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Mars, Bringer of War March 27, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Space.
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Fig. 1: Mars’ Grand Canyon can beat up your Grand Canyon

From NASA.gov:

The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth’s Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The origin of the Valles Marineris remains unknown, although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Several geologic processes have been identified in the canyon. The above mosaic was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s.

Just plain awesome.

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The Galaxies of the Pisces Constellation February 28, 2011

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Behold the Awesomeness:

(click on picture to supersize)
via io9

Earth-sized Exoplanet Discovered September 30, 2010

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Astronomers have discovered a planet with about three times Earth’s mass and it is in the “goldilocks zone” of its parent star. From Universe Today:

An enticing new extrasolar planet found using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii is just three times the mass of Earth and it orbits the parent star squarely in the middle of the star’s “Goldilocks zone,” a potential habitable region where liquid water could exist on the planet‘s surface. If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one. The discoverers also say this finding could mean our galaxy may be teeming with prospective habitable planets.

“Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet,” said Steven Vogt from UC Santa Cruz. “The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.”

Awesome! Of course, the only problems are:
* This planet is 20 light-years away.
* This planet is tidally locked, meaning that one side of the planet faces the red dwarf Gliese 581 and the other side remains in darkness. The habitable zone is probably in the planet’s terminator.
* We don’t really know what the planet’s atmosphere is composed of.

Let’s just hope there aren’t aliens living there who might want to eat humans for dinner.

Awesomeness April 6, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Space, Technology.
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