While ghouls and goblins may provide the ghastly delights many of us associate with this time of year, NASA has just released a series of spooky space-themed posters that are more unearthly than any monsters or scary stories told around terrestrial campfires. This year for Halloween, the space agency has released a series of spine-tingling posters called Galaxy of Horrors. The terrifying destinations highlighted within are all based on real locations in the Universe.Continue reading “NASA releases new spooky space-themed posters about extreme places in the Universe”
This week we are pleased to welcome Dr. Natalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research at the SETI Institute (SI), to the show.Continue reading “Weekly Space Hangout: October 28, 2020, Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, SETI Institute”
Neutron stars are the remnants of massive stars that explode as supernovae at the end of their fusion lives. They’re super-dense cores where all of the protons and electrons are crushed into neutrons by the overpowering gravity of the dead star. They’re the smallest and densest stellar objects, except for black holes, and possibly other arcane, hypothetical objects like quark stars.
When two neutron stars merge, we can detect the resulting gravitational waves. But some aspects of these mergers are poorly-understood. One question surrounds short-lived gamma-ray bursts from these mergers. Previous studies have shown that these bursts may come from the decay of heavy elements produced in a neutron star merger.
A new study strengthens our understanding of these complex mergers and introduces a model that explains the gamma rays.Continue reading “New Simulation Shows Exactly What’s Happening as Neutron Stars Merge”
One of the most interesting things about space exploration is how many technologies have an impact on our ability to reach farther. New technologies that might not immediately be used in space can still eventually have a profound long-term impact. On the other hand, everyone knows some technologies will be immediately game changing. Superconductors, or materials that do not have any electrical resistance, are one of the technologies that have the potential to be game changing. However, hurdles to their practical use have limited their applicability to a relatively small sub-set of applications, like magnetic resonance imaging devices and particle accelerators. But another major hurdle to the broad use of superconductors has now been cleared – a lab at the University of Rochester (UR) has just developed one that works at almost room temperature. The big caveat is it has to be under pressure similar to that in the Earth’s core.Continue reading “Room-temperature Superconductivity Achieved for the First Time, but There’s a Catch”
Unless you’re reading this in an aircraft or the International Space Station, then you’re currently residing on the surface of a planet. You’re here because the planet is here. But how did the planet get here? Like a rolling snowball picking up more snow, planets form from loose dust and gas surrounding young stars. As the planets orbit, their gravity draws in more of the lose material and they grow in mass. We’re not certain when the process of planet formation begins in orbit of new stars, but we have incredible new insights from one of the youngest solar systems ever observed called IRS 63.
Swirling in orbit of young stars (or protostars) are massive disks of dust and gas called circumstellar disks. These disks are dense enough to be opaque hiding young solar systems from visible light. However, energy emanating from the protostar heats the dust which then glows in infrared radiation which more easily penetrates obstructions than wavelengths Internal Server Error– Class I – and shows signs of possible planet formation. The excitement? We were surprised to see evidence of planetary formation so early in the life of a solar system.Continue reading “The Youngest Stellar Disk Ever Seen, Just 500,000 Years Old”
This may be one of the strangest craters you’ll ever see.
Ryder crater is located near the south pole of our Moon, and it has a bizarre oblong shape (approximately 13 x 17 km in size), with a ridge cutting across the middle.
The majority of impact craters are round. How did Ryder crater end up in this odd shape?Continue reading “Why Does the Moon’s Ryder Crater Look This Way?”
On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 21st, the crew of Expedition 63 finally returned to Earth after spending Arrived196 days in space. It all began when NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (commander) and Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin (both flight engineers) departed the International Space Station (ISS) aboard their Soyuz spacecraft at 07:32 PM EDT (04:32 PM PDT) and landed in Kazakhstan by 10:54 PM EDT (07:54 PM PDT).Continue reading “ISS Crew Return Safely to Earth”
When human beings start living in space for extended periods of time they will need to be as self-sufficient as possible. The same holds true for settlements built on the Moon, on Mars, and other bodies in the Solar System. To avoid being entirely dependent on resupply missions from Earth (which is costly and time-consuming) the inhabitants will need to harvest resources locally – aka. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).
This means they’ll have to procure their own sources of water, building materials, and grow their own food. While the ISS has allowed for all kinds of experiments involving hydroponics in space, little has been done to see how soil fares in microgravity (or lower gravity). To address this, Morgan Irons – Chief Science Officer of the Virginia-based startup Deep Space Ecology (DSE) – recently sent her Soil Health in Space experiment to the ISS.Continue reading “What Martian Settlers Need to Know About Soil Can Teach us How to Grow Better on Earth”
Today is a milestone in NASA’s Perseverance mission to Mars. At 1:40 pm Pacific time today, the rover will have traveled 235.4 million km (146.3 million miles). That means the spacecraft is halfway to Mars and its rendezvous with Jezero Crater. The spacecraft isn’t traveling in a straight line, and the planets are moving, so it’s not equidistant to both planets.
“Although we’re halfway into the distance we need to travel to Mars, the rover is not halfway between the two worlds,” Kangas explained. “In straight-line distance, Earth is 26.6 million miles [42.7 million kilometers] behind Perseverance and Mars is 17.9 million miles [28.8 million kilometers] in front.”
But today’s still a good time to take another look at Jezero Crater, and why NASA chose it as the mission’s target.Continue reading “This is What Perseverance’s Landing Site Looked Like Billions of Years Ago. See Why it’s Such a Compelling Target?”
Every 200,000 to 300,000 years Earth’s magnetic poles reverse. What was once the north pole becomes the south, and vice versa. It’s a time of invisible upheaval.
The last reversal was unusual because it was so long ago. For some reason, the poles have remained oriented the way they are now for about three-quarters of a million years. A new study has revealed some of the detail of that reversal.Continue reading “Scientists in Japan Have Found a Detailed Record of the Earth’s Last Magnetic Reversal, 773,000 Years Ago”