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Thread: Current Events in Astronomy

  1. #131
    Lead Moderator calikid's Avatar
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    On September 15, 2017 Cassini will orbit lower and lower until crashing into Saturn. Out of fuel, the end will ensure no Earth microbes containment any of Saturn's moons, that might harbor life.

    Cassini: The Grand Finale Toolkit

    After two decades in space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is nearing the end of its remarkable journey of exploration. Having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, operators are deliberately plunging Cassini into the planet to ensure Saturn's moons will remain pristine for future exploration—in particular, the ice-covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, but also Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry.

    Beginning in 2010, Cassini began a seven-year mission extension in which it completed many moon flybys while observing seasonal changes on Saturn and Titan. The plan for this phase of the mission was to expend all of the spacecraft's propellant while exploring Saturn, ending with a plunge into the planet's atmosphere. In April 2017, Cassini was placed on an impact course that unfolded over five months of daring dives—a series of 22 orbits that each pass between the planet and its rings. Called the Grand Finale, this final phase of the mission has brought unparalleled observations of the planet and its rings from closer than ever before.

    On Sept. 15, 2017, the spacecraft will make its final approach to the giant planet Saturn. But this encounter will be like no other. This time, Cassini will dive into the planet's atmosphere, sending science data for as long as its small thrusters can keep the spacecraft's antenna pointed at Earth. Soon after, Cassini will burn up and disintegrate like a meteor. Story Continues



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  2. #132
    Life existed on Mars, shocking discovery suggests

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/...-suggests.html

    Scientists have found key evidence which suggests life may once have existed on Mars.
    Nasa's Curiosity rover has detected boron, a key ingredient for life, on the dusty surface of the Red Planet.

    The discovery is a huge boost in the hunt for extraterrestrials and could back up a theory suggesting life on Mars may have been forced underground when disaster turned the planet into a "frigid desert".


    Patrick Gasda, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory said: "Because borates may play an important role in making RNA - one of the building blocks of life - finding boron on Mars further opens the possibility that life could have once arisen on the planet.

    "Borates are one possible bridge from simple organic molecules to RNA. Without RNA, you have no life.
    "The presence of boron tells us that, if organics were present on Mars, these chemical reactions could have occurred."
    RNA is ribonucleic acid, a nucleic acid present in all modern life which is involved in the decoding and expression of genes from DNA.
    It is known to be unstable, so unless boron is present it decomposes quickly.

    Gasda's work is detailed in a study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    It describes how Nasa's buggy found the element in calcium sulphate mineral "veins" in the rocky surface.
    That means boron was present in Mars groundwater and indicates that the Gale crater, where Nasa's robo buggy is right now, may have been home to life.

    It bolsters the bizarre theory that life originated on Mars and was carried to Earth on an asteroid.

    Astronomer Caleb Sharf has previously claimed: "We can find pieces of Mars here on Earth and we suspect that there are pieces of Earth on Mars.
    "If that material can carry living organisms on it, it's possible that we are Martian."

    These hypotheses have forced bonkers scenarios in which officials have asked Nasa experts whether life existed there in recent times.

    Dana Rohrabacher, an American senator, publically asked a project scientist overseeing Nasa's Mars 2020 rover mission if aliens ever lived on the Martian surface.

    He quizzed: "You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago.

    "Is it possible that there was a civilisation on Mars thousands of years ago?"
    Nasa's Ken Farley responded: "So, the evidence is that Mars was different billions of years ago, not thousands of years ago, and there is no evidence I'm aware of..."

    However, there soon may be life on Mars if tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has his way.

    The Space X founder has announced plans to put humans on the surface of the Red Planet by 2030.
    Additional info from http://www.popularmechanics.com/spac...cial-for-life/

    The discovery of boron in the Gale Crater on Mars has given scientists a clue to the potential of life having once existed on the Red Planet.
    "Because borates may play an important role in making RNA—one of the building blocks of life—finding boron on Mars further opens the possibility that life could have once arisen on the planet," said Patrick Gasda, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico and lead author of a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters.




    The discovery, made in December 2016, marks the second confirmation of boron on the Martian surface. The first came in 2013, when scientists discovered boron in Martian meteorite. The find in Gale Crater, which NASA calls a "fascinating place to explore because of the mountain of layered materials in the middle," marked the first time the substance has been actually detected on Mars.
    RNA, ribonucleic acid, is present in every living thing we know of. Several scientists, including co-discoverer of DNA Francis Crick, have advocated a theory known as an "RNA world," in which RNA was the initial starting point of life. The theory goes that the original proto-life was made of individual RNA strands that held genetic information and could self-replicate. When boron is dissolved in water, which was also believed to have existed at one point on Mars, it can stabilize with a sugar called ribose long enough to create RNA.
    Of course, there are a whole lot of ifs here. There still isn't any evidence of life on Mars. But boron was only discovered four years ago and confirmed just last year. The search is only getting started, and plans to continue in 2020 and beyond, if we can get a sample of Martian soil back to Earth.
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a28096/boron-on-mars-could-be-crucial-for-life/
    Last edited by A99; 09-08-2017 at 03:02 AM.
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  3. #133
    Another story on Planet 9

    New Clues Emerge for the Existence of Planet 9

    Hopefully they'll be able to find it soon.
    My inner Mulder wants to believe, but my inner Scully remains skeptical.

  4. #134
    Lead Moderator calikid's Avatar
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    And how cool would it be to grab a piece of that rock, and run a few tests?

    Mysterious Visitor From Another Solar System Flew by Earth, Leaving Astronomers Baffled
    By Meghan Bartels

    Astronomers may have spotted our first visitor from outside the bounds of our solar system: a hunk of ice called A/2017 U1 that a Hawaiian telescope identified on October 19. It's already headed back out away from Earth, and while scientists can study it for another few weeks, they say that after it waves goodbye, we'll never see it again.

    Everything flying around space is pretty weird, but this one is extra weird, which is why astronomers are so excited about it—in fact, although scientists first dubbed it a comet, they're now not even sure what it is. The object's path has been difficult to track back in time from when it was first identified, but scientists are pretty sure it doesn't belong to our solar system. That would make it the first interstellar visitor to be observed.

    And if it turns out to be truly out of this world, it would be precisely what astronomers have been looking for. "We have long suspected that these objects should exist," said Karen Meech, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, which runs the telescope that spotted A/2017 U1, in a press release. "What's most surprising is that we've never seen interstellar objects pass through before."
    Story Continues
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but
    progress. -- Joseph Joubert
    Attachment 1008

  5. #135
    Quote Originally Posted by calikid View Post
    And how cool would it be to grab a piece of that rock, and run a few tests?

    Mysterious Visitor From Another Solar System Flew by Earth, Leaving Astronomers Baffled
    By Meghan Bartels

    Astronomers may have spotted our first visitor from outside the bounds of our solar system: a hunk of ice called A/2017 U1 that a Hawaiian telescope identified on October 19. It's already headed back out away from Earth, and while scientists can study it for another few weeks, they say that after it waves goodbye, we'll never see it again.

    Everything flying around space is pretty weird, but this one is extra weird, which is why astronomers are so excited about it—in fact, although scientists first dubbed it a comet, they're now not even sure what it is. The object's path has been difficult to track back in time from when it was first identified, but scientists are pretty sure it doesn't belong to our solar system. That would make it the first interstellar visitor to be observed.

    And if it turns out to be truly out of this world, it would be precisely what astronomers have been looking for. "We have long suspected that these objects should exist," said Karen Meech, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, which runs the telescope that spotted A/2017 U1, in a press release. "What's most surprising is that we've never seen interstellar objects pass through before."
    Story Continues
    Good article, thanks for sharing link...

  6. #136
    Lead Moderator calikid's Avatar
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    A planet so big it might be a failed star.
    .
    Astronomers just spotted a planet so huge they aren’t even sure it’s really a planet.
    By Mike Wehner.
    Even if you have only cursory knowledge of the planets in our Solar System, you know that Earth is on the smaller end of the spectrum in terms of mass. Mercury and Mars are even smaller, but Saturn and the mighty Jupiter, of course, are on the other end of the spectrum. But in the grand scheme of things, Jupiter isn’t actually all that mighty at all, and a new discovery of an absolutely massive planet residing in our galaxy’s “bulge” has scientists struggling to explain how it can even be a planet at all.

    The new planet, which was discovered using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is named OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, but what it lacks in a flashy name it more than makes up for in sheer size. The planet is estimated to be over 13 times the mass of Jupiter, which is so huge that astronomers are considering the possibility that it’s not actually a planet.
    Story continues.
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but
    progress. -- Joseph Joubert
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  7. #137
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    Earth to ET. Is anybody listening?

    Scientist take risk sending secret message to Aliens.
    By Chris Ciaccia.

    If “the truth is out there,” scientists are determined to find it — so much so that they’ve sent a message into space trying to contact aliens.

    But a response could take 25 years — if it comes at all.

    Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International sent an encoded message into space using radio waves known as “Sonar Calling GJ273b,” which the organization’s president and founder Doug Vakoch believes could be received by intelligent life.

    “[The message is] distinctive because it’s designed with extraterrestrial SETI scientists in mind. We sent the sort of signal we’d want to receive here on Earth,” he said in an interview with CNET.

    METI’s purpose, along with the well-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), has a number of missions, including understanding and communicating “the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life.”

    It also conducts programs to “foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity,” among other directives.

    The San Francisco-based METI sent its message toward the red dwarf star GJ 273 (also known as Luyten’s Star), 12 light-years away from Earth. The message was sent in October from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromsø, Norway, and included details such as basic math and science, as well as information on humankind’s understanding of time.

    In a statement obtained by CNET, METI said it wanted to know if intelligent life understood the message and then go from there.

    “In a reply message, I would first want to know that the extraterrestrials understood what we said in our first message,” METI said in the statement. “The easiest way to do this is to repeat our message, but in expanded form. We tell them that ‘1 + 1 = 2.’ They could let us know that they understand that ’10 + 10 = 20.'”

    Pressing ahead despite concerns

    While some luminaries, such as Stephen Hawking, have warned against
    Story Continues
    https://nypost.com/2017/11/16/scientists-take-risk-sending-secret-message-to-aliens/
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but
    progress. -- Joseph Joubert
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