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Comet Woes Lamented

Space.com posted an article on “The enduring mysteries of comets.”  The mysteries include: Where did earth’s oceans come from?  For a long time, scientists expected comets delivered the water, until measurements showed a discrepancy in the hydrogen/deuterium ratios.  It’s also highly improbable there was enough wet stuff in those assumed delivery vehicles.  No secular scientist […]

Stretching Saturn’s Rings in Time

Imagining young rings forming recently has been an embarrassment since Voyager days.  A new paper by ringmaster Larry Esposito (U of Colorado) found a way to stretch them out into billions of years.  The Cassini press release describes clumpy material dividing and re-forming endlessly.  Finding more mass in the B-ring also helped explain the brightness […]

Is Making Planets Child’s Play?

Are star children good at child's play? Like making mudballs, it should be easy to roll up dust into planets.

Active Moons Challenge Old-Age Beliefs

Beyond the asteroid belt, where sunlight is weak, small bodies that should be old and cold seem young and active.  Here are some recent papers and reports about some of the moons around the gas giants showing more signs of vitality than expected for bodies assumed to be billions of years old. Jupiter’s Io: Astronomers […]

Moon Dust Can Kill

Future astronauts preparing to operate on the moon, beware.  High-speed dust is deadly, reports PhysOrg.  With no atmosphere on the moon to slow its path, dust flying from rocket engines can blast anything in its path.  “Small grit can travel enormous distances at high speeds, scouring everything in its path,” the article says – at […]

No Salt, Please: Europa Life Needs It Bland

Salt may taste good on human food, but for life trying to emerge in the sea, it is toxic.  Astrobiologists have long wondered if life could exist at Jupiter’s moon Europa, where an ocean is believed to exist miles deep under the icy crust.  They must have been presuming the water is pure, but an […]

Give Thanks for Our Rare Moon

Our moon is a rare treat, says a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, based on findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope.  The telescope looked for indications of dust from collisions in other planetary disks thought to be the age of our solar system when our moon formed.  According to the leading theory, our moon […]

Photo: Earthrise 2007

The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft has taken a series of “Earthrise” photos from lunar orbit, including this sequence.  The complete set of new hi-resolution photos is available at Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.  (Due to the orbital path of the spacecraft, Antarctica is at the top.)     “Earth-rise is a phenomenon seen only from satellites that […]

Myths from Hell

Many speak of God’s green earth and rejoice in its beauty, but James Trefil tells us it was born from hell.  In his article in Astronomy (Dec 2007), entitled, “Earth’s Fiery Start” he spoke with eyewitness confidence: Earth hasn’t always been a green and pleasant place.  In fact, our planet’s infancy was a violent, chaotic […]

Month-End Close-Out

Sometimes the creation-evolution news comes in too fast.  Here’s a baker’s dozen from the October shelf, lest they go stale; time to start a new batch for November. Charity begins at worldview:  David Cyranoski in Nature (450, 24-25, 10/31/2007) investigated why the level of charitable giving in prosperous Japan is a tenth of that in […]

Cassini Celebrates 10 Years in Space

The Cassini team is reveling in the outpouring of public praise for the mission.  Launched on October 15, 1997, Cassini-Huygens has spent ten years in space and is over three fourths the way through its prime mission, to explore the Saturn system, its rings, moons, magnetic field and the large moon Titan (see ESA and […]

New Horizons at Jupiter

New Horizons, a spaceship bound for Pluto, took a good look at the Jupiter system when passing by on Feb. 28.  The scientific findings were featured in a special section of Science last week, with 11 articles.  Joanne Baker said in the Introductory article,1 “The papers in this special issue record how the probe witnessed […]

Comet Woes: News Reports Hide Backroom Exasperation

“Comets are made of the most primitive stuff in the solar system,” a press release from University of Michigan triumphantly claimed today.  “As hunks of rock and ice that never coalesced into more planets, they give researchers clues to the evolution of solar systems.”     Tell that to Toby Owen and two colleagues who […]

More Impacts on Crater Count Dating

Planetary scientists have relied on crater counts to estimate the surface age of a planet or moon.  The more craters, the older the surface.  This method has recently come under closer scrutiny (see 10/20/2005) because of the phenomenon of secondary cratering.     A simplistic look at a crater-scarred planet or moon might lead one […]

Upsets: Assumptions About Genes, Atmospheres Challenged

It’s not fun when a whole superstructure of scientific theories and models is found to rest on a shaky foundation.  That’s just what may be happening in two very different fields: genetics and planetary science: Lateral pass to the opposing team:  Building evolutionary trees by comparing genomes was supposed to be simple.  Sure, geneticists knew […]
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