Space

Mars Rover Curiosity Comes Across Methane, But No Distinct Proof Of Life

14-330a_0Methane. A chemical that results from decay of organice matter, was read by the Mars Curiosity Rover. Measured in the atmosphere around the rover, along with organic molecules in a rock-powder sample via drill, has been the best evidence for life on Mars. Back in 2013, the methane recorded in the atmosphere were was too low to support living microbes — 1.3 parts per billion. However, recording over 20 months show that the amount varies, and that on average, 7 parts per billion of methane exists on the red planet.

Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan and a member of the Curiosity rover science team, has this to say about the new results, “This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” and that, “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”

Furthermore, Curiosity found organic materials in the rock-powder sample, however skepticism remains, as the organic material could have been delivered by metoreitites.

Time (and science) will tell. Via: NASA

Short Film ‘Wanderers’ Imagines The Day We Conquer The Solar System

zlsjgp4fodtalxwrvowgComplete with layered narration by the late Carl Sagan. In less than four minutes, ‘Wanderers’ captivates and demonstrates how the human race might conquer the solar system, with beautiful imagery and motions, some of them not entirely artisitc; in fact many of the shots that were edited for the purpose of the film originated from actual phtoography and information provided by NASA.

It’s excellent, and is best heard with headphones in a dark room. Do it after the line break; you will understand why.

Via: Wanderers, Giz

Japanese Company: We’ll Build A Space Elevator By 2050

space-elevatorWhile NASA has been attempting to find the right tools to build a space elevator, Japanese construction company Obayashi is stating that it will have a functional space station by 2050, which will cover 96,000 kilometers (roughly 60,000 miles) into space, with the ability to transfer humans and cargo. The entire trip will last 7 days, the destination of which will be a space station built specifically for the Obayashi elevator.

Also, in case you were wondering: the space cable will most likely be built out of carbon nanotechnology, which according to Obayashi’s Research and Development Manager, Yoji Ishikawa, should be available “by 2030”.

ViaCNBC

NASA Is Giving Code Away To The Public For Over 1,000 Programs

nasalogoIn the spirit of openness and more so, allowing for creativity on a new scale, NASA will be releasing code for over 1,000 programs that the agency has used for years, starting April 10th.

An example of the applications available include life support systems, aeronautics and, as Wired found out, even cryogenics, all available online for your lengthy examination and experimentation. The age of the code: 40-years-old, running till the present, including the code for rockets on the Apollo 11 mission.

The information will be distributed to SourceForge, GitHub and NASA’s website, but next year will be consolidated in one database, for ease of access.

Via: NASA, Wired

Scientists Find The Blazing Hot Sister Planet To Earth, Called Kepler-78b

Kepler 78-bKepler 78-b is very similar to Earth. It features a similar mass and composition, with lots of rock and iron in the surface. It’s only 1.2 times wider than the Earth, and orbits a star that  gives it sufficient energy like the Earth. The difference? As researcher Andrew Howard states:

“From an Earth-centric perspective, we’d like to have liquid water on the surface [and] this planet is obviously way too hot.”

That’s what kills it for us. Kepler-78b is 100 times closer to its star than Earth, so its orbit is only 8.5 hours and a surface temperature of — wait for it — 3700 to 5100ºF. Asinine levels of UV radiation coupled with that and lots of lava, and you have a planet that could never realistically support an Earth-like atmosphere; forget about your terraforming project, kiddies.

Meanwhile, scientists are still interested in researching the planet, one reason being of which: why didn’t it fall into the star at some point?

Via: Nature

Curiosity Makes It Official: Water Can Be Mined From Soil On Mars

MarsIt’s amazing news when it comes to the characteristics of other planets, but doesn’t bolster the idea of life in places besides Earth. It’s confirmed via samples taken from the Mars Curiosity rover under NASA’s control, that water attached to molecules is in the soil — a much more accessible place than the ice caps of Mars, or even closer to the core.

To find out all of this, the Mars Science Laboratory Team used a device known as the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.

As lead author Laurie Leshin, dean of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, puts it, a baby aspirin-sized piece of the sample was fed into a tiny cup in Curiosity’s on-board laboratory, then heated to temperatures of 835 degrees Celsius (over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit). The gases that came off revealed the discovery.

There are few caveats, however. First of all, this doesn’t confirm life on Mars — it only tells us that water is technically, in abundance, if we mine it from the soil. Secondly, the sample also revealed the presence of perchlorate, which can limit thyroid hormone production — a manageable risk, but one nonetheless.

But overall, this is awesome.

Via: NASA

So, Who Technically Owns The Moon (As Explained By Vsauce)?

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-EarthriseSince the 1967 Outer Space Treaty says that everything in space is the “common heritage of mankind,” it makes it kind of difficult to define to whom the moon belongs, but as things change, so do the rules.

In the video, Vsauce explains the numerous scenarios, treaties, and technical information regarding ownership of the moon, and if it really belongs to anyone in particular.

It’s also a pretty cool subject to bring up with friends, if the ownership of celestial bodies is your cup of tea. Watch it after the break.
Via: Vsauce

NASA Creates An Animation Illustrating How They’d Capture An Asteroid

nasa-captureBy capturing an asteroid and having astronauts depart from the Orion spacecraft, NASA could actually break off chunks of rock for examination back on Earth. But, the whole process is much more detailed than that, because NASA’s true goals is actually to find, capture, re-direct and study the asteroid.

The path for human astronauts to embark upon would require a robotic asteroid capture vehicle, where they would spacewalk to get the job done. Pretty awesome; watch it after the break.

ViaNASA