Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for his portrayal of the legendary Mr. Spock of STAR TREK, has died of pulmonary disease.

Nimoy, who had a successful, varied career beyond Spock, was 83.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ceres Bright Spots

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has spotted two distinct bright spots in one crater on the dwarf planet Ceres.  Scientists aren't sure whether the spots are ice deposits, evidence of vulcanism, or something else.

Dawn begins its formal mission at Ceres next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Spacesuit Leak

A spacewalking astronaut had his spacesuit leak water into his helmet yesterday, but NASA says he was never in any danger from the leak.

The same spacesuit had a similar leak in December, 2013.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Moon Law

The gathering drive, largely by private groups, to settle the Moon is fomenting a debate about the legal rights involved-- resource use, private property rights, the right to bring profits back to Earth, etc.

The debate will likely be settled by Congress, through statute and treaty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hawking On Aggression

Stephen Hawking recently said one of the major threats to the long term survival of humanity is human aggression.  He has also said that technologically advanced aliens are likely to be aggressive.  He seems to be given to making big statements.

Why the media give those statements play is an interesting question.  Hawking is a remarkable man and a brilliant physicist, but that doesn't mean he necessarily has insight into the human capacity to adjust over millenia, let alone into alien psychology.  Of course, journalists are hungry for headlines, and they tend to see scientists-- Hawking, Einstein, Sagan-- as objective, informed sources even when they talk about subjects outside their areas of expertise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Comet Structure

Researchers are finding that comets seem to have an interior of a special form of ultracold water ice that is surrounded by rock and organic molecules.

Some liken the arrangement to fried ice cream.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scholz's Star

Scholz's Star is a tiny red dwarf and its brown dwarf companion.  The duo is currently 29 light years  away, but a recent study of its motion suggests it passed within a single light year of the Sun 70,000 years ago.

The mass and luminosity of the star are so low, however, that the close encounter probably had little to no effect on the Solar System.