A NASA news conference yesterday suggested what many scientists have suspected for decades: Mercury's northern pole most likely contains large deposits of water ice and possible organic materials. The new data comes from Messenger -- a NASA spacecraft currently orbiting Mercury -- which observed the icy deposits by measuring hydrogen concentrations on the planet. The findings were described in three separate papers published yesterday in the science journal Nature. … Read more
What were you hoping for with the big juicy Mars discovery that a NASA researcher hinted at? Aliens? Kuato? Jimmy Hoffa?
As you'll no doubt recall, NASA investigator John Grotzinger was quoted as saying that data from the Curiosity rover suggested a discovery of epic significance. Well, here's your official oven-fresh serving of disappointment.
Today NASA confirmed there's no earth-shaking finding from the soil samples analyzed with Curiosity's on-board chemistry lab. … Read more
I'm planning to have an awesome holiday season this year, if only by virtue of the fact that myself and leading astrobiologist David Morrison are confident we'll be around to celebrate them.
Normally I don't seek out the professional opinion of NASA scientists to validate my Christmas and New Year's plans, but in the case of 2012 I'm playing it safe.
NASA is already experimenting with 3D-printing components for rockets to Mars, but the fun doesn't have to stop at liftoff.
Researchers at Washington State University and NASA are suggesting that rocks on the moon or Mars could be used to print useful objects like tools or replacement parts.… Read more
Let's review what we know about NASA's Martian secret heard round the solar system last week:
An NPR reporter happened to be recording in the office of the lead scientist for the Curiosity rover as some data from the rover's on-board chemistry lab was coming in. When pressed by the reporter to interpret the data, NASA's John Grotzinger declined, commenting simply that the "data is going to be one for the history books."… Read more
Forget Mars! NASA has discovered signs of video gaming on a moon of Saturn. Recently released images from the Cassini mission show features on the icy moon of Thethys that look suspiciously like a famous '80s arcade creation.
The Pac-Man image was discovered in thermal data provided by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer. You can read up on the nifty high-energy electrons bombardment theory for the shape over at NASA. The findings were published in the journal Icarus.… Read more
MITAD DEL MUNDO, Ecuador--The effort to mark exactly where the equator traverses this tiny country roughly the size of Colorado -- if Colorado were filled with not just tall, jagged mountains, but also with jungle and rainforest and swamp and humid lowlands -- has been filled with centuries of folly and misplaced monuments. Now a provincial government in Ecuador wants to finally get it right, and make a big statement at the same time.
Despite being the longest way around the Earth, the equator is relatively hard to get to. Just take a look at your globe (OK, Google Earth will do) and you'll notice it passes through an awful lot of empty ocean, some remote islands, the Amazon, and some typically inaccessible parts of Africa. These raw geographic realities have made Ecuador particularly important for those on a quest for middle earth (not Middle Earth) for centuries. … Read more
If you thought Apple's Maps app might steer you wrong, just watch out if you're navigating the South Pacific with Google Maps.
It and Google Earth, as well as marine maps and charts, show a feature west of New Caledonia that Australian scientists say is a phantom island.
Sandy Island looks like a gaping hole in the Coral Sea. About 16 miles long, north to south, it could make the perfect beach nirvana.
But the University of Sydney scientists found only ocean 4,620 feet deep when they went to the site while on a research expedition. The depth would preclude the island sinking. … Read more
If you're the type who looks away when you get stuck with a needle, you may long for the day when "Star Trek"-style medical devices will painlessly flood our veins with every kind of drug imaginable.
For some women undergoing in vitro fertilization, daily intramuscular injections of progesterone in oil (PiO) can be painful and stressful. Infertility is already immensely taxing for some -- researchers have shown it can generate levels of anxiety and depression on a par with those from cancer, heart disease, and HIV.
Progesterone helps carry the pregnancy to term, but sometimes must be injected up to 70 times. PiOna is a concept auto-injector from Cambridge Consultants that not only hides the icky thing from sight, but provides feedback about when the 1.5-inch needle is ready to use and guides the user through the process. … Read more
"Now, this is the plan. Get your ass to Mars."
We all remember Schwarzenegger motivating himself to go to the Red Planet in "Total Recall" (anyone bother watching the remake?) and sure we'd like to go too. Now NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has determined that radiation levels on the planet's surface are safe for human explorers.
"Basically, we're finding that the Mars atmosphere is acting as a shield for the radiation on the surface and as the atmosphere gets thicker, that provides more of a shield and therefore we see a dip in our radiation dose," Hassler said.
The findings mark the first time that cosmic rays have been measured on the surface of another planet, and come 100 years after Victor Hess discovered cosmic rays on Earth by using a hot-air balloon.… Read more