Archive for September, 2009

Water On The Moon Found

September 24, 2009

Yesterday space.com published an article which said, that water on the Moon is officially found. If you imagining rivers and oceans, it’s not like that :) Moon is dryer than any desert on Earth, but still scientists estimate about 32 ounces (900 g) of water per ton of Moon’s regolith.

There is a good possibility to find water in the craters which never see direct sunlight. Image from: wikinfo.org

There is a good possibility to find water in the craters which never see direct sunlight. Image from: wikinfo.org

How was water discovered? Well, there is still no direct evidence of it, but three different spacecrafts (India’s Chandrayaan-1, Cassini and Deep Impact spacecraft) detected that there is something with hydrogen+oxygen in there and they assumed that it’s water. That’s why I personally is not that much exited about that announcement. Still nothing can beat the direct water detection expected from LCROSS mission.

LCROSS spacecraft will drop a rocket stage to the Moon to see if water will fly out of the impact. After that its going to crush itself there to sacrifice itself for the sake of science. Image credit: NASA

LCROSS spacecraft will drop a rocket stage to the Moon to see if water will fly out of the impact. After that it's going to crush itself there to sacrifice itself for the sake of science. Image credit: NASA

What does water give us? First of all if people would ever live there on a permanent basis, they will drink this water. Second, you can use water as a fuel (sounds fantastic, right?). It is possible to break water to hydrogen and oxygen using electricity (from solar panels for example). Later you can burn hydrogen and oxygen and use energy from burning to do some useful work (drive a lunar car for example). When you burn hydrogen and oxygen you get pure water, which you can split again later with electricity, etc… Pretty cool stuff and very eco-friendly as well ;)

Artists conception for the Moon base. I dont know if I will live long anough to witnes it. Image from: daviddarling.info

Artist's conception for the Moon base. I don't know if I will live long enough to witness it. Image from: daviddarling.info

Where did water come from? There are two main hypothesis for that. One says that comets crushing into surface brought all the water (those comets which brought water to Earth, those comets which spread the life all over the Universe, blah-blah :), second hypothesis suggests that Solar wind (protons and hydrogen atoms) collide with Moon’s surface (which is 45% oxygen) form a bit of water.  Water presence on the Moon means a lot of good stuff for us if we ever are going to make a permanent lunar base — we can drink it, we can breath oxygen from it, we can burn it.

Space Technology Comes to Households

September 17, 2009

Sorry, I did not post any educational articles for some time, because I was busy with my new site. Alternative energy is my second passion beside astronomy. Spacecrafts rely on solar panels for a long time already. I know only one current spacecraft which uses nuclear power generator — Cassini, it’s too far from the Sun to supply enough solar energy, but the rest use solar. For example International Space Station gets all it’s energy from solar panels:

ISS is powered by solar panels. Click for slightly bigger image. Image credit: NASA, ESA

ISS is powered by solar panels. Click for slightly bigger image. Image credit: NASA, ESA

Problem with solar panels is that they still have to go some way to become a bit cheaper. For sure this technology has a good potential. For example solar cells which you currently can buy for your needs have about 16% efficiency, while solar panels used by Mars rovers are about 40% efficiency!

Solar energy is a very broad topic and unfortunately I don’t have too much time on my hands, so I decided to make a smaller website about RV solar panels. I think it is better to cover the small topic completely than have a never finished website. I believe solar panels is a good choice for RVs — you don’t need a big system to power it, so it’s not that expensive like the household solar system.

First Earth Like Exoplanet Found

September 16, 2009

For quite a long time we were able to detect only Jupiter like planets near other stars. But today we finally can say with confidence that a rocky small Earth like planet is found near the other star. First rocky exoplanet is about 5 times heavier than Earth and about 2 times bigger in radius. It means that it has very similar to our home planet in density.

This yellow star in the middle of the picture has a rocky planet with density close to our Earths. Star is only 500 light years away from us. Click for bigger image. Image credit: ESO

This yellow star in the middle of the picture has a rocky planet with density close to our Earth's. Star is only 500 light years away from us. Click for bigger image. Image credit: ESO

This is a good example of how quantity can transform into quality. We did not invent any revolutionary super cool stuff, but rather were gradually perfecting the detection methods and improving instrument precision. And today those small improvements paid off — they allowed to detect a first rocky world near another star.

Artists impression of Corot-7b planet. This planet is very close to its Sun, so most likely it is covered with boiling lava. Click for bigger version. Image credit: ESO

Artist's impression of Corot-7b planet. This planet is very close to its Sun, so most likely it is covered with boiling lava. Click for bigger version. Image credit: ESO