Learning Space №47 - Geology with CUPCAKES

This week, we’ll be talking with Jess Krim about a super-fun demonstration for science class. There will be cupcakes… There is a cupcake sitting on my desk right now that I cannot eat. Find out why in a few minutes!

Duration: 50:53

via Astrosphere Vids.

What Are These Hollows on Mercury?

Emily Lakdawalla from the planetary society describes one of the mysteries that’s currently fascinating her. There are strange structures on Mercury which have been called “hollows”. What might they be?

via Universe Today.

BAM! 38,000 MPH Space Rock Slams Into Moon

An estimated 4 foot-wide, 880 lbs asteroid hit the moon on September 11th, 2013. It had explosive force of 15 tons of TNT. Spanish telescopes that are part of Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) recorded the explosion. (looped)

via Video From Space.

Titan as You’ve Never Seen it Before: The Cassini Mission to Saturn

Saturn’s moon Titan is the only place in our solar system other than Earth known to have a surface dotted with stable bodies of liquid, which take the form of hydrocarbon lakes and seas. With the success of additional flybys of Titan this year by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and the development of a new way of analyzing data from the radar mapper, Cassini’s science team has put together the most complete multi-image mosaic yet of Titan’s northern land of lakes and views of the region in 3-D. The new results have given Cassini scientists a better understanding of this Earth-like region and its history.

Duration: 41:33

via American Geophysical Union.

Rotating Globe of Ganymede Geology

Animation of a rotating globe of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, with a geologic map superimposed over a global color mosaic. The 37-second animation begins as a global color mosaic image of the moon then quickly fades in the geologic map.


via U.S. Geological Survey.

Playing Tag With an Asteroid

What’s the best way get a sample of an asteroid? Play tag with it! That’s the plan for OSIRIS-REx, a NASA spacecraft that will approach the asteroid Bennu in 2018. The collection will be done with an instrument on board called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or, TAGSAM. Learn how it works in this video.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a011400/a011435/index.html

via NASA explorer.

Disk Detective: Search for Planetary Habitats

A new NASA-sponsored website, DiskDetective.org, lets the public discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

The site is led and funded by NASA and developed by the Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop and manage the Internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.

WISE, located in Earth orbit and designed to survey the entire sky in infrared light, completed two scans between 2010 and 2011. It took detailed measurements of more than 745 million objects, representing the most comprehensive survey of the sky at mid-infrared wavelengths currently available. Astronomers have used computers to search this haystack of data for planet-forming environments and narrowed the field to about a half-million sources that shine brightly in the infrared, indicating they may be “needles”: dust-rich circumstellar disks that are absorbing their star’s light and reradiating it as heat.

Planets form and grow within these disks. But galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, and asteroids also glow in the infrared, which stymies automated efforts to identify planetary habitats.

Disk Detective incorporates images from WISE and other sky surveys in the form of brief animations the website calls flip books. Volunteers view a flip book and then classify the object based on simple criteria, such as whether the image is round or includes multiple objects. By collecting this information, astronomers will be able to assess which sources should be explored in greater detail.

The project aims to find two types of developing planetary environments. The first, known as Young Stellar Object disks, typically are less than 5 million years old, contain large quantities of gas, and are often found in or near young star clusters. For comparison, our own solar system is 4.6 billion years old.

The other type of habitat is called a debris disk. These systems tend to be older than 5 million years, possess little or no gas, and contain belts of rocky or icy debris that resemble the asteroid and Kuiper belts found in our own solar system. Vega and Fomalhaut, two of the brightest stars in the sky, host debris disks.

Through Disk Detective, volunteers will help the astronomical community discover new planetary nurseries that will become future targets for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11436

via NASA explorer.

Why Europa?

Forget Mars, the place we really want to go looking for life is Jupiter’s moon Europa. Dr. Mike Brown, a professor of planetary science at Caltech, explains what he finds so fascinating about this icy moon, and the potential we might find life swimming in its vast oceans.

via Universe Today.

Opportunity: 10 Years on Mars - Science

Two Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet in January, 2004, on a 90-day mission. Spirit’s mission lasted 2,269 days (over 6 years) and ended in 2010. Ten years after landing, the Opportunity rover continues to explore. The rover’s science team explains how Opportunity traversed the Red Planet, examined the diverse environment and sent back data that transformed our understanding of Mars.

via JPL.

Opportunity: 10 Years on Mars - Operating A Rover

There are no vehicle repair stations on Mars. The Opportunity rover landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 for a 90-day mission. Ten years later it’s still going strong despite not being serviced by human hands in over a decade. The engineering team discusses the demands of driving a rover millions of miles away, keeping it alive in the extreme Martian elements and doing long-distance repairs.

via JPL.

New Observations of Europa from the Hubble Space Telescope

Previous spacecraft missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa revealed complex patterns adorning the surface and generated a scientific debate about its icy outer shell and subsurface ocean. New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope present a surprising twist to our understanding of this unusual planetary satellite.

Duration: 01:13:15

via American Geophysical Union.

Where Did Earth’s Water Come From?

Earth didn’t have water when it formed, but it does now! How did it get wet?

Created by Henry Reich
Animation: Ever Salazar
Production and Writing Team: Alex Reich, Peter Reich, Emily Elert
Music: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder

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via Minute Earth.
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Dynamic Mars from Long Term Observations

There has been a continual spacecraft presence at Mars since 1997. The longevity of spacecraft missions examining the Red Planet has enabled detection and examination of changes on multiple time scales. Active processes include planet-encircling dust storms about every three to four Mars years, evolution of the polar caps, fresh impacts, migrating sand, and a suite of processes on slopes, some of which may involve liquid water. The distribution of shallow ice is much better known, with implications for recent climate change. The longer the observations continue, the deeper the understanding grows about active processes on Mars.

Duration: 33:12

via American Geophysical Union.

Science from Juno’s Earth Flyby

In October, the Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft did a flyby of Earth before its long journey. The Juno team presents a low-resolution Earth flyby video as well as data acquired by the spacecraft as it zipped past the home planet. Team members will also discuss results from the mission’s outreach campaign inviting amateur radio operators to “Say Hi to Juno” as the spacecraft passed, and the scientific goals for the mission once it reaches Jupiter.

Duration: 44:53

via American Geophysical Union.

What Is A SuperEarth?

The Universe is always surprising us with how little we know about… the Universe.

It’s continuously presenting us with stuff we never imagined, or even thought possible.

The search for extrasolar planets is a great example.

Since we started, astronomers have turned up over a thousand of them.

These planets can be gigantic worlds with many times the mass of Jupiter, all the way down to little tiny planets smaller than Mercury.

Astronomers are also finding one type of world that feels both familiar and yet totally alien… the super earth.

In the strictest sense, a super earth is just a planet with more mass than Earth, but less than a larger planet like Uranus or Neptune.

via Universe Today.