In 1999, that consensus was shattered. Without consulting with other members of the community of scientists involved in SETI, a team of radio astronomers at the Evpatoria Radar Telescope in Crimea, led by Alexander Zaitsev, beamed an interstellar message called ‘Cosmic Call’ to four nearby sun-like stars. The project was funded by an American company called Team Encounter and used proceeds obtained by allowing members of the general public to submit text and images for the message in exchange for a fee.
Read the rest of Who Speaks for Earth? The Controversy over Interstellar Messaging (2,253 words)
© Paul Patton for Universe Today, 2015. |
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Post tags: Astrobiology, Evpatoria Radar Telescope, Messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence, Radio Astronomy, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Astronomers have reported the discovery of a star that passed within the outer reaches of our Solar System just 70,000 years ago, when early humans were beginning to take a foothold here on Earth. The stellar flyby was likely close enough to have influenced the orbits of comets in the outer Oort Cloud, but Neandertals and Cro Magnons – our early ancestors – were not in danger. But now astronomers are ready to look for more stars like this one.
Read the rest of A Star Passed Through the Solar System Just 70,000 Years Ago (806 words)
© Tim Reyes for Universe Today, 2015. |
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Post tags: Eric Mamajek, LSST, Magellan telescope, NASA, nearest stars, Nemesis Star, Oort cloud, SALT (South African Large Telescope), Scholz Star, Scholz's Star, University of Rochester, wise telescope
When we look up at the night sky outside of the bright city, we can see a dazzling array of stars and galaxies. It is more difficult to see the clouds of gas within galaxies, however, but gas is required to form new stars and allow galaxies to grow. Although gas makes up less than 1% of the matter in the universe, “it’s the gas that drives the evolution of the galaxy, not the other way around,” says Felix “Jay” Lockman of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
Read the rest of How do Gas and Stars Build a Galaxy? (752 words)
So far, every spacesuit humans have utilized has been designed with a specific mission and purpose in mind. As of yet, there’s been no universal or “perfect” spacesuit that would fit every need. For example, the US ACES “pumpkin” suits and the Russian Sokol are only for launch and reentry and can’t be used for spacewalks. And the Apollo A7L suits were designed with hard soled boots for astronauts to walk on the Moon, while the current NASA EMU and the Russian Orlan are designed for use in space, but with soft soled booties so as not to damage the exterior of the space station.
What would constitute the perfect spacesuit that could be used for any mission? It would have to be lightweight while being impervious to rips, impacts and radiation, but also be flexible, fit multiple sizes, and be comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time.
With those specifications in mind, is it possible to create the perfect spacesuit?
Read the rest of Why Can’t We Design the Perfect Spacesuit? (1,011 words)
Did you hear the one about last month’s ‘supermoon?’
Yeah, we know. The hype was actually for an event that was less than spectacular, as it revolved around the first New Moon of 2015 on January 20th. Said suspect Moon was touted as ‘super’ (we prefer the quixotic term proxigean) as it occurred 18 hours prior to perigee.
Not that the first lunar perigee of 2015 was an especially close one in time or space at 359,642 kilometres distant. Is every New and Full Moon now destined to become branded ‘super’ in the never ending SEO quest to get eyeballs on web pages?
But wait, there’s more. We’ve noticed as of late that another popular term is creeping into the popular astronomical vernacular: that of a ‘Black Moon’.
Read the rest of Black Moon: Why the New Moon on February 18th is Special (746 words)
© David Dickinson for Universe Today, 2015. |
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Post tags: black moon, eclipses 2015, supermoons 2015, the dark of the moon, thin crescent moon sightings, what is a black moon?
Take a speed of light trip across the solar system starting at the Sun
We’ve heard it over and over. There’s nothing faster than the speed of light. Einstein set the speed limit at 186,000 miles per second (299,792 km/sec). No material object can theoretically travel faster. For all practical purposes, only light is lithe enough to travel at the speed of light.
Read the rest of When Light Just Isn’t Fast Enough (910 words)
Now on the final leg of its journey to distant Pluto the New Horizons spacecraft has been able to spot not only the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon, but also two of its much smaller moons, Hydra and Nix – the latter for the very first time!
The animation above comprises seven frames made of images acquired by New Horizons from Jan. 27 to Feb. 8, 2015 while the spacecraft was closing in on 115 million miles (186 million km) from Pluto. Hydra is noted by a yellow box and Nix is in the orange. (See a version of the animation with some of the background stars and noise cleared out here.)
What’s more, these images have been released on the 85th anniversary of the first spotting of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.
“Professor Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto was far ahead its time, heralding the discovery of the Kuiper Belt and a new class of planet. The New Horizons team salutes his historic accomplishment.”
– Alan Stern, New Horizons PI, Southwest Research Institute
Read the rest of New Horizons Now Close Enough to See Pluto’s Smaller Moons (363 words)
Waves move through a medium, like water or air. So it seemed logical to search for a medium that light waves move through. The Michelson-Morley Experiment attempted to search for this medium, known as the “luminiferous aether”. The experiment gave a negative result, and helped set the stage for the theory of General Relativity.
Read the rest of Astronomy Cast Ep. 368: Searching for the Aether Wind: the Michelson–Morley Experiment (46 words)
Book Review and Giveaway: Know It All: 132 Head-Scratching Questions About the Science All Around Us
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
— Benjamin Franklin
One of the greatest qualities we possess as humans is our ability to ask questions. Our quest for knowledge and answers about the world carries us beyond our everyday borders and attitudes. Curiosity may not have been good for the cat, but it is an essential growth tool for the human mind.
Know It All: 132 Head-Scratching Questions About the Science All Around Us, is a fun and educational collection of thought provoking questions and answers. Although the collection is edited by Mick O’Hare from New Scientist magazine, the contributors are drawn from the scientific community and amateur experts found around the world. Taken directly from the “Last Word” column at New Scientist, this assemblage is a diverse assortment of Q&As ranging in scope from the microscopic to the hypothetical.
Find out how you can win a copy of this book, below.
Read the rest of Book Review and Giveaway: Know It All: 132 Head-Scratching Questions About the Science All Around Us (355 words)
In March 2012, amateur astronomers began observing unusual clouds or plumes along the western limb of the red planet Mars. The plumes, in the southern hemisphere rose to over 200 kilometers altitude persisting for several days and then reappeared weeks later.
So a group of astronomers from Spain, the Netherlands, France, UK and USA have now reported their analysis of the phenomena. Their conclusions are inconclusive but they present two possible explanations.
Read the rest of Nobody Knows What These Mysterious Plumes are on Mars (1,040 words)
© Tim Reyes for Universe Today, 2015. |
11 comments |
Post tags: Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, amateur astronomy, AstroBob, D. Parker, D. Peach, HiRISE, Hubble, ISS, MAG/ER, mars global surveyor, mgs, MRO, NASA, University of the Basque Country
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