Russian cosmonauts have discovered something remarkable clinging to the outside of the International Space Station: living organisms.
The microscopic creatures appeared during a space walk intended to clean the vessel's surface, and were allegedly identified — incredibly — as a type of sea plankton. This is big: According to Sploid, Russian scientists are both "shocked by [the] discovery and can't really explain how [it] is possible."
"Results of the experiment are absolutely unique," Russian ISS Orbital Mission Chief Vladimir Solovyev told the ITAR-TASS News Agency. "This should be studied further."
In 2011 the Ardbeg Distillery in Scotland partnered with Texas space research company NanoRacks to launch a vial of unmatured malt and charred oak pieces into orbit. The vial was launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket later that same year while an identical vial was kept as a control in the Ardbeg distillery. On September 12th, 2014 the vial is scheduled to return to Earth so the two can be compared. The hope in the experiment is to see how microgravity conditions affect the maturation process of whisky.
New atmospheric data for the gas giants indicates that carbon is abundant in its dazzling crystal form, they say.
Lightning storms turn methane into soot (carbon) which as it falls hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond.
These diamond "hail stones" eventually melt into a liquid sea in the planets' hot cores, they told a conference.
The biggest diamonds would likely be about a centimetre in diameter - "big enough to put on a ring, although of course they would be uncut," says Dr Kevin Baines, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"Stratospheric airships could give us spacelike conditions from a spacelike platform, but without the spacelike costs," said Sarah Miller, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine.
High-altitude airships are still in their relative infancy. None has ever flown at 65,000 feet for longer than eight hours. But a recent study from the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech suggests that a more capable airship may not be far-off...
Since we launched Ardbeg's first whisky experiment into space in 2011 – in the shape of vials of Ardbeg-crafted molecules – it has been orbiting the planet on the International Space Station at 17,227 miles per hour, 15 times a day.
To re-cap, the vials contained a class of compounds known as 'terpenes.' Ardbeg was invited by US based space research company NanoRacks LLC to take part in testing these micro organic compounds in a maturation experiment (the interaction of these compounds with charred oak) between normal gravity on Earth and micro- gravity i.e. space.