Monthly Archives: November 2011

  • Countdown to 11/23/11

    4. As Shawn mentioned yesterday, neutrinos have once again made headlines recently where the OPERA collaboration has verified their measurement using a different beam and some groups have refuted their claims (surprise!). Here are 158 papers debating this issue.

    3. Phobos-Grunt, the Russian mission to bring samples from the Martian moon Phobos got into trouble just minutes after the launch. There seems to be very little chance of a recovery.

    2. In other news, humans on the other side of the world are shipping a robotic lab to Mars

  • The Return of the Countdown! Countdown to 11/22/2011

    The countdown is back! Now that has more writers, we’re going to share countdown duties. So come by here to get a daily rundown of what’s happening in astrobiology, planetary sciences, and earth/climate research. We’ll also continue to post more thoughtful “essays,” and will try to stack these on weekends when we have more time to write and you have more time to read and we all have more time to think.

    Today there are some political things in the news that will affect our communities, so please keep in mind these are

  • Near-Surface Water on Europa

    More to follow, but I wanted to post quickly (VERY quickly as my keyboard is racing my battery) about the Science Update on Europa. The basic gist is this:

    • Earth scientists had a well-validated model for how certain terrains form on Earth
    • They applied this model to the chaos terrains on Europa
    • They were able to explain these features quite well, arguably much better than previous efforts

    If the work holds up (remember, this is a a hypothesis to be tested), here’s what it implies:

    1. Europa probably does have a thick shell, despite the presence of chaos terrain, HOWEVER…
    2. Within that thick shell there
  • NASA Science Update on Europa Tomorrow

    Europa, home to a subsurface ocean and thus one of the most habitable planets known, will be the subject of a press conference tomorrow. You can catch it on NASA TV at 1 PM EST (check local cable listings)… or online at:

    You can see the announcement of the science update here:

    Here’s who will be on the panel:

    - Britney Schmidt, postdoctoral fellow, Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin
    – Tori Hoehler, astrobiologist and senior research scientist, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    – Louise Prockter, planetary scientist, Johns Hopkins

  • On Fans and Fanatics, and the Science of Sports

    I’ve been doing a lot of introspection this past week. Those that know me are aware that I’m a big sports fan. You see, when I was born my dad was already in his 60’s. So when other kids were outside playing catch with their fathers, I was sitting on the couch watching sports with mine. I remember asking him questions about the rules and the players and the stories of games long past. Pretty soon, I was devoted to sports and to watching and talking about them. That devotion continues through through this day. I am a passionate fan