Tag Archives | Solar System

Voyager Near Solar System’s Edge

Voyager 1Well done NASA. Looking forward to seeing this intrepid vehicle again when it returns to us as V’Ger. Jonathan Amos writes on BBC News:

Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.

Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it. These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.

It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space — the space between the stars.

Edward Stone, the Voyager project scientist, lauded the explorer and the fascinating science it continues to return 33 years after launch. “When Voyager was launched, the space age itself was only 20 years old, so there was no basis to know that spacecraft could last so long,” he told BBC News.

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Spanish Woman Claims Ownership of the Sun

SunReports the AFP via Google News:

MADRID— After billions of years the Sun finally has an owner — a woman from Spain’s soggy region of Galicia said Friday she had registered the star at a local notary public as being her property.

Angeles Duran, 49, told the online edition of daily El Mundo she took the step in September after reading about an American man who had registered himself as the owner of the moon and most planets in our Solar System.

There is an international agreement which states that no country may claim ownership of a planet or star, but it says nothing about individuals, she added.

“There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law. I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first.”

The document issued by the notary public declares Duran to be the “owner of the Sun, a star of spectral type G2, located in the centre of the solar system, located at an average distance from Earth of about 149,600,000 kilometres”.

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Bad News for Super-Villains: Blotting Out The Sun May Soon Be Banned

Burns and the SunMr. Burns: Smithers, have The Rolling Stones killed.
Smithers: But sir, the UN is responsible…
Burns: Do as I say!

Bad news for super-villains everywhere. Tim Wall writes in Discovery News:

Blotting out the sun has been the dream of many arch-villains, including The Simpson‘s Mr. Burns. Their schemes may soon be foiled by the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity.

Super villains aren’t the only ones who want to shade the Earth from the sun. Blocking some of the sun’s rays could slow climate change by reducing the amount of sunlight warming the Earth, say some researchers, such as Roger Angel of the University of Arizona.

The Convention may consider banning or limiting research into space sunshades. Some question their wisdom. A space sunshade would have a rapid effect on global warming and provide time to develop more permanent measures, they say. The technique has already received serious attention from NASA and other organizations.

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How Halley’s Comet Has Changed History Over the Past 2,500 Years

What a great article from Alasdair Wilkins on io9.com. Truly insightful. Alasdair Wilkins writes:
Halley's Comet

Ancient Greek texts reveal the earliest recorded sighting of the solar system’s most famous comet 2,500 years ago.

Since then, Halley’s Comet has repeatedly cameoed in history, getting credit for toppling armies, birthing empires, and even killing Mark Twain.

Halley’s Comet is the most famous of the short-period comets, which are comets that complete their eccentric orbits in 200 years or less.

It’s the only short-period comet that’s visible to the naked eye, and its 76-year circuit means it’s the one comet that pretty much everyone can hope to see once, if not twice, during their lifetime. Because of this uniqueness and its often dazzling appearances, it’s become something of humanity’s companion throughout human history, popping up again and again in historical records.

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Planet Earth As Seen From Planet Mercury

Planet Earth From MercuryIf the closest planet in the Solar System to the Sun was able to support life (as we understand it) this is what our homeworld would look like to them — a double planetary system (or more likely as perceived, a binary star) — from even our closest approach to them, 48 million miles away. So according to Mercurians, we are not a pale blue dot but instead a nearby, very bright, double-dotted neighbor. Ray Villard writes on Discovery News:

I never cease to be humbled and amazed when I see our Planet Earth reduced to a pinpoint when photographed from elsewhere in the solar system. So far, our planet-roaming spacecraft have taken tourist snapshots of Earth as seen from Mars, Saturn, and beyond Pluto’s obit.

But this latest view from NASA’s MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft is a jaw-dropper. For the first time we see Earth — in astronomical parlance — as a fully illuminated superior planet 114 million mile outward from Mercury.

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Jupiter Swallowed A Super-Earth: It’s One BAMF

Everyone knows Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, but new research suggests it was the baddest MF around, knocking off its competition before it could grow. David Shiga writes in New Scientist:
Jupiter Is A Gangster

Jupiter might have secured its position as the solar system’s mightiest planet by killing an up-and-coming rival, new simulations suggest. The work could explain why the planet has a relatively small heart, and paints a grisly picture of the early solar system, where massive, rocky “super-Earths” were snuffed out before they could grow into gas giants.

Jupiter and Saturn are thought to have begun life as rocky worlds with the mass of at least a few Earths. Their gravity then pulled in gas from their birth nebula, giving them dense atmospheres.

In this picture, all gas giants should have cores of roughly the same size. Yet spacecraft-based gravity measurements suggest Jupiter’s core weighs just two to 10 Earth masses, while Saturn’s comes in at 15 to 30.

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What Does The Sun Sound Like?

Scientists at the U.K.’s Sheffield University have released a recording of the sounds one would hear while standing inside the solar corona — the sun’s outer atmosphere. Giant magnetized plasma loops oscillate, creating a kind of music. This is what it sounds like to be on the sun:

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NASA Scientists Discover Evidence ‘That Alien Life Exists’ on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Andrew Hough writes in the Telegraph:

Researchers at the space agency believe they have discovered vital clues that appeared to indicate that primitive aliens could be living on the planet.

Data from Nasa’s Cassini probe has analysed the complex chemistry on the surface of Titan, which experts say is the only moon around the planet to have a dense atmosphere.

They have discovered that life forms have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel. Astronomers claim the moon is generally too cold to support even liquid water on its surface.

The research has been detailed in two separate studies.

The first paper, in the journal Icarus, shows that hydrogen gas flowing throughout the planet’s atmosphere disappeared at the surface. This suggested that alien forms could in fact breathe. The second paper, in the Journal of Geophysical Research, concluded that there was lack of the chemical on the surface.

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Jupiter Loses A Stripe

David Shiga writes on New Scientist:
Jupiter Loses A Stripe

Jupiter has lost one of its prominent stripes, leaving its southern half looking unusually blank. Scientists are not sure what triggered the disappearance of the band.

Jupiter’s appearance is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere — one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

But recent images taken by amateur astronomers show that the southern band — called the south equatorial belt — has disappeared.

The band was present at the end of 2009, right before Jupiter moved too close to the sun in the sky to be observed from Earth. When the planet emerged from the sun’s glare again in early April, its south equatorial belt was nowhere to be seen.

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