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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

The Fastest Spacecraft Ever?

Who's the fastest of them all? (Credit: NASA) Of all the spacecraft humans have launched, there have been some impressively fast movers. But which holds the record?It's not an entirely idle question...

February 25, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Meteor fireballs across central Russia

Still image of fireball video (RT/Youtube/Potapow) [ Updated :] About 7,000 metric tons of meteor streaked across central Russia on Friday 15th February 2013, its fireball leaving great contrails in the sky and generating explosive shockwaves that smashed windows and damaged buildings...

February 15, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Help Name Two Of Pluto's Moons

Pluto's currently known moons (Credit: NASA/HST) Far from the Sun planetary bodies can hold onto many more moons. The latest count for Pluto is five satellites, and the most recent two need names.Back in 2011 and 2012 it was announced that Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Pluto system had spied first one and then another new candidate moon...

February 11, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Will This Be The Comet Of The Century?

It may not look like much now, but ISON has the potential to become a Great Comet (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD (Tony Farnham)) NASA's Deep Impact probe has captured images of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), as it moves past the orbital distance of Jupiter on what may be its first trip inwards to the Sun, and possibly a spectacular show.Comets are notoriously fickle beasts...

February 6, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Andromeda mon amour

Andromeda (GALEX/NASA/JPL) There is something beautiful yet ominous about our nearest large galactic neighbor.The Andromeda galaxy is a trillion star behemoth that spans some six times the diameter of the full Moon when seen through a telescope...

January 29, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Veins, not Flowers, on Mars

The 'John Klein' rock surface, target for drilling. Scale of image is approximately 1 meter across. Image has been white-balanced to mimic Earth-illumination (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) NASA's Curiosity rover is preparing to drill for the first time, into what appears to be sedimentary rock criss-crossed by mineral-filled veins.    Back in September last year the Mars Science Laboratory carried by the rover found a rocky outcrop on the wall of Gale Crater that was full of a crusty mix of cemented pebbles...

January 18, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Lake Vostok Water Ice Has Been Obtained

Cross-sectional map of Lake Vostok situation (before drilling was complete) (Credt: National Science Foundation) Break out the vodka. The first confirmed sample of water from the subsurface Lake Vostok in Antarctica has been retrieved.Almost a year ago, in February 2012 Russian scientists and engineers drilled to a depth of nearly 4,000 meters in the ice above Lake Vostok - a 1,300 cubic mile volume of liquid water thought to have formed some 20 million years ago and to have been effectively isolated from the outside world for at least 100,000 years and possibly for millions of years...

January 13, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Dance of the Exoplanets

Fomalhaut and Fomalhaut b (inset) Hubble imagery (Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute)) It's been an exciting few days for exoplanetary science...

January 9, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

So You're a Scientist Wanting to Write a Popular Science Book?

You look familiar.... (Credit: NY Zoological Society) About three years ago I had an epiphany, or maybe it was a small bout of lunacy. I realized that I wanted to try to write a real book - something that wasn't just another peer-reviewed journal article reporting the minutiae of a piece of research that precisely ten other people on the planet were genuinely interested in (one posthumously).And so I did.Except it wasn't quite that straightforward, and I thought I'd share a few experiences with any of you considering taking this plunge.First, let me be clear that I think that I have been incredibly, almost unbelievably lucky in how things have played out...

January 3, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

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