This week in Science Saturday: Welcome the Mars 500 crew out of their 520-day simulated Mars mission, watch a huge asteroid whiz close by Earth, add three elements to the periodic table, and find alien life by searching for night lights. All this and more, plus our (weird) gadget of the week: the USB eye warmer.
Mars 500 Crew Emerges After Their 520-day “Mission” to Mars
1.5 years ago, a multi-national crew of six volunteers was selected by the European Space Agency to be the first to embark on a simulated mission to Mars that would last a record 500 days. In the end, simulated complications meant that the journey was a total of 520 days. That’s a year and a half of isolation, eating dried food, breathing recycled air, and having very limited communication with the outside world. They even had to do scientific studies and deal with simulated emergency situations. Three of them even did a simulated walk on the “Martian” surface. This week, the brave men emerged from their cramped “space capsule”. Check out the videos below.
The crew emerge from their capsule
Mars 500: 520 days in 15 minutes
Huge Asteroid to whiz by Earth This Tuesday
This November 8th, a 1,300 foot (400 meter) space rock known as Asteroid 2005 YU55 will make an impressively close pass by our planet Earth. The asteroid will pass inside of the moon’s orbit, within about 0.85 lunar distances (that’s 85% of the way from the Earth to the Moon), but scientists say there is no danger that it will smash into us for the next hundred years or so. An extensive monitoring campaign using radio, visual, and infrared telescopes is planned for the asteroid’s flyby.
Welcome to the Periodic Table: 3 New Elements Get Names
We’d like to welcome Darmstadtium (Ds), Roentgenium (Rg), and Copernicium (Cn) as elements 110, 111, and 112 on the periodic table of the elements. Darmstadtium is named after the town in which it was discovered, Roentgenium is named after the discoverer of X-rays Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, and Copernicium is obviously named after the famous Polish astronomer Copernicus. All of the elements are man-made and do not occur in nature, and none of them last very long after their created.
Alien City Lights Could be Detected Across Interstellar Space
We might find alien civilizations by looking for their city lights during the nighttime say Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Edwin Turner of Princeton University. Loeb and Turner say that it would be easy enough to detect lit-up areas of a planet’s dark side, but that to detect planets in another solar system we’d need more advance telescopes. According to calculations, current telescopes could detect a city the size of Tokyo as far away as our Solar System’s Kuiper belt. The researchers suggest that telescope technology will advance quickly allowing them to do their study soon. “Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe,” says Loeb.
More hope to find ET
(Weird) Gadget of the Week: USB Eye Warmer
Today’s (Weird) Gadget of the Week comes from Thanko, makers of the USB cat face mask. Japan is always coming out with strange inventions, and this is just one more to add to the list. It’s the USB powered eye warmer. What? Yes. Apparently, Thanko thinks that cold eyes are a problem for people and that the best solution allows the wearer to stay near their computer (even though, while wearing the eye warmers, YOU CAN’T SEE).
Thanks, Thanko. Now I won’t have… cold eyes?
Check out these science-related events happening soon:
Launch of Phobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1
The Russians are launching a Russian sample return lander and a Chinese orbiter probe to the Martian moon of Phobos. This is the first sample-return mission from a moon other than our own.
Close FlyBy of Asteroid 2005 YU55
Night of November 8th
Look to the skies!
Launch of Mars Science Laboratory
November 25th, 10:21am PST
Watch live on NASA TV as NASA launches the next generation Mars Rover!
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.