One of the biggest challenges in astronomy is also the most obvious: space is big and it takes a long time to look at it all. This is why artificial intelligence has been such a boon to this science. It turns out that the same machine vision tools developed for tasks like guiding self-driving cars are also perfect for sorting through vast amounts of astronomical data. So much so, that astronomers announced this month that they’d used AI to find 6,000 new craters on the Moon.
Now, this isn’t that significant in itself. The Moon is estimated to have hundreds of thousands of craters, mostly caused by impacts with asteroids and meteors. This is because of a few factors. First, because the Moon has no atmosphere these objects have a free path…
One night in February of 2017, Wylie Overstreet wheeled his telescope out in the street of a residential neighborhood in Los Angeles to observe the Moon. Within a couple of hours, more than 20 people had walked up to him to take a look. A young couple was so amazed by what they saw through the telescope — it was “one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had in memory,” they said — that they told Overstreet he’d just made their night.
“I was like, well, I had no intention,” Overstreet tells The Verge. “This is crazy! If people react like this we should be doing this more often.”
So Overstreet, who is a filmmaker, decided to take his telescope out again and again —…
Late last year, concept art website ArtStation unveiled its first print book: Martin Deschambault’s Project 77, a neat collection that blends science fiction concept art and storytelling. The site announced its next book earlier this week: Howling at the Moon by Jakub Rozalski, the artist behind the acclaimed board game Scythe.
The book is a beautiful collection of fantastical art that reminds me of the style of Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop, which depicts an alternate, futuristic Sweden. Rozalski’s art features menacing robots and machines dotting the countryside of his native Poland, but rather than looking at the future, he draws his inspiration from the country’s rich past, using its history, wars, and folklore as the basis…
On September 12th, 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice University in Houston, Texas, about the need for America to land on the Moon “before the decade is out.” The space race was never primarily about exploration or science, but rather capturing the highest ground there was in the chilly nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union. In his new novel, Gunpowder Moon, David Pedreira envisions an inhabited Moon and its role in a larger geopolitical fight for planetary dominance.
The Moon has long captured the attention of science fiction writers, either imagining its inhabitants in the midst of a political experiment — as in Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or John Kessel’s fantastic The Moon and the Other — or as a sort…
Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, is a leading candidate in the search for extraterrestrial life in our solar system. One new study improves the moon’s likelihood of holding life. Scientists have found that, under Enceladus-like conditions, certain microbes known as methanogenic archaea can grow and produce methane from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases.
These researchers suggest that the geochemical reactions in Enceladus’ rocky core could produce enough methane to support such microbes — pointing a hypothetical ecosystem for such life.
To reach these conclusions, the research team, led by Simon Rittmann of the University of Vienna, used unique gas compositions and pressures in the lab to mimic the environment that is predicted to exist on Enceladus. They then cultured three different microscopic organism species in this environment. They found that, among the species cultivated, Methanothermococcus okinawensis was able to produce methane and thrive despite the presence of growth-inhibiting compounds. The resulting study was published in the journal Nature.
Looking to Enceladus
Enceladus’ icy crust hides a global ocean, and its southern pole is rife with hydrothermal activity. This Saturnian satellite also cultivates heat from friction with Saturn, and is home to a variety of compounds that are also common on Earth — molecular hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide.
Future missions to observe the moon could use research on its potential inhabitants to guide and inform their goals, allowing them to gather the most pertinent data. Many entities, including NASA, are considering the possibility of reaching Enceladus to complete direct observations. Geoffrey Marcy, a retired professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, even told Astrowatch that such missions wouldn’t even need to land to collect the information they need; a spacecraft flying through the moon’s many vapor plumes might be able to collect enough samples to make the link.
As we learn more about the icy water worlds in our own backyard, it seems more likely that Enceladus and its fellow ice moons may play host to life as we do not yet know it. We might not know for sure until a mission departs, but until then, research like this will give such missions the tools they will need to succeed.
Scientists have been puzzling over the moon's formation for a long time, and now there's a new theory that might explain some of the baffling mysteries surrounding our satellite. A new study published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Pla… Engadget RSS Feed
Your smartphone might not connect when you’re on the subway, or in rural areas, or in another country.
But if you’re an astronaut, well, your phone will soon work on the Moon.
Telecommunications companies Vodafone Germany and Nokia, along with German car company Audi and Germany-based scientists and engineers of PTScientists, will partner to create a device that will offer astronauts 4G internet, the group announced Tuesday. This device will only weigh about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds).
The speeds at which astronauts can surf the web might not be as fast as they could via wi-fi (or as fast as they could on Earth), but the Moon’s mobile network will allow them to stay connected over greater distances. It will allow two rovers already on the Moon to communicate directly with Earth during a jaunt on the lunar surface, Live Science reports.
Space exploration is a tricky business, especially when it comes to maintaining a strong signal to planet Earth. NASA maintains an array of communication facilities worldwide just to download data from deep-space probes. Future interplanetary missions involving multiple landers and rovers need a way to all talk to each other that doesn’t involve radio, and that’s where Vodafone and Nokia come in.
Back in March 2017, a group of volunteer scientists and engineers in Germany (known as PTScientists) announced it was planning the world’s first private Moon landing, using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Last year it was sharks, this year it’s Space – T-Mobile is doing its usual quirky unboxing video featuring AskDes and today’s stars are the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. And this time the T-Mo unboxing takes place in space (on the Moon). Jokes aside, the unboxing shows off the feature-packed box of the new pair of Galaxies – from the USB-C adapter to transfer content from other phones to the AKG-tuned headphones. T-Mobile reckons it has the fastest data speeds in the US and the Galaxy S9’s gigabit LTE is a perfect match for it. We have our own little hands-on with the Galaxy…
These discoveries could give researchers a better understanding of the origins of this Moon water and how it came to be distributed as it is. Not only that, but the information also could be a great asset for future missions to our lunar satellite.
Additionally, as more and more agencies and companies explore the possibility of traveling back to the Moon and setting up a lunar base, this water could potentially be used as drinking water or even to be turned into rocket fuel by splitting apart hydrogen and oxygen.
These findings are in direct opposition to our earlier understanding of water on the Moon. Previously, researchers thought that the water formed primarily around the poles. Additionally, the water signal they were observing seemingly changed with the Moon’s day and night, leading them to initially conclude that the water was moving.
However, there is still some debate about the location and behavior of the water because of the subtleties of the signals from the remote, infrared-sensing instruments used to support this study’s claims.
Beyond this discovery’s potential to expand human knowledge and our ability to live on and use the Moon as a resource, it could also allow scientists to better understand how water may exist on other rocky cosmic bodies. As we search for exoplanets, it can be difficult to concretely observe the conditions of their surfaces. Perhaps remote sensing instruments and new analysis techniques like those used for this study can improve such observations from afar.