Posted: August 7th, 2014 | Author: Michael Courtenay | Filed under: Applied Science, Astrophysical, Favorite New Thought, From The Web | Tags: 67P-Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA, European Space Agency, Philae, Space Exploration | Comments Off on Rosetta on Final Approach to Comet Landing
In the most complex space mission since the moon landing, an attempt to land a spacecraft on a comet. Launched by the European Space Agency, Rosetta has become the first ever spacecraft to catch up with a comet, a landmark stage in a decade-long space mission that scientists hope will help unlock some of the secrets of the solar system.
The Rosetta spacecraft has travelled six billion kilometres using the gravitational forces of Earth and Mars to slingshot towards the five-kilometre-wide comet. The craft is now within 100 kilometres and considered to be on its final approach :: Read the full article »»»»
Posted: February 26th, 2012 | Author: Michael Courtenay | Filed under: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysical, Cankler Science News | Tags: Astobiology, astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth's Atmosphere, Earthshine, Science News, University of Melbourne | Comments Off on Earthshine: The New Way We Search For Life
Scientists have developed a new method to study reflected light from the Earth that can correctly measure the amount of cloud cover, ocean and vegetation on our planet. The research, reported in the journal Nature, will allow astronomers to eventually study the atmospheric and surface features of planets in other solar systems. Scientists including Dr Michael Sterzik from the European Southern Observatory in Chile used spectroscopy and light polarisation to look for chemical bio-signatures in Earthshine – sunlight reflected by the Earth onto the surface of the Moon and back again.
Light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere contains a tell-tale spectrum revealing the elements within the gas. It is also strongly polarised by scattering from air molecules, aerosols and cloud particles, and by reflection off the oceans and land. By combining these characteristics in a technique called spectropolarimetry, Sterzik and colleagues successfully obtained information about the Earth from reflected light that wouldn’t be achieved by normal spectroscopic readings alone. Read the full article »»»»
Posted: February 23rd, 2012 | Author: Marcus Dangerfield | Filed under: Astrobiology, Astrophysical | Tags: Constellation of Ophiuchus, GJ1214b, Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, Hubble, MEarth Project | Comments Off on Waterworld: GJ1214b Like No Other Planet We Know
Attempting to visit recently discovered planet GJ1214b would land any astronaut in hot water – literally – U.S. scientists say. Researchers at the CfA – Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics – said they have identified a new kind of planet, dominated not by rock, gas or other common materials – but water. The planet is “a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere”, they said in a statement after scrutinising the planet with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
GJ1214b was discovered in 2009 by the ground-based MEarth Project. “GJ1214b is like no planet we know of,” astronomer Zachary Berta said. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.” In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. However, their observations could also be explained by the presence of a planet-enshrouding haze in GJ1214b’s atmosphere. Read the full article »»»»