Our galaxy is still actively making stars. We’ve known that for a while, but sometimes it’s hard to understand the true scale in astronomical terms. A team from Japan is trying to help with that by using a novel machine-learning technique to identify soon-to-be star-forming regions spread throughout the Milky Way. They found 140,000 of them.Continue reading “Machine Learning Finds 140,000 Future Star Forming Regions in the Milky Way”
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Sees A Beautiful Sunset on Mars
Sunsets provide some of the most beautiful natural imagery anywhere on Earth. People flock from all over to see sunsets at specific places at specific times, such as when they perfectly align down a street in Manhattan. But sunsets on other planets wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular.Continue reading “NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Sees A Beautiful Sunset on Mars”
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The Best Way to Learn About Venus Could Be With a Fleet of Balloons
Interest in the exploration of Venus has kicked up a notch lately, especially after a contested recent discovery of phosphine, a potential biosignature, in the planet’s atmosphere. Plenty of missions to Venus have been proposed, and NASA and ESA have recently funded several. However, they are mainly orbiters, trying to peer into the planet’s interior from above. But they are challenged by having to see through dozens of kilometers of an atmosphere made up of sulfuric acid.
That same atmosphere is challenging for ground missions. While some of the recently funded missions include a component on the ground, they are missing an opportunity that isn’t afforded on many other planets in the solar system – riding along in the atmosphere. Technologists have proposed everything from simple balloons to entire floating cities – we even heard of a plan to enclose the entirety of Venus in a shell and live on the surface of that shell. But for now, balloons seem to be a more straightforward answer. That is the mission modality proposed by a team of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to discover more about something that was only confirmed to exist on Venus in the last week – volcanism.Continue reading “The Best Way to Learn About Venus Could Be With a Fleet of Balloons”
Finding Life in the Solar System Means Crunching a Lot of Data. The Perfect Job for Machine Learning
There are plenty of places for life to hide. Even on our blue planet, where we know there is abundant life, it is sometimes difficult to predict all the different environments it might crop up in. Exploring worlds other than our own for life would make it exponentially more difficult to detect it because, realistically, we don’t really know what we’re looking for. But life will probably present itself with some sort of pattern. And there is one new technology that is exceptional at detecting patterns: machine learning. Researchers at the SETI Institute have started working on a machine-learning-based AI system that will do just that.Continue reading “Finding Life in the Solar System Means Crunching a Lot of Data. The Perfect Job for Machine Learning”
Researchers Build a Telescope with a Flat Lens
The picture of the Moon in the banner might not look all that spectacular, but it is absolutely astounding from a technical perspective. What makes it so unique is that it was taken via a telescope using a completely flat lens. This type of lens, called a metalens, has been around for a while, but a team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) recently made the largest one ever. At eight cm in diameter, it was large enough to use in an actual telescope – and produce the above picture of the Moon, however, blurred it might be.Continue reading “Researchers Build a Telescope with a Flat Lens”
Astronauts Could Clear Lunar Dust Away with Nitrogen Spray
One of the last times we did an article about a technology that could remove lunar dust from clothing, we opened it with a famous meme line from Star Wars. That also means we should probably avoid subjecting everyone to it again here. Still, the fact that we’ve had an opportunity to use it more than twice recently proves that removing lunar dust is a problem that has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Artemis, NASA’s program to go back to the Moon this decade, is the cause of a lot of that attention as there are plenty of problems still to overcome. Some of those might be solved by a technique developed by a team at Washington State University (WSU) that uses every child’s gas that allows them to pound nails in with bananas – liquid nitrogen.Continue reading “Astronauts Could Clear Lunar Dust Away with Nitrogen Spray”
Strange Green Lines Above Hawaii was Probably a Chinese Satellite
Every once in a while, the stars (or, in this case, satellites) align, and keen observers can receive an unexpected light show. That happened a few weeks ago at the Subaru telescope in Hawai’i. An eerie green laser seemingly appeared out of nowhere, as captured in a YouTube video uploaded to the telescope channel. Luckily, their source was no more ominous than a passing satellite, and with its video posted publicly, now everyone could enjoy the light show.Continue reading “Strange Green Lines Above Hawaii was Probably a Chinese Satellite”
China’s Rover Used Radar to Look Deep Beneath the Surface of Mars. What Did it Find?
The ongoing effort to under Martian geology and the planet’s history continues. A recent paper from a scientific team in China looks at the data collected by Zhurong, a rover that has been in place on the Red Planet since 2021. While it didn’t find any evidence of water in the basin it was looking in, it did find some interesting buried features and provided more data to our mounting understanding of one of our nearest neighbors.Continue reading “China’s Rover Used Radar to Look Deep Beneath the Surface of Mars. What Did it Find?”
Are There Better Ways to Communicate with Mars?
Mars is a long way from Earth, making it challenging to communicate with. That difficult communication is becoming ever more important as we launch more and more craft to the Red Planet. It will become absolutely critical when we send actual people there. So what can be done to increase the speed of communications between our solar system’s blue and red planets? A paper from researchers primarily based in Spain looks at different networking topologies that could help solve some of the communication problems.Continue reading “Are There Better Ways to Communicate with Mars?”
Blue Origin is Building Solar Cells out of (Simulated) Lunar Regolith
Power infrastructure will be critical for any long-term space colony, and one of the most critical pieces of that power infrastructure, at least in the inner solar system, is solar cells. So in-situ research experts were thrilled when Blue Origin, ostensibly a rocket company, recently announced that they had made functional solar cells entirely out of nothing other than lunar regolith simulant.Continue reading “Blue Origin is Building Solar Cells out of (Simulated) Lunar Regolith”