If we landed on Europa, what would we want to know?
Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa’s surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.
"If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry," said Robert Pappalardo, the study’s lead author, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life."
The team found the most important questions clustered around composition: what makes up the reddish “freckles” and reddish cracks that stain the icy surface? What kind of chemistry is occurring there? Are there organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life?
Additional priorities involved improving our images of Europa - getting a look around at features on a human scale to provide context for the compositional measurements. Also among the top priorities were questions related to geological activity and the presence of liquid water: how active is the surface? How much rumbling is there from the periodic gravitational squeezes from its planetary host, the giant planet Jupiter? What do these detections tell us about the characteristics of liquid water below the icy surface?
"Landing on the surface of Europa would be a key step in the astrobiological investigation of that world," said Chris McKay, a senior editor of the journal Astrobiology, who is based at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "This paper outlines the science that could be done on such a lander. The hope would be that surface materials, possibly near the linear crack features, include biomarkers carried up from the ocean."
A Mission to Europa —NASA Zeroes in On What They’ll Search For | The Daily Galaxy
Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa’s surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.
Perseid Meteor Shower 2013 With a rate of 80 meteors/hour or more, this is something you definitely don’t want to miss. Meteors will appear all across the sky but will seem to radiate from the Perseus constellation. They will be visible all around the world, however, southern hemisphere viewers will see lower rates. There is also a smaller meteor shower peaking this weekend (around July 28). Read the Full Article Here
If you have never heard of the Fluxtimator before, it’s this tool that estimates the meteor shower rates for you. So you select the time, location and the name of the meteor shower and it will give you some numbers on what to expect. I found it to be fairly accurate over the last few meteor showers I watched.
I made this gif showing the next few days for the Perseids this year. I selected Phoenix because I live near there and as you see it is expected to max out around 89 apparently. It stops at around 6am because that’s when the Sun rises and around the 14th you can see a dip forming on the left side of the line. That is from the Moon getting brighter (waxing) and rising earlier trying to ruin the show, but good thing it was a few days late this year.
If you read my article on the Perseids already you would know that more-southern areas will see lower rates. If you go a little bit more north than 33 degrees latitude (Phoenix) some areas will reach rates of over a 100!
(I know right, but make sure you get away from light pollution and also being on a mountain helps)
But the point for this is you can start watching for Perseids now! It is definitely not too early. I already saw some Perseid fireballs a few days ago along with some Delta Aquarids last week. You will definitely see more and more fireballs as the days progress towards the peak, and according to NASA, the Perseids produce the most fireballs out of all the other meteor showers.
So get on out there fellow stargazers, look up at night and enjoy the show! And if you want to try and photograph some meteors or just need some awesome jams to listen to, take this with you.
The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.
In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, the sun-approaching Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.
This photo is one of the original images featured on ISONblog, a new online source offering unique analysis of Comet ISON by Hubble Space Telescope astronomers and staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. For more on ISONblog, visit: http://hubblesite.org/go/ison.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Science enhances the moral value of life, because it furthers a love of truth and reverence—love of truth displaying itself in the constant endeavor to arrive at a more exact knowledge of the world of mind and matter around us, and reverence, because every advance in knowledge brings us face to face with the mystery of our own being.
Some of the fascinating images from the Kuriositas gallery Under the Electron Microscope. Check it out for more photos and a great explanation of the techniques used to get them. Click on the images above for descriptions of what’s pictured.
Biology at the nanoscale is beautiful to imagine, a single bacterium is as complex, active and interconnected as an entire city. Our bodies are composed of trillions of molecular civilizations acting in unity. Life is a fractal of specialized interacting and replicating machines, enacting an endless variety of forms on every scale.
Cancer cell and HIV, as masterfully (and I do mean masterfully) illustrated by Alexey Kashpersky. There’s a bit of artistic license with things like the tentacle-ish arms of metastasis, but they invoke a moving, swimming, creeping danger. Cellular Cthulhu.