Was Mars once a living world? Does life continue, even today, in a holding pattern, waiting until the next global warming event comes along? Many people would like to believe so. Scientists are no exception. But so far no evidence has been found that convinces even a sizable minority of the scientific community that the red planet was ever home to life. What the evidence does indicate, though, is that Mars was once a habitable world. Life, as we know it, could have taken hold there.
The discoveries made by NASA’s Opportunity rover at Eagle Crater earlier this year ...
Most people think of time as a straightforward concept, running smoothly and divided into years, days, minutes, etc. For the geologist, paleontologist, or astrobiologist studying the Earth’s history, it is not so simple, however.August 13, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Titan is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere, and it is the organic chemistry that has been detected in that atmosphere that has sparked the imagination of planetary scientists like Lunine. In January 2005, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Huygens Probe will descend through Titan’s atmosphere, sending back a detailed picture of the chemical interactions taking place there and, hopefully, giving scientists a glimpse into the chemistry that took place on Earth before life took hold. Huygens is part of the Cassini-Huygens mission to explore Saturn and its rings and moons. Lunine is ...
In January 2005, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Huygens Probe will descend through Titan’s atmosphere, sending back a detailed picture of the chemical interactions taking place there and, hopefully, giving scientists a glimpse into the chemistry that took place on early, prebiotic Earth. The Huygens Probe is part of the Cassini-Huygens mission to explore Saturn and its rings and moons. Titan is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere. Organic chemistry detected in that atmosphere has sparked the imagination of planetary scientists like Lunine. Lunine is the only U.S. scientist selected by the ...
Scientific findings from the NASA rover Spirit’s first three months on Mars will be published Friday, marking the start of a flood of peer-reviewed discoveries in scientific journals from the continuing two-rover adventure.August 5, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
New images and spectroscopic data of the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, have puzzled NASA scientists.
Cassini spacecraft instruments have peered through the orange smog of Titan and glimpsed the surface below. Images sent back to Earth reveal dark areas and lighter, fuzzy areas. Data from the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) indicate that the dark areas are pure water ice. The bright fuzzy regions have several different types of non-ice materials, and may include organic materials such as hydrocarbons.
Dark and light surface regions had been seen by other telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, but the ...
A massive oxygen buildup was seen by Cassini’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) instrument earlier this year, while the spacecraft was en route to Saturn, mission scientists said Friday. Saturn’s rings are composed, for the most part, of pure water ice, good ol’ H 2 O. As this icy material is bombarded by charged particles from Saturn’s magnetosphere, it breaks down into its constituents, hydrogen and oxygen. So there is always some oxygen floating around in the ring system. But what UVIS detected in Saturn’s E ring wasn’t just “some” oxygen; it was a tremendous burst ...
“Everything still appears to be right on track.” That was the word from Robert Mitchell, Cassini program manager, as he addressed reporters Wednesday morning at a briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Cassini, a $3 billion international mission to explore Saturn and its rings and moons, is scheduled to arrive at the ringed planet tonight. But Mitchell offered a caveat. Things are on track at the Saturn end of things, he said. Back on Earth, however, predicted high winds threaten to force engineers to stow a massive dish-shaped antenna at Canberra, Australia, to protect it from ...
After a seven-year journey through interplanetary space, Cassini-Huygens is about to reach its destination. Wednesday night (early Thursday morning in Europe) the $3 billion spacecraft will arrive at Saturn; and if a 96-minute engine burn comes off as planned, become the first artificial satellite ever to go into orbit around the ringed planet.
Cassini mission planners say that everything looks good for Saturn orbital insertion (SOI), the engine burn that will slow the spacecraft down enough to allow it to be captured by Saturn’s gravitational field. Mission engineers have verified that Cassini’s systems are working as expected; they ...
NASA has announced new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including icy dust particles coated with water, methanol and carbon dioxide, which may help explain the origin of icy planetoids like comets.May 27, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Researchers from the University of Arizona have recreated some of the chemicals thought to be in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.May 18, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
New evidence suggests a possible impact cause for the greatest mass extinction of all time, although many scientists remain skeptical that this long-standing mystery has been solved. A NASA news conference was held May 13 to announce the discovery of an impact crater near Australia that might be implicated in the Permian-Triassic or PT extinction event, 251 million years ago.May 17, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
NASA’s Opportunity rover is about to embark on a second journey of exploration. Opportunity spent the past several days taking in the view from the rim of Endurance Crater. The first full-color panorama of the crater, released by NASA late last week, reveals large bedrock outcrops that mission scientists are anxious to study.
Initial Pancam images and spectral analysis performed by the rover’s Mini-TES instrument indicate that the Endurance Crater outcrops are not composed of the same sulfate-rich material found in Eagle Crater. Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, said the new outcrop ...
Is the methane discovered on Mars evidence for contemporary life on the Red Planet?April 7, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Yellowstone Park Foundation receives $66,000 grant from NASA and Lockheed Martin Corporation to help tell the story.March 26, 2004 / Posted by: Shige Abe
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