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Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

This Week in Space – August 27, 2010

August 27th, 2010 2 comments

I was a bit busy last week and wasn’t able to do one of the things I really wanted to: write about space and a few extraordinary developments that have been announced or released lately.  Namely, there’s been more fun with exo-planetary systems, Europa and asteroids.

F-Yeah Exo-Planetary Systems

A few months ago I wrote about the discovery of a hot “near-Earth” named GJ 1214b.  The rocky planet measuring about six times the mass of the Earth was discovered at about 40 light years distance using the Radial Velocity method of exo-planetary detection (measuring red-shift of a star to determine slight wobbles caused by a star — in this case, GJ 1214 — orbiting along with exo-planet(s) around their common center of gravity).

Scientists at a conference in France announced this week the discovery of two new exciting sets of exo-planetary systems, each distinguishing in its own way.  The first, which has been observed primarily using Radial Velocity is the discovery of the stellar system with the most known planets outside of our own solar system.  HD 10180, a Sun-like M-Class star sitting about 128 light years away hosts a whopping seven planets.

NASA released the above animation of the planetary system around HD 10180.

Click through for more discussion and discovery. Read more…

Scientists Say Jupiter’s Moon Europa Might Be Teeming With Fish

November 19th, 2009 Comments off

Article on Europa water discoveries linked here.

(via unknownskywalker; via brynlutes)

New evidence has come to light that the vast, ice-encrusted oceans of Europa may be harboring Earth-like life that lives on the oxygen-rich waters. Time to plan your extraterrestrial fishing trip? Maybe. Apparently, the oceans of Europa are fed with more than 100 times more oxygen than previous models suggested.

Read more »

This may be one of the coolest things ever. I was reading the National Geographic article on this last nightand was really amazed. Life on a gas giant’s satellite using hydrothermal energy and tidal energy would greatly expand the habitable zone to include exo-solar planets that actually have been found (potentially) — so far, I believe no exo-solar planet with a standard (non-eccentric) orbit has been found that could support conventionally conceived life. The ability to have life on a moon like the Jovian ones greatly pushes out the cold side of habitable zones. So perhaps there is an Endor or Hoth out there somewhere.

But what piqued my interest the most was the question of how one goes about exploring a world with 100 mile-deep oceans. How do you develop a craft that you can launch and send on a three year voyage and then plop into an ocean. The corrosive powers of H2O would almost certainly require a probe of greater than normal sturdiness and hulls… thereby making the probe more difficult to send. And, since Europa is certainly like Waterworld, you also have to consider defensive measures against the animal-life you’re likely to encounter there.

However they do it, I do hope we get started on a mission to some of the Jovian moons soon. Europa, Io and Ganymede are all intriguing for their own reasons. Particularly the volcanism of Io, the waters of Europa, the pure mass of Ganymede (which is the next largest object after Mercury), and Callisto provides some interest in that it is a Jovian moon which is relatively unaffected by tidal energy and heat (thus providing a contrast to the other three).