NASA's Mars Curiosity rover
has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the
atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a
rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.
2012, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced three 'tsunami waves'
in interstellar space. The most recent, which reached the spacecraft
earlier this year, is still propagating outward according to new data.
popular theory holds that ocean water was brought to Earth by the
ancient impacts of comets and asteroids. However, new data from the
European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial
water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Electricity is so 19th century. Most of the uses for it
were established by the 1920s. So there’s nothing innovative left to
do, right? That’s not the opinion of the Nobel committee that awarded
its 2014 physics prize to scientists who invented the blue LED.
Find out why this LED hue of blue was
worthy of our most prestigious science prize … how some bacteria
actually breathe rust … and a plan to cure disease by zapping our
nervous system with electric pulses.
– Postdoctoral researcher in the Materials Department of the Solid
State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center under Shuji Nakamura,
winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, University of California,
Jeff Gralnick – Associate professor of microbiology at the University of Minnesota
Kevin Tracey – Neurosurgeon and president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York
GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: The best meteor shower of the year, the
Geminids, peaks this weekend when Earth passes through a stream of
debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon. Forecasters expect to see as
many as 120 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Dec. 13th and 14th. Visit http://spaceweather.com for photos and observing tips.
Earth is passing through a stream of debris from "rock comet" 3200
Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Forecasters expect
as many as 120 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Dec. 13-14.
a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any
space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s
New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on Dec. 6th for its
long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.
It’s the most dramatic technical development of recent times: Teams
of people working for decades to produce a slow-motion revolution we
call computing. As these devices become increasingly powerful, we
recall that a pioneer from the nineteenth century – Ada Lovelace, a
mathematician and Lord Byron’s daughter – said they would never surpass
human ability. Was she right?
We consider the near-term future of computing as the Internet of
Things is poised to link everything together, and biologists adopt the
techniques of information science to program living cells.
SPACE RADIATION: According to a new study just published in the
research journal Space Weather, astronauts face a growing peril from
space radiation. Rising fluxes of cosmic rays inside the solar system
place increasingly strict limits on the amount of time explorers can
safely travel through interplanetary space. Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and links to the complete study.
AURORA WATCH: Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras this
weekend. Earth is passing through a fast-moving stream of solar wind,
and this is causing geomagnetic unrest around the poles. Geomagnetic
storm alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and http://spaceweatherphone.com (voice).
On Dec. 3, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth. NASA and JAXA are cooperating on the science of the mission.
GEMINIDS: Earth is entering a stream of debris from "rock comet" 3200
Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. The shower is not
expected to peak until Dec. 14th, but NASA meteor cameras are detecting
Geminid fireballs over the USA two weeks early. Visit
http://spaceweather.com for images and updates.
AURORA WATCH: A
high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field on Dec.
1-2. High-latitude sky watchers, especially those around the Arctic
Circle, should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead. Geomagnetic
storm alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and
ENCORE: Here’s to a long life – which, on average, is longer today than it
was a century ago. How much farther can we extend that ultimate finish
line? Scientists are in hot pursuit of the secret to longer life.
The latest in aging studies and why there’s a silver lining for the
silver-haired set: older people are happier. Also, what longevity means
if you’re a tree. Plus, why civilizations need to stick around if
we’re to make contact with E.T.
And, how our perception of time shifts as we age, and other tricks that clocks play on the mind.
AIM spacecraft has spotted electric-blue clouds forming over
Antarctica. These are noctilucent clouds (NLCs) and their apparition
marks the beginning of the 2014-2015 season for southern NLCs. By the
second week of December, Antarctica could be blanketed in electric blue.