Monday, August 31, 2015

Spreading Life

A new study suggests life could spread through the galaxy in the same pattern germs spread through a population.

The pattern would be the same whether life spread naturally, or was spread by an intelligent race.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Detecting Non-Earth Life

Scientists are trying to develop ways to detect life that is different from terrestrial life on Earth-like exoplanets.  It's proving difficult.

The next generation of NASA space telescope, the James Webb, may be able to detect such alien biosignatures if conditions are perfect.  Otherwise, it might take much longer.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sampling Enceladus

A debate has been joined in the scientific community over how to study the prospect of life on Saturn's moon, Enceladus.  Enceladus sports huge geysers that spew contents of its deep oceans into space.  Some scientists want to fly a probe through the geyser plumes, looking for signs of life, while others advocate a more step-by-step exploration program.

The outcome of the debate may determine NASA's approach for decades.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Billionaires For Mars

The Mars One colonization effort seems to be floundering both technologically and financially, so much so the project has recently, openly hoped a billionaire will adopt the project.

So far, it seems, there have been no takers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Private Space Stations

NASA and private industry are working to manage the transition between strictly government facilities in space and a new age in space which will include private manned installations.

The prediction is that there will be private, manned space stations by 2025.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


The CBS Evening News did a report on the space firm PlanetLabs Sunday.  PL is a small company that uses fleets of small satellites to image every part of Earth's surface for various projects.

Network television news rarely covers space stories in any depth, so this report was noteworthy.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Plasma Rocket

NASA and the Ad Astra Rocket Company are teaming to test the prototype of AARC's VASIMIR plasma rocket in long duration burns.

VASIMIR holds the promise of cutting flight times of manned missions between Earth and Mars from months to weeks.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Galactic Life

A new study suggests the best place for life in the universe might be in giant, metal-rich galaxies with low rates of star formation.  Such galaxies, many times larger than the Milky Way, could have 10,000 times as many Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of their stars than does our home galaxy.

They could also have a million times more Earth-like moons orbiting gas giants which could also support life.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dark Energy And Dark Matter

Physicists still don't know exactly what dark energy and dark matter are, and recent experiments failed to find either, but they were still useful.

The experiments put boundaries on what dark energy and dark matter could be, allowing physicists to focus their work more precisely.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Constant Gravitational Constant

Researchers studying a pulsar-- the remains of a supernova that now pulses with extraordinary precision-- have shown the gravitational constant is in fact the same everywhere in the universe.

It's one more proof that humans have grasped something of how the universe works-- a remarkable feat when you think about it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Neon On The Moon

Neon has been confirmed as one of the elements of the tenuous lunar atmosphere.

Argon is another element present, and there is some evidence that it comes not from the solar wind, as the neon likely does, but from outgassing of the Moon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bigelow To ISS

Bigelow Aerospace will soon have one of its inflatable modules attached to ISS for a two year technology demonstration mission.

BA intends to use the inflatable module technology to build private space stations as well as bases and colonies on the Moon and Mars.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kepler 62f

Kepler 62f is a super Earth that orbits on the outer edge of the habitable zone of its parent star.  Researchers say it could harbor life.

The key is carbon dioxide.  If there is carbon dioxide-- or other greenhouse gases-- in the atmosphere, the world might be warm enough to support life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Squirt Black Hole

The least massive supermassive black hole to date has been found.  It's only 50,000 times as massive as the Sun, though it's taking in matter at about the same rate as its bigger brethren.

Researchers hope studying this black hole will tell us how supermassive black holes evolve.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Great Red Spot

NASA scientists are trying to determine why Jupiter's Great Red Spot is in fact red by reproducing Jupiter's atmosphere and conditions in a lab.

The modeling can only be approximate because Jupiter's atmosphere is so complex, but researchers hope to learn about the whole class of Jovian worlds.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stash And Deploy

Two space manufacturing companies are joining forces to offer a service that will build structures in space, including satellites, using 3D printing technology.  The service is called Stash and Deploy.

The service will support custom designed structures made exclusively for the space environment-- a big step forward.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Researchers studying Saturn's rings have discovered the distribution of variously sized objects within the rings is not random, but rather is governed by a mathematical rule.

Further, they say, the rule is universal. applying to rings everywhere.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Asteroid Mining

Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, predicts it will be mining water on asteroids and turning it into rocket fuel to sell by 2025.

That will be the first business.  After that, PR intends to begin mining industrial metals and precious metals.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Crater Deficient Ceres?

In a preliminary study, scientists have found far fewer craters on Ceres than they'd expected.

A final count might close the gap, but the scarcity of craters will likely still need to be explained.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Plants In Space

Research on plant growth in space has shown that gravity plays less of a role in plant development than previously thought.

That's good news for human space exploration and colonization.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Red Arcs On Tethys

The Cassini spacecraft exploring the Saturn system has imaged odd red arcs on the surface of the moon Tethys.

No one knows yet what the arcs are.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Old Galaxy

Astronomers have found the oldest galaxy yet at 13.2 billion years old, which puts it only 600 million years after the Big Bang.

A galaxy so early wasn't necessarily expected, and needs to be fit into cosmological theory.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three Years On Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover has now been on Mars for three Earth years.  In that time. it has established that fresh water once flowed on Mars, strengthened the case that life could have existed on Mars, and reached its target destination, Mount Sharp.

Curiosity is now climbing the foothills of that mountain, reading the history of that area in rock layers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

False Positives

Now that we can find exoplanets and will soon be able to study some of their atmospheres in search of biosignatures, or signs of life, scientists are trying to come up will all possible false positive indicators of life.

They live in fear of proclaiming life exists elsewhere in the universe only to have to take it back.

Monday, August 3, 2015


NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found a haze over the curious bright spots on Ceres, suggesting they are ice deposits that are sublimating into space.

Ceres also likely has a substantial amount of water subsurface, some of which may be liquid.  Some researchers think Ceres might be a better bet for supporting life than the moons of the gas giants.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quickly To The Radio Telescopes

The SETI Institute is already targeting Kepler 452b-- the recently confirmed exoplanet that's the closest thing to Earth yet discovered-- for possible radio signals from alien civilizations.

No signals have yet been found.