Saturn's moon Titan is the only other body in the Solar System besides Earth known to have liquids on its surface. In Titan's case, they are rivers, lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons (methane/ethane) instead of water. There is even methane/ethane rain, which further mimics Earth's hydrological cycle. For the most part, the lakes and seas are fairly smooth, with only small amounts of wave activity. But now, new research suggests that those lakes and seas might be quite fizzy at times - with periodic bursts of nitrogen bubbles.
It's been a long time coming, but NASA's new mission to Jupiter's moon Europa now has a formal name: Europa Clipper. The spacecraft, to be launched in the early 2020s, will conduct multiple close flybys of the moon, with the goal of determining just how habitable it actually is. With a global salty ocean just beneath its icy crust, Europa is thought to be one of the best places in the Solar System to search for possible alien life.
When it comes to places in the Solar System to search for possible alien life, Saturn's moon Enceladus is now right near the top of the list. Like Jupiter's moon Europa, it has a subsurface ocean of water, and even plumes/geysers of water vapor which erupt from fissures in the icy surface near the south pole. Those plumes contain organics as discovered by the Cassini probe and there is evidence for hydrothermal activity on the ocean floor, just like on Earth. The fissures are warmed by heat from below, and now there is evidence that some of them are even warmer than expected, meaning that water could be closer to the surface than previously thought.
Throughout the history of modern UFO research, there have been many reports of crashed flying saucers and dead alien bodies being shipped off to destinations unknown. And while many of these reports come from dubious and less than credible witnesses, there are those rare occasions when the story rests on the shoulders of extremely prominent and highly credible individuals. Such was the case for Clark B. McClelland, former Spacecraft Operator of the NASA Space Shuttle Fleet.
"If you are present in the future of your own choice, looking at your past, and laughing about it; does it mean that, if you are present in the past, looking at the future of your choice, you are excited?" Zorak. 05.25.15
The seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1 generated a lot of excitement when their discovery was announced last month. This is the largest collection of Earth-sized worlds in one planetary system found so far, and some of them are well within the star's "habitable zone" where temperatures could allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Little else is known about the actual conditions on these planets so far, but NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has also been observing TRAPPIST-1 in recent weeks.
It was in January of 2017 when, due to a lawsuit, the CIA was forced to release over thirteen million previously declassified files online to the public. These files were wide-ranging, including such topics as recipes for invisible ink, UFO cases, and even files pertaining to Project Stargate, a government-funded project which dealt with psychic powers and extrasensory perception. And while this was intriguing, to say the least, one psychic claims that he was used for an operation that stretched every boundary of his own abilities.
Mars is a busy place these days, with multiple rovers and orbiters exploring the planet. Out of the several spacecraft currently in orbit, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) is a fairly recent addition, having been at Mars for just over two years now. Usually, things are pretty routine, but this week the spacecraft had to make an unplanned evasive maneuver - to avoid a collision with one of Mars' two small moons, Phobos!
The discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1 generated a lot of excitement last week. Earth-sized planets have been found before, among the thousands of exoplanets discovered so far by astronomers, but this is the first time that so many have been detected in one planetary system. As of now, astronomers are limited in how much they can learn about these new worlds, but the James Webb Space Telescope, the upcoming successor to Hubble due to launch in 2018, will be able to gather more data and analyze whatever atmospheres these planets have, perhaps bringing us closer to finding another habitable world.
The news of the discovery of a solar system with possibly several exoplanets within the habitable-zone was just announced. For many of us in the scientific community that study biology, chemistry, astrobiology, etc, this is Wonderland. Thoughts and questions are added and manipulated in our brains like ingredients of a gourmet stew. And we are ready to eat.
Astronomers have discovered what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting exoplanet systems of recent years; seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting a red dwarf star only 40 light years away. What makes this find extraordinary is that all seven may have oceans of liquid water and three may even harbor life itself.
The image above comes from ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, an ESA mission with participation from NASA. It was obtained as part of Herschel's Hi-GAL key-project, which imaged the entire plane of the Milky Way in five different infrared bands.