socialistexan

jtotheizzoe:

Mars Rover Opportunity Has Confirmed (Past) Liquid Water On Red Planet!

As NASA scientists put it, this is a “slam dunk” piece of proof that water once flowed on or under the planet’s surface. And this is more than ice, it’s evidence of flowing water, and lots of it. How do they know that?

Gypsum (the white stuff in the vein up there) is a non-metal mineral made up of calcium sulfate. But on Earth it is known to be made up of not only the calcium and the phosphate, but also water (it’s “hydrous”). Moreover, it occurs naturally from the evaporation of massive, mineral-rich lakes or seas. And that means that water must have stood, flowed, pooled, and evaporated at some point on Mars.

Not bad for a rover that was only supposed to last 90 Martian days!

(images above from NASA/JPL, lulz by me)

unknownskywalker

unknownskywalker:

TAM Panel - Our Future in Space

This vigorous discussion on “Our Future In Space” featuring Phil Plait, Pamela Gay, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of the most memorable moments at TAM 2011 Las Vegas.

Pretty interesting panel.  I wonder if Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lawrence Krauss are really that adversarial when they aren’t on stage.

The anti-protons are produced mostly in cosmic-ray collisions in high Earth atmosphere, though some come from other sources.  They stick around because they are trapped in the Earth’s natural magnetic field and are far enough away from the atmosphere that they don’t get annihilated quickly.   Don’t worry, even with this “high” concentration it isn’t a threat to people on the surface and probably not even to human spacecraft.  It might be possible to collect it (in really small quantities) for scientific purposes and as a fuel source for space craft.

See the journal article here, and an report on anti-matter collection here.

sciencecenter
sciencecenter:

Saturn’s icy moon may have an ocean
According to the Cassini orbiter, Saturn’s moon Encealdus may have an underground ocean of salty molten liquid. The moon shoots ice from geysers that burst from fissures in the moon as confirmed by Cassini, which swooped to within 21 kilometers of the surface. The icy geysers are responsible for Saturn’s E Rings.

The subtext of course is that if there is liquid water and some organic molecules there could be life.  Organic molecules are actually fairly common and can even form in space.  I don’t recall seeing any estimates of how deep the icy skin might be.  That could be a big obstacle for missions under the crust.

sciencecenter:

Saturn’s icy moon may have an ocean

According to the Cassini orbiter, Saturn’s moon Encealdus may have an underground ocean of salty molten liquid. The moon shoots ice from geysers that burst from fissures in the moon as confirmed by Cassini, which swooped to within 21 kilometers of the surface. The icy geysers are responsible for Saturn’s E Rings.

The subtext of course is that if there is liquid water and some organic molecules there could be life.  Organic molecules are actually fairly common and can even form in space.  I don’t recall seeing any estimates of how deep the icy skin might be.  That could be a big obstacle for missions under the crust.

sciencecenter
sciencecenter:

A portion of the Omega Centauri globular cluster, including over 300,000 stars. That must have taken a grad student ages to count!

I actually know quite a few astro grads.  Normally, they cut an image like this into pieces and everyone gets a different piece and it goes pretty quick.  Of course counting like that doesn’t always tell you very much.  Any of those individual points of light could actually be binaries or trinaries in the cluster and the resolution on the shot won’t be good enough to tell you.  You also have to worry about light sources in front of and behind what your are looking at.

sciencecenter:

A portion of the Omega Centauri globular cluster, including over 300,000 stars. That must have taken a grad student ages to count!

I actually know quite a few astro grads.  Normally, they cut an image like this into pieces and everyone gets a different piece and it goes pretty quick.  Of course counting like that doesn’t always tell you very much.  Any of those individual points of light could actually be binaries or trinaries in the cluster and the resolution on the shot won’t be good enough to tell you.  You also have to worry about light sources in front of and behind what your are looking at.

Dark matter in 30 seconds

Had a conversation with a rather intelligent coworker (happens to be a biology major), that didn’t know dark matter is.  Intelligent people should have at least a vague idea what dark matter is.  So here it is.

Dark matter is matter we think exists but can’t see.  We think it is there because (for various reasons) galaxies seem to have way more mass than we can see.  So far we haven’t been able to detect it.

There isn’t a very good candidate for dark matter in the Standard Model of particles, so if we did find it we would probably have to overhaul the Standard Model.

An alternative to dark matter would be that we don’t exactly understand gravity as well as we think.  This would be tough too because the new theory would have to look a whole lot like the current theory…but different.  To make this new theory we would need to find some discrepancy with the current theory and experiment.

House Republicans try to bar NASA-China collaboration

As you know, we have serious concerns about the nature and goals of China’s space program and strongly oppose any cooperation between NASA and China
-Representative Frank Wolf et al to NASA Chief Charles Bolden

This only serves to make the United States more of a non-player on the international science scene.  If you were truly concerned about China gleaning some kind of military knowledge or advantage over the US, then you could place a provision that limits the types of possible collaborations.  But what conceivable advantage could they get?  Its not like the Chinese can’t get a rocket into space without us.
image

A picture of what Republicans think NASA and China are building together.