M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Have some Proxima Centauri with ESPRESSO

January 20, 2020
MThomas

“Proxima is our closest neighbor in an immense universe. How could we not be charmed by it?

Well, the planet may or may not exist (the confirmation data won’t be publicly available for another couple years).

And it is most likely not inhabitable — despite being dubbed a “Super-Earth” (which really only refers to size and not whether it’s “Earth-like” or not).

Still, regardless of these facts, the most important part of this article in Scientific American is the science:

“We tried different tools to prove ourselves wrong, but we failed. However, we have to keep the doors open to all possible doubt and skepticism.

Yes, the astronomers tried to prove their own discovery was a mistake. That’s how it works, folks. Challenge your assumptions, not jump to conclusions. Continue Reading

It’s a Nice Model you’ve got there, Mars. Be a shame if something happened to it…

January 12, 2020
MThomas

“Without this instability, Mars likely would have had a mass closer to Earth’s and would be a very different, perhaps more Earth-like, planet compared to what it is today.”

Damn you, Jupiter and Saturn! Why couldn’t you have just stayed in your orbits and left Mars alone? (Shakes fist futilely at night sky.)

— Read on www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2018/5/10/the-giant-planets-in-the-solar-system-stunted-the-growth-of-mars

New “habitable” Earth? 🌍

January 10, 2020
MThomas

The newly discovered exoplanet, called TOI 700 d, is located about 100 light-years away from us and is roughly 20% larger than Earth.

Okay, not exactly close, but looking good…

A year on TOI 700 d takes 37 days.

Um. Wait. What?

One thing astronomers have discovered though is that TOI 700 d is tidally locked to its star, which means that one half bathes in eternal sunlight, and the other half always exists in darkness.

Oy.

And even better…

One of the burning questions is whether the planet has an atmosphere or not.

Is this really the best way to phrase this? 😂

I vote we pass on this one

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2020/1/8/nasa-discovered-a-potentially-habitable-earth-sized-exoplanet

PS I’ve been trying futilely to get WordPress not to screw up the formatting. To no avail.

What’s more valuable than gold? This rock

December 27, 2019
MThomas

If you find a big rock in your backyard, and you can’t break it open with normal tools, guess what?

The researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold. It’s one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, and it’s the second largest chondritic mass, after a huge 55-kilogram specimen identified in 2003.

This next bit is more interesting to me:

“Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life.”

Hmmm… 🤔 Sounds like a storyline…

flip.it/PjaS-D

Khufu, I mean, Cheops is a go!

December 20, 2019
MThomas

Ever wonder this about “Super Earths”?

Do they have atmospheres and how thick are they? What kind of clouds? Do they possess oceans on their surface? Do they have rings and moons? Cheops ought to be able to address such questions just from looking for these tiny dips in light during a transit.

ESA finally does something! Wow. Go Europe!

I love how BBC says “The Americans” when referring to NASA, as if a) American is an ethnic group and b) all NASA scientists are American.

But anyway…

Prof Didier Queloz, who won this year’s Physics Nobel for discovering the first planet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995, was on hand to watch the launch.

You can watch/listen to his interview here.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50804258

ESA and NASA? Airbus? Still not ready? 🤦‍♂️

December 6, 2019
MThomas

Right now, engineers have got a dummy rover practising the business of retrieving packaged rock samples. And, yes, the stand-ins really are whiteboard markers.

Yay! Whiteboard markers. Um. OK.

But different agencies and companies are finally working together?

Great!

Wait. What’s the catch?

It is, though, going to take more than a decade to achieve.

Sigh.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50663278

It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it. Maybe.

November 14, 2019
MThomas

The pattern remains a mystery, but researchers are beginning to narrow the possibilities.

While the changes are most likely…geological in nature, planetary scientists can’t completely rule out an explanation involving microbial life.

Just as the Viking landers claimed? Uh-oh.

Or is it just chemicals (perchlorate, bleach-like substances) in the soil, releasing oxygen and methane depending on the amount of sunlight/heat?

How would this affect humans who set up camps in the low-elevations areas, where they could be closer to water?

Hm…

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50419917

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