Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found by 2025, NASA’s Chief Scientist Predicts


1920x1080_the-universe-journey-wallpaper-[5]

Here’s the full quote, as delivered by NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan at Tuesday’s panel discussion on the Agency’s search for habitable worlds and alien life:

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.

We know where to look. We know how to look,” Stofan added. “In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.”

Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, echoed Stofan’s assessment. “I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star.”

Maybe it’s time to start placing bets. Personally, my money’s on Europa – but each of the following “ocean worlds” listed in this infographic from NASA a solid candidate:

wjs0mlndkpnxuoszhpq9

Source :io9

Huygens probe landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on 14 January 10 years ago


1447040

Image of Titan taken by NASA’s Cassini Space Orbiter (Click Image to Download)

In honor of the Huygens probe’s historic 2005 landing on the surface of Titan (Saturn’s largest satellite, and the only moon in our solar system with a dense atmosphere), NASA has released a movie that recreates, with data collected by Huygens and the Cassini orbiter, a dramatic approach of the moon’s surface from deep space.

w1fhu2zbupvomnolqe0b

CREDIT : NASA

The descent on 15 January 2005 lasted a total of two hours, with Huygens landing on a frigid floodplain surrounded by icy cobblestones.

It is the only landing that has ever been performed in the outer solar system to date, and one of only a handful of bodies – the others being Venus, Mars, the moon, two asteroids and most recently a comet – that manmade probes have ever landed on.

On the surface the probe continued to send back data for more than an hour, until its batteries were drained.

Since that historic moment, scientists have pored over volumes of data about Titan sent back to Earth.

Here is the Video ,

Source : Dailymail , io9

Amazing details of Saturn & its moons captured by NASA


Cassini-Will-Photograph-Earth-from-Deep-Space

Image of Saturn Taken by Cassini Space Probe (Click Image to Download)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been studying Saturn and its moons for a decade now, routinely delivering stunning images of the second largest planet in our solar system. One of its noteworthy achievements is that it is now shedding a lot more light on six moons that were once shrouded in mystery.

When NASA’s Voyager spacecraft flew by moons like Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus back in the 1980s, it sent back landmark images that were nevertheless fuzzy, incomplete, and hard to make out. Now, Cassini has plugged the holes – with bursts of color, no less – and delivered stunning new images of these icy satellites.

Here is a before/after shot of Mimas showcasing the differences between Voyager’s image (left) and Cassini’s (right).

1

“The most obvious [discoveries] are differences in color and brightness between the two hemispheres of Tethys, Dione and Rhea,” wrote Preston Dyches of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The dark reddish colors on the moons’ trailing hemispheres are due to alteration by charged particles and radiation in Saturn’s magnetosphere.”

“Except for Mimas and Iapetus, the blander leading hemispheres of these moons – that is, the sides that always face forward as the moons orbit Saturn – are all coated with icy dust from Saturn’s E-ring, formed from tiny particles erupting from the south pole of Enceladus.”

2

You can view the rest of the images here. Impressively, however, these aren’t the only photographs of Saturn and its moons making headlines this week.

Source : RT.com

Most amazing video showing our future of space exploration


Follow us on Google+ , Twitter and Facebook

Stunning video

Riding a space elevator up from Mars. Trekking across the ice fields of Europa. Soaring in wing suits above the clouds of Titan. Base jumping on Miranda. Wanderers is a science-inspired short film imagining human exploration of our solar system that leaves me giddy and excited for a future we could one day experience.

hlej9b5iapxguznsifnc

Humans awaiting a scenic dirigible ride at Victoria Crater on Mars, a vista first seen by the Opportunity rover. Image credit: Erik Wernquist (Click Image to Download)

sxruqj0kg8w6ovgjni6r

Base jumping off Verona Rupes, the highest cliff in the solar system. Credit: Erik Wernquist

(Click Image to Download)

udhfbush0a4agustggf7

Colonizing the equatorial ridge on Iapetus, one of Saturn’s moons, with artistically oversized domed settlements. Image credit: Erik Wernquist (Click Image to Download)

Each of the places depicted in Wanderers is an actual place in our solar system. When real photos or map data was available, Wernquist used them to guide his digital recreations. You can read about each of the places and their scientific basis in an accompanying gallery of stills (also on imgur): leaving our home planet, surfing the rings of Saturn, basking above Jupiter’s epic storms, mining asteroids, and so much more.

While we’re still a long way off from human deep space exploration, we are getting a tiny step closer with the first space test flight of the Orion spacecraft next week. Currently just a crew and service module, the spacecraft is intended as the planetary crew transport module for an eventual deep space exploration vehicle for asteroid interception or even to carry humans to Mars. All the alien worlds in this short film are within our solar system, places conceivably within reach of Orion or its descendants.

l6goddbm3jevuqohoafe

Human-powered flight in the skies of Titan. Image credit: Erik Wernquist (Click Image to Download)

In the film, Wernquist takes a bit of artistic license, but he works with the beautiful parts of what is plausible, not sacrificing science on a whim. It’d be more scientifically plausible to mount a space elevator on Pavonis Mons, an equatorial volcano stretching 14 kilometers above average surface elevation, but the cratered Terra Cimmeria highlands are more aesthetically pleasing. This is such a beautiful merger of science and fiction that I don’t even care about such tiny variations; it’s a minor thing to suggest humans may pick their space elevator location based not just on science but on having a great ascent view!

Source : space.io9.com , Erik Wernquist

Amazing photo of Saturn and its Titan moon looks like high art in deep space


Follow us on Google+ , Twitter and Facebook

PIA18291

This amazing image shows Saturn and its moon Titan as crescents on Aug. 11, 2013. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

An amazing photo taken by a NASA probe shows Saturn and its large moon Titan shining as pretty crescents in deep space.

The two cosmic bodies were imaged by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been exploring the Saturn system for about 10 years. The image — released on Monday (Nov. 3) — was captured as the robotic ship was flying about 1.1 million miles (1.7 million kilometers) from the ringed wonder on Aug. 11, 2013, according to NASA. Some of Saturn’s ring plane can even be seen in the black and white image.

“More than just pretty pictures, high-phase observations — taken looking generally toward the sun, as in this image — are very powerful scientifically since the way atmospheres and rings transmit sunlight is often diagnostic of compositions and physical states,” NASA officials said in an image description. “In this example, Titan’s crescent nearly encircles its disk due to the small haze particles high in its atmosphere scattering the incoming light of the distant sun.”

Continue reading Amazing photo of Saturn and its Titan moon looks like high art in deep space

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan


pia18432-16

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the Sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas.

As it soared past Saturn’s large moon Titan recently, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

In the past, Cassini had captured separate views of the polar seas and the Sun glinting off them, but this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

Also in the image:

– An arrow-shaped complex of bright methane clouds hovers near Titan’s north pole. The clouds could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall.

– A “bathtub ring,” or bright margin, around Kraken Mare — the sea containing the reflected sunglint — indicates that the sea was larger at some point, but evaporation has decreased its size.

Titan’s seas are mostly liquid methane and ethane. Before Cassini’s arrival at Saturn, scientists suspected that Titan might have bodies of open liquid on its surface. Cassini found only great fields of sand dunes near the equator and lower latitudes but located lakes and seas near the poles, particularly in the north.

The new view shows Titan in infrared light. It was obtained by Cassini’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on August 21.

 

Folow us on Google + Dark Matter Space

High-Altitude Methane Ice Cloud Discovered Floating Above Titan’s Pole


titan ice cloud

NASA scientists have uncovered a starting new find on Saturn’s moon, Titan. They’ve found an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud, similar to exotic clouds formed high above Earth’s own poles. This cloud in the stratosphere over Titan’s north pole (left) is similar to Earth’s polar stratospheric clouds (right). NASA scientists found that Titan’s cloud contains methane ice, which was not previously thought to form in that part of the atmosphere. Cassini first spotted the cloud in 2006. (Photo : L. NASA/JPL/U. of Ariz./LPGNantes; R. NASA/GSFC/M. Schoeberl)

NASA scientists have uncovered a starting new find on Saturn’s moon, Titan. They’ve found an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud, similar to exotic clouds formed high above Earth’s own poles.

The researchers first spotted the cloud with the help of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. It was part of the winter cap of condensation over Titan’s north pole. Now, scientists have teased apart the data and found that the cloud contained methane ice, which produces a much denser cloud than the previously identified ethane ice.

“The idea that methane clouds could form this high on Titan is completely new,” said Carrie Anderson, lead author of the new study, in a news release. “Nobody considered that possible before.”

The temperatures in Titan’s lower stratosphere are not the same at all latitudes. In fact, the high-altitude temperature near the north pole is far colder than just south of the equator. This temperature difference-as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit-is enough to yield methane ice.

So how do these clouds form? The mechanisms for forming these high-altitude clouds are different from what happens in the troposphere. Titan has a global circulation pattern; warm air in the summer hemisphere wells up from the surface and enters the stratosphere, slowly making its way to the winter pole. There, the air sinks back down and cools as it descends. This forms the methane clouds.

Currently, the scientists are gathering more information about Saturn’s moon in order to better understand the natural processes that occur on the alien world. This could shed light on the processes that occur on exoplanets and allow scientists to apply their findings to processes that also occur on Earth.

“Titan continues to amaze with natural processes similar to those on Earth, yet involving materials different from our familiar water,” said Scott Edgington, Cassini deputy project scientist. “As we approach southern winter solstice on Titan, we will further explore how these cloud formation processes might vary with season.”