Archive for the ‘Solar System’ Category

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.

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Titan Surface Through the Clouds

September 13, 2009

One of my favourite spacecrafts — Cassini sent a new picture of one of my favourite planets in the Solar System — Titan. This big Saturn’s moon has a thick nitrogen atmosphere, land and seas. Sounds so Earth like, but it’s really not. Nevertheless it was always capturing a lot of my attention for some reason.

Cassini shot a picture of Titan’s surface through its atmospheric haze. You can see bright and dark regions on this image. Unfortunately we can not clearly say yet what are those features: hills, mountains or seas? It amazes me how we can view pictures shot so far away, and Saturn is far, way further than Mars, so I don’t think we can expect Titan rovers anytime soon.

Titans surface through the clouds pictures by Cassini spacecraft. Scientists called this region Senkyo. Click for a bigger image. Picture credit: Cassini.

Titan's surface through the clouds pictures by Cassini spacecraft. Scientists called this region Senkyo. Click for a bigger image. Picture credit: Cassini.

Latest Spirit Update

August 30, 2009

Spirit and opportunity are two martian rovers which seem to be exploring Mars forever. Nothing can take them down — dust storms, harsh winter or soil traps. Spirit is in trouble though, since spring of this year she is stuck in the sand and can not move. And now she is getting even more troubles. Dust storm is blocking the sun and Spirit is not getting enough power. Will this be the end? Only time can tell, so enjoy it’s pictures while you can:

Full circle view from Spirit panoramic camera. This location is called Troy, Spirit is stuck there since spring 2009. Click for smal, 260 degree view. Image credit: NASA.

Part of a full circle view from Spirit panoramic camera. This location is called "Troy", Spirit is stuck there since spring 2009. Click for small, 360 degree view. Image credit: NASA.