Huygens Heads for Titan

At about 7:25 p.m. JPL time Christmas Eve, anxious scientists and engineers watching their monitors received bits from 800 million miles away, indicating that the Cassini spacecraft had successfully released the Huygens Probe over an hour earlier, with no faults or problems, right on schedule.  In mission control, engineers with Santa hats could be seen […]

Galaxy Evolution Explorer Finds Living Fossils

Some galaxies are 10 times brighter in ultraviolet than others, and are thought to be “young” galaxies undergoing violent star formation with frequent supernova explosions.  In theory, they populated the early universe but should have quieted down by now.  The Galaxy Evolution Explorer, an ultraviolet wide-field orbiting telescope, launched April 2003, has just made a […]

Cassini Passes Titan a Third Time

Raw images from Cassini’s Titan-b flyover from 750 miles (see animation) have been uploaded to the website: Cassini Raw Images (proceed from this link).  Improved, processed images are now being posted at, such as this high resolution of dark terrain.  Look also at JPL the and Cassini Imaging Team websites.  In addition, teams monitoring […]

Are Local Microwaves Cooking the Cosmic Background?

Science Now has a surprising announcement that may alter astronomers’ confidence in the structure of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation.  Since the WMAP probe data was analyzed (see 09/20/2004 headline), cosmologists have boasted that the high resolution detections of fluctuations in the temperature supported their models of big bang inflation and dark matter / […]

Cosmology Mavericks Turn On the Red Light

According to the majority of astronomers, redshifts are “cosmological”: that is, they represent the effect on spectral light of the expansion of the universe.  A minority group of astronomers, however, claims otherwise, that at least a component of redshift represents intrinsic motion effects of rapidly moving objects irrespective of cosmic expansion.  For evidence, they point […]

SETI Researcher Thinks Big: Send Internet Smut to the Aliens

Seth Shostak (SETI Institute), in an article on Space.Com, answers the question, “What do you say to an extraterrestrial?”  He said we no longer need to limit ourselves to short messages like “What hath God wrought?”,* the phrase Samuel F. B. Morse sent with the first telegraph.  The bandwidth we have available now is huge, […]

Planet-Building a Mess, or Theories a Mess?

A news release from the Spitzer Space Telescope operated by JPL says, “Astronomers Discover Planet Building is Big Mess.”  Data from the orbiting infrared observatory indicates that dust disks around stars appear to be dominated by collisions of large bodies.  Surprisingly, the dust disks do not correlate with the stars’ ages.  A study of 266 […]

Great Telescopes Converge on Kepler’s Supernova

The last supernova in our galaxy seen from earth was described October 9, 1604, by Johannes Kepler, a few years before the invention of the telescope.  Now, on the 400th anniversary of that observation, three of NASA’s “Great Observatory” orbiting telescopes – the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space […]

Modern Cosmology Is Clueless, Astronomy Columnist Says

A letter to the editor in the latest (November) issue of Astronomy tipped us off to something we missed in the July issue.  The subscriber wrote, Kudos to Bob Berman for bringing up the slipperiness of modern cosmology in ‘Theory chaotic’ (July 2004).  He must be one of the first to do so.  As he […]

Dating of Crater Rays Needs Overhaul

A dating method relied on by planetary geologists needs drastic revision, according to Planetary Science Research Discoveries (PSRD) scientists at the University of Hawaii.  Crater rays are the streaks that extend radially from impact craters.  Previously, planetary scientists assumed they darken over time under bombardment from the solar wind and can be used as indicators […]

Cosmologist Squirms at Thought of Fine-Tuning

Lawrence Krauss (Case Western Reserve U, Ohio) meant to talk about prospects for distinguishing between sources of so-called dark energy, the mysterious force that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.  But in the process, he opened his soul and revealed feelings, dreams, and nightmares.  First, he states the problem: Dark energy is […]

PBS Airs Another Evolution Series: Origins

PBS NOVA aired its latest installment on evolution, a 4-hour miniseries entitled Origins, on September 28 and 29.  The website hype describes it as follows: Has the universe always existed?  How did it become a place that could harbor life?  What was the birth of our planet like?  Are we alone, or are there alien […]

Solar Particles Survive Genesis Crash

Scientists are relieved that they have been able to recover enough pieces from the crashed Genesis spacecraft to pursue the science objectives.  JPL Director Charles Elachi said they have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and are bouncing back from a hard landing.  The highest-priority science goals may still be attainable, at least partially, […]

SETI Needs to Read, Not Listen

What technology would an extra-terrestrial intelligence use to communicate with us?  For fifty years, the search has presumed that an ET would use radio waves to announce “we’re here.”  Not a good idea, says a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Rutgers.  He thinks investors on distant planets would put their money not on […]

Are We Lost on a Speck of Cosmic Dust?

A new Copernican revolution seems to be in the works, not another “demotion” of man from the center of the universe, but a promotion back to the ancient idea of plan or purpose for our existence.  The demotions reached their nadir with Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and other books that declared we are nothing special, that […]
All Posts by Date