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Are Saturn Rings Like Galaxies?

Dramatic photos of dynamic processes in Saturn’s rings have been released by the Cassini mission at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The photos, taken near Saturn’s equinox last year, show ruffled edges of the B ring made of particles lofted as high as 2 miles above the ring plane, casting long shadows across the rings.  By watching […]

The Blue and Red States of OOL

When it comes to the origin of life (OOL), some scientists color it blue; some color it red.  New Scientist votes for the blue state.  “LIFE may really have been created by a spark, one that came as a bolt from the deep blue.”  Inspired by visions sent from Ryuhei Nakamura at the University of […]

Life: Do Ingredients Imply Emergence?

Science articles continue to push the idea that if water is found somewhere, life is certain to emerge.  Other articles look for so-called “building blocks of life” or “ingredients for life,” implying or even plainly stating that life simply emerges from its parts.  While many have complained that this kind of thinking is as ridiculous […]

Keeping Saturn Old

Keeping a planet like Saturn going for billions of years has been a problem lately, especially when evidences show that what we see today of its rings and moons could not have lasted that long. Ringside gambling:  The rings of Saturn are majestic, colorful, and young-looking.  Their ices are too clean, and the forces acting […]

Probability Life Not Found on Exoplanet: 100%

Headlines are screaming that an earthlike planet in its star’s habitable zone has been found.  Many sources, though, are claiming that life must certainly exist on this planet.  Their hubris stems from the words of Steve Vogt, an astronomy professor at UC Santa Cruz.  “Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever […]

Lunar Complexity Challenges Simple Theories

Tomorrow is “International Observe the Moon Night” according to Space.com, stimulating laypeople and astronomy neophytes to get outdoors to look at the moon with telescopes, binoculars, and the naked eye while the last-quarter moon is in convenient position for evening viewing.  Humans have contemplated the moon for millennia on such evenings and imagined all sorts […]

Many Stars Are Planet Destroyers

A NASA study is being called “Bad news for planet hunters.”  A survey of stars in globular clusters has not turned up the number of planets expected.  Astronomers conclude that stars in these presumably ancient clusters have long since devoured their planets or sent them careening out into oblivion.     The leading popular science […]

Asteroid Pi

Asteroids are much more diverse than previously imagined.  The Spitzer Space Telescope (now in its “warm” mission after the liquid coolant has dissipated) is targeting about 700 asteroids in a program called ExploreNEOs (Near-Earth Objects).  NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope website reported results from the first hundred studied.  The scientists found that near-Earth asteroids… …are a […]

Exoplanet Hunters Fail Predictions

Before the first extrasolar planets were discovered, astronomers had high confidence that other solar systems would resemble ours.  We have rocky planets close to the sun, and gas giants farther out.  Planetary scientists were pretty sure the pattern would hold up around other stars.  Now that we have hundreds of examples to compare, the reality […]

Moon May Be Active Today

The old story of our moon was that it was geologically dead.  Except for the occasional meteor impact, not much happens there; the interior had cooled down long ago, leaving it an inert, battered sphere.  That was before the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed scientists evidence that it has continued to shrink and form new surface […]

Best Face-on-Mars Photo Looks Dead

Conspiracy theorists will probably have little to say now that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken the clearest photo yet of the alleged “Face on Mars” in Cydonia.  For the before and after photos, see PhysOrg.  The new photo is clearly an eroded, rocky mesa – that’s all, folks. Use this as a teachable moment.  […]

Things in Space that Shouldn’t Be

A history of astronomy and a history of surprise discoveries in space would track pretty well.  Recent stories show that the trend continues even today. Wet moon:  The moon was thought to be depleted of volatiles – until now.  According to PhysOrg, “Researchers discover water on the moon is widespread, similar to Earth’s.”  Shouldn’t all […]

Dating of Impacts and Impacts of Dating

Earth and Neptune were both on stage this week with stories of impacts.  How do scientists know when they occurred? Neptune:  A comet struck Neptune 200 years ago.  That’s what planetary scientists are claiming, according to National Geographic.  The data only “suggests” this explanation, according to Space.com.  Since nobody witnessed the impact in 1810 (Neptune […]

Scratching Heads With Imaginary Stars

It was lurking out there, astronomers said.  Our sun’s evil companion, invisible, dark, like a stealthy general of an enemy force, wandered silently in hiding, waiting for the next opportunity to order its agents of death into combat.  Its name was Nemesis.  Every 27 million years, using its gravity, it sent comets from the Oort […]

Wishing ET Upon a Star

What are the odds of finding extraterrestrials?  That subject has been discussed ad infinitum, but David Shiga at New Scientist thinks the odds just went up.  “Solitary suns like ours are not as rare as we once thought, boosting the likelihood that there are other life-friendly solar systems in the universe.”  It should be noted […]
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