"The true scientific understanding of the nature of existence is so utterly fascinating; how could you not want people to share it? Carl Sagan, I think, said ‘when you’re in love, you want to tell the world.’ And who, on understanding a scientific view of reality, would not, as it were, fall in love and want to tell the world.”-Richard Dawkins
I'm Mae: an aspiring journalist, photojournalist, science enthusiast, writer, & an artist of many fields. I love helping people discover the wonders of our universe through science.
“The Hinode telescope captures some amazing views of last week’s annular solar eclipse.
Last week’s annular solar eclipse was only visible from cruises in the Pacific Ocean, but the international fleet of solar-observing spacecraft had a great view. The Hinode telescope, which orbits Earth and observes the sun in X-ray, optical, and extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, captured several eerie views of the event on Friday.
It wasn’t an annular eclipse from orbit, however: The moon just skims the sun from Hinode’s perspective. The telescope passed through the eclipse path four times, because Hinode loops Earth about every hour and a half. But it only captured three of the four eclipses, because in one of the orbits, both the Earth and moon were blocking the sun, according to Patrick McCauley, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
That is also why this view is truncated halfway through:
See an awesome time-lapse video of a lunar eclipse here.”
“NASA and international researchers have discovered that Earth’s moon has more in common than previously thought with large asteroids roaming our solar system.Scientists from NASA’s Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) in Moffett Field, Calif., discovered that the same population of high-speed projectiles that impacted our lunar neighbor four billion years ago, also hit the giant asteroid Vesta and perhaps other large asteroids.
The research unveils an unexpected link between Vesta and the moon, and provides new means for studying the early bombardment history of terrestrial planets. The findings are published in the March issue of Nature Geoscience.
“It’s always intriguing when interdisciplinary research changes the way we understand the history of our solar system,” said Yvonne Pendleton, NLSI director. “Although the moon is located far from Vesta, which is in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, they seem to share some of the same bombardment history.”
The findings support the theory that the repositioning of gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn from their original orbits to their current location destabilized portions of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar system-wide bombardment of asteroids billions of years ago, called the lunar cataclysm.
The research provides new constraints on the start and duration of the lunar cataclysm, and demonstrates that the cataclysm was an event that affected not only the inner solar system planets, but the asteroid belt as well. ”
Our natural satellite the Moon takes 27.3 days to orbit the Earth, and we only ever see one side of it because it’s tidally locked, meaning that for every orbit, it spins on its own axis exactly once. But the Moon is not luminous in its own right—we can only see it due to sunlight reflecting off its dusty surface: the side of the Moon facing the sun is fully illuminated, while the other half is in shadow. Because the Moon is constantly moving, sunlight hits it at different angles each day, and these changing angles create the lunar phases we see on Earth. A new moon occurs when the Moon slides between the Earth and sun, so the sun illuminates the side facing away from us and casts our side into shadow. A full moon is the opposite—the Moon, sun and Earth are in approximate alignment again except this time Earth is between the other two, so sunlight hits the side of the Moon facing us. Since the Moon’s orbit is about 5 degrees off the Earth-sun orbital plane, the Earth doesn’t block the sunlight. All the other phases are gradual transitions between, since from our perspective on Earth we can see both the part of the Moon in sunlight and the part in shadow. But the Moon is not exclusively a creature of the night—in the weeks before and after the new moon, the Moon is on the sunward side of Earth. This means it can be seen in the sky at the same time as the sun, i.e., in daylight hours. After all, it’s just another object in the sky lit by the sun.
(Image Credit: Southern Skies, Dr Doug Welch, 2008)
The photo sequence above shows a distorted and fiery moonrise over Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
I couldn’t help but notice the Moon’s inverted image (inferior mirage) as it rose on the evening of January 27, 2013 — one day past the full Moon. As the Moon ascended slightly higher, its inverted image disappeared.
Refraction in the lower atmosphere, due to a steep temperature gradient with height, was responsible for this distortion, referred to as the Etruscan vase or Omega effect. When the Moon emerged over the horizon, its inferior mirage appeared below and seemed to reach up to grab the Moon, producing the omega shape.
If you look very closely you can detect a green rim on the top of the Moon (green flash), especially on the third and sixth image in the sequence. — Photography & Summary:John Stetson; Jim Foster
In North America’s northern regions, during the month of February the heavier snowfalls of the winter season are known to occur. Consequently, the full moon during this month became traditionally known as the Snow Moon by the Algonquin Native Americans. Other names, inspired by the heavy snowfall that caused increased difficulty for hunting and gathering food, were given to February’s full moon by other Native American tribes. Some of these names included the “Hunger Moon”, as well as “Bone Moon” by the Cherokee Native Americans.
You can learn more about the Snow Moon, as well as different Full Moon names and their meanings, here, here, and here.
“Sometimes the Moon is a busy direction. Last week, for example, our very Moon passed in front of the planet Jupiter. While capturing this unusual spectacle from New South Wales, Australia, a quick-thinking astrophotographer realized that a nearby plane might itself pass in front of the Moon, and so quickly reset his camera to take a continuous series of short duration shots. As hoped, for a brief instant, that airplane, the Moon, and Jupiter were all visible in a single exposure, which is shown above. But the project was not complete — a longer exposure was then taken to bring up three of the Jupiter’s own moons: Io, Calisto, and Europa (from left to right). Unfortunately, this triple spectacle soon disappeared. Less than a second later, the plane flew away from the Moon. A few seconds after that, the Moon moved to cover all of Jupiter. A few minutes after that, Jupiter reappeared on the other side of the Moon, and even a few minutes after that the Moon moved completely away from Jupiter. Although hard to catch, planes cross in front of the Moon quite frequently, but the Moon won’t eclipse Jupiter again for another three years.”
“Traces of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.”
(Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center)
“The results seem to contradict the predominant lunar formation theory — that the moon was formed from debris generated during a giant impact between Earth and another planetary body, approximately the size of Mars, according to U-M’s Youxue Zhang and his colleagues.
“Because these are some of the oldest rocks from the moon, the water is inferred to have been in the moon when it formed,” Zhang said. “That is somewhat difficult to explain with the current popular moon-formation model, in which the moon formed by collecting the hot ejecta as the result of a super-giant impact of a martian-size body with the proto-Earth.
“Under that model, the hot ejecta should have been degassed almost completely, eliminating all water.”
A paper titled “Water in lunar anorthosites and evidence for a wet early moon” was published online Feb. 17 in the journal Nature Geoscience. The first author is Hejiu Hui, postdoctoral research associate of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Hui received a doctorate at U-M under Zhang, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and one of three co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper.
Over the last five years, spacecraft observations and new lab measurements of Apollo lunar samples have overturned the long-held belief that the moon is bone-dry.”
I was unaware this was even a misconception until my physics teacher asked the class what would happen if she dropped a ball on earth. Not thrown, just dropped from her hand. Unsurprisingly the class all called out the words “it would fall”.
But when she repeated the question with the moon, an unfortunately large number of the students proudly called out that it would simply fall away or float away.
So whats the truth to the matter?
There IS gravity on the Moon!
In fact, it is 1.6249 m/s2, about 16.7% that on Earth’s surface. [x]
All bodies have a gravitational force, actually, though we humans have much smaller fields of gravity (compared to planetary objects).
“The technology behind 3D printing has allowed users to craft musical instruments and prosthetic limbs, and now European scientists are taking a serious look at printing their own moon base.
The European Space Agency (ESA) study is investigating how practical constructing a manned base on the moon only using 3D printing technology could be, given that it would rely primarily on lunar dirt for building materials.
“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” Laurent Pambaguian, who heads the project for ESA, said in a statement. “Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners said in a statement. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”
Foster + Partners’ 3D printed design is a simple four-person moon base that can be made completely out of repurposed moon dirt, which scientists call “regolith.”
Because the entire design is made primarily from indigenous lunar materials moon, there is no need to transport costly materials from the Earth into space. The base would be built using a robotic printer roving over an inflatable dome.”
“What would it be like to drive on the Moon? You don’t have to guess — humans have actually done it. Pictured above, Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke recorded video during one such drive in 1972, with a digital version now available on the web. No matter which direction it headed, the Lunar Rover traveled a path literally covered with rocks and craters. The first half of the above video shows the rover zipping about a moonscape near 10 kilometers per hour, while the second half showsa dash-cam like view. The Lunar Rover was deployed on the later Apollo missions as a way for astronauts to reach and explore terrain further from the Lunar Module basecamp than was possible by walking in cumbersome spacesuits. Possible future lunar missionsthat might deploy robotic rovers capable of beaming back similar videos include those by China, Russia, India, and Google X-Prize contestants.”
“Moonlight illuminates a snowy scene in this night land and skyscape made on January 17 from Lower Miller Creek, Alaska, USA. Overexposed near the mountainous western horizon is the first quarter Moon itself, surrounded by an icy halo and flanked left and right by moondogs. Sometimes called mock moons, a more scientific name for the luminous apparations is paraselenae (plural). Analogous to a sundog or parhelion, a paraselene is produced by moonlight refracted through thin, hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. As determined by the crystal geometry, paraselenae are seen at an angle of 22 degrees or more from the Moon. Compared to the bright lunar disk, paraselenae are faint and easier to spot when the Moon is low.”
What Makes Up the Moon In 1992, the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft made a pass by our planet’s closest companion, the moon. This mosaic of 53 images shows the different composition of rocks on the moon’s surface. Blue and orange colors represent lava flows, bright pink areas are highlands, and light blue colors indicate recent impact material with the youngest craters showing blue rays extending away from them.
Who says NASA has lost interest in the moon? Along with rumours of a hovering lunar base, there are reports that the agency is considering a proposal to capture an asteroid and drag it into the moon’s orbit.
Researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California have confirmed that NASA is mulling over their plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit. The mission would cost about $2.6 billion – slightly more than NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover – and could be completed by the 2020s.
For now, NASA’s only official plans for human spaceflight involve sending a crewed capsule, called Orion, around the moon. The Obama administration has said it also wants to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid. One proposed target, chosen because of its scientific value and favourable launch windows for a rendezvous, is a space rock called 1999 AO10. The mission would take about half a year, exposing astronauts to long-term radiation beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field and taking them beyond the reach of any possible rescue.
Robotically bringing an asteroid to the moon instead would be a more attractive first step, the Keck researchers conclude, because an object orbiting the moon would be in easier reach of robotic probes and maybe even humans.