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Cosmic pluralism: science, religion, and possible populations on Venus

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it became possible to believe in the existence of life on other planets on scientific grounds. Once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe according to Copernicus, once Galileo had aimed his telescope at the Moon and found it a rough globe with mountains and seas, the assumption of life on other planets became much less far-fetched. In general there were no actual differences between Earth and Venus, since both planets orbited the Sun, were of similar size, and possessed mountains and an atmosphere. If there is life on Earth, one may ponder why it could not also exist on Venus. In the extraterrestrial life debate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Moon, our closest celestial body, was the prime candidate for life on other worlds, although a number of scientists and scholars also speculated about life on Venus and on other planets, both within our solar system and beyond its frontiers. Venusians: the Planet Venus in the 18th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate (PDF), from The Journal of Astronomical Data (JAD) Volume 19, somewhat via NPR and their mention of amateur astronomer Thomas Dick's estimations of the populations of the other planets in our solar system (Archive.org online view of Celestial scenery, or, The Wonders of the planetary system displayed, 1845).
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 21, 2014 - 7 comments

Mars Opposition Season 2014: Images From Around the World

Last night, Mars did not so much as attack, but rather was in opposition.
posted by vrakatar on Apr 9, 2014 - 22 comments

If you plan on taking a trip to Jupiter, this is not the map to use.

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is a tediously accurate model of the Solar System that Josh Worth made to explain to his daughter just how difficult it is to go on holiday to Mars.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 5, 2014 - 69 comments

"Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction."

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from participating in a Mars colonization effort, citing pervasive risk for no "righteous reason." The Mars One project (previously) has penned a remarkably erudite reply.
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Feb 21, 2014 - 49 comments

Jupiter in motion, as photographed and drawn from Earth

Redditor bubbleweed took a five and half hour time-lapse of Jupiter, and made this gif to show Jupiter from Io's frame of reference [WARNING: 4.6mb GIF | alternate: 60kb HTML5 video]. But why simply photograph Jupiter, when you can take the time to really know the planet and draw it, repeatedly, as Frédéric Burgeot has done. His work included a flat texture map* which Pascal Chauvet turned into an animated version of Jupiter (Vimeo). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 14, 2014 - 21 comments

The Madness Of The Planets

I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 31, 2013 - 42 comments

Red Planet Blues

The trouble with terraforming Mars...
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2013 - 73 comments

Curiosity's First Anniversary

Twelve Months in Two Minutes; Curiosity's First Year on Mars. Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity! [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Aug 6, 2013 - 25 comments

Is There Snowboarding on Mars?

Why it might be possible to go snowboarding on Mars.
posted by homunculus on Jun 12, 2013 - 10 comments

Mars: Cosmic Bullseye?

Will Mars be rocked by a massive comet in 2014? Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. A comet will definitely pass close to the Red Planet on October 19, 2014. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Mar 1, 2013 - 41 comments

Planet Four

With the help of Stargazing Live, 10,506 citizen scientists are exploring the surface of Mars like never before.
posted by Dr. Fetish on Jan 9, 2013 - 8 comments

The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea

Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea. Desolation and the Sublime on a Distant Planet. Mars-inspired artwork, commisioned by NASA, by Kahn & Selesnick (previously). [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2012 - 11 comments

For once, clouds are a good thing

One of the neater aspects of astronomy is that amateurs often make significant contributions to the field. A few nights ago Wayne Jaeschke found a strange cloud feature in his Mars images. He posted his findings to the site Cloudy Nights. It created a bit of a buzz there, as well as the wider media, (even MSNBC!). It has also piqued the interest of the pros. Researchers working with the Mars Thermal Emission Imaging System onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Mars Color Imager onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Observer are looking over their data to try to figure out exactly what it is they're seeing.
posted by dirigibleman on Mar 24, 2012 - 18 comments

March Madness!

Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
posted by bondcliff on Mar 5, 2012 - 48 comments

"A situation in many respects similar to ours"

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars.
Maps of the Martian canals. List of Martian Canals. Historical Globes of the Red Planet.
A modern perspective. The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery .
posted by timshel on Feb 12, 2012 - 26 comments

Best Of 2011: Space and Astronomy

Timelapse of the Year: an awe-inspiring trailer for the movie TimeScapes by Tom Lowe (full 4K version on YouTube/MP4 direct link). (Previously)
Rover Newcomer: Where In The Solar System is Curiosity?
Astronomy Photographer of the Year. The Top 24 Deep Space Pictures of 2011Top 14 Solar System PhotosTop 16 Space Photos.  (Images of a million-light-year long collision of galaxy clusters and a “stellar snow angel” didn’t make the cut, but should have).
Discovery of the Year: Opportunity uncovers conclusive proof that water flowed on Mars.
Astronomy Animation of the year: a zoom to the center of the Milky Way, and the supermassive black hole that is feeding there.
Lifetime Achievement: The Known Universe, a stunning three-minute zoom from the peak of the Himalayas to the edge of the cosmos, finally available in HD. (Previously).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Dec 15, 2011 - 6 comments

Clearly, it's not a rock...

An 'armchair astronomer' named David Martines has found something on Google Mars which he believes is some kind of space station. Allegedly, NASA is investigating the image. Another theory says that what he sees is a "linear streak artifact produced by a cosmic ray".
posted by anastasiav on Jun 6, 2011 - 104 comments

"I hope his wife is named Samantha."

The whole of Mars' surface was shaped by liquid water around four billion years ago, say scientists. Scientists with the best names possible for the job. [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Jun 26, 2010 - 19 comments

8 Wonders of the Solar System

8 Wonders of the Solar System, Made Interactive. "What might future explorers of the solar system see? Find out by taking an interactive tour through the eyes of Hugo Award-winning artist Ron Miller. Text and narration by Ed Bell." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 1, 2010 - 16 comments

Another dose of Martian awesome

The Forests of Mars featuring an avalanche on another planet. From the Bad Astronomy Blog. [more inside]
posted by blue_beetle on Jan 12, 2010 - 20 comments

Please Prepare For Landing

1,512 high-resolution images of Mars from the viewpoint of an airplane passenger. Previous photos: 1 2 3
posted by msalt on Sep 4, 2009 - 14 comments

Race To Mars

"Somewhere on the planet are ten-year-olds who, someday, will be the first people to set foot on Mars" 300 scientists and space-experts contributed to what's billed as "a realistic vision of the first Human Mission to Mars" -- Race to Mars. Discovery Channel Canada used Hollywood special effects, but for added realism rather than ray-guns and aliens. On the website, you can argue about whether they got it right. www.racetomars.ca
posted by richlach on Sep 7, 2007 - 24 comments

Space Oddity

Mars and Beyond - 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by madamjujujive on Jun 10, 2007 - 9 comments

The sun and mars

Mars as art and the sun as art.
posted by vronsky on May 19, 2007 - 20 comments

Face on Mars

Stunning video flyby of the "Face on Mars". Oh, and this one too. via
posted by grateful on Oct 24, 2006 - 18 comments

Spirit photographs Phobos and Deimos

Two Moons Passing in the Night. Mars rover Spirit took these sequential photos of Martian moons Phobos and Deimos passing overhead in the night sky. Those rovers are still going strong!
posted by brownpau on Sep 10, 2005 - 17 comments

90 Sols in 90 Seconds

With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit [5MB .mov] and Opportunity rovers [5MB .mov].
posted by fatbobsmith on May 18, 2004 - 11 comments

Life On Mars's Meethane Traces Thought To Be Detected

Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
posted by y2karl on Mar 28, 2004 - 25 comments

Mars Rover, Quicktime.

Next Best Thing to Being There. A Quicktime Mars Rover Simulation.
posted by kozad on Jan 17, 2004 - 8 comments

Lunar Photo of the Day

Lunar Photo of the Day started January 1st, 2004 to document human's never ending obsession with the moon. LPOD now joins APOD, MPOD, and ESPOD as quality picture of the day websites.
posted by jasonspaceman on Jan 7, 2004 - 2 comments

European Space Agency's webpage about the Mars Express / Beagle 2 project.

Mars ho! In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface. This is the first in a trifecta of landers destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers, Spirit and Opportunity, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
posted by warhol on Dec 23, 2003 - 25 comments

Mars is getting close, real close

"This summer Mars will be the brightest it will ever be in our lifetimes." On August 26–27 Mars will be the closest it has been in 60,000 years. Some viewing tips can be found here. You can generate different viewpoints with NASA's Solar System Simulator as some have done recently.
posted by john on Jul 18, 2003 - 11 comments

Earth from Mars

Pale Blue Dot: The Earth and Moon as photographed from Mars. Just in case you needed a bit of perspective.
posted by aladfar on May 22, 2003 - 14 comments

Is there Life on Mars?

Is there Life on Mars? As NASA announce a nuclear-powered Mars and beyond project, British scientists are looking forward to the launch of the Beagle 2 which will search for signs of life on the Red Planet. Is this the return of the Space Race in a new form? And will they find any sign of life?
posted by anyanka on Jan 22, 2003 - 3 comments

Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
posted by adrianhon on May 26, 2002 - 24 comments

Huge ice field found on Mars

Huge ice field found on Mars The Mars Odyssey orbiter has found a vast field of water ice stretching from the Martian south pole to 60 degrees south.
posted by Zool on Mar 4, 2002 - 29 comments

Did the Viking landers find life on Mars 25 years ago?

Did the Viking landers find life on Mars 25 years ago? Some scientists think so. I have too much faith in planetary scientists and the newly minted field of exobiology, to believe this is a just a ploy to rekindle waning public interest in space exploration. I think this is genuine 20/20 hindsight coupled with better scientific understandings of life existing in the extreme hinterlands of possibility. . .
posted by crasspastor on Jul 30, 2001 - 29 comments

It's official. There was life on Mars!!!

It's official. There was life on Mars!!! "I am convinced that this is supporting evidence for the presence of ancient life on Mars,'' said Kathie Thomas-Keprta, an astrobiologist at the space center and the first author of a study appearing Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
posted by zeoslap on Feb 26, 2001 - 12 comments

New career option! Be slave worker on the Martian surface!

New career option! Be slave worker on the Martian surface!
This is pretty cool, actually. It's an internet based pilot study run by NASA to identify and classify all of the craters on the surface of Mars. This is a big job. All you need is a IE 5 or Netscape 6 web browser. Since its inception on November 17, web users combined have contributed 111,938 crater-markings and 26,877 crater-classification.
posted by lagado on Jan 9, 2001 - 2 comments

NASA to announce 2005 mission to Mars.

NASA to announce 2005 mission to Mars. Forget the mapping missions. Send over some monkeys already!
posted by Brilliantcrank on Oct 27, 2000 - 9 comments

Adding to the list of weird shaped rock formations found on Mars

Adding to the list of weird shaped rock formations found on Mars is the heart shaped plateau, just in time for Valentine's Day.
posted by Mark on Feb 12, 2000 - 0 comments

The Mars Polar Lander was located

The Mars Polar Lander was located - briefly on eBay anyway... For a starting bid of a cool ten million, you could have owned a piece of American space ephemera. As of tonight, it still appears in the search results. You gotta love how eBay is fast becoming the place for current event-based consumerism. Vintage virus containers anyone?
posted by grant on Dec 7, 1999 - 1 comment

A Mars Lander is set to touch down on Mars

A Mars Lander is set to touch down on Mars sometime between December 1st and December 20th of this year. Keep your eyes peeled on this mars site, it will be the primary location of new information about the mission. I doubt if they find water on Mars though...
posted by mathowie on Nov 16, 1999 - 0 comments

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