

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
5,938
Likes
14,083
Points
294
Interesting discoveries from Cassini

Saturn moon a step closer to hosting life
By Mary HaltonScience reporter, BBC News


Image copyrightNASA
Scientists have found complex carbon-based molecules in the waters of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Compounds like this have only previously been found on Earth, and in some meteorites.

They are thought to have formed in reactions between water and warm rock at the base of the moon's subsurface ocean.

Though not a sign of life, their presence suggests Enceladus could play host to living organisms.

The discovery came from data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft.

etc
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44630121
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,911
Likes
4,398
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Space is "full of dirty toxic grease"

It looks cold, dark and empty, but astronomers have revealed that interstellar space is permeated with a fine mist of grease-like molecules.

Prof Tim Schmidt, a chemist at the University of New South Wales, Sydney and co-author of the study, said that the windscreen of a future spaceship travelling through interstellar space might be expected to get a sticky coating.

“Amongst other stuff it’ll run into is interstellar dust, which is partly grease, partly soot and partly silicates like sand,” he said, adding that the grease is swept away within our own solar system by the solar wind.

The study provides the most precise estimate yet of the amount of “space grease” in the Milky Way, by recreating the carbon-based compounds in the laboratory. The Australian-Turkish team discovered more than expected: 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of gloop, or enough for 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter.
I'm not sure how many olympic-sized swimming pools this equates to.
 

Vardoger

Like To Roam The Land
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
4,803
Likes
3,223
Points
184
Location
Scandinavia
Astronomers: Maybe We’re Alone in the Universe After All
Ryan Whitwam on June 27, 2018 at 7:30 am
  • 65 Comments


    Ever since humans began observing the wider universe, we’ve been struck by how empty space can be. With all the uncountable stars out there, it seems like there should be someone looking back at us. Still, we haven’t found anyone yet—this is known as the Fermi Paradox. The Drake Equation has been used to estimate how many intelligent civilizations exist among the stars, but a new study mutates the equation in an unexpected manner. The authors conclude we’re probably alone. Although, their arguments are a bit suspect.

    Frank Drake proposed the Drake Equation (see below) in 1961 at the first meeting of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). It wasn’t intended as a tool to actually calculate the number of alien civilizations but to help us understand what we still don’t know. The Drake Equation takes into account things like the rate of star formation in our galaxy, the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of stars that support life, and so on. At the end, you get the number of detectable alien civilizations in the Milky Way.

    Even with advances in astronomy, we don’t actually know many of the values for the Drake Equation. We can, however, make better guesses at things like the number of stars and planets in the galaxy. The new study from Oxford University researchers incorporates probabilistic distributions and genome models into the calculation to suggest that we may be completely alone in the universe.

    More at https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/272357-researchers-maybe-were-alone-in-the-universe-after-all
 

Vardoger

Like To Roam The Land
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
4,803
Likes
3,223
Points
184
Location
Scandinavia
NASA-Backed Project Lays Out the Science of Detecting Alien Life
Ryan Whitwam on June 27, 2018 at 9:15 am
  • 10 Comments

    There are still many unanswered questions about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Maybe the universe is teeming with intelligent beings, or there might just be some pond scum on some out-of-the-way moon. It’s even possible there is no other life. An international team of scientists has laid the groundwork for scanning the skies for life. With the support of NASA, the researchers have simultaneously published six studies that explain how we will search exoplanets for signs of life using current and near-future technologies.

    All six studies are part of the Nexus for Exoplanet Systems Science (NExSS) program. It’s all backed by NASA, but includes teams from all over the world, tracing back to a brainstorming session held in Seattle in 2016. After two years of work, teams from the University of Washington, the University of California-Riverside, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and others have published their research.

    This collection of studies outlines what we know about detecting life in another solar system, as well as how we can go about it. The overarching theme of the individual studies is that scientists of multiple disciplines will need to work together to find evidence of life. The first paper, from NASA’s Goddard Institute, details the best signal types to use for detecting life. It calls out atmospheric gases like oxygen and methane in particular. Light reflected by life could also be a useful signal — for example, the color of plant life across a planet’s temperate zone. Another paper from the University of California-Riverside explores what we know about life on Earth can tell us about the signals we might detect on other planets.

    More at https://www.extremetech.com/extreme...-lays-out-the-science-of-detecting-alien-life
 

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
5,938
Likes
14,083
Points
294
What a cute baby

First confirmed image of a newborn planet revealed
Nascent planet seen carving a path through the disc of gas and dust surrounding the very young star PDS70

Nicola Davis

@NicolaKSDavis
Mon 2 Jul 2018 12.43 BSTFirst published on Mon 2 Jul 2018 11.01 BST




This image from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope is the first clear image of a planet caught in the act of formation. Photograph: ESO/A Müller et al
It is a moment of birth that has previously proved elusive, but astronomers say they now have the first confirmed image of the formation of a planet.

The startling snapshot shows a bright blob – the nascent planet – travelling through the dust and gas surrounding a young star, known as PDS70, thought to be about 370 light years from Earth.

The black circle in the centre of the image, to the left of the planet, is a filter to block the light from the star, enabling other features of the system to be seen.

Captured by the Sphere instrument of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, the planet – a gas giant with a mass greater than Jupiter – is about as far from its star as Uranus is from our sun, with further analyses revealing that it appears to have a cloudy atmosphere and a surface temperature of 1000C.

etc
https://www.theguardian.com/science...rmed-image-of-a-newborn-planet-revealed-pds70
 

skinny

Antediluvian
Joined
May 30, 2010
Messages
6,873
Likes
6,237
Points
284
Successful Second Deep Space Maneuver for OSIRIS-REx Confirmed

Illustration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during a burn of its main engine.
Credits: University of Arizona

New tracking data confirms that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its second Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-2) on June 28. The thruster burn put the spacecraft on course for a series of asteroid approach maneuvers to be executed this fall that will culminate with the spacecraft’s scheduled arrival at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3.

more at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/osiris-rex-executes-second-deep-space-maneuver

Looks a bit like a winged sun disk, dunnit. From that angle.


Any juice in the rumour this mission is an earth-killing asteroid deflector?
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,911
Likes
4,398
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Neutrino which struck Antarctica traced to galaxy 3.7 billion light years away

A mysterious, ghostly particle that slammed into Earth and lit up sensors buried deep beneath the south pole has been traced back to a distant galaxy that harbours an enormous spinning black hole.

Astronomers detected the high-energy neutrino, when it tore into the southern Indian Ocean near the coast of Antarctica and carried on until it struck an atomic nucleus in the Antarctic ice, sending more particles flying.

The event, which took place on 22 September 2017, was captured by the IceCube experiment, a cubic kilometre of clear ice kitted out with sensors to detect such intergalactic incidents. Within a second of the particle being spotted, IceCube issued an automatic alert, prompting an international race to find the neutrino’s origin.

Most galaxies are thought to have spinning supermassive black holes at their centres. But some of these black holes appear to pull in material at ferocious rates, a process that simultaneously sends streams of highly energetic particles out into space. Such galaxies are called blazars, although the term only applies when one of these streams is directed straight at Earth.

The blazar that appears to have sent the neutrino our way lies 3.7bn light years from Earth, just off the left shoulder of the constellation of Orion. While a single detection is not strong evidence, the IceCube scientists went back through their records and found a flurry of neutrinos coming from the same spot over 150 days in 2014 and 2015. Details are published in two separate papers in the journal Science.

Neutrinos are extraordinary particles. So light that they were once thought to be massless, they stream continuously out from the sun in vast quantities. Most of the time they pass through objects in their path: about 100bn pass unnoticed through the area of a fingertip every second. Collisions with other particles such as that detected in Antarctica happen very rarely.
 

Vardoger

Like To Roam The Land
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
4,803
Likes
3,223
Points
184
Location
Scandinavia
I've heard about adaptive optics for telescopes for a few years already. This must be the first time it's installed on a larger telescope.
--------------------------------------------------

Sharpest images of Neptune ever seen are captured after scientists upgrade the most powerful telescope on Earth with laser guidance technology
  • Experts captured the shot using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in northern Chile
  • A process called the laser guide star facility now creates more precise images
  • The VLT can now produce images comparable to the Hubble Space Telescope
  • It will let them study unusual celestial objects in unprecedented detail, they says
  • That ranges from supermassive black holes to supernovae and planets
By TIM COLLINS FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 11:00 BST, 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:00 BST, 18 July 2018

Neptune has been revealed in never-before-seen detail.

The most distant planet from the sun was captured in astonishing detail after experts used lasers to upgrade the world's most powerful land-based telescope to capture the most intimate portrait of the breathtaking blue orb to date.

The technique corrects for the effects of atmospheric turbulence above the observatory, based in the deserts of northern Chile.

Scroll down for video



+4
Stunning images of the most distant planet from the sun have been beamed back to Earth in astonishing detail. Experts used lasers to upgrade the world's most powerful land based telescope to capture the most intimate portrait of the breathtaking blue orb to date (pictured)

Experts from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) captured the shot using its Very Large Telescope (VLT).


An upgrade to the array, which is made up of four telescopes, lets researchers use a process called the laser guide star facility on the VLTs Unit Telescope 4 (UT4).

It allows for more precise imaging over a comparatively wide field of view, capturing clusters of stars in the night sky, as well as close details of individual celestial bodies.

WHAT IS ESO'S ADAPTIVE OPTICS AND HOW DOES IT HELP US TAKE BETTER IMAGES OF THE COSMOS?

Adaptive optics is a technique to compensate for the blurring effect of the Earth's atmosphere, also known as astronomical seeing, which is a big problem faced by all ground-based telescopes.

The same turbulence in the atmosphere that causes stars to twinkle to the naked eye results in blurred images of the universe for large telescopes.


More at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...tune-Earth-European-Southern-Observatory.html
 

Analogue Boy

The new Number 6
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
9,321
Likes
6,911
Points
294

Tribble

Furry Idiot
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
1,917
Likes
3,489
Points
154
A million Earths, each with many billions of inhabitants, each connected to whatever future-Internet they have... just imagine the nightmare of trying to find a non-taken online username.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
4,136
Likes
7,352
Points
234
New radio telescope picks up mysterious signal from space

A new radio telescope in Canada is doing its job picking up mysterious signals from deep space known as "fast radio bursts" (FRBs).



The CHIME radio telescope

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) in British Columbia detected the first-ever FRB at frequencies below 700 MHz on July 25, a signal named FRB 180725A.

As you might guess, FRBs are milliseconds-long bursts of radio emissions that come from some unknown source across the universe. They're one of the newer cosmic mysteries around, having been first detected only about a decade ago. Possible explanations include bursts from magnetars, exploding black holes, and yes, highly advanced alien civilizations.

The announcement also notes that additional FRBs have been found in the past week at frequencies as low as 400 MHz and early indications suggest they aren't coming from known sources on Earth.

So far only one FRB has been observed repeating and researchers say whatever is sending that signal across the universe is stupendously powerful.

It's early days for both the study of FRBs and this FRB in particular. CHIME and other observatories will be keeping an ear to the sky for more clues to help solve the mystery.

https://www.cnet.com/news/new-radio-telescope-picks-up-mysterious-signal-from-space/

Wikipedia page on FRBs.

maximus otter
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,911
Likes
4,398
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Horizon - Jupiter Revealed

Latest findings from the Juno mission. They think they know what it's made of under the cloud cover. Some surprising finds - one of which is that hydrogen turns to a sort of liquid metal under extreme pressure, & there's a layer of it on Jupiter. More topics - missing water, inner core.

It's a huge object more than 2½ times more massive than all the rest of the planets added together, with fearsome magnetic field & radiation which knackered an earlier mission. Juno had to be built like a tank to withstand the forces & is the largest craft ever launched into space.

On iplayer for 29 days.
 
Top