Water On, Water Off

Astronomers have found evidence to indicate there was once a lot of water on the surface of Mars
Where did all the water go? What water?

More evidence for the case for the presence of water on the Red Planet

Astronomy News – Planetary scientists taking a second look at a Mars outcropping first examined by NASA’s Spirit Mars Rover back in 2005 think there could be additional evidence for water on large areas of Mars. In specific, planetary scientists have found high concentrations of carbonate, a mineral that scientists have previously shown to originate in wet conditions that dissolves in acid. This leads planet scientists to the conclusion that ancient oceans on Mars couldn’t be acidic and could have been favorable environments for the evolution of life forms.

Water has been hard to find on Mars

This is hardly news as planet scientists have noted the presence of carbonates on the surface of Mars previously, and there could be all sorts of natural ways to produce the carbonates that we humans haven’t experienced, yet. Reports indicate that scientists are finding rock outcroppings with as much as 25 percent carbonate by weight. This is a far higher percentage of carbonate than previously recorded, though, and this data could indicate the presence of vast oceans on the surface of the Red Planet in the past, according to some scientists.

One group of planet scientists in Boulder, Colorado has been studying the possibility that oceans of water once existed on the Red Planet. Gaetano Di Achille and Brian Hynek have been taking a close look at 52 martian deltas and about 40,000 river valleys on Mars, using the combined data from a series of orbiting Mars missions, conducted over years. Their studies lead them to speculate that broad and deep expanses of water once covered up to one-third of the surface of Mars, 3.5 billion years ago.

This team of astronomers concluded that at least half the deltas and river valleys they studied likely marked the boundaries of an ancient sea. The geological features in question are all at the same relative elevation, which implies they were possibly connected to martian seas or large bodies of water, according to this team of scientists.

The volume of water scientist are talking about once existing on the Red Planet is around 30 million cubic kilometers of water, about 10 times less than the volume of water contained in Earth’s oceans. This study appeared online on June 13 in Nature Geoscience.

Astronomers are still looking for the water

John Carter and a team of scientists at the University of Paris, on the other hand, claim that the Red Planet certainly once had vast quantities of water, only not in the form of vast seas and oceans. This team found hydrated silicate minerals within craters in the northern lowlands of the Red Planet, a place where these minerals hadn’t previously been found. This fact, combined with previous indications of hydrated silicate minerals in Mars Southern Hemisphere, leads this team of scientists to conclude that Mars was changed on a global scale by liquid water around 4 billion years in the past. This group of astronomers used NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to look inside 91 impact craters where asteroids have exposed ancient marine material several kilometers beneath the surface of Mars. They found nine contained phyllosilicates or other hydrated silicates, minerals that scientists know form in wet environments.

The real question now is, where did all this water go? Future missions to the Red Planet will be looking for facts to help determine where all the water went or if it might still exist on Mars, in another form. They’ll also be taking a close look at river deltas, which could be excellent regions to search for evidence of past Martian life.

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion






Cycle me This, Cycle me That

Cycles of Life

Astronomers studying the sun have found some interesting things
Everything cycles until death

Astronomy instruments designed to study the sun are specially designed for the job

Astronomy News – Astrophysicists studying stars use the closest star to Earth as their main test subject, Sol. Astronomers met recently during the American Astronomical Society meeting on May 26 in Miami to discuss the usefulness and reliability of three new techniques being used by current solar scientists to delve into the mysteries of the sun. “Scientists hope these three new techniques will help them predict the future behavior of Sol and jet streams, rhythmic oscillations, and magnetic activity all hold promise for solar scientists peering into the depths of the sun.”

David H. Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center used the meridional flow scientists studying Sol associate with an increase in the intensity of the solar cycle of Sol, to make a prediction that Sol’s current cycle will peak around 2013, although he thinks this peak will be about half the size of the past three solar peaks.

Sol has been keeping astronomers busy lately

Sol has been in a dark mood lately
Sol in a dark mood

Sushanta Tripathy and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory have been studying vibrations from Sol’s surface they call rhythmic oscillations. Their studies have found a strong correlation exists between rhythmic oscillations and the activity level of Sol. They used their data to show that during the present minimum activity period of Sol, a double minimum in solar activity occurred, which they think could in some way relate to Sol’s current in activity.

Julia Saba of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has been taking a look at the data collected concerning the activity of Sol’s magnetic field. Her work has helped her predict, up to 18 months ahead of time, when Cycle 24 would start, and to speculate that Cycle 24 will be weaker and longer in length than average.

Sol is expected to increase in activity

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

The Search for a Cradle for a New Human Genesis Begins

Could a Cradle For a New Human Genesis be found in Our Solar System?

The human journey to the beginning of space and time is looking for a new home for mankind
Could Titan act as a cradle for a new human genesis?

Earth is quickly becoming a less hospitable place for human life

Astronomy News – The search for another home to act as a cradle for a new human genesis has turned another page today. Two papers analyzing the chemical activity reported by observations made by NASA’s Cassini Orbiter of Saturn’s moon Titan report the data is consistent with the possible presence of theoretical methane-based life and how such life forms existing in an exotic and dynamic environment could affect their surroundings.

The first paper is available online and in the August edition of Icarus and was authored by Darrell Strobel of Johns Hopkins University. This paper describes a flow of hydrogen molecules through the atmosphere of Titan that disappear at the surface. “It’s as if you have a hose and you’re squirting hydrogen onto the ground, but it’s disappearing.”

The second paper is also available online and will appear in a future issue of The Journal of Geophysical Research. This paper reports a lack of acetylene and an abundance of organic compounds on the surface of Titan. This implies that Titan could be a place in the solar system where dynamic organic chemistry is currently taking place, and Titan could be a possible place in our solar system where the elements could exist for a home to act as a cradle for a new human genesis.

This news in no way means they have found life on Titan, but it does strengthen the case for the possibility of life taking more forms and existing in environments beyond those envisioned by humans. The scientists releasing these studies can certainly be applauded for keeping an open mind to the possibility that life exists beyond the bounds set by human imagination. We should keep in mind that chemical processes can also explain the data collected by the Cassini Orbiter and this is certainly a much simpler explanation for a flow of hydrogen molecules through the atmosphere of Titan that disappears at the surface. Indeed, hydrogen would seem to be the element of choice to consume in life processes on Titan. We should probably exhaust all other possibilities, before suggesting there the result of life processes, though, and save the existence of life for the last conclusion.

Astronomers are currently busy looking for a cradle for a new human genesis

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Cradle for a New Human Genesis

    The search for a new home for human life has started

Astronomers are looking for blue planets inside their home stars life zone
Planets with water are the goal of astronomers

Astronomy will be the next great science

Astronomy News – The search for planets capable of acting as a cradle for a new human genesis has begun. Astronomers are searching the night sky above you for planets circling distant stars within what space scientists refer to as a stars life-zone or habitable-zone. This zone is at an orbital distance from a star allowing for the formation of the elements necessary for Earth-based life to exist. In the search for planets capable of supporting Earth-based life, astronomers are mainly looking for water.

Only looking for planets with the elements we know can support Earth-based life could be putting human-made limitations on the search for habitable planets and the creation of life that will prevent us from seeing the whole picture. Life-on-Earth has always shown itself to be adaptable, unpredictable and totally uncontrollable, and the environments life could evolve in are probably beyond current human imagination. Space scientists conducting computer simulations of planetary systems indicate that the variables that determine the life-zone of a star and its suitability for human life are just being studied and discussed. Water could exist in a usable form for the creation of life during specific periods of time on a planet’s surface for Earth-like planets close to a Jupiter-size planet orbiting in a highly elliptical orbit. A description that fits many of the exoplanets discovered, so far, space scientists note.

We could find that human life is more adaptable than we first thought

Planets with the necessary ingredients to support human-based life are hard to find

A highly perturbed orbit could result in an Earth-like planet experiencing long time-periods of freezing and heating temperatures, with a period of ideal weather for the creation of life, squeezed in between. Hardly the ideal situation for human life and this simulation is only one of the possible exotic habitats we could find on our “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. Human life could be walking on planets in the centuries ahead where the length of a day varies wildly, the seasons are unrecognizable, and the year just seems to go on forever.

The crazy zoo-of-planets astronomers are discovering in the night sky is threatening to break the human-made shackles we have attempted to put upon them. The environmental conditions on one or some of these planets could one day provide the elements for a new human genesis that could shatter the foundations of belief systems across planet Earth. Environments capable of supporting human evolution and the development of higher life forms? Astronomers and space scientists have taken another step forward to discovering an answer to this question and astrobiologists are currently continuing the search for a second-Earth for humankind.

Astronomy buffs need to check out the Planetary Zoo

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Journey to the Small Near-Earth Asteroid 25143 Itokawa

What do you think a little asteroid dust could tell us about the universe?

Astronomers are currently studying asteroid 25143 Itokawa
Hayabusa has returned from its mission to asteroid 25143 Itokawa

Astronomy gurus watched as it came back to Earth

Astronomy News – The return capsule of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s asteroid-hunting Hayabusa spacecraft splashed down safely near Australia on June 13. This marks the return of a space traveller that was launched in 2003 in order to journey to the small near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa to bring back a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Hayabusa has been designed and engineered to fire a projectile into the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa and hopefully kick up dust that can be collected by Hayabusa’s onboard collection container. The only problem is space scientists don’t know yet if Hayabusa was able to accomplish its mission, but they remain hopeful the projectile was able to fire and the collection container store some dust for them to study. Any dust they find could still be Earth dust that somehow entered the collection container, so any material they find in the collection container will still have to be verified to be true asteroid dust.

Astronomy and asteroid hunting is fun
Asteroid 25143 Itokawa is a small near-Earth asteroid that will be remembered for all time

Hayabusa’s mission was a success, even if the projectile didn’t fire and the collection container didn’t collect any dust because Japanese space scientists were able to conduct several other groundbreaking experiments. Stay tuned to “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time” in the days and weeks ahead in the century of the environment for new developments on this front.

Astronomy will be serious business during the next century


Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Galaxies Collide in Colossal Collisions

Oldest stars in Milky Way Galaxy appear to be captured parts of other galaxies

Astronomy takes you to view the stellar halo of the Milky Way
The stellar halo of the Milky Way contains older stars astronomers believe were captured during a collision with another galaxy about 5 billion years in the Milky Way’s past

The Milky Way will collide with Andromeda in a few billion years

Astronomy News – Astronomers studying the oldest stars in the Milky Way Galaxy think that the most ancient stars in the Milky Way Galaxy could be parts of other galaxies that have been transferred or captured by the Milky Way Galaxy during gigantic collisions between galaxies. A new computer simulation conducted as part of a study supporting this idea is expected to appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Andrew Cooper, of Durham University in the United Kingdom, and his fellow astronomers simulated the evolution of stars and dark matter, from 13 billion years ago to present time.

The Milky Way Galaxy has a disc containing young stars, including Sol while the surrounding stellar halo is the home of stars as old as 10 billion years. Astronomers journeying to this part of space using their time machine to the stars search the stellar halo, much like archaeologists search ancient rock strata, to discern facts about the formation and life cycle of the Milky Way Galaxy. Astronomers in the United Kingdom report that the stellar halo contains stellar debris left over from a period of time during the life cycle of the Milky Way Galaxy that ended about 5 billion years ago when smaller galaxies collided and ripped each other apart.

Astronomers have a long time to wait for the impending collision

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Red and Orange Fills September’s Night Sky

Journey to Red and Orange stars in September’s night sky

The colors of astronomy
Color like this only grows and expands the further you travel on your Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time

Fall is in full bloom in the Northern Hemispheres of planet Earth and lovers of the reds, oranges, and bright reds on the leaves of fall will enjoy the rich, warm and colorful hues in the night sky of September and October.

Astronomy News – If you’re heading out into the wild to enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty at this time of year? After a day walking through the forest watching the leaves on the trees turn color, from drab green to mixed shades of yellow, orange, and red. Take the time to lay back on the cold ground or your sleeping bag and check out the colors in the night sky. Even better, set up your binoculars or time machine to the stars, and enjoy the colors in the night sky by taking a journey to the beginning of space and time.”

Stargazers have witnessed the colorful displays in the night sky for generations and our ancestors surely spent many a night staring upwards in wonder at the various colors they could see in the night sky. It was 19th-century Irish astronomer John Birmingham, who first made note of the colorful hues of light in the night sky. His ideas and the thoughts of Danish astronomer Hans Schjellerup, who had compiled a catalog of red stars in 1866, were mentioned in Birmingham’s work “The Red Stars: Observations and Catalog”. This catalog contains a total of 658 red and orange stars colorful enough to delight the human senses and make your imagination dance a lively step.

Reading the introduction of Birmingham’s catalog of red and orange stars, one notes he mentions a region of space and time he refers to as “The Red Region”. This region includes parts of the Milky Way Galaxy, between Aquila, Lyra, and Cygnus, that are filled with orange and red stars that will make the eyes dance and entice the human imagination to create possibilities beyond anything we as humans have imagined.

The colors of astronomy in September are a highlight amateur astronomers will love

September is the perfect time for you to board your time machine to the stars and journey to the beginning of space and time to experience the Red Region. The Red Region will be well above the southern horizon once the sun goes down. This region of space and time has eye-gems for stargazers to view in September, with reds and oranges that will make lovers of fall smile, and turn up their color sensitivity. The colorful stars in the Red Region warm sequentially through spectral classes: G (yellow), K (orange), M (red) and rare carbon class C (deep red). Astronomers have subdivided star classes from 0 to 9, with a G9 star being a little closer to orange than yellow, and a K5 star having a color somewhere between orange and red.

All-star gazers will see varying hues of red, orange, and yellow during their journey to the beginning of space and time that will depend on each star gazers own particular biology. In fact, we all view color slightly differently, so individual star gazers shouldn’t rely on a star’s spectral class for a visual clue to a star’s true color. Take, for example, the strikingly colorful, double star Albireo (Beta Cygni) in Cygnus. Stargazers through the centuries have described its magnitude 3.1 K3 primary star as yellow, topaz, gold and orange. Its magnitude 5.1 B9 (blue-white) secondary star (34″ away) on the other hand, has been described as deep-blue, azure, sapphire and even green.

The perception of color for humans is subjective and depends on varying individual parameters that can also be a product of physiological and psychological effects, such as the strong contrasting colors of a double star, like Albireo. The colors star gazers view through their time machine to the stars can also be obscured by dust and pollutants in the air, which will redden a star’s color. Stars that are low on the horizon, in comparison to higher stars, will also appear redder to viewers, just like the sun turns redder as it falls toward the horizon.

Orange, red, and yellow hues abound in September

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion