Category Archives: Solar System

Life on the Moon? New study suggests there was a habitability window 4 billion years ago

The Moon is completely uninhabitable and lifeless today – a dusty, dry rock. It has no atmosphere, there is no liquid water on the surface, and, maybe the most important, it has no magnetosphere to protect its surface from solar wind and cosmic radiation. But, according to a new study published in Astrobiology, it may have looked quite different around four billion years ago: its surface was not as dry as it is today, and conditions to support simple life on the Moon existed twice during the early years.

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Song of Saturn and Its Moon Enceladus

NASA has published an amazing video titled “Sounds of Saturn: Hear Radio Emissions of the Planet and Its Moon Enceladus”. The analyze of the data from the Cassini Spacecraft’s Grand Finale orbits showed a surprisingly powerful interaction of plasma waves moving from Saturn to its icy moon Enceladus. Researchers converted the recording of plasma waves into a “whooshing” audio file that we can hear, in the same way a radio translates electromagnetic waves into music.

Much like air or water, plasma (the fourth state of matter) generates waves to carry energy. The recording was captured by the Radio Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument on September 2, 2017, two weeks before Cassini was deliberately plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.

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Moon Illusion: why the Moon looks larger when it’s near the horizon?

If you go out on a clear night when it’s the full moon, you may notice how gigantic the Earth’s satellite looks when it’s near the horizon. But, in fact, that moon is the exact same size as every other time as you’ve ever seen it in the sky. You can test this by holding your thumbnail at arm’s length and comparing it to the size of the Moon when it is near the horizon and high in the sky, and you’ll see it doesn’t change size. Photographs of the Moon at different elevations also show that its size remains the same. In fact, it plays a trick on your brain which called the “Moon Illusion”. This illusion has been known since ancient times, and an explanation of this optical phenomenon is still debated.

The moon illusion is subtle for some and dramatic for others (including me). A small fraction of people even don’t see it.

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How Far Away Is The Moon?

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel named The Science Asylum. In this channel, physicist Nick Lucid covers some popular science subjects. For example, the video below, titled “How Far Away Is The Moon?” explains the distance between the Earth and the moon, and how our brains aren’t good at dealing with the big numbers.

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What’s the Difference Between a Meteoroid, a Meteor, a Meteorite, an Asteroid, and a Comet?

Hint: they are all space rocks. But, there are some differences. The biggest difference between an asteroid and a comet, for example, is what they are made of.

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Virtual Reality Tour of 6 Real Exoplanets in 4K Ultra-HD, 360°

What would it be like to stand on the surface of another planet? “We The Curious” channel has teamed up with a group of astrophysicists to create a scientifically accurate virtual reality tour of six planets discovered outside our solar system. The fruit of this collaboration is the video below, in 4K Ultra-HD and 360-degree. Narrated and produced by Ross Exton.

Related: Exoplanet Travel Bureau by NASA

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Want to Become a Citizen Scientist for NASA?

You can help NASA on some projects: for instance, citizen scientists helped NASA identify an aurora-related celestial phenomenon, now called STEVE. Want to become a citizen scientist? You can find projects on the NASA website.

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We May Have Already Detected Signs of Alien Microbes on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

According to a new study, microbes like those found in Earth’s deep ocean could potentially thrive in the underground ocean of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Both molecular hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) already have been detected in the plume. Researchers have shown that Methanothermococcus okinawensis, a methanogenic archaeon first isolated from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent on the western Pacific Ocean, can produce methane under conditions known to exist on Enceladus.

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