Filed under: Astronomy, Augmented Reality, Brave New World, ISS, Man Conquers Space, Music, NASA, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: Chris Hadfield, David Bowie, ISS, music, NASA, science, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
How cool is this?
How cool is Chris Hadfield?
Filed under: Art, Humor, movies, Reproduction, Science Fiction, Society, Space, YouTube | Tags: humor, jim downey, movies, Peter Serafinowicz, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
No, really … whoa.
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Fireworks, Music, NASA, NPR, Science, Space, YouTube | Tags: art, fireworks, Jerry Lee Lewis, jim downey, music, NASA, NPR, science, Solar Dynamics Observatory, space, www youtube
Via NPR, this gorgeous, stunning vid:
And while I think the music they use is wonderful, I think they missed an obvious choice …
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Jupiter, NASA, NPR, Predictions, Saturn, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, tech | Tags: blogging, David Charbonneau, exogenesis, exoplanets, Goldilocks, jim downey, Jupiter, Kepler mission, NASA, NPR, predictions, Saturn, science, Science Fiction
As something of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, news today of the discovery (thanks to the Kepler mission) of three exoplanets which are very good candidates for harboring life. First, their size is within an order of magnitude of Earth’s — and, specifically, less than twice the size of Earth — meaning that they’re not gas giants such as Saturn or Jupiter. Secondly, and at least as importantly, they fall within the “habitable zone” in their star system. That’s the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” where liquid water can exist (it’s not too cold and not too hot).
This is exciting! As it is put in the article:
Two of the three detailed in the new findings in the journal Science are of particular interest: Kepler-62-e and Kepler-62-f. William Borucki, the chief scientist for NASA’s Kepler telescope, says the planets are slightly wider than Earth, but not too big. Kepler-62-e is a bit toasty, like a Hawaiian world and Kepler-62-f is a bit nippy, more Alaskan, Borucki tells the AP.
“This is the first one where I’m thinking, ‘Huh, Kepler-62-f really might have life on it,’ ” said study co-author David Charbonneau of Harvard. “This is a very important barrier that’s been crossed. Why wouldn’t it have life?”
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Connections, movies, Music, NASA, New Horizons, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Society, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: 13.7 Blog, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Drake Equation, exoplanets, jim downey, Kepler mission, Marcelo Gleiser, music, NASA, NPR, Pink Floyd, predictions, science, Science Fiction, SETI, space, technology, TESS, The Wall, www youtube
From the opening pages of Communion of Dreams:
Jon sat there for a moment, trying to digest what Seth said. According to what pretty much everyone thought, it wasn’t possible. SETI, OSETI, META and BETA had pretty much settled that question for most scientists decades ago, and twenty years of settlement efforts throughout the solar system hadn’t changed anyone’s mind. Even with the Advanced Survey Array out at Titan Prime searching nearby systems for good settlement prospects, there had never been an indication that there was an intelligent, technologically advanced race anywhere within earshot.
It’s one of the very basic questions of space science: are we (sentient beings) unique? Rare? Common? There are a lot of ways to think about it, and here’s a nice piece on NPR discussing some of the relevant parts of the question and what we’re doing about it. An excerpt:
So, to address the first part of the question we must find out how unique the Earth is. We then should figure out how unique life, and humans, are. Fortunately, thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission, we are making huge progress in the first part of the answer. A key finding is that the majority of stars (around 70 percent) have at least one planet orbiting around them. Based on the data so far (2,740 planet candidates and 115 confirmations), Kepler scientists estimate that some 17 percent of these are Earth-size, meaning with similar mass and rocky composition as the Earth, and possibly close enough to their parent star that water, if present, could be in its liquid state.
More good news arrived on this front earlier this month as NASA authorized the construction of Kepler’s successor, TESS (for Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite). With launch scheduled for 2017, TESS will survey a much wider area of the sky than Kepler, while focusing mostly on stars that are closer. This way, it will use spectroscopy to resolve at least part of the atmospheric composition of the exoplanets. The goal is to find telling signs of life-related compounds such as ozone, water, carbon dioxide and, if we’re really lucky, even chlorophyll. Successful detection would be very exciting, as it’d point to what optimists expect, a few fairly close Earth-like planets with metabolizing beings.
I hope I live long enough that science is able to make a definitive affirmation of life, then intelligent life, outside our own planet.
Until then, well, there’s science fiction.
Filed under: Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, Connections, Fireworks, Gene Roddenberry, Man Conquers Space, NASA, Phil Plait, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Space, Star Trek, Survival, YouTube | Tags: Bad Astronomy, Bill Nye, blogging, jim downey, NASA, Neil deGrasse Tyson, predictions, science, Science Fiction, space, Star Trek, video, www youtube
Unsurprisingly, this has been making the rounds among my friends:
As noted in the various science stories, 2012 DA14 is about 150 feet in diameter, and would have about the same effect were it to hit the Earth as Meteor Crater, depending on the exact composition, speed and angle of approach of the meteor. If you want to play with the variables, here’s a simulator I’ve had fun playing with in the past Impact: Earth!
On one end of the range of effects would be just another bright light in the sky, as the thing exploded in the upper atmosphere. On the other end, another mile-wide crater where a city used to be. Fun, eh? And remember – 2012 DA14 was just discovered last year, and then by pure chance. There are any number of such potential threats out in space. As the Washington Post puts it:
For the foreseeable future, then, Earth will continue to reside in a cosmic shooting gallery with an enormous number of currently unknown objects, some of which may have a direct bead on us without our knowing. While it is probably much more unlikely than likely, a potentially disastrous collision with an asteroid of at least the dimensions comparable to DA14 could occur anytime possibly with little or no warning in our lifetimes.
Keep your fingers crossed that our luck — and our atmospheric ‘shields’ — continue to hold until we no longer have all of our eggs in this particular basket.
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, NASA, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: art, Communion of Dreams, jim downey, laser, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mona Lisa, Moon, NASA, predictions, science, Science Fiction, space, technology, video, www youtube
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but here’s a passage from Chapter 15 of Communion of Dreams:
The moment the projector was set down and turned on, Jon could see what had them all so excited. There were flashes of light coming from the image of the ship, clearly directed back at the ASA.
“It’s brilliant. They’re using the point-defense lasers designed for clearing away debris in their path as strobes, to communicate with us,” said Gish.
Gregor nodded. “Yes, yes. Simple digital message, as fast as lasers can be switched on and off. Not designed for communications,so cannot transmit as much data as normal. But pretty good.”
Why do I mention this? Well, guess what’s just been done by NASA? Take a look:
Here’s an excerpt from the associated article:
NASA has turned the Mona Lisa into the first digital image to be transmitted via laser beam from Earth to a spacecraft in lunar orbit, nearly 240,000 miles away, thanks to a technology that may soon become routine.
The experiment took advantage of the laser-tracking system that’s in operation aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling the moon for the past three and a half years. NASA sends regular laser pulses from the Next Generation Satellite Ranging station at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to the space probe’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or LOLA, to measure its precise position in lunar orbit.
I love to see my predictions come true.
With thanks to Wendy for sending me the article!
Filed under: Apollo program, Astronomy, Connections, ISS, Man Conquers Space, NASA, Predictions, Preparedness, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Survival, tech | Tags: Apollo, blogging, ISS, jim downey, NASA, predictions, science, Science Fiction, space, video
It all depends on your point-of-view: