Monthly Archives: September 2011

  • Big News Coming Thursday…

    Check it out. (And just in time for the release of the Star Wars Blu-ray set.) The Kepler team will have a briefing Thursday morning at 11 AM EDT. Given the recent announcement by the Harps team of a potentially habitable world, the past announcement of another potentially habitable planet GJ581g (the “Cheshire planet”, or if you prefer “Schroedinger’s planet”), and the presence of someone from Lucas Arts’ Industrial Light and Magic… I’m guessing the Kepler team has found their own potentially habitable world. Also, because the team has previously announced candidate planets in the habitable zones of other stars,

  • Get the Soot Out

    Last week, there was a very encouraging presentation made at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson presented an abstract showing how soot affects climate. Soot is what you get when you burn organic carbon as a fuel, but don’t burn it completely. Think the ash and other organic compounds released from a campfire.

    Jacobson added improvements to a climate model to better quantify the effects of soot on clouds. After running these models, he found that decreasing soot in the atmosphere could significantly counteract the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Even

  • Apollo landing site

    Tack on another few megabytes of data in favor of reality.

    On Tuesday, NASA released the best images yet of an Apollo landing site. They show an unprecedented view of the Apollo 12, 14, and 17 landing sites, as taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Of course, that won’t stop some from claiming we never landed on the Moon… but those people will never be convinced anyways. For conspiracy theorists and anti-science minds, data will always be subject to their conclusions. All we can do is increase the pile of data

  • “This is a brand new mission…”

    So said Prof. Steven Squyres last week about Opportunity, the rover that keeps on ticking. Now 7 years and 20 miles outside of warranty, Opportunity has reached what is almost sure to be its final destination: Endeavor Crater. Already, the plucky rover is turning up new discoveries, such as a breccia with unexpectedly high levels of zinc and bromine. Those elements in that type of rock suggest a hydrothermal ore deposit. That would be yet another line of evidence of water on ancient Mars, suggesting

  • They R Us?

    It sounds crazy, but it is looking more and more likely that astroid strikes can splash ejecta – and perhaps microbial hitchhikers – from planet to planet within our Solar System, and possibly beyond. We’ve know for years that ejecta from Mars can reach the Earth, based on chemical analyses that tell us that some meteorites could only come from Mars. That’s led some to wonder if we might actually be Martians. Now, a new modeling study – the largest yet undertaken – revels that the odds of