Showing posts with the label exoplanets

Dawn's Arrival at Ceres; Sims and "Chaos"

Dawn became the first spacecraft to orbit two asteroids or planets other than Earth last week. More to the point, we're learning more about these survivors from the early Solar System.

Meanwhile, from the world of infotainment, "chaos" and the early Solar System....

...Either way, Vesta and Ceres are — most likely — the last remaining large protoplanets: which makes them valuable samples of the early Solar System.

Apart from size and distance from our sun, they're very different: which also makes them intriguing places to study. Scientists have working ideas about how Vesta and Ceres ended up where they are, but those hypotheses may change when we learn more from the Dawn mission.

There's quite a bit of data to work with already, from Dawn's stopover at Vesta....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

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.

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.

"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.

"Philae ... Headed for History"

A spacecraft landed on a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, this week: an historic 'first.'

Back on Earth, scientists at the ALMA radio telescope got the clearest picture yet of planets about to take shape....

...I'm looking forward to what we'll learn from the Rosetta mission's lander and orbiter: how closely its water matches Earth's, and what other substances it carried from the Solar System's borderlands....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

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.

Sagittarius B2, Water, and Asteroid Mining

Scientists have found a complex organic molecule near this galaxy's core; and water vapor in a planet's atmosphere, some 122 light-years away. Closer to home, America's Congress is deliberating on a bill that could allow asteroid mining: if other nations don't get conniptions....

...As usual, I'll explain why I think being human is okay. If you've been here before, feel free to skip to "Organic Molecules in Sagittarius B2," click to something else online, take a coffee break, or whatever....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Kapteyn b, Habitable Zones, and Using Our Brains

Some scientists say that a star's habitable zone may be wider than we thought. Others found a planet that's only a few times more massive than Earth, nearby: and about 11,500,000,000 years old....

...As I said two weeks ago, I don't think that we're alone in the universe: or that we are not alone. Right now, we don't know....

...Using Our Brains

Whatever, and perhaps whoever, we find: I'm not concerned that we will learn 'things which man was not supposed to know.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Jadeite from Space; a Moon of Mars; and Kepler's New Mission

A century ago, we didn't realize that mountains fall from the sky at irregular intervals. A century from now, we'll probably be mining asteroids. Today, we're learning that there's much more to learn....

...Knowledge and Dominion
(From ESA/Hubble, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
"Today I would like to highlight another gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of knowledge. When we speak of knowledge, we immediately think of man's capacity to learn more and more about the reality that surrounds him and to discover the laws that regulate nature and the universe. The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit, however, is not limited to human knowledge; it is a special gift, which leads us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and his profound relationship with every creature...."
(Pope Francis, General Audience. (May 21, 2014)) We live in a beautiful, good, ordered universe: surrounded by wonders which had remained unknown until rece…

Moons, Solar Origins, and a Crash that Cracked the World (Maybe)

Scientists seeking niches for life in the universe have a new tool, we've finding stars that shared our sun's origin, and have more clues about Earth's early years....
A Hypothetical Habitable Moon
(From Lucianomendez, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.
("Artist's impression of a hypothetical habitable moon of Upsilon Andromedae d.")

That's a cool picture, but we don't know if Upsilon Andromedae d has moons: let alone one with an atmosphere, ocean, and clouds. Using a new exomoon detecting technique, we may soon know how closely the artist's impression matches reality....

...A few years ago I ran into an intriguing bit of informed speculation: Earth may be about as small as a planet can be, and still support life: and that's another topic.
Exoplanets: Hot Jupiters, Super-Earths, and More Scientists have cataloged 1786 planets orbiting other stars. These exoplanets are in 1106 planetary systems, including 460 multiple planetary systems.…

Habitable Worlds, Homer, and Haldane — or — Ganymede's Oceans, and Imagining Kepler-186f's Sunsets

Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo's Planetary Habitability Laboratory simulated Kepler-186f's sunsets.

Others studied possibly-habitable regions in Jovian moons and around double stars. Meanwhile, some chap at Oxford trotted out opportunities for angst and dread....

...Over the last million years, we've learned to use fire without killing ourselves, weren't cut to shreds by flint tools, and developed an alternative to horse-drawn wagons before burying London in manure.

If anything, we're smarter now than we were in the 'good old days:' so I don't think that steam engines or integrated circuits will kill us all. (November 22, 2013; July 9, 2011)

The trick is using humanity's accumulated wisdom, and applying it to everyday life. Most of the time, we do a pretty good job: my opinion.

Sometimes mistakes are made. Then, most of the time, we clean up the mess and move on....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America

The Search for Life: Earth-Size Planet, in the Habitable Zone — Found

Many of this galaxy's 17,000,000,000 or so roughly Earth-size planets are probably too hot or too cold to support life. Last week, scientists found one that is a little cooler than our home: but not by much....
...If we discover life on other planets while I'm still around, I'll be delighted.

From the way folks respond to new ideas, I'm pretty sure that many will share my fascination.
Others, apparently convinced that God wouldn't or couldn't disregard their values and assumptions, will almost certainly denounce reports of extraterrestrial life as a Satanic plot. We've gone through this sort of goofiness with vaccinations and evolution. (February 12, 2014; January 2, 2014)

I hope we find neighbors in the universe: people who aren't human, but share our nature: creatures with intelligence and will, made of spirit and matter. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 311, 362-368.

I think it's very likely that life started on other worlds. Given the size and…

Life in the Universe: Focusing the Search

Scientists have found at least a dozen planets where life might exist. They're learning more about biosignatures: signs of life.
Understanding Life's Limits"...An Enormous Quantity of Creatures of Every Kind...""...So Much We Still Don't Understand"A Growing Catalog of Known WorldsEarth-Sized Planets: Billions of ThemSearching the Sky: Frustration and Vindication Life on Other Worlds: Imagined
(From "Quatermass and the Pit," via Tales of Future Past, used w/o permission)
('That's odd: he doesn't look German.')

Some science fiction movies strayed from the man-in-a-rubber-suit style of space alien. But most extraterrestrials in the movies look at least vaguely human.

I don't mind, since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Last Starfighter," and "Spaced Invaders" are entertainment: not documentaries....

...Angels are persons, too: beings of pure spirit, with no bodies. They "are personal…