Blog Archives

A New Look at Pluto: Hey There Mister Blue, We’re So Pleased to Be With You…

Pluto's atmosphere shines blue in this color image from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Pluto’s thin atmosphere shines blue in this color image from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Not unlike what’s found here on Earth, the faraway dwarf planet* Pluto has a sky tinted blue with scattered sunlight, as seen in the latest image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft!

Read the rest of this entry

Deleted Scene From The Martian Shows Even MOAR SCIENCE!!1!

Have you gone to see The Martian yet? (And if you haven’t, my review of it may help speed you on your way.) Did you love it? Just kidding — of course you did. But did you read the book first? If you did, you may have noticed that a lot of Mark Watney’s hands-on science work didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. Which I can understand, because some people actually don’t want to sit in a theater for four hours watching science projects on the big screen. But a few of these scenes were still shot, the above being one of them shared on Twitter today by The Martian author Andy Weir. Check it out — it’s about an experiment called ChemCam, which is actually a real thing being used on Mars right now by the Curiosity rover!

(This also leads me to believe there will be an extended director’s cut of the film that will some day get released that includes all of the cut scenes in place, especially this one — it is Ridley Scott, after all!)

See more deleted scenes from The Martian on the Ares: live YouTube channel.

Surprise: Ceres’ Bright Spots are Probably Salt

Scientists are now

Scientists are now “pretty sure” that the bright spots in Ceres’ Occator crater are salt deposits. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

So now that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been in orbit around Ceres for seven months, has the nature of its strange bright spots finally been determined? Are they brilliantly reflective deposits of water ice, as many initially suspected? Or just some curiously-bright rock faces? (Or the metallic remains of an ancient alien space base, like more than a few folks have imagined?) As it turns out, Ceres’ bright spots may be none of these (and especially not that last one… puh-leeze) — they may be enormous deposits of salt.

Read the rest of this entry

One Space Blogger’s Review of The Martian

The Martian is a sci-fi film that's really a romance about science.

The Martian is a sci-fi adventure film that’s really a romance about science.

If you’re a space fan and you’ve decided to hold off seeing The Martian on opening weekend until you know what to expect, I totally understand — I very rarely see films on opening weekends myself (I have a thing about overcrowded theaters, but that’s another story.) And I also hate to be sorely disappointed in films, which is all too often the case when I’m going in with particularly high expectations. This of course was exactly what I had with The Martian, having read and enjoyed Andy Weir’s book shortly after it was published and subsequently being thrilled not even a year later to hear that one of my favorite directors (Sir Ridley Scott) would be making the movie version of the novel. But, being the big ol’ space geek that I am I felt I would have been amiss to not see the film ASAP, and so I went this past Saturday afternoon. Here’s what I thought of it.

(Spoiler: just writing this gives me a big smile, so you already kinda know how I feel!)

Read the rest of this entry

NASA Sciences the Sh*t Out of Mars, Finds Water

False-color image of a mountain on Mars with hundred-yard-long streaks running down its slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

False-color image of a mountain on Mars with hundred-yard-long streaks running down its slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

So on the same week that the highly-anticipated film “The Martian” opens in U.S. theaters (you are going to go see it, I assume) NASA revealed the latest discovery regarding the Red Planet: there is water on the surface there, salty rivulets that periodically run down steep slopes in Hale Crater and stain its sands with dark streaks.

It might not be something that Mark Watney would want to guzzle a glassful of, but it is a major finding for planetary scientists!

Read the rest of this entry

Comet 67P Confirmed To Be a Contact Binary

Comet 67P/C-G imaged by NavCam on July 7, 2015 (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Comet 67P/C-G imaged by NavCam on July 7, 2015 (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Ever since we got our first good look at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the approaching Rosetta spacecraft in 2014 it has been considered to be a textbook example of a contact binary, with its “rubber duckie” double-lobed shape consisting of an oval “head” and flat-bottomed “body” joined by a “neck.’ Now, using data gathered by Rosetta’s OSIRIS instrument while in permanent orbit, scientists are certain that this is indeed the case: 67P/C-G as we see it today was created by the slow-speed collision of two separate comets, each once an independent and fully-formed object in its own right (and not, as the alternate hypothesis suggested, via the gradual erosion of a once-larger single object.)

Read more about these findings and how they were determined on ESA’s Rosetta site here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27,334 other followers

%d bloggers like this: