The Science & Technology Thread

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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:18 pm

NASA's Curiosity Sends 'Most Clearly Visible Images' Of Clouds Above Mars
Clouds moving in the martian sky have been observed previously by Curiosity and other missions on the surface of Mars, including NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander in the martian arctic nine years ago.
World | Press Trust of India | Updated: August 11, 2017 17:34 IST

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WASHINGTON: NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has captured its most clearly visible images of wispy, early-season clouds on the red planet which resemble the Earth's ice-crystal cirrus clouds.

Clouds moving in the martian sky have been observed previously by Curiosity and other missions on the surface of Mars, including NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander in the martian arctic nine years ago.

The clouds in the new images are the most clearly visible so far from Curiosity, which landed five years ago this month about five degrees south of Mars' equator, NASA said.

Researchers used Curiosity's Navigation Camera (Navcam) to take two sets of eight images of the sky on an early martian morning last month.

More, including a video loop of the clouds here: http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/nasas-cu ... rs-1736591
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:23 pm

An 'absolutely phenomenal' discovery hints 4 Earth-size planets may orbit the closest sun to our own
Dave Mosher 6h 7,387

* Astronomers have detected what may be four roughly Earth-size planets orbiting Tau Ceti, the nearest sun-like star.

* Two of the worlds appear to orbit within Tau Ceti's habitable zone, though a cloud of debris and asteroids may pose a threat to any life on them.

* If the result is confirmed, independent astronomers say it would be "astonishing.

* Astronomers may have just hit a crucial milestone in the search for other Earth-like planets. Scientists from the University of Hertfordshire and University of California, Santa Cruz announced they've discovered four planets orbiting a nearby, sun-like star — two of which may be habitable.

Researchers have turned up thousands of planet candidates in recent years, about 10 of which may be small, rocky, and habitable like the Earth. You'd think most of these worlds would orbit suns like ours, but that's not the case, since such stars are so big and bright that they easily drown out the faint signals of tiny planets.

That's why the new discovery of four roughly Earth-size worlds — some 12 light-years away from our solar system — is all the more exciting.

"If true this discovery is absolutely phenomenal — that one of our nearest neighboring sun-like stars might have rocky worlds," Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at MIT who wasn't involved in the research, told Business Insider in an email.

Worlds in the closest sun-like solar system

The suspected planets all orbit Tau Ceti, a star located 11.9 light-years away from us, according to a forthcoming study in The Astrophysical Journal. (You can read a pre-print version of the paper on arXiv.)

The star is about three-quarters the mass of the sun, but its brightness and color are very sun-like. It's the closest sun-like star to Earth.

The planets' sizes aren't known yet, but they're estimated to have about 1.7 times the Earth's mass. That would make them the smallest planets ever detected around a distant sun-like star, according to a press release emailed by the University of Hertfordshire.

Two of the four worlds orbit in a searing-hot zone close to Tau Ceti. The other two "super-Earths" seem to orbit within a "Goldilocks" habitable zone, where water on the surface can be liquid (rather than frozen solid or boiled away), according to a press release by the University of California Santa Cruz.

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Two things make this particular discovery stunning to astronomers like Seager.

First, our solar system is the only place we know where life exists, which means that sun-like stars may be the best places to look for life (though there is some debate about whether smaller, cooler red dwarf stars could be better to explore).

Second, it's incredibly difficult to spy a relatively tiny planet in the figurative shadow of a sun-like star.

"Earth is so small in mass compared to its host sun-like star that finding the signal amidst the noise is really like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack," Seager added. "The authors have come up with a special technique to get rid of the noise to find the signal. It's always a tricky situation to look for very weak signals."

Full story here: http://www.businessinsider.com/earth-si ... tem-2017-8
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:42 pm

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launching of Voyager 2.

A gallery of Voyagers greatest hits—and they are truly great

Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 which, at the time, confused the heck out of the press and public because it actually launched before Voyager 1. Why did they launch the second probe first? Because Voyager 2 was going to follow a longer trajectory to reach the Jupiter system, allowing it to fly by Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Voyager 1 launched 16 days later on a faster track optimized to fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and make a relatively close pass of Saturn's intriguing moon Titan.

Further Reading: The Voyagers have reached an anniversary worth celebrating

The missions, of course, were smashing successes. Voyager 1 reached Jupiter on March 5, 1979, about four months before its twin. Scientists weren't sure what they would find out there. Pioneer 10 and 11 had given them some insights about Jupiter and Saturn as gas giants, but little information was known about the many moons of these worlds. Most scientists thought they would probably be a lot like the cold, dark, and lifeless moons of Earth and Mars.

They were anything but. When you talk to the scientists involved with the Voyagers and ask when they knew their missions would reveal something entirely different and truly otherworldly, they point toward the discovery of volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io. Until then, the only known active volcanoes in the Solar System were on Earth. Here was a small moon with 10 times the volcanic activity.

"That was really the wake-up call that we were in for a journey that was even much more spectacular in terms of what we were going to discover than we could imagine," said Ed Stone, who has been Voyager's chief scientist since the program started in 1972. "There were many. That's really the wonderful thing about Voyager. But if I had to pick one that was symbolic, Io was it."

Can't embed photos, so click here to view both gallaries: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/08 ... lebrating/
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