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Moons Rough Wrinkles reveals Clues to its Past

There is a lot of history that can be determined about something by looking at the surface of the object. Where it has been, what it has undergone, and how it has come to be. recently a new form of map has been put together which has been able to plot the craters in the surface of the moon and discern the age of each crater. Much like the human skin the depth of the wrinkles can determine their age. The rougher the “wrinkles” the older they are because they have undergone more pummeling than the newer smoother wrinkles. By measuring the slopes of the features a time stamp can be placed upon each unique impression. The Moon is a very interesting surface becuase a crater that has been pummeled for years and years and has been made rough can appear directly adjacent to a smooth new crater. By looking at the changes from rough to smooth scientists can get a clearer picture as to how the moon came to be as it is today. The difference in roughness can also tell us what ccaused the feature we are looking at because the impact caused by a meteorite and volcanic activity is vastly different. This new map for measuring can be used for planets not just the moon and it is revealing new information every day

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Andrea Varnava

Imagine the frenzied excitement when a new galaxy was detected bringing with it a whole new slew of information and research to be done. The New York Times’s Dennis Overbye writes that it “may be the most distant and earliest galaxy yet found. It is a smudge of light only a tiny fraction of the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, and it existed when the universe was only 480 million years old. Its light has been on its way to us for 13.2 billion years, making it the long-distance champion in an expanding universe.” The new evidence concludes that after the Big Bang lots of stars were continuously and rapidly growing where now we are in an opposed “middle age slump”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/science/space/27galaxy.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=Our%20galaxy%20and%20modern%20cosmology&st=cse

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A Vist From Asteroid 2005 YU55

The quarter mile wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will fly pass Earth on November 8th, 2011. Scientist say that the asteroid will get as close as 325,000 kilometers to Earth. Not to worry though, the Asteroid is so small and far away that any impact it will have on the Earth will be unnoticeable. Asteroids of this size have zoomed past Earth within this distance before throughout history, but astronomers never had this advance of a warning before. So this close encounter is somewhat of an exciting event. Groups of astronomers are getting ready to scan the surface of the asteroid with radar and electromagnetic detectors. With the asteroid coming so close, scientists and astronomers will be able to scan the asteroid with 4-meter per pixel resolution so the images will be quite crisp. Usually to be able to get this data scientist would have to send a space craft out into space but this time it seems as if the universe is throwing us a freebie.

To read more click here—> http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/09/big-asteroids-approach-november-excites-astronomers/

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Galileo Data Reveal Magma Ocean Under Jupiter Moon

Magnetic field
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-141

The Galileo findings that suggest a magma ocean under one of Jupiter’s moons lo makes the moon the most unique in our solar system. With lo being the only moon to have volcanic activity along with the planet Earth could give us further explanation on the understanding of our own planet. This better understanding can give us more information on the formation of our own planet that occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago. The moon lo can be useful to us in which it could be used as a snapshot of what the Earth was when it was in it’s early years. The suggestion that Earth and its moon may have had similar magma oceans billions of years ago at the time of their formation that the article makes may help answer that question in detail. As we cannot go back in time and see for ourselves what exactly did happen. The fact that the moon was in fact made up of materials of the Earth and the Earth itself containing magma at one point similar to lo’s could help us answer how our planet looked billions of years ago through the studying of lo’s magma ocean.

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52 Years and $750 Million Prove Einstein Was Right

A team of experimenters from Stamford University reported on Wednesday that a set of orbiting gyroscopes had detected a slight sag and an even slighter twist in space-time.  This finding confirms many strange predictions such as black holes and the expanding universe of Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity.  This was no surprise, observations of planets and the moon had convinced astronomers and physicists that Einstein’s predictions were on the mark.  Compared to a straw stirring a drink, all the liquid around the straw moves, not just the straw, the Earth is the same way.  The Earth’s gravitation pull spins the “empty space” around us, even though it such a small number, “rate of 37 one-thousandths of a second of arc — the equivalent of a human hair seen from 10 miles away — every year”.

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How ‘Hot Jupiters’ Got So Close to Their Stars: Extrasolar Planet Research Sheds Light on Our Solar System

In recent years, astronomers have observed that in some of the extra solar systems, stars are spinning one way and planets, also known as a “hot Jupiter” are orbiting the star in the opposite directions. This is odd, as it violates astronomers’ most basic picture of planets and star formation. Astrophysicist, Frederic A Rasio and his research team are the first to use large scale computer simulations to show how a hot Jupiter’s orbit can flip and go in the direction opposite to the star’s spin. This is a result of gravitational perturbations or a small change or disturbance of motion by a distant planet causing the hot Jupiter to have both “wrong way” and a very close orbit. (A hot Jupiter is a huge Jupiter-like planet in very close proximity to the central star.) It has become evident that planets perturb each other gravitationally and these planets do not necessarily stay on the same orbit they were originally formed on. In researching such a discovery, Rasio and his team used orbital mechanics to solve the problem. The Northwestern model of Rasio and his team shows both flipped and non-flipped orbits. In their model, they assume a star similar to the sun and a system with two planets. The inner planet, similar to that of Jupiter is a gas giant and is far from the star. The outer planet is somewhat large and farther from the star. The outer planet interacts with the inner planet as it disturbs and shakes the system. The effects on the inner planet are weak but build up over time causing the inner gas giant to orbit very close to the star and in the opposite direction of the central star’s spin. These changes occur because the two orbits are exchanging angular momentum. The inner planet begins to lose energy by way of strong tides and goes into an eccentric orbit. It loses a lot of angular momentum, as it dumps it onto the outer planet. Eventually the inner planet’s orbit shrinks as the energy is dissipated through tides and is pulled in close to the star and producing hot Jupiter and causing the orbit of the planet to flip. Details of the study will be published May 12 by the journal Nature.



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A New Dawn on the Asteroid Belt

On May 3, NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft took its first images of its target, the giant asteroid Vesta. These images will be used to fine tune the trajectory that will be used to attain orbit of the second largest body in the asteroid belt. Dawn is scheduled to reach the protoplanet on July 16, where it will orbit this object for a year. Data will begin being collected in early August with Dawn orbiting at an altitude of approximately 1,700 miles, and later move as close to the asteroid as 120 miles above the surface. Dawn’s cameras and other instruments will be used to examine surface composition, topography and texture. Gravity monitors will also be used to hopefully give clue to what lies beneath the surface of this 330 mile diameter object. After its year orbiting Vesta, Dawn will set its sights on the largest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres. It is scheduled to reach this massive asteroid in 2015 and observe it in a similar fashion. These observations will then be compared to find out more about the forces that shaped them. Scientists hope that these combined observations will reveal new information about our solar systems early history.
See more at:
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/may/HQ_11-139_Dawn_Image.html

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Possibility of Life Out There

In the New York Time’s the Science Times, journalist Guy Gugliotta writes about life on other planets in his article, “Fountains of Optimism For Life Way Out There.” As we know, water is a “leading indicator,” for life on other planets, Earth itself is 70% water, and is thriving with life. However, water’s form is still very important to the matter of life on other planets. Ice, aka solidified water, has been found on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This means that the possibility of liquid water on this moon could have existed in the past. Venus, whose entire surface was boiled away by volcanoes, is believed to have water some time long ago. Finding ice in space never proved very difficult, but the discovery of liquid water is still waiting in the wings. Water’s other form, water vapor, is found around certain planet’s atmospheres. Beyond Neptune, ice has accumulated and is the biggest source of water in our Solar System. Scientists believe that a large portion of the ice in the inner solar system came from comets. Recent discoveries show that ice was found on asteroids hundreds of millions of miles away from the sun. This is very interesting because “for ice to endure on like objects with no atmosphere that close to the sun, there must be a mechanism to replenish what is lost in sublimation.” Humberto Campins, Professor at University of Central Florida, believes that the ice is a thin coating of frost from a reservoir under the asteroids’ topsoil. However this is just a theory; Campins also suggests that the asteroid contains radioactive isotopes that melt ice below the surface. If this asteroid is found to have liquid water, this is a possibility it could’ve been inhabited by life.

On Enceladus, another of Jupiter’s moons, ice grains were escaping out of the planet’s south pole region. These grains are suspected of being some of the pieces of Saturn’s E-ring. Scientists believe these grains originate from a liquid water source. It might seem like a far leap from grains to water, but planetary scientist, John Spencer believes, “we have an ocean.”

Titan proves the biggest support for the possibility of liquid water in space. Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon, is believed to have “cryo-volcanoes’ that give off a  “slushy lava composed of liquid water and ammonia, or some other low-temperature mixture, that freezes on the moon’s surface. ” Because of Titan’s composition of hydrocarbon and methane lakes, planetary scientist Jeffery Kargel believes it will also have water ice. Unfortunately, Humans have yet to travel to Titan personally. However, soil taken off of NASA’s Pheonix Lander (who has visited Titan) had high salt concentrations, leading scientists to further encourage the possibility of water.  Why is salt so inspiring? For Titan, liquid water would have to “be salty enough not to vaporize in the Martian atmosphere or freeze at surface temperatures below minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Nothing is set in stone just yet, but the vastness of space along with the presence of water makes the possibility of alien life not so far fetched.

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No More New Stars?

There have been raging wind storms of molecular gas that possible have the force and power to strip gases from galaxies that new stars need during their formation process. These storms are robbing the galaxy of its gases as well as halting or permanently stopping stars formations, which would lead to no new stars. The European Space Agency’s Herschel infrared space observatory has detected that these winds are extremely fast; the fasted being more then 620 miles per second. That is faster then any wind storm on a terrestrial planet.

Scientists say that these galaxies are losing 1,200 times the mass of our Sun due to these wind storms. The force of theses winds is enough to strip all of the star forming gases from galaxies within 1 million to 100 million years; this is a negative effect on the galaxies in which these storms are terrorizing. The winds have been tied to the strong emission of light and particles from new stars as well as the explosion of old ones.  The storms may also be caused by radiation given off as matter rotates around a black hole. Scientists are testing the idea of a black hole generating these storms as a possible explanation to how elliptical galaxies may be formed. They feel that due to these storms removing important gases needed for star formation  it could lead to an ellipital galaxy’s formation.

 “By catching molecular outflows in the act, Herschel has finally yielded long-sought-after evidence that powerful processes with negative feedback do take place in galaxies and dramatically affect their evolution,” said Göran Pilbratt from ESA.

http://www.astronomy.com/News-Observing/News/2011/05/Raging%20storms%20sweep%20away%20galactic%20gas.aspx

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A Closer Look of the Planet Mercury

Mercury the first planet in our solar system has showed its beauty through recent pictures taken by the NASA’s Messenger probe. With these new images brought in excitement amongst all the astronomers. A planet now considered as the smallest (now that the planet Pluto is not regarded as such) has its own story to tell. On March 30 the head scientist Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has tried to figure out answers that can help theorists in explaining how the planet Mercury came to be and how the solar system was formed 4.5 billion yrs ago. In addition, with the help of the shocking yet beautiful images, scientists discovered massive craters in Mercury making the moon look “as smooth as a parking lot”.

http://lightbox.time.com/2011/03/31/mercury-poses-for-its-close-up/#6

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