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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

Gravitational Mesolensing And The Hunt For Exoplanets

It's full of lenses... When astronomers talk about methods for finding exoplanets the list is relatively short. There is the radial velocity, or 'wobble' technique, which senses the motion of a star around a common center-of-mass with its planets...

March 7, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Billion Year Old Seawater

As it was, and as it is, an ocean on Earth (T. Fioreze) If there is one thing our universe makes a lot of, it is water. This isn't an immediately obvious property based solely on the universal inventory of stuff...

March 5, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Superluminal Neutrino Result Caused by Faulty Connection?

A data transmission problem? (Wikipedia/BigRiz) Although still awaiting full confirmation, a breaking news report in Science (and Nature , see below) indicates that the measurement of an apparently faster-than-light travel time for muon-neutrinos generated at CERN and detected at the Gran Sasso laboratory - which hit the world headlines back in September 2011 - may have been due to a problematic physical connection between a fiber-optic cable and an electronics card in a computer.The rumor is that when this connection was tightened and the signal timing through the cable re-evaluated it matched precisely the 60 nano-second discrepancy that had been attributed to possible superluminal neutrino speeds...

February 22, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Nomadic Planets May Make Pit Stops

Nomadic world seeks friendly home (NASA/JPL-Caltech) The notion of what constitutes a typical planetary system has undergone some serious revision in the past twenty years.

February 16, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Walk Tall, but Please Tread Softly, SpaceX

A Falcon 9 launches the Dragon spacecraft - which orbited and then reentered the atmosphere to splashdown in the Pacific in December 2010 (SpaceX/Chris Thompson) We live in interesting times...

February 13, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Lake Vostok is (Almost) Breached After 20 Million Years

Satellite composite showing location of Vostok within the Antarctic continent (NASA) Two and a half miles beneath the surface of Antarctica's central Eastern ice sheet is a body of water 160 miles by 30 miles across known as Lake Vostok, after the Vostok research station above it, built by the former Soviet Union in 1957 and now operated by Russia.Even by Antarctic standards it's a brutal place, with the dubious honor of holding the record for the lowest measured temperature anywhere on the planet, a mind-if-not-body numbing -129 F or -89 C...

February 6, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Astrobiology: We are the Aliens

Bacterial aliens (NASA) A funny thing happened recently on the way to Mars.A few days after the successful launch of NASA's behemoth Curiosity rover with its Mars Science Laboratory instruments on November 26th 2011, a somewhat muted piece of news came out admitting that the strict biological planetary protection rules had not been adhered to quite as everyone expected...

February 6, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

Aurorae from Earth, Space, and on Other Worlds

Southern aurora (aurora australis) composited with NASA imagery As we're in the midst of experiencing some particularly stormy solar weather it seems appropriate to make a quick post with some nifty auroral images and time-lapse movies (see below)...

January 25, 2012 — Caleb A. Scharf

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