Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
That was the consensus of a panel on the search for life in the universe held at NASA headquarters Monday in Washington. The discussion focused not only on the philosophical question of whether we're alone in the universe but also on the technological advances made in an effort to answer that question.
"We believe we're very, very close in terms of technology and science to actually finding the other Earth and our chance to find signs of life on another world," said Sara Seager, a MacArthur Fellow and professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
NASA's focus for human spaceflight seems to change every few years as we learn something new about what it will take to keep human beings alive out there. However, NASA usually picks one of a few targets. Will we go to Mars next, maybe back to the Moon, or perhaps an asteroid is a better option? NASA's Langley Research Center has put forward an interesting proposal — instead of the traditional choices, why not make the trip to Venus?
Sure, a human would be almost instantly annihilated on Venus' hellish surface, but not if they're floating among the clouds in a solar powered airship. This mission calls for a 129-meter airship, called the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), which has a small habitat suspended below and solar panels for power.
It may be one of the most famous dinosaurs of all time. The trouble is that shortly after being discovered, the Jurassic creature fell into an identity crisis. The name for the long-necked, heavy-bodied herbivore Brontosaurus excelsus—the great "thunder lizard"—was tossed into the scientific wastebasket when it was discovered that the dinosaur wasn't different enough from other specimens to deserve its own distinct genus.
But now, in a paleontological twist, Brontosaurus just might be back. A new analysis of dinosaur skeletons across multiple related species suggests that the original thunder lizard is actually unique enough to resurrect the beloved moniker, according to researchers in the U.K. and Portugal.
It lies close to the direction of the open cluster Messier 52. The "bubble" is created by the stellar wind from a massive hot, 8.7 magnitude young central star, the 15 ± 5 M☉ SAO 20575 (BD+60 2522). The nebula is near a giant molecular cloud which contains the expansion of the bubble nebula while itself being excited by the hot central star, causing it to glow.
Buffeted by the solar wind, Comet Lovejoy's crooked ion tail stretches over 3 degrees across this telescopic field of view, recorded on February 20. The starry background includes awesome bluish star Phi Persei below, and pretty planetary nebula M76 just above Lovejoy's long tail. Also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula, after its brighter cousin M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 is only a Full Moon's width away from the comet's greenish coma. Still shining in northern hemisphere skies, this Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is outbound from the inner solar system some 10 light-minutes or 190 million kilometers from Earth. But the Little Dumbbell actually lies over 3 thousand light-years away. Now sweeping steadily north toward the constellation Cassiopeia Comet Lovejoy is fading more slowly than predicted and is still a good target for small telescopes.
Simon Beck has spent the past decade tracing beautiful patterns into snow-covered mountains and lakes using nothing but snowshoes and some basic math knowledge.
The British cartographer/artist started incorporating fractal patterns into his work after reading "Chaos: Making a New Science," a 1987 book written by former New York Times reporter James Gleick, Discovery News reported.
"When I did my first drawing, I had no idea how good it was going to look," Beck told CNN. "It's just so unusual and unique. No one else is doing anything like it."