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Cosmic Hitchhikers and the Genesis of life: Panspermia Theory

Panspermia 1

  Imagine yourself on a crash course with certain death. Or maybe not so certain: It depends. You are a microbial hitchhiker on cosmic debris flung from the darkest recesses of outer space. There is a slim chance that the planet you are going to collide with has an environment conducive to your survival and propagation. Considering you have survived …

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Interstellar Asteroid ‘Oumuamua Looks Like A Giant Cigar

The trajectory of this cosmic "visitor" is likely to take it out of our solar system. Image credit

Astronomers may be breaking out the cigars after the discovery of the first visitor from interstellar space, an asteroid that now bears the name of ‘Oumuamua, which is Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first.” The International Astronomical Union has given this cigar-shaped asteroid the designation of ‘Oumuamua: 1I/2017 U1. ‘Oumuamua was first spotted by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in …

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Loft Orbital Aims To Launch Condominium Satellites


Loft Orbital, a new aerospace company based in San Francisco, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding to build a constellation of satellites packed with payloads from various customers. Each satellite could carry up to five instruments from multiple customers. For instance, one university might want to fly an instrument that measures cosmic rays and another might want to take …

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Two Recently Detected Supernovae Defy Expectations

Artist's rendition of a supernova. Image credit Wallpaper Cave

Most supernovas tend to last several months at most. However, one explosion known as PS1-10adi was detected in 2010 and was monitored by telescopes in La Palma and Hawaii for the next several years, defying all but the wildest expectations. By way of comparison, a long-duration supernova called iPTF14hls has been observed for two years and the researchers’ initial reaction …

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NGTS Challenges Planetary Formation Theory with First Exoplanet Discovery

Concept art of NGTS-1b.  credit University of Warwick & Mark Garlick

The discovery of a Jupiter-sized planet has challenged current theories of planetary formation by orbiting a star that should have been too small for the planet. NGTS-1b has been called a “monster” planet due to its size relative to its star. Is this new exoplanet really all that big, though, or is it just an unusually small star to be …

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Astronomers Announce Detection Of First Known Interstellar Visitor

The trajectory of this cosmic "visitor" is likely to take it out of our solar system. Image credit

Astronomers have detected the first known foreign object to visit our solar system: a fast-moving comet or asteroid that zipped by our sun last month. Its velocity may send it back out into interstellar space. Professor Alan Fitzsimmons from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University, has been collaborating with colleagues in the UK, USA and Chile to …

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Astronomers Discover Sunscreen Snow on Exoplanet Kepler-13Ab

An artist's rendition of Kepler-Ab. Image credit SpaceRef

If exoplanet hunters have learned anything, it’s that exoplanets and the star systems that host them can be super weird. There are hot Jupiters, diamond planets, and now a planet that apparently provides its own sunscreen in the form of titanium oxide snow. This discovery was made while using the Hubble Space Telescope to make atmospheric observations of Kepler-13Ab, which …

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Outer Planet Visible With Naked Eye This Weekend

Uranus in Pisces. Image credit National Geographic

If the weather is clear in your area on the night of October 19th, you may be able to spot Uranus with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars. Uranus will be in the constellation Pisces in the southeastern sky. Uranus will be the “wandering star” with a blue tint due to the high concentrations of methane in the …

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Richard Branson Claims Different Space Goals Than Elon Musk

Image credit: Airport Journals

While Elon Musk aims for Mars, Richard Branson told CNBC that both he and Blue Origins’ Jeff Bezos have more down-to-Earth goals for their respective space companies. As an entrepreneur who understands the potential of space technology to improve life on Earth, Branson is one of the backers of OneWeb, which aims to launch a large constellation of satellites capable …

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Elon Musk Presents Updated Plan for Mars and Moon

Elon Musk on this concept art for his Mars base: "Opposite of Earth. Dawn and dusk sky are blue on Mars and day sky is red." Image credit SpaceX.

How far is a man willing to go to colonize the inner solar system? If one goes by the example of Elon Musk, some men are willing to go pretty darned far. He’s pumped a fortune into SpaceX with the end game of colonizing Mars and now says he’s willing to work on a permanent lunar base that he calls …

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Thirty Meter Telescope Gets Approval; Legal Battle Ongoing

An artist's concept of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Image credit

A planned thirty-meter telescope has been approved by Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). This is the latest chapter in the battle between the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), which plans to build the telescope on the Mauna Kea volcano, and organizations representing native Hawaiians who claim that the site is sacred. Environmentalists have also weighed in with concerns about …

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Russia and U.S. Partnering Up For Lunar Station – Or Are They?

Image credit

Since at least Spring 2017, NASA has been bouncing around some vague plans for a space station in cislunar orbit known as the Deep Space Gateway, which could consist of four modules launched by the SLS between 2021 and 2026. It could theoretically be used as a refueling and service station for missions on their way to other destinations in …

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Rapper B.o.B. Raising Funds To “Prove” Flat Earth Theory

Image credit Orthodoxy Today

Because you can’t make this stuff up, folks. Rapper B.o.B. has jumped on the Flat Earth bandwagon and is raising funds to “prove” that Earth is a disk by launching a satellite to take images of Earth from orbit – if at all possible, he says. “I’m looking for the curve,” he said. According to Flat Earth theory, Earth is …

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Interview with Dr. Elyar Sedaghati on Titanium Oxide in Wasp-19b’s Atmosphere

An artist's impression showing the exoplanet WASP-19b, in which atmosphere astronomers detected titanium oxide for the first time. In large enough quantities, titanium oxide can prevent heat from entering or escaping an atmosphere, leading to a thermal inversion — the temperature is higher in the upper atmosphere and lower further down, the opposite of the normal situation. Image credit

A scientific research team recently announced the discovery of titanium oxide in Wasp-19b’s atmosphere. Wasp-19b is a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet that orbits a star about 815 light years from Earth. For this interview, I caught up with research team member Dr. Elyar Sedaghati, who works with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope installment in Chile. HH: Today we’re here …

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Cassini Goes Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Cassini-Huygens was the result of a joint endeavor between NASA and the European Space Agency. It ends its mission with a dramatic plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15th. Image credit ESA.

Cassini is set to take its final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15th, returning as much data as possible before it’s vaporized by the heat and pressure. Scientists attached to the project are confident that they will get enough data back during Cassini’s last moments to provide years’ worth of discoveries. During Cassini’s entry into Saturn’s atmosphere, the final …

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