Space NEWS #10 (Very close exoplanet)

Hi,
today I am bringing news about the closest ever found exoplanet that is also potentially habitable. This planet is orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Sun.


This is great news. Like really, what is the probability of finding one of the best candidates for Earth like planet closest to us that it could get. But to be clear of what is really going on, it is not as that we are going to get a picture of it. Not at all, we do not even know its size (is probably above 1.3 of Earth’s) or anything about its composition. Its just that it is very very likely that the planet is there because of Doppler shifts and other fancy astronomical tools that enable scientists to discover exoplanets.

No, this is not how the planet looks like.. but yay! Random artistic pictures!

Proxima is red dwarf. This means that it is smaller and cooler than Sun. The difference is so huge that the planet may be in habitable zone even though it is probably only 7.3 million kilometers away compared to Earth’s 150 [1]. So if there is water it may be liquid but nothing is very sure. If there are some greenhouse gases it is probably warm enough.

Before leaving, just check out this cool comparison of the angular diameter (size) of Sun and Proxima from Earth and from the new planet (Proxima b):

Sun and Proxima compared

Yes, any life on Proxima b would have much bigger and redder star to look on.

Dragallur

Check out these two pages for more info: 1) 2)

[1]Proxima has surface temperature of 3050K, 0.1 percent of SOlar luminosity, radius 0.14 and 12% of Sun’s mass.

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What is going up on Mars?

Hi,
while thinking about today’s topic I find some random stuff and decided to share it with you. So here you go, new exoplanets, tsunami on Mars, good view on Mars and SpaceX announcement.

Artist’s impression of exoplanet.


Thanks to new statistical method there were 1,284 exoplanets confirmed[1].
This is biggest number ever in one shot. There is of course lot of data form Kepler which observes stars for those exoplanets. You can not be sure always if what you saw was really exoplanet so you need more data. When uncertainity is below 1%, it is officially agreed that the planet is there. With this new method, lot of those uncertainities went below 1% so yes they were “discovered”. Other data was “thrown away” because the percentage went lower and generally this was nice breakthrough.[2]

For long time it was thought that Mars’s terrain was shaped by its ocean that later on evaporated. But the shoreline would be graduall which is not what we observe, rather exact opposite with many geological features along it. These features could rather be explained by huge tsunamis that were formed by asteroid impacts.

Also Mars is going to be these weeks in oposition to Sun and basically really close to Earth, on about 1/2 of AU. The closest it could be would be about 1/3 of AU because its orbit is kind of excentric. If you want to see it well, just take a telescope and with good one you should be able to see even some of its geological features. If you get to see (if it is possible for normal people) Olympus Mons, say hello from me 😉

After SpaceX landed second time on the barge, Elon Musk stated that they want to land on Mars in the year of 2018, which is in two years! They have really lot of work to do so lets see where they will be in that time! (Read more here on the blog of Phil Plait)

Dragallur

[1]Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other stars.
[2]From the data we also know that 550 are probably rocky and 21 are in habitable zone.

Space NEWS #9 (SpaceX landing!)

Hi,
in one post I already talked about the company SpaceX which is founded by Elon Musk who is a billionair and fan to Mars colonization. Right now SpaceX often delivers food and other goods on ISS helping NASA. Musk wants to make flying to space a lot cheaper and the first step for this is reusable rocket, right now to deliver one kilogram on Earth’s orbit costs about 20,000$.


I already mentioned how the company was able to land on one particular spot which was a great breakthrough. Since this would be in long term quite dangerous (to land over on continent where it could hit someone), it was needed to try this on the ocean. In the mission with Jason-3 there was some damage and the rocket exploded.

booster on the barge

SpaceX learned from their mistakes and yesterday they actually landed on a barge. The barge was named “Of Course I Still Love You” and trust me it was a real challenge, not only the last steps but also the whole process before, the barge is small compared to the vastness of ocean and yet, they were able to land just few meters next to the right spot.

Here is the link for the landing, this should left you wondering, how far can we get?

Dragallur

 

Go, ultimate strategic game

Hi,
I bet that the name of the game is not read as “go (walk)” since it is from Japanese. Yesterday my brother linked me to article about a computer program that was for the first time able to beat the best Go player in the world.

Not this Go.


The name of the program is AlphaGo created by Google. There were four separate matched and four of them Alpha won. The one won by Mr. Lee lasted 5 hours!

In the game you have got an area 19×19. There are two players, white and black. Your goal is to surround the other player and wipe out his tokens. The player with biggest territory wins.

This game is from Japan and its history goes more than 3,000 years back.

{it is} something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.
– Emanuel Lasker, chess world champion

The game is pretty fun to play, though it may take a longer time to finish when playing on the standard 19×19 board. On this online site you can join for free to the playing community. There is huge rank system so when you are good, you can fight against strong players.

Dragallur

 

Space NEWS #9 (Gravitational waves detected!)

Hi,
those news are extremely important for modern science, lets just see what is it about.


So today, 11.2.2016 gravitational waves were for the first time detected directly. I already wrote post about gravitational waves here, but anyway in short those are the ripples in space-time made by object accelerating through space-time. Such gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein in his theory of relativity but it took a long time to detect them.

Why? Well gravity is very weak force compared to other fundamental forces so there must be a great of source of so we are able to detect those waves.

This time the source here were two merging black holes. All this information is important since they are black holes which means that they are heavy (36 and 29 solar masses) and also they are merging which means that this acceleration is pretty huge when they rotate towards each other. They merged a black hole of 62 solar masses, the missing mass was converted to gravitational waves, not kidding.

As Phil Plait writes:

And the amount of energy is staggering: This single event released as much energy as the Sun does in 15 trillion years.

How did scientists find this out?

On this video you can watch how it works, anyway here you go if you do not like links:

There is a laser in closed tube. This laser fires hitting glass which splits it on two parts with one beam going in the right angle to the other. Both hit mirrors which are hundreds of meters away. The beams bounce back hitting the mirror which means that they come together. Normally their wavelength will cancel out:

Above the red line is the wave that when everything is normal is canceled out (it is straight line) but when gravitational wave passes one mirror will move a little bit so the light will not cancel but rather go through, towards detector. Here you go, you have just found a gravitational wave!

Dragallur

Gif from here.

Space NEWS #8 (Planet Nine and Flower on ISS)

Hi,
why space news again? Well new planet has been found, if you know something about astronomy this would not really excite you since new planets are found “all the time”. Well what if I say to you that Solar System has new planet? The planet Nine?

Also on ISS first flower was able to bloom!


When I saw the message about planet Nine I was very excited, but most media made again a mistake to say that it was found, that is not right it was not found yet. There is a strong evidence that such a planet could exist in our Solar System (if this planet is really approved to have been found, I promise to make another post about for “Planets of our Solar System”).

This planet would have mass to about 10 times the mass of Earth making it about the same size as Uran and Neptune, which means that it would be ice giant.

Above you can see the artist’s impression of such a planet. The evidence for it is in the movemenent of TNOs (trans neptunian objects). Those are things like Sedna which you can see below.

Those objects as well as planet Nine have highly excentic orbit. It is clear that we can detect them only when they are close to Sun which means that there are surely more of them. The problem is with their orbit lined up in plane which is very improbably without planet Nine. It’s magnitude is very low, to about +20 or so making it really hard to see even if we were able to find it’s exact spot on the sky. It could orbit in distance ranging from 200 AU in afelion and 1000 AU in perihelion. Caltech is the institution that published about it 20.1.2016.

This week also for the first time flower called zinnia (it is on the picture) finally bloomed. Why this plant? Because it has longer growth of about 60 to 80 days which is more then plants which were planted before.

This flower is a big step forward to grow tomatoes.. tomatoes for food!

That is why it is so important, we need to be able to make a food in microgravity to sustain when traveling through deep space.

Dragallur

 

Space NEWS #7.5

Hi,
7.5? Wut? Well today I will just continue with the Jason-3 satellite which was launched yesterday.


So yesterday in the evening Falcon 9, the launch vehicle of SpaceX carried Jason-3 to low earth orbit. This is somewhere between 160 and 2,000 kilometers, yes there is such a big difference.

For Jason-3 it is 1,336 km above Earth’s ocean and before it rotates once around Earth it takes him about 2 hours.

I was watching the launch on NASA TV at the time of the launching. While there was lot of fog so I could see only the top of Falcon 9, still when the flames started to burst everything went kind of red and white.

Falcon was able to fly faster than 2,000 km/h if I remember correctly. Jason-3 was successfully deployed and now it will take 6 months before it will be fully operable because all the instruments must be calibrated and then it will work with Jason-2 which orbits several kilometers above.

Image of Jason-3 Launching.As I mentioned in the last post, it is going to measure the height of oceans. Jason will be able to cover 95% of Earth’s oceans in 10 days, amazing.

After the deployment, SpaceX tried to land Falcon on ship named: Just Read The Instructions. Sadly they were not able to make it, everything was going well but then the collet was not working properly and Falcon fell on one side instantly exploding. What is important is that they can learn from mistakes, and that is really important.

Dragallur

Picture is from NASA page

 

Space NEWS #7

 

Hi,
today I am bringing space news before it is too late because today the launch vehicle Falcon 9 is going to send Jason-3 satellite on orbit.


 

Jason-3 is international satellite which is going to observe oceans for at least 3 years with goal of 5 years.

Such a monitoring is extremely important and Jason will specialize for the sea level rise, human impact on oceans, prediction of hurricanes and improvement of marine navigation.

Jason is going to be launched TODAY in the evening. Since all of you are from different parts of the world I can only say that it is going to be in 18:42:18 of Greenwich time. It is definitely going to be available on NASA TV.

Also what is important is that Falcon 9 is going to try to land on ship so it can be reused. This is extremely important because it can extremely lower the price of space flights.

To watch the last Falcon 9 of SpaceX landing, watch this, it is amazing.

Dragallur

Picture of Falcon 9:

Falcon 9 v1.1.jpg

Space NEWS #6

Hi,
here comes just a short post because I feel tired after whole week. Today at the morning 45th ISS crew landed safely on Earth.


This crew consisting of Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Maybe you heard about the success of JAXA with Venus and their mission Akatsuki).
One Year Crew
Those guys were in International Space Station for 141 days. Which is a
lot.. but not as much as Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko who are there going to be whole one year to test what space does to people. Their bone density is one of the largest problems (you can see them on the right).

When those three people left there are free places which will be filled by 46th crew launched in December 15th.

Dragallur

 

Space NEWS #5 Bright spots on Ceres

Hi,
here it comes, here it goes. Lately again a lot of stuff about Ceres appeared. It is because Dawn which is the satellite that we send there is actually lowering its orbit and it is getting new information about Ceres`s bright spots.


So Ceres is a dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt. It seems that Phil Plait is not agreeing with me on the first one.
It’s descriptive, and way better than “dwarf planet”, which in my opinion doesn’t make much sense. I still don’t think the word “planet” can be rigorously defined, but as a fuzzy category with adjectival prefixes it has its uses. – Phil Plait
And he is saying that scientists call it protoplanet so I will probably go for it.
Ceres zachycený sondou Dawn 19. února 2015.
So you can see this protoplanet on the right picture. At middle of the picture you should wonder what are those bright spots there?
Well it could seem that it is just a lighter piece of rock and it is not very interesting when compared to other stuff but actually it is pretty cool!

Nature published study talking about the bright spots of Ceres. In different wavelengths Dawn took good photos of these spots and send them to NASA. Now it seems that it is salt. Nobody knew for sure for a long time. On this page NASA has quiz for guessing what are the bright spots. Right after you click some of the options you will see that not many people voted for salt deposit. It is not so cool as ice probably.
Actually it seems that ice is very bad option since it is too hot on the sun lighted side of Ceres to keep any water ice.

It is assumed that this salt rose from the inside of planet and was left because water evaporated.
Btw. once on YouTube I saw video saying that those spots are actually tops of alien towers.

Dragallur

Picture is from Czech Wikipedia Ceres page