Category Archives: Astronomy

TRAPPIST-1 System May Contain Water

On February 22, 2017, NASA astronomers have announced that seven Earth-sized planets have been discovered around an ultra-cool dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1 which is located around 39 light-years from the Earth. And what’s more – three of them are orbiting their star in the habitable zone. Then, an international team of astronomers led by the Swiss astronomer Vincent Bourrier from the Observatoire de l’Université de Genève used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the planets of TRAPPIST-1 system. Now, on August 31, 2017, the team announced that their findings suggest that “the outer planets of the system might still harbor substantial amounts of water”, including the three planets within the habitable zone of the star – TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g. This result lends further weight to the possibility that these planets may indeed be habitable.

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Huge Asteroid “3122 Florence” flyby video

On September 1, 2017, a potentially hazardous asteroid named 3122 Florence skimmed past Earth from a mere 4.4 million miles (7 million km) distance. The huge asteroid, which is around 2.7 mile (4.4 km) wide, was the “biggest object passed this close to Earth since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began”, according to Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The close flyby was captured with an amateur astronomer using an 80 mm F5 Apo telescope and a Canon 6D camera, and published on youtube.

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What would happen if the Earth stopped rotating?

The Earth rotates from west to east with a linear velocity of 465.1013 m/s (1674.365 km/h) at the equator. But what would happen if the Earth stopped rotating abruptly? Online magazine Tech Insider presented a video demonstrating the development of events in this case.

Related: What Would Happen If the Earth Started Spinning Backward?

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Why Do We See Only One Side of the Moon?

You have probably heard references been made to the “dark side” of the Moon – there’s even a Pink Floyd album with that name. But, in fact, there’s no “dark side” of the moon. Because it is not illuminated by the Earth, it is illuminated by the Sun. All the surface of the moon lit by the Sun as the Moon rotates. But, yes, we see only one side of the moon and here’s why.

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NASA Announces 10 New Earth Sized Planets Orbiting in Habitable Zone

On June 19, 2017, NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates. The final catalog introduces 219 new exoplanet candidates, and 10 of them are near-Earth-size and orbiting their stars in the circumstellar habitable zone. Notes 1

This the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog. With this release, there are now 4,034 planet candidates (as of June 21, 2017) identified by Kepler space telescope, which launched by NASA on March 7, 2009, to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars. Of those, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified. All the Kepler’s catalog is publicly available on NASA Exoplanet Archive.

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NASA Detects a Human-Made Barrier Surrounding Earth

We, humans, are changing our planet drastically that scientists say the world entered a completely a new geological era called “Anthropocene”. But, it seems we are not shaping only the surface and the atmosphere of Earth, human activities are changing our near-space environment as well. The change is so big that NASA’s Van Allen probes have detected a human-made barrier surrounding Earth.

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Why astronauts float in space

We see images and videos from the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts floating in the space freely. That’s because they’re in the space, so there is no gravitational force of Earth there, right?

Wrong.

The International Space Station is in Low Earth OrbitSee notes 1 with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 mi). It is so close to the Earth that on a clear day easily visible to the naked eye from the ground as it is the third brightest object in the sky (NASA has actually launched a new interactive map at its Spot the Station web site). At that altitude, the Earth’s gravity is about 90 percent of what it is on the planet’s surface – still pretty strong, right? To reduce the gravity of the Earth by a factor of one million, one needs to be at a distance of 6 million kilometers (around 3,728,227 miles) from the Earth – more than fifteen times the distance between the Earth and Moon.

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Ancient carvings show a comet hit Earth 13,000 years ago

Ancient symbols carved into stone at Göbekli Tepe (an archaeological site in Turkey) tell the story of a big comet impact more than 13,000 years ago, scientists think. The devastating impact triggered a mini ice-age which drove many mammals weighing more than 40 kg to extinction.

According to an article published by New Scientist, carvings made on a pillar known as the “Vulture Stone” in Göbekli Tepe suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit the Earth in around 11000 BC.

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Earth Between the Rings of Saturn

A beautiful image published by NASA, taken by the unmanned Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, shows the Earth between the rings of Saturn. The image is taken on April 12, 2017.

“Consider again that dot [Earth]. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
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How Earth Could Die – 8 Horrible Ways

Now we’re living on a warm, hospitable planet. As Carl Sagan has said “That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” We, humans, are the unquestionable rulers of our little oasis in a hostile universe. But all things must pass. The life on Earth, even the planet itself, won’t last forever. What’s more, the humans may go extinct before our planet (and probably before the life on it) dies out. Here some possible (and horrible) ways how planet Earth could die.

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