NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory recently detected
[reg required] the largest explosion ever detected in the universe: an eruption releasing the energy of hundreds of millions of gamma ray bursts
. Just to put it in perspective, a single GRB
releases enough radiation to wipe out
just about everything human beings would require for survival in a 1000 light year radius. (The Milky Way spans ~100,000 light years, while the United Federation of Planets
spans about 8,000). Arthur C. Clarke has gone so far as suggesting that GRBs might be one of the reasons for Extra-Terrestrial silence: Gamma Ray Bursts
are so large and inescapable, a single one would wipe out even an enormous galactic empire. Makes killer asteroids
seem downright quaint
posted by absalom
on Jan 8, 2005 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
The largest solar flare of the current solar cycle
shot off the sun earlier today. After the media latched on to what was predicted to be mostly a non-event last week (probably due to a NASA article released around the same time about a super spacestorm
) , it's not making as much news this time. But you should pay attention this time
. This could be the best and last chance for a lot of us farther south to see some auroras before the sun dives into solar minimum, assuming all the variables line up
correctly this time. I recommend watching the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
, as it is a great all around resource for solar activity and auroras that includes live data and sightings reports by the general public. Unfortunately though, no doubt as word IS spreading, that site is being hammered again and may be quite slow.
posted by yupislyr
on Oct 28, 2003 -
NASA's Official 'Galileo Dies' Page.
Galileo is set to crash into Jupiter on Sunday. Responsible for many great images
and tons of information, Galileo served well. Find a complete history of the Galileo mission here
. Also, don't forget to watch the End of Mission webcast this Sunday at approx. 2 PM EST here
posted by Ufez Jones
on Sep 16, 2003 -
Asteroid orbits Enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet, and a 3D orbit visualization tool will appear for that object
If Chicken Little had this link he might have calmed down a little. Or not...Find out if your favorite asteroid is about to rock your world.
posted by konolia
on Sep 2, 2003 -
The Microwave Anisotropy Probe
's long-awaited map
of the afterglow of the big bang
was released today, and all of a sudden, most of the uncertainty in the concordance model of cosmology has disappeared. We now know, to within 1%, that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. We now know that Hubble constant is 71, plus or minus 4. And though the results agreed stunningly well with the weird picture
that cosmologists have about the nature of the cosmos, there was one surprise -- the first stars were born way before expected. Great day for science, and a likely future Nobel.
posted by ptermit
on Feb 11, 2003 -
--and promise to as brighter or brighter than last year:
NASA scientists' predictions for the 2002 Leonid meteor storm.
Such meteor storms rarely happen in consecutive years, but 2001 and 2002 are exceptions. Experts have just released their predictions: Depending on where you live (Europe and the Americas are favored) Leonid meteor rates in 2002 should equal or exceed 2001 levels.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Moon will be full when the storm begins on Nov. 19th. Glaring moonlight will completely overwhelm many faint shooting stars. Indeed, I often hear that the Moon is going to "ruin the show."
We shall see.
posted by y2karl
on Nov 16, 2002 -
Swan song for a great explorer.
Tomorow, the Galileo explorer will make a flyby of Jovian moon Amalthea
ending pehaps the geatest unmanned mission in NASA history. Galileo telemetry may not survive the flyby having already receieved much more radiation than it was designed for. Even if it does survive, this will be its final orbit scheduled to crash into Jupiter in September of next year. In spite of antenna difficulties, the spacecraft returned many beautiful images
of Jupiter's moons, along with coverage of the Shoemaker-Levy collision
and the first atmospheric probe to decend into Jupiter's weather.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Nov 3, 2002 -
The Solar System Simulator
to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like
posted by RobertLoch
on Mar 27, 2002 -
Puzzling X-rays from Jupiter
"We weren't surprised to find x-rays coming from Jupiter." Other observatories had done that years ago. The surprise is what Chandra has revealed for the very first time: the location of the beacon -- surprisingly close the planet's pole -- and the regular way it pulses. (Via Fark.)
posted by Mwongozi
on Mar 7, 2002 -
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 -
in a search for evidence of Big Bangs! So far the popular vote indicates most are in favor of the spending--whatever the cnn data is worth. Am I the only one who'd prefer it spent on my undergrad work, or even biosciences research?
posted by greyscale
on Jul 1, 2001 -
of the Space Shuttle and the ray of "shadow" from the moon is pretty cool. I even think I buy the explanation.
posted by aflakete
on Feb 19, 2001 -
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 -
This reminded me of one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.
Once on vacation in Eastern Oregon, there was a total eclipse of the moon, just like this one. And some people nearby were taking photographs of it.
photographs. The round-trip time to the moon at the speed of light is 3 seconds and I wouldn't even want to calculate the attenuation caused by 320,000 miles of range.
Sometimes it seems as if some people are completely and totally clueless about what they're doing.
posted by Steven Den Beste
on Jul 25, 2000 -
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 -