Thursday, August 28, 2014

Colonizing Mars

The Science Channel aired a documentary last night about current efforts to colonize Mars.  The show flatly stated the first person on Mars is alive today.

That may be-- that person may even be out of college-- but, judging from the documentary, we still have a lot of work to do before that happens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Star Cluster Mystery

Astronomers examining two star clusters have found that the stars in the centers of the clusters are younger than the stars farther out, which certainly seems counter-intuitive.

There are several theories to explain the situations-- which means astronomers don't understand yet what's going on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Voyager 2 At Neptune

Twenty-five years ago this week, Voyager 2 became the first human spacecraft to fly by the planet Neptune, completely revolutionizing our view of the planet and its moons.

Scientists are still using Voyager data to learn more about Neptune, as no probe has been out there since.

Monday, August 25, 2014

SpaceX Failure

A Falcon 9 reusable rocket destroyed itself shortly after launch of a test flight in Texas last week.  The onboard computer detected a problem and ordered the destruction.

Failures are not uncommon when developing new rockets, but this is the first failure for SpaceX in this program.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Asteroid Bill

A bill protecting the legal rights of companies seeking to utilize the resources found in asteroids is currently before the U. S. House of Representatives.

Such a bill is a necessary first step towards opening the Solar System to commerce, but national laws probably won't be sufficient.  Ultimately, a treaty establishing a space economy linked to Earth's global economy will likely be required.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Finding Life

Most people probably think the likeliest place to find the first life beyond Earth in the Solar System is Mars.  Some scientists, however, would bet on Jupiter's moon Europa.

They suggest flying a probe through the plumes from erupting geysers on Europa could allow collection of samples from deep within the moon's huge subsurface ocean.  Such samples may speak to life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not Quite Martian Life

Scientists have decided that a cell-like structure in a Martian meteorite found in Egypt in 1911 is not, in fact, biotic in nature, though it is native to that rock.

Of course, in 1996, another Martian meteorite that sports another odd, cell-like structure ignited a debate about life on Mars.  That debate decided against life, as well.