One Year, Almost 1,000 Planetary Candidates. An Update On TESS

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Telescope launched back in April, 2018. After a few months of testing, it was ready to begin mapping the southern sky, searching for planets orbiting stars relatively nearby.

We’re just over a year into the mission now, and on July 18th, TESS has shifted its attention to the Northern Hemisphere, continuing the hunt for planets in the northern skies.

Continue reading “One Year, Almost 1,000 Planetary Candidates. An Update On TESS”

What Are Light Echoes? Using Reflections Of Light To See Even Further Back In Time

Star V838 Monocerotis

When we look outward into space, we’re looking backwards in time. That’s because light moves, at the speed of light. It takes time for the light to reach us.

But it gets even stranger than that. Light can be absorbed, reflected, and re-emitted by gas and dust, giving us a second look.

They’re called light echoes, and allow astronomers another way to understand the Universe around us.

Continue reading “What Are Light Echoes? Using Reflections Of Light To See Even Further Back In Time”

How Habitable is Titan? NASA is Sending the Titan Dragonfly Helicopter to Find Out

There are few places in the Solar System which are as fascinating as Saturn’s moon Titan. It’s a world with a thicker atmosphere than Earth. Where it’s so cold that it rains ammonia, forming lakes, rivers and seas. Where water ice forms mountains. 

Like Europa and Encleadus, Titan could have an interior ocean of liquid water too, a place where there might be life.

Continue reading “How Habitable is Titan? NASA is Sending the Titan Dragonfly Helicopter to Find Out”

Planetary Society Deploys LightSail 2’s Solar Sail. What Does The Future Hold For Solar Sails?

Photo of LightSail 2's sail deployment. Credit: The Planetary Society

Where you can travel in space depends on how much propellant you’ve got on board your rocket and how efficiently you can use it. But there’s a source of free propellant right here in the Solar System – the Sun – which is streaming out photons in all directions. You just need to catch them.

And right now, the Planetary Society’s new LightSail 2 spacecraft is testing out just how well it’ll work.

Continue reading “Planetary Society Deploys LightSail 2’s Solar Sail. What Does The Future Hold For Solar Sails?”

Searching For The Red Edge: How The Earth’s Forests Are Telling The Aliens Where We Live

Examples of Earth at various eras: Illustration by Wendy Kenigsberg/Cornell Brand Communications

People are always worried that alien civilizations will detect the transmissions from our old radio shows and television broadcasts, and send in the invasion fleet. But the reality is that life itself has been broadcasting the existence of life on Earth for 500 million years. 

Continue reading “Searching For The Red Edge: How The Earth’s Forests Are Telling The Aliens Where We Live”

Interview with Dennis E. Taylor, Author of the Bobiverse Trilogy

This week I had a fantastic opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, Dennis E. Taylor, the author of We Are Legion (We Are Bob), and the rest of the Bobiverse Trilogy.

We had a great conversation about the challenges in writing science fiction during a time when science has come so far, what writing routines he does to stay productive, and of course, when will there be more Bobiverse books.

Dennis’ newest book is called Outland, and it’s the first part in a two-part series about a group of students trying to prevent the destruction from the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption.

You can listen to the book on Audible.

Weekly Space Hangout: Nov 28, 2018: David Eicher’s “Mission Moon 3-D”

Hosts:

Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain)
Dr. Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter)
Dr. Kimberly Cartier (KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartier )
Dr. Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg & ChartYourWorld.org)

This week we are joined by David Eicher, co-author with Dr. Brian May of Mission Moon 3-D: A New Perspective on the Space Race. During David’s appearance, we will be giving away three copies of the book which is co-published with the MIT Press and the London Stereoscopic Association.

David Eicher is one of the most widely recognized astronomy enthusiasts in the world. He has been Editor in Chief of Astronomy magazine for the past thirty-five years. Eicher is the author or editor of 21 books on science and history. In 2014, he wrote and edited, along with Brian May and astronomer Garik Israelian, Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space, and in 2016 edited the follow-up volume, Starmus: Discovering the Universe. In 1990, the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet, 3617 Eicher, for Eicher in recognition of his service to astronomy. He has spoken to and inspired many science and business groups around the world, including at Harvard University, the Starmus Festival and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Dave was president of the Astronomy Foundation, the telescope industry and astronomy outreach group, from 2011–2017.

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