February 2005

Conference Evaluates Mars Express Results

February 28, 2005

Here’s an image of the possible Martian pack ice, taken by Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which is imaging the entire planet in full colour, 3-D and with a resolution of about 10 metres. The 3-D capability allows us to see Martian topography in unprecedented detail. Look here for other extraordinarily detailed images. […]

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A New Set of Nearby Stars

February 28, 2005

The American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego yielded results we’ll be discussing all year. One study that comes immediately to mind (with a paper scheduled for the Astronomical Journal in April) is the work of Wei-Chun Jao and the Research Consortium on Nearby Stars (RECONS) team at Georgia State University, who have measured the […]

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Cassini and the Naming of Names

February 26, 2005

Twenty-four craters on Saturn’s tiny moon Phoebe have now been deemed prominent enough to receive their own names. Phoebe was honored by the names of the Argonauts, the explorers who sailed with Jason to find the golden fleece; its largest crater has been christened Jason. The tale was known in the days of Homer and […]

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Cryogenic Survival of Ancient Bacteria

February 25, 2005

Storing and preserving living cells at low temperatures is a staple of science fiction. Who knows how many fictional interstellar journeys have taken place with the crew in cryogenic suspension (my favorite, Van Vogt’s “Far Centaurus,” springs quickly to mind, but there are many possible references). And with the possibility of Martian ice — even […]

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Doubts on Martian Formaldehyde

February 25, 2005

Oliver Morton’s excellent MainlyMartian weblog has a cautionary analysis of Vittorio Formisano’s work on Martian formaldehyde, which we looked at on the 18th. From the weblog: I’ve posted on the formaldehyde story before. And, even more now than then, I think Formisano is making a mistake…[S]o do a number (quite possibly, from what I hear, […]

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Transit Timing to Detect Terrestrial Planets

February 23, 2005

“The Use of Transit Timing to Detect Terrestrial-Mass Extrasolar Planets,” by Matthew Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Norman Murray at the University of Toronto, appears in the February 25th issue of Science. The paper covers a new planet-finding technique that studies transit time; i.e., the amount of time it takes a planet to orbit […]

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A Galaxy Made of Dark Matter

February 23, 2005

Ordinary (or baryonic) matter — the stuff that you and I and Procyon are made of — is outnumbered five to one by so-called ‘dark matter,’ mysterious stuff whose presence can only be inferred from the way galaxies rotate. Some galaxies rotate so fast that, if they were made only of ordinary matter, they would […]

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Martian ‘Pack Ice’ Energizes Researchers

February 23, 2005

The recent finding of a possible ancient sea on Mars has been one of the hotter topics at the ESA Mars Science Conference. The research team, led by John Murray of the UK’s Open University, presented its findings at the conference on the 21st, with a paper coming up in Nature next month. One team […]

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Mars Express Findings Under Debate in Netherlands

February 22, 2005

The Mars Express conference being held at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands runs through the 25th, and as we saw yesterday is already generating its share of high quality data. The program for the meeting can be found here. Of particular interest will be the special session on exobiology and […]

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An Ancient Martian Sea?

February 21, 2005

The Mars Express spacecraft has sent back images that some are interpreting as the broken plates of a Martian sea, surviving in the form of pack ice. New Scientist is running the story, saying the sea appears to be about 800 by 900 kilometers in size and is found 5 degrees north of the Martian […]

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