Astronomy Cast Ep. 443: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 7: Tsunamis Surf’s up! Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most devastating natural disasters out there: tsunamis. We’re talking huge waves that wreck the seashore. But it turns out, there many ways you can get a tsunami, and one of those has to do with space. Visit the Astronomy Cast Page to subscribe to the audio podcast! We usually record Astronomy Cast as a live Google+ Hangout on Air every Friday at 1:30 pm Pacific / 4:30 pm Eastern. You can watch here on Universe Today or from the Astronomy Cast Google+ page.Read More →

Weekly Space Hangout – Mar 10, 2017: Nic DiPalma and Spacetime Labs Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: Nic DiPalma is the Founder and CEO of SpacetimeLabs, a ‘creative agency’ for science – a team of award-winning designers, producers, and developers creating brands, communication strategies, and digital content for the science community. With 20 years’ experience as a creative director, designer, and entrepreneur in educational media, public television, broadcast/cable news, corporate brand strategy, and experience design for web and mobile products, Nic is helping scientists and researchers engage the public to inspire a deeper connection and greater support. Guests: Kimberly Cartier ( KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartierRead More →

Comet Encke Reemerges in the Dawn Sky Comet 2P Encke glides through Pisces on February 16th. Image credit and copyright: Hisayoshi Kato. Miss out on Comet 45/P Honda-Mrkos-Padadušáková last month? We’ll admit, it was fairly underwhelming in binoculars… but fear not, there are several other binocular comets in the pipeline for 2017. Maybe you managed to catch sight of periodic Comet 2P Encke in late February after sunset before it disappeared into the Sun’s glare. Pronounced (En-Key), the comet actually passes through the field of view of the joint NASA/ESA Solar Heliospheric Observatory’s (SOHO) LASCO C3 camera from March 8th to March 14th before reemergingRead More →

SpaceX Conducts Successful Static Fire Test Permitting Post Midnight Spectacle with EchoStar 23 Comsat on March 14 SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of Falcon 9 booster on Mar 9, 2017 as seen from Space View Park, Titusville, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a pair of back to back postponements presumably due to technical gremlins, the third time proved to be the charm at last as SpaceX engineers carried out a successful engine test of the Falcon 9 first stage this evening (Mar. 9) atop historic pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The brief testRead More →

Are Fast Radio Bursts Evidence Of Alien Activity? The extremely energetic events that we see out there in the Universe are usually caused by cataclysmic astrophysical events and activities of one sort or another. But what about Fast Radio Bursts? A pair of astrophysicists at Harvard say that the seldom seen phenomena could, maybe, possibly, be evidence of an advanced alien technology. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short-lived radio pulses that last only a few milliseconds. It’s been assumed that they have some astrophysical cause. Fewer than 2 dozen of them have been detected since their discovery in 2007. They’re detected by our huge radioRead More →

The Future of Space Colonization – Terraforming or Space Habitats? The idea of terraforming Mars – aka “Earth’s Twin” – is a fascinating idea. Between melting the polar ice caps, slowly creating an atmosphere, and then engineering the environment to have foliage, rivers, and standing bodies of water, there’s enough there to inspire just about anyone! But just how long would such an endeavor take, what would it cost us, and is it really an effective use of our time and energy? Such were the questions dealt with by two papers presented at NASA’s “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” last week (Mon. Feb. 27th –Read More →

How Will NASA Find Life On Other Worlds? For a long time, the idea of finding life on other worlds was just a science fiction dream. But in our modern times, the search for life is rapidly becoming a practical endeavour. Now, some minds at NASA are looking ahead to the search for life on other worlds, and figuring out how to search more effectively and efficiently. Their approach is centered around two things: nano-satellites and microfluidics. Life is obvious on Earth. But it’s a different story for the other worlds in our Solar System. Mars is our main target right now, with the workRead More →

Rise of the Super Telescopes: The James Webb Space Telescope We humans have an insatiable hunger to understand the Universe. As Carl Sagan said, “Understanding is Ecstasy.” But to understand the Universe, we need better and better ways to observe it. And that means one thing: big, huge, enormous telescopes. In this series we’ll look at 6 of the world’s Super Telescopes: The Giant Magellan Telescope The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope The 30 Meter Telescope The European Extremely Large Telescope The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope“>James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or theRead More →

1st SLS 2nd Stage Arrives at Cape for NASA’s Orion Megarocket Moon Launch in 2018 Composite view of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) for first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at United Launch Alliance manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama in December 2016 (left) and arrival of ICPS in a canister aboard the firm’s Delta Mariner barge on March 7, 2017 (right). Credits: ULA (left) and Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com (right) PORT CANAVERAL – Bit by bit, piece by piece, the first of NASA’s SLS megarockets designed to propel American astronauts on deep space missions back to the Moon and beyond to Mars isRead More →

What Did Cassini Teach Us? Ask me my favorite object in the Solar System, especially to see through a telescope, and my answer is always the same: Saturn. Saturn is this crazy, ringed world, different than any other place we’ve ever seen. And in a small telescope, you can really see the ball of the planet, you can see its rings. It’s one thing to see a world like this from afar, a tiny jumping image in a telescope. To really appreciate and understand a place like Saturn, you’ve got to visit. And thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, that’s just what we’ve been doing forRead More →

How Long is Day on Mercury? Mercury is one of the most unusual planets in our Solar System, at least by the standards of us privileged Earthlings. Despite being the closest planet to our Sun, it is not the hottest (that honor goes to Venus). And because of its virtually non-existence atmosphere and slow rotation, temperatures on its surface range from being extremely hot to extremely cold. Equally unusual is the diurnal cycle on Mercury – i.e. the cycle of day and night. A single year lasts only 88 days on Mercury, but thanks again to its slow rotation, a day lasts twice as long!Read More →

Exploring Titan with Balloons and Landers Last week – from Monday, February 27th to Wednesday, March 1st – NASA hosted the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” at their headquarters in Washington, DC. In the course of the many presentations, speeches and panel discussions, NASA’s shared its many plans for the future of space exploration with the international community. Among the more ambitious of these was a proposal to explore Titan using an aerial explorer and a lander. Building upon the success of the ESA’s Cassini-Huygen mission, this plan would involve a balloon that would explore Titan’s surface from low altitude, along with a Mars Pathfinder-styleRead More →

Rise of the Super Telescopes: The Thirty Meter Telescope As Carl Sagan said, “Understanding is Ecstasy.” But in order to understand the Universe, we need better and better ways to observe it. And that means one thing: big, huge, enormous telescopes. In this series, we’ll look at six Super Telescopes being built: The Giant Magellan Telescope The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope 30 Meter Telescope The European Extremely Large Telescope Large Synoptic Survey Telescope James Webb Space Telescope The Thirty Meter Telescope The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is being built by an international group of countries and institutions, like a lot of Super Telescopes are. In fact,Read More →

Reading The Signs Of A Martian Mega-Flood The Mars Express probe was the European Space Agency’s first attempt to explore Mars. Since its arrival around the Red Planet in 2003, the probe has helped determine the composition of the atmosphere, map the mineral composition of the surface, studied the interaction between the atmosphere and solar wind, and taken many high-resolution images of the surface. And even after 14 years of continuous operation, it is still revealing interesting things about Mars and its past. The latest find comes from the Kasei Valles region, where the probe captured new images of the giant system of canyons. AsRead More →

Brightest ‘Spot’ on Ceres is Likely a Cryovolcano The bright regions on the dwarf planet Ceres have been some of the most talked about features in planetary science in recent years. While data from the Dawn spacecraft has shown these bright areas are salt deposits (alas, not lights of an alien city), the question remained of how these salts reached the surface. Researchers with the Dawn mission say they have now thoroughly investigated the complex geological structures in Occator crater, the region with the brightest regions on Ceres. The scientists conclude that a bright dome-like feature called Cerealia Facula is the remnant of a cryovolcanoRead More →

Mineral Points To A Water Rich Mars For years now, scientists have understood that Mars was once a warmer, wetter place. Between terrain features that indicate the presence of rivers and lakes to mineral deposits that appeared to have dissolved in water, there is no shortage of evidence attesting to this “watery” past. However, just how warm and wet the climate was billions of years ago (and since) has been a subject of much debate. According to a new study from an international team of scientists from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), it seems that Mars may have been a lot wetter thanRead More →

Towards A New Understanding Of Dark Matter Dark matter remains largely mysterious, but astrophysicists keep trying to crack open that mystery. Last year’s discovery of gravity waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) may have opened up a new window into the dark matter mystery. Enter what are known as ‘primordial black holes.’ Theorists have predicted the existence of particles called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS). These WIMPs could be what dark matter is made of. But the problem is, there’s no experimental evidence to back it up. The mystery of dark matter is still an open case file. When LIGO detected gravitationalRead More →

Carnival of Space #499 This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Brian Wang at his Next Big Future blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #499 And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to carnivalofspace@gmail.com, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want to help out, sign upRead More →

Messier 36 – The Pinwheel Cluster Welcome back to Messier Monday! In our ongoing tribute to the great Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the Pinweel Cluster, otherwise known as Messier 36. Enjoy! During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. Having originally mistaken them for comets, he began compiling a list of them so that others would not make the same mistake he did. In time, this list (known as the Messier Catalog) would come to include 100 of the most fabulous objects in the night sky. Included in this listRead More →

NASA’s Plans to Explore Europa and Other “Ocean Worlds” Earlier this week, NASA hosted the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” at their headquarters in Washington, DC. Running from Monday to Wednesday – February 27th to March 1st – the purpose of this workshop was to present NASA’s plans for the future of space exploration to the international community. In the course of the many presentations, speeches and panel discussions, many interesting proposals were shared. Among them were two presentations that outlined NASA’s plan for the exploration of Jupiter’s moon Europa and other icy moons. In the coming decades, NASA hopes to send probes to theseRead More →