Archive for Space

Earth-like Planet just 39 light years away with a thick atmosphere, It could mean there’s Water

Posted in 2017, astronomy with tags , , , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by theboldcorsicanflame


A rocky, oven-hot Earth-sized spotted orbiting a small nearby star just over a year ago is one of the best chances we have of finding alien life outside our solar system.

The planet, named GJ1132b, is around 1.2 times the size of Earth and appears to be predominantly composed of rock and iron.

Now scientists have taken the closest look yet at GJ1132b, confirming the presence of its thick atmosphere and finding hints the planet could be rich in water.

Video and more info on

Is there a ‘water-rich’ alien world lurking nearby? Earth-like planet just 39 light years away has a thick atmosphere


NOAA forecasters say there is 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms

Posted in 2017, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2017 by theboldcorsicanflame

This is a “coronal hole” (CH)–a region where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape.  Material is flowing from this coronal hole at speeds exceeding 650 km/s (1.5 million mph).

NOAA forecasters say there is 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 18th when a fast-moving stream of solar wind hits Earth’s magnetic field. The Arctic light show, however, could begin even earlier.

A co-rotating interaction region (CIR) just in front of the solar wind stream is expected to reach Earth during the late hours of Jan 17th.

CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving solar wind. They contain density gradients and shock waves that often spark auroras. Free: Aurora Alerts

The incoming stream of solar wind is flowing from a large hole in the sun’s atmosphere. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the crescent-shaped structure directly facing Earth on Jan. 17th

More on:

EO Kids: Fresh Water

Posted in 2016 with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


Introducing a new publication from Earth Observatory – EO Kids – bringing engaging science stories from Earth Observatory to a younger audience.

The premier issue of EO Kids explores how NASA observes and measures fresh water from space. Find out why Lake Mead appears to have a bathtub ring around its shoreline and how less snow in the mountains means less drinking water for California.

Explore satellite images of where fresh water is stored in and on the Earth. Discover what NASA does in the field with an update from scientists on the Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX) campaign.

EO Kids offers hands-on activities, experiments and more. The Maker Corner provides instructions for making a model aquifer and a self-watering planter.

Explore the science behind fresh water with a snowmelt experiment and be a data detective by analyzing satellite data like a scientist. Kids can even create their own data visualization by coloring in a map showing ice thickness on Greenland.

You can dowload PDF on their website and give them your feedback:


Not every colorful light in the night sky is an aurora

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on October 4, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame



Photo copyright Beletsky

Especially not in the South Pacific. Yuri Beletsky was on a beach in Easter Island, Chile, two nights ago when the starry canopy turned red:

There was no fire,” says Beletsky. “This is an amazing display of airglow.”

Airglow is aurora-like phenomenon caused bychemical reactions in the upper atmosphere. Human eyes seldom notice the faint glow, because it is usually very faint, but it can be photographed on almost any clear dark night, anywhere in the world.

Beletsky is a veteran photographer of airglow, having captured it dozens of times from sites in Chile and the South Pacific. “The intensity of airglow varies, and sometimes it can be more prominent, as it was on Oct. 2nd,” he says.

The curious thing about Beletsky’s photo is not the intensity of the airglow, but rather its color–red. Airglow is usually green, the color of light from oxygen atoms some 90 km to 100 km above Earth’s surface.

Where does the red come from? Instead of oxygen, OH can produce the ruddy hue. These neutral molecules (not to be confused with the OH- ion found in aqueous solutions) exist in a thin layer 85 km high where gravity waves often impress the red glow with a dramatic rippling structure.

Read about


The Mysterious Star KIC 8462852

Posted in 2016, astronomy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


The SETI Institute is following up on the possibility that the stellar system KIC 8462852 might be home to an advanced civilization.

This star, slightly brighter than the Sun and more than 1400 light-years away, has been the subject of scrutiny by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.  It has shown some surprising behavior that’s odd even by the generous standards of cosmic phenomena.

  KIC 8462852 occasionally dims by as much as 20 percent, suggesting that there is some material in orbit around this star that blocks its light. 

For various reasons, it’s obvious that this material is not simply a planet.  A favored suggestion is that it is debris from comets that have been drawn into relatively close orbit to the star.

But another, and obviously intriguing, possibility is that this star is home to a technologically sophisticated society that has constructed a phalanx of orbiting solar panels (a so-called Dyson swarm) that block light from the star.

To investigate this idea, we have been using the Allen Telescope Array to search for non-natural radio signals from the direction of KIC 8462852.  This effort is looking for both narrow-band signals (similar to traditional SETI experiments) as well as somewhat broader transmissions that might be produced, for example, by powerful spacecraft.



Strange Star Likely Swarmed by Comets


Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame

Our planet’s magnetic field and ozone protect us from most of the dangerous space radiation, but if we were zapped with anything much more energetic, or from something closer, we would not be likely to survive.

The latest episode of YouTube channel Kurzgesagt – German for ‘ in a nutshell’ – explains what would happen if a gamma ray burst occurred in our galaxy, and what the chances of this happening actually are.

Gamma ray bursts (GRBs), energetic jets of gamma rays that come from black holes, can be created in two different ways – resulting in long or short GRBs.

They are created from some of the most violent deaths in the universe.


Something interesting is happening on the sun & Cosmic Rays Continue to Intensify

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on June 4, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame




Yesterday, June 3rd, the sunspot number dropped to 0, and the solar disk is still blank on June 4th. Latest images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory reveal no significant dark cores

What does this mean? The solar cycle is like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between periods of high and low sunspot number every 11 years.

Today’s blank sun is a sign that the pendulum is swinging toward low sunspot numbers. In other words, Solar Minimum is coming.

The spotless state of today’s sun is just temporary. Underneath the visible surface of the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that will soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. The current solar cycle is not finished. It is, however, rapidly waning.

Forecasters expect the next Solar Minimum to arrive in 2019-2020. Between now and then, there will be lots of spotless suns. At first, the blank stretches will be measured in days; later in weeks and months.

Don’t expect space weather to grow quiet, however. Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses.

This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease.

Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway. Goodbye sunspots, hello deep-space radiation!

More on:

Red Planet Heats Up: Ice Age Ending on Mars

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on May 30, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


The north polar ice cap of Mars is seen in this mosaic view, which scientists made by combining data from the European Mars Express spacecraft and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The spiral features help scientists understand how ice ages on Mars work.

Credit: ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin/Ralf Jaumann

Mars is emerging from an ice age, a finding that could shed light on the past and future climates of both Mars and Earth, researchers said.

The orbit of Mars regularly undergoes changes that greatly affect how much sunlight reaches the planet’s surface, which in turn can strongly alter the Red Planet’s climate. Similar orbital variations called Milankovitch cycles are known to happen on Earth.

– See more at:

Stargazing from the ISS

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see the world at night on every orbit —that’s 16 times each crew day.

An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

ISS was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii.

Knowing the exact time and the location of the ISS, scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment.

They identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center). The dark patches are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy; such clouds can block our view of stars toward the center.


A rare shot with Auroras and Light Pillars in the same image

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on January 14, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


Last night in Muonio, Finland, Antti Pietikäinen hiked out onto the frozen surface of the River Muonio to get away from glaring city lights. “I was trying to get a better view of the auroras,” he says. Turns out, he got a great view of both

“I had a rare shot with auroras and light pillars in the same image,” says Pietikäinen.

Light pillars are a common sight around northern cities in winter. Urban lights bounce off ice crystals in the air, producing tall luminous columns sometimes mistaken for auroras.

More of this on


%d bloggers like this: