0

This Martian Meteorite Suggests Extraterrestrial Life

fb share tweet share

MarsScientists and researchers believe that life on Earth may have come from Mars. We know that something needed to kick start life in the primordial soup that was the newly-formed planet Earth, and no one knows for certain where that initial boost came from. Most scientists, however, believe that that life arrived at Earth courtesy of a meteorite.

One of the possibilities is that such a meteorite came from Mars, as many meteorites do. Of course, suggesting that human life actually started on another planet is a controversial theory, but one that just received a boost due to newly released information gleaned from the analysis of a Martian meteorite.

0

Dutch Meteorite Stolen From Museum

fb share tweet share

Meteorite of Serooskerken

Meteorite of Serooskerken

We humans are collectors. We like to keep pieces of our childhoods, relics from big events, souvenirs from vacations. People scooped up pieces of the Berlin Wall as it fell, others have little containers of Mount St. Helens volcanic ash, and dust from the moon (to turn into beer, of course) are all popular collectibles. So I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising that someone wanted a meteorite to add to his or her personal collection of doohickeys, but the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in the Netherlands would really like its space rock back.

The Meteorite of Serooskerken fell to Earth in 1925, landing in the southwest Netherlands province of Zeeland (an apt name for a space rock, no?) It’s one of five meteorites that have ever landed in the country—I guess they don’t like going Dutch?—so it’s been prized ever since, safely stored in a museum. Or so they thought.

0

Norwegian Skydiver Has A Close Call With A Meteorite

fb share tweet share

skydiver meteoriteI’m no Felix Baumgartner, but I have been skydiving, once. It was, of course, incredible, and the most intense and disparate mix of emotions and brain signals I’ve ever received at one time. When you’re up there in the plane, every muscle in your body, every thought in your head, urges you to do anything but throw yourself out the open door. You naturally fight death, which is what your brain naturally thinks will happen when you fall into the sky. But you go anyway, mostly because you’re strapped to a skydiving instructor who’s pushing you from behind and won’t let you wuss out or stall. For the first ten seconds, it feels like your head is going to explode in a mixture of fear, adrenaline, cognitive dissonance, and more. Sheer exhilaration takes over, at which point you realize this is the most fun you’ve ever had doing anything. Until a meteorite clocks you in the head. Luckily, that last part didn’t happen to me. You wouldn’t think it could happen to anyone had I not seen a video of Anders Helstrup, a Norwegian skydiver who barely escaped a collision with the cosmic debris.

0

Our Moon May Not Be Able To Have Its Own Mini-Moon, But A Meteorite Recently Exploded On The Lunar Surface

fb share tweet share

moonsWhen you realize that planets like Saturn have 60 moons, and Jupiter has 63, you have to wonder whether moons can have their own moons. Saturn’s satelite Titan is larger than the planet Mercury, so it’s not hard to imagine another rock circling it. Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, one of my favorite space publications, tackled this question, and has dashed my hopes of discovering an infinite series of moons. It turns out that a moon can’t have a moon—unless some specific stuff is going on, which we’ll talk about later. At least the reasons this can’t happen are interesting, and that makes everything okay.

Apparently, “moon” has no explicit definition. If you look it up, you’ll find references to Earth’s Moon, but no official definition about what moons are in general. I thought science had this stuff nailed down. Moons do have some consistent attributes, though: they’re whole, sold objects that orbit around a bigger body, probably a planet, probably orbiting a star. Whatever the moon orbits is orbiting something else, etc. Technically, the Moon does have a moon, or at least something distinct orbiting it: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling and photographing our Moon since 2009. But its lifespan is limited, and sheds light on why no moons in our Solar System can have their own satellites.

0

Big Ol’ Asteroid Will Zoom Past Earth Tonight, And You Can Watch

fb share tweet share

AsteroidShort of watching disaster flicks such as Deep Impact and Armageddon, how often do we get the chance to see asteroids fly by? Given all the talk about asteroid protection and the knowledge that such cosmic rocks have the capability to do serious damage to Earth and the human race, most people probably don’t see asteroid-viewing as being on the same level as star-gazing, but tonight it will be.

Asteroid 2000 EM26, which, at a diameter of 885 feet, is roughly the size of three football fields, will fly by Earth tonight at about 27,000 mph. Don’t worry — it won’t hit the planet, but it will come close enough (almost nine times as far away as the moon) to provide a pretty cool view. The best part is that the Slooh Space Camera will watch the asteroid for us, and Slooh will air a webcast starting at 9:00 pm EST tonight (you can also watch on Space.com). So hey, you can watch the Olympics on one screen and an asteroid flyby on the other. There’s something apropos about that, don’t you think? Especially since some of those skeleton racers and skiers are going almost as fast as the asteroid.

0

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Opportunity

fb share tweet share

Opportunity RoverTen years might not seem old, but for a rover that was only meant to conduct a three-month-long mission, a decade is milestone most scientists thought the Mars exploration rover Opportunity would never see.

Opportunity launched in July of 2003 and landed on Mars on January 25, 2004, three weeks behind its twin rover, Spirit. NASA sent the two rovers to kick off a long-term robotic exploration on Mars, largely focused on gathering information that would shed light on the presence of water on the Red Planet. NASA chose two sites on either side of the planet, both of which were thought to have contained large quantities of water at some point in the past. Spirit landed on January 3, 2004 in Gusev Crater, which may have housed a lake long ago, and Opportunity landed in the mineral deposits of Meridiani Planum.