3 posts tagged with nasa by saulgoodman.
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NASA recently announced that the latest results from NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars provide clear physical evidence that Mars once had all the conditions necessary to support life. Despite the skeptical reception given to recent news that the rover may also have found indirect evidence of organic compounds and active microbiological activity, other recent scientific results have gone even further. One Australian study from 2011 concluded, given what we know about Mars now, 3% of its total volume (as compared to 1% of Earth's) is likely habitable to known terrestrial lifeforms. And more recently, further analysis of the results of experiments performed by the 1976 Viking Lander mission suggests that we have likely detected active microbiological activity on Mars already, with one researcher going so far as to claim a 99% certainty that those earlier results detected life. (Previously).
In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a scheme for virtual faster than light travel using a real-world analog to the familiar science fiction trope known as "Warp Drive." The basic premise exploited certain space-time warping effects predicted by General Relativity to fold space-time, theoretically allowing a specially designed space craft to reach distant destinations effectively at FTL speeds without actually having to accelerate to light speed or beyond at all. There was, however, at least one major problem with the proposal: The math suggested it would require as much energy as the mass of the planet Jupiter to power the thing. But according to newer calculations based on a modified version of Alcubierre's original proposal, warp speed travel may now theoretically be within reach (warning: eyeball-gouging Space.com link), requiring drastically less energy than originally thought. Of course, not everyone's convinced there's anything to see here. And even so, prohibitive energy input requirements may not be the only serious challenge facing the development of real-world warp drive technology, so don't go packing your bags for that long overdue vacation to Risa just yet.
In the five day period between July 8th and July 12th, Greenland saw a dramatic and unprecedentedly rapid thawing across 97% of its surface ice cover. Initially, NASA and other experts questioned the satellite data, viewing such a rapid melting as too unlikely to be true, but NASA has since confirmed the results. [more inside]