Google Earth/Sky

Yet another wonderful innovation from Google. I downloaded latest Google Earth 2 days back and it id full of surprising new innovations.

First of all there is a whole new thing which is Google Sky. Now you can view the sky view from a particular place in Earth. For example I can see the night sky as visible from Lahore. Then there is lot of detail like constellations planets and Hubble telescope imagery which is really wonderful.

Other additions are picture viewing and lots of new marker placement.You can see the picture of your favorite location by cliking on the marker and a the picture opens in anew window.

Most Earth like planet Found: Are we alone?

“European astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our solar system, and here’s what it might be like to live there.

The “sun” wouldn’t burn brightly. It would hang close, large and red in the sky, glowing faintly like a charcoal ember. And it probably would never set if you lived on the sunny side of the planet.

You could have a birthday party every 13 days because that’s how fast this new planet circles its sun-like star. But watch the cake — you’d weigh a whole lot more than you do on Earth.

You might be able to keep your current wardrobe. The temperature in this alien setting will likely be a lot like Earth’s — not too hot, not too cold.

And that “just right” temperature is one key reason astronomers think this planet could conceivably house life outside our solar system. It’s also as close to Earth-sized as telescopes have ever spotted. Both elements make it the first potentially habitable planet besides Earth or Mars”

Full article and Source at CNN

But I still think that living on a new planet might just be a dream. This new planet is 120 trillion miles away from Earth. So escaping the boundaries of Solar system in manned Air craft might be too far fetched let alone to live on new planet BUT no one believed 100 years ago that we could escape boundaries of earth so I might be wrong but this discovery does raise the interesting prospect of other life in Universe.

Ice Deposits Found on Mars

A spacecraft orbiting Mars has scanned huge deposits of water ice at its south pole so plentiful they would blanket the planet in 36 feet of water if they were liquid, scientists said on Thursday.

The scientists used a joint NASA-Italian Space Agency radar instrument on the European Space Agency Mars Express spacecraft to gauge the thickness and volume of ice deposits at the Martian South Pole covering an area larger than Texas.

The deposits, up to 2.3 miles thick, are under a polar cap of white frozen carbon dioxide and water, and appear to be composed of at least 90 percent frozen water, with dust mixed in, according to findings published in the journal Science.

Scientists have known that water exists in frozen form at the Martian poles, but this research produced the most accurate measurements of just how much there is.

“Life as we know it requires water and, in fact, at least transient liquid water for cells to survive and reproduce. So if we are expecting to find existing life on Mars we need to go to a location where water is available,” Plaut said.

“So the polar regions are naturally a target because we certainly know that there’s plenty of H2O there.”

Source and full article at YAHOO

Well life or not water certainly opens an opportunity for a base or even a colony on mars in future.

Asteroid To Hit Earth in 2036?

An asteroid may come uncomfortably close to Earth in 2036 and the United Nations should assume responsibility for a space mission to deflect it, a group of astronauts, engineers and scientists said on Saturday.

Astronomers are monitoring an asteroid named Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of striking Earth on April 13, 2036.

Although the odds of an impact by this particular asteroid are low, a recent congressional mandate for NASA to upgrade its tracking of near-Earth asteroids is expected to uncover hundreds, if not thousands of threatening space rocks in the near future, former astronaut Rusty Schweickart said.

“It’s not just Apophis we’re looking at. Every country is at risk. We need a set of general principles to deal with this issue,” Schweickart, a member of the Apollo 9 crew that orbited the earth in March 1969, told an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Francisco.

Schweickart plans to present an update next week to the U.N. Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on plans to develop a blueprint for a global response to an asteroid threat.

Full Article and Source at Yahoo

Water Still Flowig on Mars

NASA photographs have revealed bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years.
“These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, Washington.

Liquid water, as opposed to the water ice and water vapor known to exist at Mars, is considered necessary for life. The new findings heighten intrigue about the potential for microbial life on Mars. The Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor provided the new evidence of the deposits in images taken in 2004 and 2005.
“The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing  water,” said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. “They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles.” Malin is principal investigator for the camera and lead author of a report about the findings published in the journal Science.

For Source & Full Details visit Nasa

Stephen Hawkings to receive Copley Medal

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is being honored with the world’s oldest award for scientific achievement, with a special high-altitude assist from NASA.

The British Royal Society is awarding Professor Hawking its prestigious Copley Medal on Nov. 30 for his contributions to theoretical physics and theoretical cosmology. The silver gilt medal flew on space shuttle Discovery’s July 2006 mission to the International Space Station, at the initiative of crew member Piers Sellers, a native of Britain. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will travel to London to help make the medal presentation.
“Stephen Hawking has become a household name, known as a brilliant physicist by people who have no other knowledge of physics,” Griffin said. “Through his contributions to the understanding of time and space, ranging from black holes to worm holes, he has earned a reputation as one of the most imaginatively perceptive scientists of all time. We at NASA are honored to have had a part in making Dr. Hawking’s receipt of the famed Copley Medal a truly special occasion, by presenting to him this medal, flown in space aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-121.”
The Copley Medal, which has never flown before in space, was first awarded 275 years ago. It is selected by Fellows of the Royal Society and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences. Past recipients of the Copley Medal include such giants of science as Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, and Francis Crick.


Source : NASA

Strong leonid Meteor Shower Expected this Weekend

The annual Leonid meteor shower could produce a strong outburst this weekend for residents of the North America and Western Europe.

A brief surge of activity is expected begin around 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 18. In Europe, that corresponds to early Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. The outburst could last up to two hours.

At the peak, people in these favorable locations could see up to 150 shooting stars per hour, or more than two per minute.

“We expect an outburst of more than 100 Leonids per hour,” said Bill Cooke, the head of NASA‘s Meteoroid Environment Office. Cooke notes that the shooting stars during this peak period are likely to be faint, however, created by very small meteoroid grains.

Full Article HERE

Pitty we here in Pakistan will not be able to see this spectacle.

Transit of Mercury

On Wednesday, Nov 8, the planet Mercury passed directly in front the Sun.

From a vantage point one million miles out in space the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured images of the planet Mercury passing directly in  front the Sun of the transit. Good views could also be seen from Americas, Hawaii, Australia, along the Pacific Rim.. The transit lasted for almost five hours. During the transit, Mercury’s tiny disk–jet black and perfectly round–glided slowly across the face of the Sun. Only a speck of the Sun’s surface is actually covered, so the Sun remains as dangerous as ever to look at. But with a proper filter or a spacecraft and a little imagination, the Transit of Mercury is a marvelous experience

Mercury is fantastically mysterious. More than half of the planet is unknown to us. When Mariner 10 flew by in the mid-70s, it managed to photograph only 45% of Mercury’s cratered surface. What lies on the other side? More craters? Or something totally unexpected? You’re free to speculate, because the next spacecraft to visit Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER probe, won’t enter orbit until 2011. One of Mercury’s greatest secrets is the mysterious material at its poles. Radars on Earth have pinged Mercury and received a strong echo from polar craters. A favorite explanation is ice. While  Mercury’s daylight surface heats up to 400 deg. C, the temperature in deep, and dark polar craters dips below -200 deg. C. If an icy comet landed in one of those craters (or made one of those craters), the comet’s ices, vaporized by impact, might re-freeze and stick around.

Source : Nasa

Monster Storm On Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has seen something never before seen on another planet — a hurricane-like storm at Saturn’s South Pole with a well-developed eye, ringed by towering clouds.
The “hurricane” spans a dark area inside a thick, brighter ring of clouds. It is approximately 8,000  kilometers (5,000 miles) across, or two thirds the diameter of Earth.

The images — essentially a 14-frame movie — were captured over a period of three hours on October 11 by the U.S. space agency’s Cassini spacecraft as it passed about 210,000 miles from the planet as part of its exploration of Saturn and its moons.

Michael Flasar, an astrophysicist involved in the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said the storm looks just like water swirling down the drain in a bath tub, only on a gigantic scale.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Flasar said in an interview. “It’s a spectacular-looking storm.”

Infrared images taken by the Keck I telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, had previously shown Saturn’s South  Pole to be warm. Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer has confirmed this with higher-resolution temperature maps of the area. The spectrometer observed a temperature increase of about 2 Kelvin (4 degrees Fahrenheit) at the pole. The instrument measured high temperatures in the upper troposphere and stratosphere, regions higher in the atmosphere than the clouds seen by the Cassini imaging instruments.


Full Details HERE & HERE

Anousheh Ansari Honored with Portraits

The first female private space explorer, Anousheh Ansari, lit up a New York City Art Studio with her  smiles, all 17 of them, earlier today.

Famed pop artist, Peter Max presented the cheery Ansari with 16 portraits of the entrepreneur, in all of which she is smiling.

“Everyone told me you have a permanent smile tattooed on you face,” Ansari said. “From the moment I arrived in Star City I was excited about what I was doing until the moment I landed. And no one could ever take that smile away from me.”

Full Details HERE