Showing posts with label exobiology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exobiology. Show all posts

23 Apr 2017

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

We haven't found life on — or in — Enceladus. But we've found organic compounds in the Saturnian moon's salt-water geysers.

Scientists detected an atmosphere around Gliese 1132 b, a planet about 39 light-years away. It's Earth-like, in terms of size; but too hot for life as we know it. We'll almost certainly learn a great deal, though, by studying its atmosphere....

...Abraham, Moses, and Minnesota


I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, very seriously. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-133)

I don't, however, insist on believing only what I find in the Bible. That's just as well, since I live near the center of North America.

I'm pretty sure that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saint Peter, and the rest, didn't know that the land I live on exists. But I'm quite sure that the State of Minnesota is real: even if it's not "Biblical."...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Apr 2017

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2017

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

TRAPPIST-1's planets may support life: or not. We don't know. Not yet.

We're pretty sure that all seven are rocky worlds, like the Solar System's inner planets.

Three are in the star's habitable zone. The inner two definitely do not have one sort of atmosphere that would make life as we know it impossible.

Even if we don't find life there, we'll learn a great deal while looking.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Dec 2016

SETI: What If?

Contacting extraterrestrial intelligence, meeting people whose ancestors developed on another world, has been a staple of pulp fiction for generations.

Lately, it's become a matter for serious discussion. I'll be looking at an op-ed's take on how learning that we're not alone might affect folks with various religious beliefs. I'll also share what I expect: and what I don't....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Sep 2016

Europa, Mars, and Someday the Stars

Scientists think they've detected more plumes of water, shooting up from near Europa's south pole. It's early days, but we may have found a comparatively easy way to collect samples from the Jovian moon's subsurface ocean.

Stephen Hawking says humanity needs to keep exploring space. I agree, although not quite for the reasons he gave.

SpaceX tested an engine they plan to use on their Mars transport, and Gaia's data seems to have raised as many questions as it answers.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

8 Sep 2016

Philae, Jupiter, and Life

Scientists spotted Philae, the European Space Agency's spacecraft that crash-landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014: which will help them make sense of data sent back while the probe still functioned.

Other scientists think they’ve worked out where carbon near Earth's surface came from, and the Juno orbiter has been sending pictures of the giant planet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Sep 2016

Proxima Centauri b, Looking for Life

Looking for extraterrestrial life is still a science in search of a subject, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to argue that there couldn’t be critters out there.

Today I’ll be talking about the search for life in the universe, a possibly-habitable planet circling the next star over, and a planet that couldn’t possibly be habitable.

Make that not habitable by life as we know it. Life using fluorine and carbon as we do hydrogen and carbon, with sulfur as a water-substitute — is a topic for another post....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Jul 2016

Studying Thousands of New Worlds

Scientists studied the atmospheres of two exoplanets, planets orbiting another star, earlier this year. Both planets are roughly Earth-sized, with atmospheres a bit like the Solar System's terrestrial planets.

Juno arrived at Jupiter last month, and will start its science mission in October.

Finally, scientists found more than a thousand new planets; including more than a hundred Earth-sized ones.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2016

Seeking New Worlds, New Life - - -

Analyzing what we've been learning about other planetary systems, some scientists say that maybe Earth is unusual, after all: maybe.

Other scientists found another maybe-habitable planet less than 14 light-years away. Maybe planets like Earth are common: again, maybe....

...I like living in a world where last year's list of known planetary systems is obsolete. Some folks don't. I'll talk about Copernicus and Sacred Scripture — right after my usual harangue about using our brains....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Jan 2016

SETI: Looking for Neighbors

Some scientist think globular clusters aren't good places to look for neighbors.

Others took a fresh look at the data, crunched numbers, and pointed out that parts of globular clusters might be better spots for interstellar civilizations that the boonies where we live.

Meanwhile, someone with a lot more money that I'll ever see decided to spend some of it on a systematic search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

1 Jan 2016

On Mars by 2040?

Robots have orbited Mars, landed there, driven around, taken pictures, and studied Martian rocks.

But humanity's exploration of Mars has been by proxy: Nobody's gotten farther from Earth than Lunar orbit.

That could change before 2040. NASA has worked out a step-by-step plan for getting humans back into deep space: provided that Congress doesn't change its mind.

Even if that happens, my guess is that it wouldn't be long before someone else decides that people should act like humans....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Dec 2015

Enceladus and Kepler’s Planets

Scientists following up on Kepler observations learned that a bit over half of the objects tentatively identified as giant planets are brown dwarfs or stars.

We've also learned that Saturn's moon Enceladus has a vast ocean under its icy surface: with all the ingredients needed for life....

...If you've read my 'science' posts before, you know why I think Earth isn't flat; the universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Aug 2015

Organics on a Comet, and Earth's Early Magnetism

Scientists found evidence that Earth's magnetic field is more than a half-billion years older than we'd thought. As usual, that raises more questions.

The European Space Agency's Philae lander detected a "rich array" of organic compounds on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P, including hydrogen cyanide (HCN). This is a big deal, since much of Earth's water came from comets: and HCN may have helped life begin on our world.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

31 Jul 2015

Pluto, Earth 2.0, and Life in the Universe


Pluto may have nitrogen glaciers, and the planet's air pressure is much lower than scientists expected.

Kepler 452b, "Earth 2.0," isn't the first roughly Earth-size planet found in a star's habitable zone: but the star, Kepler 452, is remarkably similar to our sun.

Another planet, HIP 11915b, is the first we've found that's around Jupiter's size: and orbiting its star at about the same distance as Jupiter. This is the first other planetary system that 'looks like' our Solar system.

Scientists still haven't found life elsewhere in the universe: but the odds seem to be getting better that we will, eventually....

...A 'science threatens faith' op-ed got my attention this week, so I wrote about beliefs, reasonable and otherwise, before getting around to the interesting stuff. Feel free to skip ahead to Pluto's Probable Glaciers, take a walk, or whatever suits your fancy....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Jul 2015

Pluto’s ‘Whale,’ Comet 67P’s Sinkholes

New Horizons is closer to Pluto than it was when I started writing this post, and should send back about 5,000 times as much data as Mariner did in its Mars flyby, 50 years ago. (BBC News)

The ESA's Philae lander 'woke up' last month, but the big news from the Rosetta mission are Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko's sinkholes: and the jets of gas and dust coming from at least some of them.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jan 2015

Alien Worlds, Martian Methane, Looking for Life

Someone's made a 'top 10' list of "top exoplanet discoveries of 2014," including the first potentially habitable Earth-size world.

Mars had an ocean: billions of years ago. Scientists are piecing together the story of how Mars became the world it is now: and trying to figure out where Martian methane comes from.

Other scientists have discovered another reason to look for life on planets orbiting red dwarf stars: and there's the ongoing discussion of how to define "life."

We're learning more about this universe, and discovering that there's much more to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 Dec 2014

Spotting a Diamond (?) Planet, Searching for Life

Kepler spotted its first planet since mission planners found a new way to hold the robot observatory steady, earlier this year.

Scientists at the Nordic Optical Telescope didn't discover 55 Cancri e: but they're the first to observe the super-Earth from Earth's surface. The planet is too hot for life: but 55 Cancri f is another matter. I'll get back to that.

Other scientists are fine-tuning how we can search for life in the universe....

...Before getting to 55 Cancri e and the search for life in the universe, I'll be rambling on about billions of planets, Genesis, and the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Feel free to skip ahead to Planet-Spotting: Nordic Optical Telescope's 'First.' Or take a coffee break, go for a walk: whatever you feel like....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

5 Dec 2014

DNA Test Hype; and Studying Life's Origins

A company whose DNA test was banned by the FDA is back: in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, scientists are learning that complex organic compounds may be forming in Titan's atmosphere: another piece to the puzzle of how life began. Another team found that up to half of Earth's water came from interstellar space.

Finally, a quick look at astrobiology and assumptions about intelligent life in the universe....

...We've known that traits are inherited for a thousand generations, maybe more, and applied that knowledge.

The deal Jacob made with Laban in Genesis 30:17-3:13 at least hints that Jacob knew how to make sure many dark sheep and spotted or speckled goats were born....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Nov 2014

"Organic," "Wow!" — and Double Planets

A Rosetta mission team leader's British reserve snapped when Philae's data showed "a lot of peaks." There's carbon on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko: probably part of complex organic compounds, which doesn't mean there's life there.

Researchers on this side of the Atlantic reported that double planets may be more common than we'd thought: a lot more more common....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Nov 2014

Harpooning the 'Rubber Duck' Comet; Public Safety — and Space Aliens

If all goes well, a robot spaceship will harpoon a comet next week.

Meanwhile, science and daily routine go on in the International Space Station, nobody was hurt when an Antares cargo carrier exploded, and someone's done a survey about faith and space aliens...."

...Some comets and asteroids are shaped like potatoes. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks like two potatoes and a bit of corn stalk: or a rubber duck....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Boss Baby is Hilarious and Heartwarming

I remember, at some point in my adolescence, a new prime-time comedy show came out on one of the networks, a show called “Baby Bob.” Th...