Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ocean on Enceladus, opposition of Mars, and other space and astronomy stories for the week of April Fools

It's time to recycle the space news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Ocean inside Enceladus) on Daily Kos, beginning with the lead story.

Space.com: Will Ocean Discovery On Enceladus Spur Life-Hunting Missions to Icy Moons of Saturn, Jupiter?
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer
April 04, 2014 07:33am ET
Astronomers are hoping that the existence of a subsurface ocean on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus will build momentum for life-hunting missions to the outer solar system.

Researchers announced their discovery of the deep watery ocean on Enceladus on Thursday (April 3) in the journal Science, confirming suspicions held by many scientists since 2005, when NASA's Cassini spacecraft spied geysers of ice and water vapor erupting from Enceladus' south pole.

The discovery vaults Enceladus into the top tier of life-hosting candidates along with Europa, an ice-sheathed moon of Jupiter that also hosts a subterranean ocean. Both frigid satellites bear much closer investigation, researchers say.
This week in science: that's no moon! by DarkSyde also used the announcement of the discovery of a subsurface ocean in Enceladus as its lead story, as did the NASA video Underground water on Saturn moon on This Week @NASA.

Thanks to NASA's Cassini spacecraft and the Deep Space Network, we have evidence that a large underground ocean of water exists on Saturn's moon Enceladus -- a theory formulated in 2005. Radio frequency and gravity measurements of Cassini flying by the moon indicate a large ocean about 6 miles deep, below an ice shell about 19 to 25 miles thick. This finding validates the inclusion of Enceladus to the list of possible places in our solar system to contain microbial life. Also, LADEE update, Women in Aerospace, Lightfoot visits Langley, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board meetings, International students observing climate and New partner at Kennedy!
Before I head over the jump to the rest of the past week's space news, Science at NASA presents the other featured story in ScienceCast: The Opposition of Mars

Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter in April, an event astronomers call "the opposition of Mars."
This happens tonight, which is why I'm posting this today instead of waiting for later in the week.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the week's space and astronomy news.

I missed posting space news last week, so here is the summary for that week from NASA: Bolden Testifies About the Budget on This Week @NASA.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden responded to questions at a Congressional hearing about the agency's $17.5 billion FY2015 budget proposal, which affirms the bi-partisan plan agreed to by Congress and the President for NASA to carry out an ambitious deep space exploration program. One that includes sending humans to an asteroid and Mars, extending use of the International Space Station to at least 2024, developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket and fostering commercial partnerships. Also, Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum, Nyberg and Parmitano in DC, Welcome to space! GPM's first light, Exploration Design Challenge, Composite cryo tank delivered and Angry Nerd robot!
Now my readers and I are all caught up.

The opposition of Mars also makes an appearance in the two monthly preview videos I normally include, beginning with What's Up For April 2014 from JPL/NASA.

Mars at opposition, a lunar eclipse and April's Lyrid meteor shower.
It's also in Hubble Space Telescope's Tonight's Sky: April 2014.

Backyard stargazers get a monthly guide to the northern hemisphere's skywatching events with "Tonight's Sky." April is a good month for eclipses. Lucky viewers will see a total lunar eclipse or a partial solar eclipse.
Finally, here are two astronomy stories from campuses on the campaign trail.

Texas Tech: Physicist, Team Observe Closest Milemarker Supernova
Type Ia supernovae used to judge distances. This could improve future measurements.
Written by John Davis
March 25, 2014
Researchers including a Texas Tech University physicist have intently studied the closest type Ia supernova discovered in a generation. The proximity to Earth could yield better understanding of this particular type of supernova that astronomers use to gauge distances in the universe and learn about its expansion history.

The research was led by Stockholm University and published in the peer-reviewed journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.

With the help of a special spectroscopic camera developed by David Sand, an assistant professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Physics, the team observed  the supernova was a mere 12 million light years away from Earth. Finding one so close is important, he said, because astrophysicists use these stars to map distances in the universe.
American University: Forecasting Space Weather
By Abbey Becker
April 3, 2014
When he was young, Dhanesh Krishnarao, BS physics and mathematics ’14, took a family vacation to Disney World and to nearby Kennedy Space Center. That’s when he fell in love with space and astronomy.

Now Krishnarao’s dream job is to be an astronaut, but he’s taking it one step at a time to get there. Last summer he began an internship with NASA in the area of space weather forecasting. “These forecasts can predict the sun’s effects on Earth and its magnetic field, among other things,” he says, all of which is helpful information for NASA robotic missions, the military, and the government.

Last fall, he teleworked on his internship project from AU. This semester, he is traveling to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, one day a week to work on a new project: observing solar flares. “I always had an interest in astronomy,” he says. “Space weather wasn’t a focus until I started at NASA.”
And that's it for last week's space and astronomy news.

No comments:

Post a Comment