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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

  • Crazy, Wonderful Spacecraft Orbits

    Crazy, Wonderful Spacecraft Orbits

    By Caleb A. Scharf | 11 hours ago |

    Over the years humans have deployed spacecraft into some wild, wacky and extremely clever orbital configurations to better study the cosmos. From a really long way away, the gravitational field of our solar system -  due to the combined mass of a modest star and an assortment of planets and billions of small chunks - reduces to a near perfect symmetry. […]

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  • Just Another Cloudy Morning on a Hot Exoplanet

    Just Another Cloudy Morning on a Hot Exoplanet

    By Caleb A. Scharf | May 19, 2015 |

    NASA’s Kepler mission has provided a treasure trove of stellar ‘Big Data’ that continues to yield marvelous results. Now a new study , to be published in The Astrophysical Journal by Esteves et al., is providing some remarkable clues to the characteristics of planets on very short orbits around their stars. […]

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  • Salty, Alkaline Curtains are Erupting from Enceladus – and That’s Good

    By Caleb A. Scharf | May 7, 2015 |

    (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) Two new studies hint at a richer picture of what’s happening on Saturn’s extraordinary icy moon Enceladus. At about 500 kilometers in diameter, Enceladus is a diminutive natural satellite. But when it comes to scientific discovery it punches way, way above its size. […]

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  • Rosetta Captures Stunning New Images of Comet’s Surface and Activity

    By Caleb A. Scharf | April 27, 2015 |

    Comet surface at 1.7 meter/pixel resolution (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM - CC BY-SA IGO 3.0) What happens when you make a low-level flyby of a cometary nucleus? You get jaw-dropping images. The above 2-shot mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by ESA’s Rosetta orbiter at an effective altitude of just 19.9 kilometers. […]

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  • NASA Goes Big and Bold for Exoplanet Science

    By Caleb A. Scharf | April 24, 2015 |

    The NASA vision for its Nexus for Exoplanet System Science - who knows what the kite-flyers signify...but it's uplifting(Credit: NASA)                   A United States federal agency is not necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to answering some of the deepest existential questions for our species. […]

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  • Where Would you Leave a Message From the Stars?

    Where Would you Leave a Message From the Stars?

    By Caleb A. Scharf | April 14, 2015 |

    A recent article by Samuel Arbesman in the science magazine Nautilus discusses the extraordinary sounding possibility that - just perhaps - a search for extraterrestrial intelligence could be made by looking at our DNA. Yes, that's right, at DNA. […]

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  • Watch the First Artificial Gravity Experiment

    Watch the First Artificial Gravity Experiment

    By Caleb A. Scharf | April 6, 2015 |

    High above Baja California, the first artificial gravity experiment (Credit: NASA) Gravity, as the old joke goes, sucks. It drags us down, pulls on our weary limbs, makes our feet tired, makes parts of us droop. But it's also a critical factor for our long term well-being. […]

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  • The March 11 Solar Flare

    The March 11 Solar Flare

    By Caleb A. Scharf | March 31, 2015 |

    We live a mere 93 million miles from an enormous fusion reactor. It's easy to overlook this, after all the Sun is only about halfway through its long slog of converting protons into helium nuclei deep inside its core. Decommissioning is still a few billion years in the future. […]

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  • The Grand Texture of Planets

    The Grand Texture of Planets

    By Caleb A. Scharf | March 30, 2015 |

                  In an idle moment, while staring at a set of solar system data, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to display a set of planetary surfaces on an equal footing, where the overall texture of these worlds was visible (although topography is probably a more accurate word on these scales) - and decided it was worth sharing as a brief piece of solar system trivia. […]

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  • Have we got Solar System Habitability Backwards?

    Have we got Solar System Habitability Backwards?

    By Caleb A. Scharf | March 13, 2015 |

    Aurora on Ganymede may betray a subsurface ocean (Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Saur (University of Cologne, Germany)) Enceladus, Europa, Ganymede, Titan, Triton, Pluto, Eris...they may all have, or have had, large oceans of liquid water trapped beneath a frozen crust. […]

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