Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

 

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot – an enormous  tempest raging on the side of the planet – was expected to dissipate rapidly,  but hundreds of years on, it is still one of the solar system’s most  recognizable and mysterious features.

Scientists were unsure why the giant spot has  prevailed, but now a team of U.S. researchers believe they have solved the  mystery, using computer models.

They think the vertical motion of the gases  holds the key to the Great Red Spot’s persistence by restoring part of its lost  energy.

The giant storm
The giant storm on the surface of Jupiter (pictured)  should have disappeared centuries ago, based on scientists’ understanding of  fluid dynamics. The turbulence and waves in the Red Spot sap the energy of its  winds and it loses more energy by radiating heat read more

Pump Up The Warming… Global That Is

by: the Common Constitutionalist

 

Question: what happens when the Sun sets? It gets dark and gets cooler.

 

Now, what happens when the Sun rises? It becomes light and warms.

 

In other words, the Sun is the source of the earth’s warmth. It’s hard to dispute that scientific and oh so obvious fact. And without it (the Sun), the Earth would be a dark, cold, lifeless rock.

 

Yet scientists discovered long ago that the warmth from the Sun is not consistent. Sunspots affect the Sun’s warming of the earth and they (sunspots) appear to run in regular cycles. The next to be the 25th recorded cycle. So it could accurately be stated that sunspots cause global warming and cooling.

 

On average the earth is warmer when sunspot activity is high and cooler with less and there has been a lot less sunspot activity lately, coupled with the weakening of the Sun’s magnetic fields that cause sunspots; steadily weakening since 1995. Funny how there hasn’t been any warming since 1998  – shortly after the weakening. Yet the man-made global warming fanatics insist that sunspots are not a factor. read more

Mars Once Looked Like Earth

Today Mars is a cold and barren desert world,  with no apparent sign of life.

But four billion years ago, scientists  believe the red planet was a very different place – one that the believe looked  a lot like Earth.

A stunning video by Nasa’s Goddard Conceptual  Image Lab reveals what Mars may have looked like if its atmosphere allowed for  water.

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This is an artist's concept of an ancient, habitable Mars capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
This is an artist’s concept of an ancient, habitable  Mars capable of supporting liquid water on its surface read more

One Way Ticket to Mars

 

A one-way ticket to a barren, hostile landscape, where temperatures can drop as low as -150°C, might not sound like everyone’s dream destination. 

But as of the application deadline a week ago, more than 200,000 people from 140 different countries have applied to be among the first colonists on Mars.

The applicants have agreed to stay on the red planet for the rest of their lives – and be filmed for a reality TV programme, said the company behind the mission, Mars One.

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The colony as it is expected to look in 2015 - with four astronauts arriving every two years on the one-way missionThe colony as it is expected to look in 2015 – with four astronauts arriving every two years on the one-way mission

The Dutch group wants to launch a supply mission that will land on Mars as soon as October 2016.  A ‘settlement rover’ will then land in 2018.

They added that landing systems will be tested eight times before they are used to transport humans – a move that Mars One said will make the trips ‘much safer than moon missions’.

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The End of the Spacesuit

Researchers reveal nano coating that could revolutionize space travel

Scientists have created a ‘nano-suit’ for  fruit fly larvae which could eventually spell the end of the human  spacesuit.

Researchers in Japan discovered that they can  protect larvae from the effects of exposure to a space-like vacuum by bombarding  them with electrons.

Without the treatment, the larvae shrivel and  die within a few minutes.

Without the electron coating the larva shriveled and died
The larva did not dehydrate when subjected to electron bombardment
 Normally a larva exposed to a vacuum will shrivel and  die (above), but when protected by a ‘nano-suit’ a larva can survive  (below)

HOW DOES THE ‘NANO-SUIT’  WORK?

When animals are exposed to a space-like  vacuum they are in danger of dehydrating because the water is sucked from their  bodies.

Japanese researchers found a way of  preventing this happening which avoids the need for a traditional  spacesuit.

They bombarded a larva with electrons which  caused the molecules in the film covering its skin to stick together.

This created a protective layer flexible  enough to allow it to move, but solid enough to stop dehydration.

Most insects do not have the natural layer  that can be transformed into a ‘nano-suit’ so the researchers also made an  artificial alternative.

They submerged mosquito larvae in a bath of  water and Tween 20 – a non-toxic chemical – before covering them in  plasma.

This caused the Tween 20 to create a  nano-suit similar to that created naturally by the fruit fly larvae.

However, the researchers at Hamamatsu  University School of Medicine discovered that when they are protected by a ‘nano-suit’ created by electron bombardment, they can survive the space-like  conditions.

Science has  reported that the ‘nano-suit’ works like a miniature space suit meaning that it  could eventually be used by humans if applied using an electron shower.

To conduct the study, Japanese scientists  placed a tiny larva in a scanning electron microscope and bombarded it with  electrons. It survived the experience and went on to develop into a healthy  fly.

By contrast, they also placed another larva  in the same scanning electron microscope without the electron bombardment and  this one quickly died of dehydration because, as predicted, the vacuum sucked  the water out of its body.

When the researchers studied the skin of the  insects they found that the electron treatment had changed the thin film  covering the surviving larva’s skin – it had caused its molecules to stick  together creating a layer flexible enough to allow it to move, but strong enough  to protect it from dehydration.

However, most insects do not have natural  layers than can be transformed into ‘nano-suits’ so the scientists decided to  create an artificial alternative.

Scientists have created a 'nano-suit' for fruit fly larvae which could eventually spell the end of the human spacesuit
Scientists have created a ‘nano-suit’ for fruit fly  larvae which could eventually spell the end of the human spacesuit
The 'nano-suit' works like a miniature space suit meaning that it could eventually be used by humans if applied using an electron shower. Picture shows Nasa's latest spacesuit design
The ‘nano-suit’ works like a miniature space suit  meaning that it could eventually be used by humans if applied using an electron  shower. Picture shows Nasa’s latest spacesuit design

They submerged mosquito larvae in a bath of  water and Tween 20 – a non-toxic chemical – before covering them in  plasma.

This caused the Tween 20 to create a  nano-suit similar to that created naturally by the fruit fly larvae.

Astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild of Nasa’s Ames  Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told Science that the nano-suits  could allow creatures, or even people, to survive the extreme environments of  space.

The researchers believe that this technique  could eventually be used to allow astronauts to do away with their traditional  spacesuits.

These protect them from the harsh environment  of outer space – the vacuum and the extreme temperatures – by featuring a  self-contained oxygen supply and environmental control system.

Attribution: Emma Innes, Daily Mail

Hubble reveals Horsehead Nebula

It is an astonishing new view of a unique  nebula.

Researchers have used NASA’s Hubble Space  Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to  mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory.

Looking like an apparition rising from whitecaps of interstellar foam, the iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago.

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The Horsehead Nebula as viewed at near-infrared wavelengthswith the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
The Horsehead Nebula as viewed at near-infrared  wavelengthswith the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This thick pillar of gas  and dust is sculpted by powerful stellar winds blowing from clusters of massive  stars located beyond the field of this image. The bright source at the top left  edge of the nebula is a young star whose radiation is already eroding the  surrounding interstellar material.

 

HUBBLE’S HISTORY

Hubble has been producing ground-breaking  science for two decades since its launch  aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990.

During that time, it has benefited from a  slew of upgrades from space shuttle  missions, including the 2009 addition of a  new imaging workhorse, the  high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3 that took the  new portrait of the  Horsehead.

 

The nebula is a favorite target for amateur  and professional astronomers.

It is shadowy in optical light, and appears  transparent and ethereal when seen at infrared wavelengths.

‘The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula  pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that  easily are visible in infrared light,’ said Nasa.

The nebula is part of the Orion Molecular  Cloud, located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Orion.

The cloud also contains other well-known  objects such as the Great Orion Nebula (M42), the Flame Nebula, and Barnard’s  Loop.

It is one of the nearest and most easily  photographed regions in which massive stars are being formed.

Spot the horsehead:

A new view from ESA’s Herschel space  observatory of the iconic Horsehead Nebula in the context of its surroundings.  The Horsehead Nebula resides in the constellation Orion, about 1300 light-years  away, and is part of the vast Orion Molecular Cloud complex. To the left, the  panoramic view also covers two other prominent sites where massive stars are  forming, NGC 2068 and NGC 2071.

In the Hubble image, the backlit  wisps  along the Horsehead’s upper ridge are being illuminated by Sigma  Orionis, a  young five-star system just out of view.

Along the nebula’s top ridge, two fledgling  stars peek out from their now-exposed nurseries.

Scientists know a harsh ultraviolet glare  from one of these bright stars is slowly evaporating the nebula.

Gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead already  have dissipated, but the tip  of the jutting pillar contains a slightly higher  density of hydrogen and helium, laced with dust.

This casts a shadow that protects material  behind it from being stripped  away by intense stellar radiation evaporating the  hydrogen cloud, and a  pillar structure forms.

Hubble has been producing ground-breaking  science for two decades since its launch  aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990.

During that time, it has benefited from a  slew of upgrades from space shuttle missions, including the 2009 addition of a  new imaging workhorse, the high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3 that took the new  portrait of the Horsehead.

This three-panel image shows the latest near-infrared Hubble image of the Horsehead Nebula
This three-panel image shows the latest near-infrared  Hubble image of the Horsehead Nebula in context with the new wide-field Herschel  view of the surrounding

Attribution: Mark Prigg, Mail Online

Green Blob in Space

It looks unlike any other dying star, but the  ghostly green blob spotted 3300 light years from Earth is in fact a unique  nebula.

The intriguing new picture from ESO’s Very  Large Telescope shows the glowing green planetary nebula IC 1295 surrounding a  dim and dying star located about 3300 light-years away in the constellation of  Scutum (The Shield).

The strange blob has been likened to one of  the ghosts from the hit film Ghostbusters.

The glowing green planetary nebula IC 1295 surrounding a dim and dying star. It is located about 3300 light-years away in the constellation of Scutum (The Shield).
The glowing green planetary nebula IC 1295 surrounding a  dim and dying star. It is located about 3300 light-years away in the  constellation of Scutum (The Shield).

 

The ghostly green blob is similar to one of the characters in the hit film Ghostbusters
The ghostly green blob is similar to one of the  characters in the hit film Ghostbusters

In reality, is it a planetary nebulae

Stars the size of the Sun end their lives as  tiny and faint white dwarf stars.

But as they make the final transition into  retirement their atmospheres are blown away into space.

For a few tens of thousands of years they are  surrounded by the spectacular and colourful glowing clouds of ionised gas known  as planetary nebulae.

This new image shows the planetary nebula IC  1295, which lies in the constellation of Scutum (The Shield).

‘It has the unusual feature of being  surrounded by multiple shells that make it resemble a micro-organism seen under  a microscope, with many layers corresponding to the membranes of a cell,’ said  the European Space Agency.

These bubbles are made out of gas that used  to be the star’s atmosphere.

This gas has been expelled by unstable fusion  reactions in the star’s core that generated sudden releases of energy, like huge  thermonuclear belches.

The gas is bathed in strong ultraviolet  radiation from the aging star, which makes the gas glow, the Agency  said.

Different chemical elements glow with  different colors and the ghostly green shade that is prominent in IC 1295 comes  from ionised oxygen.

At the centre of the image, you can see the  burnt-out remnant of the star’s core as a bright blue-white spot at the heart of  the nebula.

Where is it? This chart shows the small but rich constellation of Scutum (The Shield).
 This chart shows the small but rich  constellation of Scutum (The Shield). Most of the stars that can be seen in a  dark sky with the unaided eye are marked. The location of the faint planetary  nebula IC 1295  is indicated with a red circle

 

HOW IT WAS  TAKEN

This image was captured by ESO’s Very Large  Telescope, located on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of  northern Chile,  using the FORS instrument (FOcal Reducer Spectrograph).

Exposures taken through three  different  filters that passed blue light (colored blue), visible light  (colored green),  and red light (colored red) have been combined to make the  picture.

The central star will become a very faint  white dwarf and slowly cool down over many billions of years.

Stars with masses like the Sun and up to  eight times that of the Sun, will form planetary nebulae as they enter the final  phase of their existence.

The Sun is 4.6 billion years old and it will  likely live another four billion years.

Despite the name, planetary nebulae have  nothing to do with planets.

This descriptive term was applied to some  early discoveries because of the visual similarity of these unusual objects to  the outer planets Uranus and Neptune, when viewed through early telescopes, and  it has been catchy enough to survive

Attribution: Mail Online