Astronomy news

dust on Mars

The latest Thunderbolts video is something of a beauty - dust in the atmosphere of Mars, and aurorae. Go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KVV-hob3e4&feature_youtu.be

dust in the galaxy

An interesting insight into how scientists sometimes think at http://phys.org/print345994897.html

A history of the Moon

The Chinese Yutu moon rover found evidence of at least nine distinct rock layers beneath its wheels - on one small stretch of the lunar surface - see www.space.com/28810-moon-history-chinese-moon-rover.html

This suggests the Moon has been geologically active according to Long Xiao, and volcanoes may be part of that activity. Yutu was equipped with 3 cameras designed to cary out different tasks such as penetrating radar, near infrared spectrometry and X-ray spectrometry. The initial round of research was published in the journal Science (march 12th).

The Rosetta comet is really rather dull

The presence of ice on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is no surprise. Its very cold on the rock racing through space - colder than your worst dreams might imagine. At http://phys.org/print345465855.html ... the ice, or what looks like water ice, is located in the neck region, between the head and the body of the comet. This is the region where jets of dust and gas are issuing from - creating the neck in the process. The interpretation is therefore not without a certain amount of doubt although frozen water must be present as water vapour has been seen to jet off the comet.

life on other worlds

Enceladus is currently being targeted as another location for life beyond Earth - see http://phys.org/print345364303.html

This moon of Saturn has geysers that eject plumes of water and ice. A new study has found they also contain sand (silica grains).

Wakey! Wakey!

Wakey! Wakey!, the catch phrase to an old TV show, resonates with the call out for the comet probe Philae to awake from its four months sleep - see http://phys.org/print345369791.html

Solar energy is required to recharge the batteries of Philae which will hopefully occur as the comet get closer to the Sun - but there is a problem. Apparently, it is not so small as I imagined, and is in fact the size of a washing machine - but where is it hiding?

coronal mass ejection March 11th

  coronal mass ejection on March 11th. Go to http://spaceweather.com

dust and nanodust

An interesting piece of research - see http://phys.org/print345105547.html .... we've all heard of the dust in space created by comets and asteroids on their journeys through the solar system, outgassing and the like. This is the dust which scatters sunlight to produce the zodiacal lights, the glow in the night sky along the line of the zodiac. We all know this light was once more pronounced as a result of lots of comets and meteor streams, so much so the pyramid light formation gave rise to pyramidal buildings on Earth.

Ping Pong with the planets

At www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31664162 ... rogue planets are forcing astronomers into a rethink of the birth of our solar system. Planetary pin balls are on the table - and are seriously being aired as a subject for discussion.

The change in heart and mind has come about as a result of the hunt for exo-planets. Astronomers have been seeking them out as they may harbour life - or that is the hope. The search is on for a planet in an Earth like orbit in an Earth like solar system arrangement.

the Rostov slab

At www.livescience.com/48298-bronze-age-sundial-moondial-discovered.html ... a slab of rock discovered 20 years ago and having spent that time in the back of a museum in Russia has proved to have had an astronomical function. An archaeo-astronomer said somewhat unconvincingly, that it was perhaps evidence of people trying to understand patterns of the motion of luminaries and the nature of time. The slab of rock had been used to cover a grave dating back to the 12th century BC. It goes back to the Srubna Culture people who lived on the steppe between the Urals and the Dneiper.