Outcrops in Yellowknife Bay are being exposed by wind driven erosion. These rocks record superimposed ancient lake and stream deposits that offered past environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. This image mosaic from the Mast Camera instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a series of sedimentary deposits in the Glenelg area of Gale Crater, from a perspective in Yellowknife Bay looking toward west-northwest. The “Cumberland” rock that the rover drilled for a sample of the Sheepbed mudstone deposit (at lower left in this scene) has been exposed at the surface for only about 80 million years. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered evidence that an ancient Martian lake had the right chemical ingredients that could have sustained microbial life forms for long periods of time – and that these habitable conditions persisted on the Red Planet until a more recent epoch than previously thought.
Furthermore researchers have developed a novel technique allowing Curiosity to accurately date Martian rocks for the first time ever – rather than having to rely on educated guesses based on counting craters.
All that and more stems from science results just announced by members of the rover science team. [click to continue…]
With remote-sensing satellites, scientists have found the coldest places on Earth, just off a ridge in the East Antarctic Plateau. The coldest of the cold temperatures dropped to minus 135.8 F (minus 93.2 C) — several degrees colder than the previous record. Image Credit: Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center.
What is the coldest place on Earth? Scientists say it’s a place so cold that ordinary mercury or alcohol thermometers won’t work there. If you were there, every breath would be painful, your clothing would crackle every time you moved, and if you threw hot water into the air, it would fall to the ground as tiny shards of ice. At this place, the new record of minus 136 F (minus 93.2 C) was set on Aug. 10, 2010. Researchers analyzed data from several satellite instruments and found the coldest place on Earth in the past 32 years is … [click to continue…]
Here’s how the Moon will look to us on Earth during the entire year of 2014. Using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio can project how the Moon will appear, and compresses one month into 24 seconds and a year to about 5 minutes. Above is the video where Celestial north is up, corresponding to the view from the northern hemisphere, and below is how the Moon will look from the southern hemisphere. [click to continue…]
The morning zodiacal as seen from near Rodeo, New Mexico, looking east at 5:00 am December 6, 2013. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer/Amazing Sky Photography.
Sometimes, if you are lucky, dawn comes before the dawn. The zodiacal light – or false dawn, as it is sometimes called – is an ethereal light extending up from the horizon, sometimes seen about an hour before sunrise or an hour after sunset. At one time, it was thought this was an atmospheric phenomenon, but it’s more cosmic than that! Zodiacal light is sunlight reflecting off dust grains in space. These dust grains are likely left over from the same process that created Earth and the other planets of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
Alan Dyer captured this beautiful view of the zodiacal light on a recent trip to New Mexico. If you look closely you can see some other cosmic phenomena as well: “Mars is above centre and Saturn is just rising over the mountain ridge,” Alan wrote on Flickr. “Comet Lovejoy C/2013 R1 is at far left. The image includes the position (left of centre, above the mountains left of the Zodiacal Light) where Comet ISON (C/2012 S2) would have been had it survived passage around the Sun.” [click to continue…]
The Universe is filled with hot fusion, in the cores of stars. And scientists have even been able to replicate this stellar process in expensive experiments. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could produce energy from fusion without all that equipment, and high temperatures and pressures? Pons and Fleischmann announced exactly that back in 1989, but things didn’t quite turn out as planned…