Nearby star has 7 "Earthlike" planets

TRAPPIST-1 is a star that's 39 light years away from us. The journal Nature reports that it has seven warm, Earthlike planets orbiting it.

From Washington Post:

The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have ever detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying alien worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.

“Before this, if you wanted to study terrestrial planets, we had only four of them and they were all in our solar system,” said lead author Michaël Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liège in Belgium. “Now we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don't, whatever we find will be super interesting.”

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Mechanical spinning globe that shows the night/day terminator

Elenco's Night 'n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins. Read the rest

Watch India launch a record 104 satellites in one mission

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) just launched an amazing 104 satellites in one mission, setting a new record. Read the rest

Idaho's massive checkerboard forest seen from the Space Station

An astronaut on the International Space Station snapped this striking photo last month of forest land adjacent to the Priest River in northern Idaho. From NASA:

The squares in this landscape checkerboard appear to be the result of forest management. Similar patterns originated in the 1800s, when alternate parcels of land were granted by the U.S. government to railroads such as the Northern Pacific. Many parcels in the Pacific Northwest were later sold off and harvested for timber.

The land shown here is now managed for wildlife and for timber harvesting. The white patches reflect areas with younger, smaller trees, where winter snow cover shows up brightly to the astronauts. Dark green-brown squares are parcels of denser, intact forest. The checkerboard is used as a method of maintaining the sustainability of forested tracts while still enabling a harvest of trees.

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Stunning image of Saturn's moon Mimas

A breathtaking photo of Saturn's moon Mimas taken this week by NASA's Cassini space probe.

You may recall, that another photo (below) of Mimas raised concerns that it isn't actually a moon but rather the Death Star.

(Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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Martian Immigration Nightmare: Kafka meets Musk in a trumpism immigration simulator

Among those caught in the crossfire of last weekend's Muslim ban were lawful immigrants and permanent residents who were in the air when the rules changed; when these people landed, they were told that since they had arrived at the US in violation of the rules, they were being deported, and were banned from entering the USA for the next five years. Read the rest

Wafting magnetism has transferred oxygen from Earth to the Moon for billions of years

In a new paper in Nature Astronomy, a team from Osaka University publishes its analysis of data gathered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Selenological and Engineering Explorer, revealing that an isotope present in lunar regolith is a match for an isotope found in terrestrial, atmospheric oxygen. Read the rest

Six Wakes: a locked-room science fiction murder mystery, delightfully confounded by cloning and memory backups

Readers of Boing Boing have joined me in chronicling the variegated science fiction career of Mur Lafferty: novelist, podcast pioneer, editor -- today, she publishes her latest novel, a hard sf murder mystery called Six Wakes, in which the crew of a generation ship awake in a blood-drenched shipboard cloning bay, in fresh bodies to replace their murdered selves floating in the alarming null-gee, memories restored to the backup they made just before launch, a quarter-century before.

Interactive map of every satellite in orbit

David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz created an interactive chart showing the weight, national origin and position of more than 1,300 active satellites orbiting the planet Earth. The data was sourced from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

It goes out in bands: there's a cloud in low-earth orbit bulked up with the International Sapce Station and surveillance satellites. Satellite phone networks such as Iridium and Globalstar form conspicuous rings about 800 and 1500 km up. 20km up are the navigation networks GPS and Glonass. 37km up is a mess, with so many geostationary satellites clustered together that they become a rainbow blur in the graphic. Read the rest

Boeing's new spacesuit is far out

Boeing revealed its new sleek and chic spacesuit designed for astronauts aboard the Boeing/Bigelow CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Launched on Atlas V rockets the Starliner capsule will shuttle commercial crew members to and from the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit locales. From Boeing:

The Starliner spacesuit provides greater pressurized mobility and is about 40 percent lighter than previous suits. Its innovative layers will keep astronauts cooler as well. The touchscreen-friendly gloves allow astronauts to interact with the capsule’s tablets while the boots are breathable and slip resistant. Zippers in the torso area will make it easier for astronauts to comfortably transition from sitting to standing. In addition to protecting astronauts during launch and the return to Earth, the suit also helps connect astronauts to ground and space crews through the communications headset within the helmet. The suit’s hood-like soft helmet sports a wide polycarbonate visor to give Starliner passengers better peripheral vision throughout their ride to and from space.

Video from Boeing:

Photo from Boeing:

Photo from NASA/Cory Huston:

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How to roll dice in space

The microgravity of space would really put a damper on your dice games. You roll them and they don't land. The 3D Printing Professor has a fun solution. Space Dice (via Adafruit)

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Check out Adam Savage's far-out replica of an Apollo spacesuit

When most people commission a bespoke suit, they pay attention to the stitching and drape of the fabric. For MythBuster Adam Savage's latest custom tailoring job, he had some more esoteric details in mind. Here he is on Tested giving a tour of his Apollo A7L spacesuit replica, fashioned by Ryan Nagata. (Tested)

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Astronaut Eugene Cernan, last man to walk on the moon, has died at 82

"We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." These were the last words Eugene Cernan said upon leaving the surface of our moon, at the end of Apollo 17.

Cernan (shown below at the beginning of EVA 3) was the last man to walk on the moon. He died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.

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Photos of miniature models of expolanets

Artist and photographer Adam Makarenko creates miniature exoplanets and then photographs them, with gorgeous results that go beyond CGI. Read the rest

That's no moon...

NASA claims this image taken by the Cassini probe depicts Saturn's moon Mimas with the distinctive Herschel Crater, but we know better. From NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute:

Named after the icy moon's discoverer, astronomer William Herschel, the crater stretches 86 miles (139 kilometers) wide -- almost one-third of the diameter of Mimas (246 miles or 396 kilometers) itself...

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn hemisphere of Mimas. North on Mimas is up and rotated 21 degrees to the left. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2016 using a combination of spectral filters which preferentially admits wavelengths of ultraviolet light centered at 338 nanometers.

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Strange object dropped from sky and smashed man's van

This strange object fell from the sky over Milwaukee, Wisconsin last week and smashed the roof of a van. (Image below). According to the van's owner, Michael Robinson, the large, heavy object "looked like a barbecue grill in the snow" but smelled of diesel. Police hauled the thing away and the FAA didn't respond to inquiries from a local TV station. From Mysterious Universe:

Fortunately, there are sites that track the re-entry paths of old satellites, rocket parts and space debris and it looks like Robinson’s space barbecue may have been a part from a Russian military “communications” satellite that was predicted to re-enter the atmosphere on December 19th on a path that would take it directly over – you guessed it – Mike Robinson’s van.

What is that?!” Unidentified, unexplained large object damages man’s van on Milwaukee’s north side (Fox6Now)

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Visualizing the vast distances of space with a 1-pixel moon in a side-scrolling solar-system

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel tries to convey the vastness of space by inviting you to side-scroll through our Solar System with (you guessed it) the scale of 1 pixel to the diameter of the moon. These scale comparisons always manage to temporarily invoke something in me that approaches intuitive understanding, but before long, I can feel it fading and being replaced with the nonsensical science fictional conceit of solar systems as being something tractable. (via Making Light) Read the rest

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