Weekly Space Hangout – December 30, 2016: Nancy Atkinson’s “Incredible Stories from Space” Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: This week’s guest is Nancy Atkinson, an editor and writer for Universe Today, and is the author of a book about NASA’s robotic space missions, “Incredible Stories From Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She was the editor in chief for Space Lifestyle Magazine and also has had articles published on Wired.com, Space.com, NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine, Space Times magazine, and several newspapers in the Midwest. She has been involved with several space-related podcasts, including Astronomy Cast, 365 Days ofRead More →

Opportunity Celebrates Christmas/New Year on Mars Marching to Ancient Water Carved Gully NASA’s Opportunity rover scans around and across to vast Endeavour crater on Dec. 19, 2016, as she climbs steep slopes on the way to reach a water carved gully along the eroded craters western rim. Note rover wheel tracks at center. This navcam camera photo mosaic was assembled from raw images taken on Sol 4587 (19 Dec. 2016) and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo On the brink of 4600 Sols of a profoundly impactful life, NASA’s long lived Opportunity rover celebrates the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season on Mars marching relentlessly towards anRead More →

What Are Fossil Fuels? The term “fossil fuels” is thrown about quite a lot these days. More often than not, it comes up in the context of environmental issues, Climate Change, or the so-called “energy crisis”. In addition to be a major source of pollution, humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels has led to a fair bit of anxiety in recent decades, and fueled demands for alternatives. But just what are fossil fuels? While most people tend to think of gasoline and oil when they hear these words, it actually applies to many different kinds of energy sources that are derived from decomposed organic material. HowRead More →

NASA Might Build an Ice House on Mars At first glance, a new concept for a NASA habitat on Mars looks like a cross between Mark Watney’s inflatable potato farm from “The Martian” and the home of Luke’s Uncle Owen on Tatooine from “Star Wars.” The key to the new design relies on something that may or may not be abundant on Mars: underground water or ice. The “Mars Ice Home” is a large inflatable dome that is surrounded by a shell of water ice. NASA said the design is just one of many potential concepts for creating a sustainable home for future Martian explorers.Read More →

What is Alternative Energy? In recent years, alternative energy has been the subject of intense interest and debate. Thanks to the threat of Climate Change, and the fact that average global temperatures continue to rise year after year, the drive to find forms of energy that will reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels, coal, and other polluting methods has naturally intensified. While most concepts for alternative energy are not new, it has only been in the past few decades that the issue has become pressing. And thanks to improvements in technology and production, the costs of most forms of alternative energy has been dropping whileRead More →

First Light for Band 5 at ALMA The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile has begun observing in a new range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This has been made possible thanks to new receivers installed at the telescope’s antennas, which can detect radio waves with wavelengths from 1.4 to 1.8 millimetres — a range previously untapped by ALMA. This upgrade allows astronomers to detect faint signals of water in the nearby Universe. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →

Spinning Black Hole Swallowing Star Explains Superluminous Event An extraordinarily brilliant point of light seen in a distant galaxy, and dubbed ASASSN-15lh, was thought to be the brightest supernova ever seen. But new observations from several observatories, including ESO, have now cast doubt on this classification. Instead, a group of astronomers propose that the source was an even more extreme and very rare event — a rapidly spinning black hole ripping apart a passing star that came too close. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →

Dark Matter May be Smoother than Expected Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey, made with ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought. An international team used data from the Kilo Degree Survey (KiDS) to study how the light from about 15 million distant galaxies was affected by the gravitational influence of matter on the largest scales in the Universe. The results appear to be in disagreement with earlier results from the Planck satellite. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →

First Signs of Weird Quantum Property of Empty Space? By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetised neutron star using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarisation of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →