Happy leap day and welcome to a special “leap-edition” of Science Friday! This week we bring you a new Cassini watch, how to book your next space shuttle flight, the key to fighting reptilian captains, mysterious space anomalies, and a new gadget of the week! Also check out our Science Quickies for some extra science tid-bits which we feel deserve honorable mention.
Cassini Watch: New Theories about Enceladus’s Water Geysers
Not too long ago, Cassini provided scientists with amazing images of Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, violently shooting plumes of liquid water into space. Ever since then, interest in the small rocky body has sky-rocketed, especially for astrobiologists since the existence of liquid water is thought to be a prerequisite for life. The erupting plume on Enceladus is ejected by geyser-like volcanic eruptions from deep, “tiger stripe” cracks on the moon’s south pole. The numerous cracks, which can be hundreds of meters deep, are narrower at some points. At these points temperature and pressure of vapour drop drastically down, causing condensation of vapour into icy grains and hence the formation of the dust-vapour mixture which erupts from the moon. New theories emerging about this astronomical phenomenon are helping us to learn about Enceladus and the nature of its interior. Visit the CICLOPS website for all your Cassini updates.
Enceladus’s tiger stripes. Meow.
Space Tourism by 2010?
Got $800,000? You’re in luck! This new lower price (down from $20million) for a seat on a journey into space is leading researchers to believe that space tourism will be in high demand by 2010. Plenty of us have dreamt of rocketing into the “final frontier”, and this sub-orbital space flight takes you one step closer. While the shuttle-goers don’t actually make it into orbit, they do clear the atmosphere enough to be technically in space and would get to experience weightlessness along with a spectacular view of the Earth. The step beyond this is being able to stay in space hotels, currently being designed and engineered. Researchers say that this is likely to come into play by 2025, although SPACE.com reports that “Galactic Suites” is slated to open by 2012.
NASA worried about anomaly
For the last couple of decades scientists at NASA have been noticing that something out there is messing with our spacecraft. Whenever spacecraft swing by the Earth they tend to speed up slightly beyond what the usual forces should account for. They call it the “flyby anomaly” or sometimes the "pioneer anomaly" after the effect it had on Pioneers 10 and 11. Now according to a new study from The Planetary Society the anomaly is “too large to be explained by known effects related to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.” They still don’t know what it is, but some think that the laws of physics may need to be rewritten…or they need to find the cloaked ship out there messing with all our probes. Read more at the Planetary Society.
Someone find Janeway…she loves anomalies
Spotting Diamonds in the Sky
Diamonds — which hold high value for their rarity, beauty and Gorn-blasting abilites — may be hard to find here on Earth, but it looks like they are quite abundant in space. Unfortunately, DeBeers won’t be getting in on the action, as the space diamonds tend to be about a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size, not nearly big enough for an engagement ring. But astronomers believe that these tiny particles could provide valuable insights into how carbon-rich molecules, the basis of life on Earth, develop in the cosmos. Using NASA’s super-sensitive Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists should be able to see the celestial diamonds by looking for their unique “infrared fingerprints.”
Gorn in the sky with diamonds
Gadget of the Week: Carbon Hero
It may sound like a video game, but Carbon Hero is a new device which aims to reduce global warming by allowing its users to calculate their carbon footprint. Regional prize winner in the 2007 European Satellite Navigation Competition, the device uses satellite navigation technology to track journeys. It determines the carbon footprint of travellers using different modes of transport by using satellite navigation data to measure the distance, identify the type of transportation and calculate the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere through travel. It may cause you depression, however, as all it really serves to do is follow you around and constantly remind you that you are destroying the planet. Party foul. See Science Daily.
*Carbon footprint not included
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Gravity Powered Lamp, designed by student, could provide as much light as 40 Watt bulb
- NASA plans to smash spacecraft into the moon Scientists are priming two spacecraft to slam into the moon’s South Pole to see if the lunar double whammy reveals hidden water ice.
- MSNBC explores past, present, and future tech gadgets inspired by our favorite science fiction stories. Sci-fi travels from imagination to reality
- NASA’s latest "Scarab" concept vehicle is meant to go way, way off-road. NASA’s Newest Concept Vehicles Take Off-Roading Out Of This World
Early Scarob tests show this thing can go anywhere
Arena, how I love that episode!
Re: Enceladus. That’s a beautiful image. Is there a larger version available?
“space diamonds tend to be about a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) ”
Not good for engagement rings? Pfft! Science has begun to measure my cheapness…
Which also means I won’ t be plunking down 800-grand for four minutes (count em!) in “space.” I’ll wait until it’s a four-day, three-night on the moon package for under my annual salary. (That shouldn’t be too long.)
Look at picture of Gorn. He getting shot and not even blink.
#2. Isn’t it awesome? Here is a link to a super hi-res image (3.72 MB)
That lamp concept is fascinating
WOW!!!!! Thank you for that pic. All I can think of is Andoria. :)
Space Suites? Space trips? Arrrr… ya know four minutes is pretty long for some things…but I guess notta space…
This ain’t Richie Branson’s Virgin Galactic… where he quipped ya can get your mother-in-law a ticket and send her far, farrrrr away from ye…
If the events with the Gorn had happened in Jean-Lucky’s time, Kirkie woulda been fined by StarFleet PETA in tha blink of an eye…
Could someone use tha Carbon Hero to find tha diamonds floating ’round space?
Ain’t no mysterious anamoly on flybys- it’s just us Earthers bein’ friendly to all who pass by… the good vibes we exude to weary travelers- come on down… have some tea… invade us… maybe turn our cattle ta mulch… be ye V’Ger, Xindi bugs, or even tha Whale Cigar, it’s all good.
We’re one big happy fleet aboard blue ball Earth.
“Gorn in the sky with diamonds”
DeBeers and the Metrons will form a diamond cartel in the future!
This stuff rocks. Mysterious force affecting spacecraft… hmm.. well what about that nifty super-black effect of cloaking a ship? Ah! 2+2 does equal 5!
PLEASE…. no one start singing Lucy In the Sky… especially you Shat…
Picture…. Yourself…. On…. A…. Boat…. On…. A…. River…..
With…. Tangerine…. Trees…. And…. Marmalade…. Skies….
– W –
* Sorry, I just had to do it *
#7 – good comment Pink-skin!
That image is really impressive and worth every bit of memory to live on my hard-drive.
I wonder if NASA planning to crash objects into the moon to find water is a result of the discovery of the geysers on Enceladus. I wonder if that’s wise, considering the gravimetric and magnetic pressures the moon’s pull has on our own planet I’m sure that’s been taken into account by the best minds involved in the endeavor; however, with the little bit of knowledge we have concerning the moon’s core and sedimentary density, there have to be some unaccounted-for variables. Any thoughts, Kayla?
Diamonds are not really scarce though.
I also love the idea that the center of Jupiter, per Arthur C. Clarke, might have a diamond the size of earth! Sweet! Can I call Dibs?
Is there a woman on the site worth an engagement ring like that?
the gravity lamp…I want one
Hand-held calculators. $400 in 1972; $1 at your local grocery store in 2008. Space tourism will eventually be the same way. I’ll wait until then to check it out xD
If I had $800,000 I wouldn’t even be in debt or a small apartment. I’d be traveling the world or something. I wanna see places on earth first before I even think about traveling to space.
And that anamaly. Sounds a bit like that DS9 ep with the Solar Sail. The tachyon eddies making their solar sail go faster than it should.
14 Some good reasoning there, but in this case, I believe that the object they are planning on crashing into the moon is small enough and at low enough velocity to cause a negligibly small effect on things like Earth-Moon interaction. The moon may be small relative to Earth, but it’s still a big place relative to a person, or moon-smashing object.
Every few years or so, “they” put out articles about space tourism and space hotels. I’ve read articles back in th 90’s that were of the slant, “So-and-so company is planning on having space hotels in orbit by 2002.” And it never comes about…obviously!!
People just have no incentive for space anymore.
That gravity lamp is fascinating. I want one on my desk.
#13 lol. I couldn’t help myself.
That would have made a better Psi2000 than what we got in TOS-R!
Mike Okuda please look at that pic!