space

Showing 100 posts tagged space

We can now “fly over” topographically accurate landscapes of Mars thanks to Mars Express, the European Space Agency (ESA) mission to explore the red planet. Launched in June 2003 and arriving six-and-a-half months later, the Mars Express spacecraft has orbited the planet almost 12,500 times, better revealing Mars’ turbulent climatic history. It’s expected to continue orbiting and gathering data until the end of 2014.

From Slate’s Phil Plait

I saw quite a few landmarks in there, including Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in the solar system; Valles Marineris, the longest rift valley in the solar system (it’s wider than the Grand Canyon is long!); an elongated crater I’ve written about before (at the 2:20 mark, and shown at the top of this article); and the ridiculously gorgeous and very weird swirls in the terrain at the Martian north pole (though the south pole of the planet is even more jaw-droppingly beautiful). 

I was also intrigued by a crater shown at the 1:50 mark, which looks like it got filled by a landslide off a nearby hill. Mars isn’t what you might call geologically active, but it does commonly suffer landslides and avalanches when the frozen carbon dioxide ice under the surface sublimates (turns directly from a solid into a gas), which can dislodge material. If that happens at the top of a hill or cliff, material can cascade down dramatically. I strongly suspect that’s what we’re seeing in this video.

Taken with the satellite’s High Resolution Stereo Camera, the video was released by the DLR German Aerospace Center

In the archives: more satellites, more maps, and more Mars.

via Slate.

In the year 2020, seven of the largest mirrors on Earth — 20 tons each — will come together in a 22-story, rotating building located in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile. They will form the Giant Magellan Telescope, a feat of science, technology, engineering and math that will have ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In this video from July 2013, Dr. Wendy Freedman, Chairman GMT, and Dr. Pat McCarthy, Director GMT, explain the astounding challenge of creating this precise, powerful, and wondrous machine. Read more at Phys.org.

In the archives: more telescope-related vids.

Where might we find life in our solar system? Via skeptvScientific American Space Lab has a countdown for that: Top 5 Places to Look for Alien LifeBonus — the video comes with additional reading material:  

Is There Life on Venus?

Venus May Have Had Continents and Oceans

Was Venus Alive? ‘The Signs Are Probably There’

Tiny Saturn Moon ID’d As Good Candidate For Alien Life

Planet Profile for Titan

The Europa Report: A Report

Mars vs. Europa: Are we looking in the wrong place for alien life?

Mars Rover Finds Evidence of Ancient Habitability

Next Mars Rover Will Seek Out Signs of Past Life

Follow this up with Brian Cox's favorite wonder, Saturn’s largest moon: Titan.