Showing posts from October, 2010

Liquid Water Found on Mars, But It's Still a Hard Road for Life

Source:    Richard A. Kerr, Science Excerpt: Researchers appear to have finally achieved one of the Phoenix lander's primary goals. After digging through piles of data left from the mission to Mars more than 2 years ago, they've discovered signs that liquid water has lately flowed on the frigid planet. In a paper in press in Geophysical Research Letters, Phoenix team members report that liquid water—probably only thin films of it—appears to have concentrated salts onto small patches of soil that Phoenix uncovered. The water may be liquid every martian spring or summer, or perhaps it only melted many millennia ago. might—just might—be holding out a bit beneath the surface of the martian arctic. On the face of it, Phoenix team members are merely reporting a second detection of perchlorate salts by Phoenix.

NASA Trapped Mars Rover Finds Evidence of Subsurface Water

Source:    NASA RELEASE: 10-278 Excerpt: The ground where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became stuck last year holds evidence that water, perhaps as snow melt, trickled into the subsurface fairly recently and on a continuing basis.

Eris and Pluto: Two Peas in a Pod

Source:   Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today Excerpt: … Eris — that pesky big dwarf planet that caused all the brouhaha about planets, dwarf planets, plutoids and the like — has gotten a closer look by a team of astronomers from several different universities, and guess what? Eris and Pluto have a lot in common. Eris appears to have a frozen surface, predominantly covered in nitrogen ice and methane, just like Pluto. …“By combining the astronomical data and laboratory data, we found about 90 percent of Eris’s icy surface is made up of nitrogen ice and about 10 percent is made up of methane ice, which is not all that different from Pluto,” said David Cornelison, coauthor and physicist at Missouri State University….

Warm ‘Perrier’ Ocean Could be Powering Enceladus’ Geysers

Source:   7.1, 9.2 Excerpt: Bottled water companies take note: an exotic form of warm, bubbly mineral water could be what feeds the mysterious jets spraying from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. A new model of the sub-surface ocean explains how the small moon could be so cryo-volcanically active....

Saturn’s Rings Formed from Large Moon’s Destruction

Source:   Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today Excerpt: The formation of Saturn’s rings has been one of the classical if not eternal questions in astronomy. ... The two leading theories involve a small moon that was shattered by meteor impacts, or the tidal disruption of a comet coming too close to Saturn.  ...But one researcher has provided a provocative new theory to answer that question. Robin Canup from the Southwest Research Institute has uncovered evidence that the rings came from a large, Titan-sized moon that was destroyed as it spiraled into a young Saturn....

Titan-ic Tsunami Causing Crack in Saturn’s C Ring

Source:   Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today Saturn’s rings have several gaps, most of which are caused by small moons shepherding ring debris into breaks in the rocky rings. But one gap may be caused by gravitational perturbations from Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, sending tsunami-like waves up to 3 kilometers (2 miles) high in the C ring. … “The whole pattern rotates around at the same rate as the satellite Titan orbits Saturn, once every 16 days,” said Nicholson said....