Fantasist & Futurist
- Nov 23, 2002
A few small pieces of science news this week that may be of particular interest to our science fiction writers - and anyone else with an interest in space.
1. Visualizing a Black Hole
What might a Black Hole look like? A recent computer model provides a suggestion - see above for the image.
More on that here: Researchers have created a virtual reality simulation of a supermassive black hole
And you can see a short video of the simulation here:
2. Sun's twin found
Analysis of hundreds of thousands of stars have found one with the same chemical composition as the Earth - a G3 star named HD186302 - suggesting that it may have formed in the same star cluster as our sun: A solar sibling identical to the sun
Phil Plait provides more information on this: The Sun's long-lost sibling found in our own backyard
3. Groovy Phobos
One of the two small moons around Mars has strange grooves across it which have puzzled scientists - but recent computer modelling suggests that they may be caused by boulders on its surface rolling around: Mars moon got its grooves from rolling stones, study suggests
4. Dry Mars
I've long railed that the prospect of finding water on Mars have been over-hyped - evidence of fluid mechanics does not mean proof of water, especially when it's long been known that carbon dioxide from the poles of Mars is known to flow out across the surface.
That rant aside, evidence of percolates on the Martian surface - which could reduce the freezing point of water enough to make it liquid - might actually be due to an error. Specifically, that boundaries between light and shadowed regions might have confused optical analysis: An orbiter glitch may mean some signs of liquid water on Mars aren’t real
on closer inspection, Leask and her colleagues noticed that perchlorates seemed to be showing up in places where it made no geologic sense for the salts to form — and especially along the boundaries between light and dark surfaces. That made the team suspect that the spike-smoothing strategy might be introducing an error.
5. Wandering core
Movement of magma - viscous molten rock beneath the Earth's surface - may have destabilized Earth's orbit enough to cause the last ice age: 'True polar wander' may have caused ice age
6. Icy moons common?
Recent simulations of the moons around Neptune and Uranus suggest that icy moons may form around similar planets: Encouraging prospects for moon hunters
This is interesting stuff, because one of the most common planet-types found around other stars are thought to be similar to Neptune.
Even more interesting is the statement that Titan is probably a captured moon - something I've argued for before.
7. ISS reaches 20
The International Space Station is 20 years old this week! Which leads to a couple of interesting features:
- NASA is adding a new module for testing long-range space refueling: NASA to launch new refueling mission, helping spacecraft live longer and journey farther
- Watch a time-lapse of the Earth as seen from the ISS over 24 hours!
And Phil Plait discusses another video - this one showing a rocket launch - as seen from space! Amazing time-lapse video of a rocket launch… seen from space!
Here's the vid: