Tag Archives | Space

The Dark Matter Map

Dark MatterSo that’s what’s out there … Jason Palmer reports from the annual American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin for BBC News:

Researchers have released the biggest images yet detailing dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up three-quarters of the Universe’s mass.

Each image, a billion light-years across, shows vast dark matter clumps and voids scattered through the cosmos.

The team from the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope inferred the dark matter’s existence by the way it bends light.

The images were presented at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, US.

The four images were taken at four different seasons of the year, each capturing a swath of the sky about as large as a palm held at arm’s length.

They are a big step forward in understanding both dark matter itself, and the means by which dark matter influences the way normal matter clumps into the galaxies we see in the night skies.

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Earth Always Has Two Moons

Fig_250rA group of Cornell astrophysicists say that at any given time, Earth always has a very small second moon orbiting. That’s the moon I like most. Phenomenica writes:

The Earth has always had a temporary second moon, new study has claimed. When astronomers caught sight of a mysterious titanium white object circling around the Earth in 2006, they assumed it was a spent rocket. But it was actually a small asteroid captured by the Earth’s gravitational field that rotated around the Earth until June 2007.

In the new study, astrophysicists at Cornell claim that this little moon was not an anomaly as these asteroids come and go so often it means our planet always has a temporary second moon.

According to Cornell University’s Mikael Granvik, Jeremie Vaubaillon and Robert Jedicke, they have calculated the population of “irregular natural satellites that are temporarily captured” by Earth.

In their study, researchers say that while these moons are small, the scientific implications of this discovery are phenomenal.

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White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars

MarsFrom Wired:

Forget Kenya. Never mind the secret madrassas. The sinister, shocking truth about Barack Obama’s past lies not in east Africa, but in outer space. As a young man in the early 1980s, Obama was part of a secret CIA project to explore Mars. The future president teleported there, along with the future head of Darpa.

That’s the assertion, at least, of a pair of self-proclaimed time-traveling, universe-exploring government agents. Andrew D. Basiago and William Stillings insist that they once served as “chrononauts” at Darpa’s behest, traversing the boundaries of time and space. They swear: A youthful Barack Obama was one of them.

Perhaps this all sounds fantastical, absurd, and more than a little nuts. We couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the reasons we love conspiracy theories — the more awesomely insane, the better. Each week during 2012, when the Mayans tell us to expect the apocalypse, Danger Room will peel back a new layer of crazy to expose those oh-so-cleverly hidden machinations powering this doomed plane of existence.

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Mystery Metal ‘Space Ball’

Do any disinfonauts have theories as to just what it might be? From AFP via Yahoo News:

A large metallic ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.

Space Ball

The hollow ball with a circumference of 1.1 metres (43 inches) was found near a village in the north of the country some 750 kilometres (480 miles) from the capital Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.

Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said.

With a diameter of 35 centimetres (14 inches), the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of “two halves welded together”.

It was made of a “metal alloy known to man” and weighed six kilogrammes (13 pounds), said Ludik…

[continues at AFP via Yahoo News]

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There’s No Such Thing As Empty Space

sparkle03There’s always something, says a Swedish study. Phenomenica reports:

Scientists claim to have produced particles of light out of vacuum, proving that space is not empty.

An international team says that its ingenious experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy, the ‘Nature’ journal reported.

In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short.

The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad “virtual” particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks.

The research, led by Chris Wilson of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, shows that a related dynamic effect can occur when such a mirror moves very fast through the vacuum.

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Presenting Earth 2.0

kepler22b-0Is this where humankind will be living in a couple millenia? In a solar system 600 light years away spins the newly-spotted Kebler 22-b, a rocky planet with oceans covering two-thirds of its surface, and balmy temperatures approximating 70 degrees. The Herald Sun reports on the greatest hope for a replacement Earth:

A newly discovered planet about 600 light years from our little rock has scientists around the world in a spin, with many heralding it as the best chance yet of containing alien life.

The find, announced early last week by NASA, was uncovered by the US space agency’s Kepler spacecraft, launched on a planet-hunting mission in 2009.

The planet, Kepler-22b, is 2.4 times bigger than Earth, orbits a star slightly smaller than our sun and has an average temperature of 22C. It is also closer to its sun-like star, giving it a “year” of 290 days.

What makes this discovery so exciting is that it is the smallest planet right in the middle of what has been dubbed the Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too hot and not too cold to either boil or freeze water, vital for life as we know it.

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Google’s Elevator To Space

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

I kid you not, some of the geniuses at Google are working on an elevator to space, as reported by Clare Cain Miller and Nick Bilton for the New York Times:

In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.

It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.

These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project.

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In 1883, Did Earth Narrowly Miss Comet That Would Have Destroyed All Life?

Schwassmann-Wachmann 3“If they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”

The biggest event which never happened and no one knows about? Offering a novel reinterpretation of some forgotten historical data, several Mexican researchers say a billion-ton comet may have passed a few hundred miles from Earth in 1883. Via Technology Review:

On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Bonilla published his account of this event in a French journal called L’Astronomie in 1886. Today, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a couple of pals, think that Bonilla must have been seeing fragments of a comet that had recently broken up.

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Around The World In One Minute Space Video

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.
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