Lunar Lava Caves Might Offer Shelter For First Moon Colony

Lunar caves hollowed out by ancient lava flows might offer humanity the perfect place to establish the first base on the moon, according to researchers from Purdue University. Geophysicist Dave Blair and his university colleagues theorize that there could be huge caverns under the moon’s surface hollowed out by rivers of molten rock that may be wide enough to fit an entire lunar colony. On Earth, lava tubes formed when rivers of molten rock hollowed out the surrounding stone leaving behind empty channels. The lava tubes running under Hawaii and Iceland are cylindrical in shape and measure no more than 98 feet in diameter, but the moon’s lower gravity means there could be massive underground caverns underneath the lunar surface. Blair’s research paper, presented in the January, 2017 issue of Icarus, presents data on an analysis of the moon’s gravity pulled from NASA studies that indicates there could be mile-wide lava tubes under the lunar surface. [Image by TannerLewis/Shutterstock] Data pulled from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory indicates the cavernous lava tubes, up to 3 miles wide, could be structurally sound with a roof six feet thick. These cavernous lava tubes could offer lunar explorers protection from the harsh conditions on the moon and enable humanity to establish the first lunar base, science consultant Andrew Daga told the National Geographic. “Nothing that we can build on the surface using reasonably available technologies could provide the same protection as the interior of a lava tube.” Entrances to the lunar lava caves, known as skylights, were first photographed by the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya in 2009 and indicate the presence of underground caves, aerospace researcher Junichi Haruyama told the National Geographic. “Lava tubes … provide ready-made protection from the harsh lunar environment: meteorite bombardment, radiation from space, and the large changes in temperature through the lunar day.” The European Space Agency has long expressed a desire to build a lunar colony and international research station, which they’ve dubbed the “Moon Village.” [Image by Stocktrek Images/Shutterstock] Scientists and engineers from across the globe would gather at this international oasis on the moon to study the mystery of deep space. The ESA is exploring various 3D printing construction methods that utilize components of the lunar soil to build the lunar base. Russia, China, and the ESA all are planning to return to the moon with rovers and astronauts in order to explore the lunar surface and establish a base of operations, which could be used to coordinate research and commercial efforts. Discussion is underway at the international level to build a space station in orbit around the moon to coordinate lunar research and mining efforts in conjunction with the developing cislunar economy. NASA also has plans to return to the moon, but only as a proving ground for an eventual manned Mars mission sometime in the 2030’s. As part of their Journey to Mars agenda, the national space agency plans to land rovers on the lunar surface and experiment with 3D printing technology. There are also several commercial companies looking to establish a presence on the lunar surface. Resources extracted from the moon and within passing asteroids promise to be a potential windfall to the companies who can successfully extract them. Boosting cargo up from Earth is prohibitively expensive with each pound of material costing several thousand dollars to launch into space. Material mined from space rocks, however, including water in the form of ice, which can be used as rocket fuel, can be used in orbit at a much lower cost. What do you think about using lunar lava caves to build humanity’s first moon base? [Featured Image by mikiell/Thinkstock]

Lunar Lava Caves Might Offer Shelter For First Moon Colony

Lunar caves hollowed out by ancient lava flows might offer humanity the perfect place to establish the first base on the moon, according to researchers from Purdue University. Geophysicist Dave Blair and his university colleagues theorize that there could be huge caverns under the moon’s surface hollowed out by rivers of molten rock that may be wide enough to fit an entire lunar colony. On Earth, lava tubes formed when rivers of molten rock hollowed out the surrounding stone leaving behind empty channels. The lava tubes running under Hawaii and Iceland are cylindrical in shape and measure no more than 98 feet in diameter, but the moon’s lower gravity means there could be massive underground caverns underneath the lunar surface. Blair’s research paper, presented in the January, 2017 issue of Icarus, presents data on an analysis of the moon’s gravity pulled from NASA studies that indicates there could be mile-wide lava tubes under the lunar surface. [Image by TannerLewis/Shutterstock] Data pulled from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory indicates the cavernous lava tubes, up to 3 miles wide, could be structurally sound with a roof six feet thick. These cavernous lava tubes could offer lunar explorers protection from the harsh conditions on the moon and enable humanity to establish the first lunar base, science consultant Andrew Daga told the National Geographic. “Nothing that we can build on the surface using reasonably available technologies could provide the same protection as the interior of a lava tube.” Entrances to the lunar lava caves, known as skylights, were first photographed by the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya in 2009 and indicate the presence of underground caves, aerospace researcher Junichi Haruyama told the National Geographic. “Lava tubes … provide ready-made protection from the harsh lunar environment: meteorite bombardment, radiation from space, and the large changes in temperature through the lunar day.” The European Space Agency has long expressed a desire to build a lunar colony and international research station, which they’ve dubbed the “Moon Village.” [Image by Stocktrek Images/Shutterstock] Scientists and engineers from across the globe would gather at this international oasis on the moon to study the mystery of deep space. The ESA is exploring various 3D printing construction methods that utilize components of the lunar soil to build the lunar base. Russia, China, and the ESA all are planning to return to the moon with rovers and astronauts in order to explore the lunar surface and establish a base of operations, which could be used to coordinate research and commercial efforts. Discussion is underway at the international level to build a space station in orbit around the moon to coordinate lunar research and mining efforts in conjunction with the developing cislunar economy. NASA also has plans to return to the moon, but only as a proving ground for an eventual manned Mars mission sometime in the 2030’s. As part of their Journey to Mars agenda, the national space agency plans to land rovers on the lunar surface and experiment with 3D printing technology. There are also several commercial companies looking to establish a presence on the lunar surface. Resources extracted from the moon and within passing asteroids promise to be a potential windfall to the companies who can successfully extract them. Boosting cargo up from Earth is prohibitively expensive with each pound of material costing several thousand dollars to launch into space. Material mined from space rocks, however, including water in the form of ice, which can be used as rocket fuel, can be used in orbit at a much lower cost. What do you think about using lunar lava caves to build humanity’s first moon base? [Featured Image by mikiell/Thinkstock]

Alien Contact Danger: METI Readies Signal To Nearest Star As Scientists Warn Of Possible Hostile Recipients

The scientific organization METI (Messaging ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) is gearing up for its first ever broadcast into space, hoping to contact another intelligent entity and discover that humanity is not only not alone in the universe but shares it with at least one other intelligent alien species. But not everyone, including renowned futurists and esteemed scientists, believe that attempting to make first contact by broadcasting Earth’s presence to the universe is a particularly good idea. In fact, some scientists believe that allowing aliens of unknown intent to know of our existence might very well be detrimental to life on Earth. The Independent reported this week that the San Francisco-based METI, which plans to launch its signaling program in 2018, is moving forward on its proactive approach to searching for alien intelligence. Specifically, unlike SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), which takes a passive approach and listens and/or attempts to detect alien signals or signatures of life, METI will actually broadcast radio signals into space in an effort to attain first contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Still, the METI program is not going to simply spray the cosmos with radio noise. The plan is to send a direct radio signal to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, or, to be more precise, to the planet orbiting that star, Proxima b. Astronomers have determined that Proxima b is in the habitable zone of its parent star and could possibly harbor living organisms. Given that Proxima b has the potential to sustain life (as we currently understand it), METI is seizing the opportunity to broadcast to the neighboring star — and planet — and achieving alien contact. But there are those within the scientific community that do not share the optimism in reaching out and making first contact — especially when that first contact could be with aliens far more advanced and perhaps more aggressive than humanity. If first contact with aliens is accomplished, will it be answered peacefully or with hostility? [Image by Fred Mantel/Shutterstock] For instance, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has cautioned that allowing other alien intelligences to become aware of our existence might lead to subjugation or the complete destruction of the human race. In an online film posted in September entitled “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places,” The Guardian reported that the famed scientist stated that humanity should be wary of answering any messages that might come from space. He said that doing so might be analogous to when Native Americans first encountered Christopher Columbus and the far more advanced Europeans. Things “didn’t turn out so well” for the Native Americans, he pointed out. Prior to Hawking’s warning, physicist Mark Buchanan cautioned in an August issue of the journal Nature Physics that humanity might be “Searching For Trouble?”, writing that: “We have almost zero idea of whether aliens are likely to be dangerous.” Still, not everyone sees the METI project as the destruction of mankind. SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak believes messaging provides an opportunity. “I’d be happy to see this done,” he said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “I think there’s something to be learned, nothing to be feared, and at least the possibility of discovering something truly revolutionary: We have company nearby.” So what will be in the first message sent by METI to Proxima b? According to The Independent, the missive will likely be comprised of “basic mathematical and scientific concepts.” The first METI radio signal will be directed toward Proxima b, the closest neighboring planet beieved to orbit its parent star in a habitable zone. [Image by Kornmesser [CC-BY-4.0]/Wikimedia Commons] Douglas Vakoch, president of METI and former director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, told The Mercury News math and science are universal and that such concepts would not be lost in translation, no matter how alien the recipient. “If they have radio transmitters, they’re good engineers. And if you’re a good engineer, you’ve got to know that 2 + 2 = 4,” Vakoch says. “That’s true on Earth and it’s true on Proxima Centauri.” METI is currently in the process of raising money to fund its various alien outreach initiatives. They are hoping to raise $1 million to get the project underway and estimate that continuing operational costs will likely be an additional $1 million each year. But METI is thinking long-term, planning numerous workshops and a crowdfunding drive to make contacting aliens a reality. [Featured Image by MarcelClemens/Shutterstock]

NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer: Asteroid Hunters Spot Two Comets, Near-Earth Objects

It’s not quite 2017 and amateur astronomers are in for a treat. Reportedly, as a new year approaches, so will a pair of near-Earth objects (NEOs). Researchers at Caltech said NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Reactivation Mission (or NEOWISE) discovered two celestial bodies orbiting the planet at a comfortable distance last month. The comet and asteroid-hunting division of NASA detected what they called 2016 WF9 and C/2016 U1 NEOWISE. The latter is the larger of the two space objects. It has a diameter between 0.3 to 0.6 miles and has low reflective qualities. Scientists are not quite sure it is a comet; it lacks the telltale signs of a comet: contrails of dust particles as it zooms across the sun. Dr. James “Gerbs” Bauer works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is the project’s Deputy Principal Investigator. NASA’s @WISE_Mission NEOWISE spies one comet, and maybe two. https://t.co/1kGfs8WcPS pic.twitter.com/gX2WGIRft5 — NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) December 29, 2016 He believes 2016 WF9 can’t be ruled out as a comet and there is likely a logical explanation for its “dark” presentation. “This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that lingers on or just under its surface.” On the other hand, the other near-Earth object discovered by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has all the characteristics of a comet’s signature, as Dr. Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains. “C/2016 U1 NEOWISE has a good chance of becoming visible through a good pair of binoculars, although we can’t be sure because a comet’s brightness is notoriously unpredictable.” As Sci News wrote, WISE observed the two comets rotating on a predictable path around the sun. At their farthest distance in the Solar System, the space rocks encounter Jupiter. Data suggests that in nearly five Earth-years, the larger comet traverses toward the inside and underneath the primary asteroid belt and Mars’ travel trajectory. It then turns towards Earth’s orbit before journeying back again into the outer reaches of the Solar System. NASA says there are two possible explanations for the existence of the near-Earth objects. One theory suggests the bodies are true comets. The other has to do with the straying of objects from time to time away from the volatile environment of the asteroid belt. On Thursday, the Inquisitr reported another update for space enthusiasts. Not to be confused with the two comets discovered by the WISE program, according to the space agency, another celestial body is flying by Earth on New Year’s Day 2017. “NASA is reporting that on New Year’s Eve, comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova is going to be visible from locations in the Northern Hemisphere, including New York City and London. However, unlike Halley’s comet, Hale-Bopp, and PanSTARRS, which were each visible with the naked eye, this year’s New Year’s comet is expected only to be visible with binoculars or telescopes.” Sorry end of days prognosticators; it’s not the time to prepare for doomsday. However, according to the Guardian in the tweet below, the chances are good that an asteroid will make a deep impact on Earth in the future. “Nasa has discovered an estimated 90% or more of near-Earth objects” big enough to devastate the Earth https://t.co/RuniWwwHLJ — richard george (@richard84george) December 13, 2016 Here is what NASA knows about the routes the recently discovered comets could take. As for 2016 WF9, it will fly by Earth on or about Feb. 25, 2017, at a distance of some 32 million miles. Experts say 2016 WF9 will approach Earth’s orbit on Feb. 25, 2017. At a distance of nearly 32 million miles (51 million km) from our planet, this encounter will not bring it particularly close. The smaller rock arrives earlier. It’s unclear how close it will come to Earth, but those in the northern hemisphere will have a chance to gaze at it just before dawn in the southeastern sky. From there, it heads towards the sun and will orbit far out in the Solar System for about 1,000 years before it makes its way back. Its trajectory is well understood, and the object is not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future. Let’s just hope NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Reactivation Mission didn’t err in its data collection. [Featured Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

Alien Life Found On Enceladus Or Europa: Scientist Predicts Extraterrestrials Discovered In 2017

The search for living organisms on other worlds — alien life — is ever ongoing, and it came up empty again in the calendar year of 2016, but a physicist in the United Kingdom believes that everything will change in 2017 and extraterrestrial life will finally be discovered. He suggests that it won’t come from SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) or from the various devices gathering data on Mars. It won’t come from UFO disclosures that reveal that certain governments have known about alien beings and extraterrestrials for decades. No, proof of alien life will come from Jupiter or Saturn, or more precisely, one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. The Daily Express reported this past week that physicist Simon Foster, a physicist from Imperial College London, is of the opinion that, even though there could be signals of life from faraway stars or biosignatures detected on exoplanets, the most likely candidates to reveal signs of alien life are the moons Enceladus (Saturn) and Europa (Jupiter). Foster says that the spacecraft Cassini is about to end its mission in the coming year and a scientific breakthrough “is just around the corner.” Foster notes that the past has been filled with false alarms where “we thought we had discovered aliens previously, it was a new form of star called the pulsar.” This occurred when a Fast Radio Burst was detected and mistaken for an alien signal, the event eventually leading to the discovery of a collapsed neutron star called a pulsar. More of the Fast Radio Bursts, their sources unknown, have since been detected, including the recent discovery of six repetitive radio bursts as reported by the Inquisitr, and alien signals are among the explanations for their existence. But Foster believes a breakthrough regarding the discovery of extraterrestrial life is imminent. “We don’t know hardly anything and when we come up against something we don’t know or doesn’t fit into out current understanding, it is quite nice to say that it could be aliens, whereas a lot of it is just a phenomena that we haven’t discovered. Either way there is a breakthrough just around the corner,” he told Express.co.uk. The NASA space probe Cassini is the most likely to bring about that breakthrough, he thinks, giving it a slight edge in finding alien life on Enceladus before it is found by craft near Jupiter’s Europa. And he believes it will be microbial. “What’s interesting is that one of [Saturn’s] moons, Enceladus,” he says, “is an icy moon and that leaves the tantalizing prospect of looking for life. The concentration has been on Mars, and I think moons like Enceladus and Europa, there is a good prospect of finding life – microbial that is.” Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, might be hospitable to alien life. [Image by CVADRAT/Shutterstock] NASA would like nothing more than to cap off Cassini’s mission with the revelation of alien life on Enceladus, but finding a way to do so, according to planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, the imaging team leader for Cassini, “is a total b***h of a problem to solve.” According to Scientific American, finding even microbial life in the giant plumes erupting from Enceladus might be a bit beyond Cassini’s capability, which is why there is growing momentum for a dedicated exploratory mission to Enceladus with the expressed purpose of finding life. Europa, Jupiter’s fourth largest satellite, is the Solar System’s sixth largest moon. As for Europa, NASA announced in September (per the Daily Mail) that Europa just might have a subsurface ocean under a thick layer of ice. The large moon might even be the Solar System’s best bet for harboring extraterrestrial life, according to some scientists. Still, Dr. Simon Foster has only offered a prediction for the coming year. Right or wrong, he and many of his fellow scientists believe it is only a matter of time before the discovery of alien life is announced. [Featured Image by Elenarts/Shutterstock]

Chinese Space Trash Collector Feared To Be Newest Anti-Satellite Weapon

China launched a small robot designed to collect space trash Saturday, but some analysts are worried it could be used as a weapon to destroy American military satellites. The Aolong-1, or Roaming Dragon, sports a robotic arm designed to capture floating space debris, but it could just as easily be used to destroy working satellites. China’s space trash collector could be used to collect dead satellites and stop them from crashing into large cities on the ground, like the defunct Heavenly Palace space lab scheduled to fall from orbit next year, according to the China National Space Administration website. “China, as a responsible big country, has committed to the control and reduction of space debris. In order to fulfill the obligations and responsibilities, our country is [working endlessly towards] achieving a technological breakthrough in space debris removal technology.” The Roaming Dragon is designed to capture this space debris, crush it, melt it into plasma with extreme heat, and then use it for fuel to hunt down more space trash. The prototype craft is very small, so China could easily produce more if its performs well. The problem with the Chinese space garbage collector is that could potentially be used to disable and destroy working satellites, especially military ones, and that has some analysts worried, according to the South China Morning Post. “It is unrealistic to remove all space debris with robots. There are hundreds of millions of pieces drifting out there.” The Roaming Dragon could potentially use its robotic arm to attach itself to another satellite, spacecraft, or a space station like a barnacle. Once attached, the robot could attack the other craft or be used as a mine. This isn’t the first time China has worked to destroy space satellites; in 2007, the country blew up a dead weather probe with an anti-satellite missile. The test angered the international community because of the large volume of space trash it created. China launches new carrier rocket amid ambitious space program https://t.co/XCGhRlQ6EL — The Guardian (@guardian) June 26, 2016 This time, China hopes to avoid the international fallout with the use of its “clean” space trash collector. The launch of the Roaming Dragon is the latest step in a Chinese project to remove the millions of pieces of space trash orbiting the Earth. The national agency was established last year with the mission of tracking the millions of pieces of space trash left in orbit above the planet in order to protect working satellites and space stations. NASA estimates there at least 20,000 pieces of space trash larger than a softball above the Earth, including pieces of broken satellites, abandoned parts, and used launch vehicles. The small pieces of metal are travelling at about 7,800 meters per second and could easily damage passing satellites and space stations. China has some 129 vehicles in orbit, and about 30 times a year, they’re threatened by space trash that comes to close for comfort. China’s recent achievements put it on track to launch second space station in September https://t.co/YN87TbEj1Z pic.twitter.com/I0iENEHSta — Digital Trends (@DigitalTrends) June 27, 2016 The European Space Agency is also working on a space trash collector it expects to launch next year. The U.S. Air Force is working on its own project; the craft would not only be able to collect space trash, but also work to repair broken satellites. China has made huge leaps with its burgeoning space program. After the success of the Heavenly Palace space lab, the country plans to launch its own space station into orbit to be followed by its own Hubble Telescope. China has clear intentions of landing on the moon and establishing a colony to mine for valuable resources. They also just signed a space treaty with Russia to assert their interstellar rights and challenge U.S. supremacy in space. Do you think the Roaming Dragon is a space trash collector or satellite weapon? [Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]

Putting Astronauts Into Stasis Might Make Mars Transit Easier, Enable Colonization Of Red Planet

NASA and SpaceX have both announced plans to land on Mars, but the long travel time to the red planet makes the transit difficult and dangerous and colonization even more so. Putting astronauts and potential red planet settlers into hibernation might be the answer to the many difficulties of such a long trip, SpaceWorks president and chief operating officer John Bradford told Space.com. “We’re not going to colonize Mars, or really settle it, sending four or six or eight people at a time every two years; we’re going to have to send larger numbers. I don’t know any other way that you’re going to send hundreds of people to Mars.” With the technology currently available to SpaceX and NASA, the transit to Mars would take travelers about six to nine months to complete and that’s a long time to keep astronauts healthy, happy and psychologically stable. The lengthy Mars transit becomes even more difficult when large numbers of potential red planet settlers are added to the mix, which would be the case when SpaceX completes its Mars colonial transporter. When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced his intentions to colonize Mars he admitted the transit would be deadly for at least some of the travellers, according to the Washington Post. “It’s dangerous and probably people will die, and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future.” Bradford thinks it might be easier on the astronauts making the Mars transit if their body temperatures were lowered by 9 degrees Fahrenheit putting them into a state of hibernation or a “hypothermic stasis,” that lowers their metabolic rates. (Mars Photo by NASA/Getty Images) Putting astronauts into hibernation would have many benefits: they would need less living space, less radiation shielding, less oxygen and less food and water, Bradford told Space.com. “That reduces the need for consumables in both nutrition and hydration, [and] oxygen demand. That translates to mass, and mass is a critical item trying to support these Mars missions.” The long transit time to Mars would also be psychologically easier on the astronauts if they were in hibernation. With people crammed into small spaces for lengthy periods of time the stress can build to insurmountable levels. NASA is so concerned about this dangerous stress they isolated six scientists in a dome in Hawaii to study their stress levels, as Mars Society president Robert Zubrin told HowStuffWorks. “It’s like a dress rehearsal. When you’re going to do a play, you want to see how it would work.” (Spaceship Photo by NASA via Getty Images) A spaceship traveling to Mars could put astronauts into hibernation using technology already available with a common practice known as therapeutic hypothermia. Hospitals use therapeutic hypothermia, the practice of deliberately reducing the body’s core temperature to 89 degrees Fahrenheit as a way to treat patients who don’t regain consciousness after cardiac arrest. Using therapeutic hypothermia, SpaceX or NASA could ship large numbers of settlers to Mars quickly and safely and establish red planet colonies in our lifetime. They could be fed intravenously and restrained in crash couches installed in cabins with artificial gravity provided by rotating habitats. SciFi is coming true. Can humans live on Mars? https://t.co/AOrGPhOyqT pic.twitter.com/VSn0w8OypE — Amazing Space (@TheSpaceWonders) September 4, 2016 Putting Mars travelers into the state of hibernation is not without some risk, however. Reviving astronauts from this state is quite slow, the body temperature can only be raised by.9 degrees an hour; there is also a lengthy recovery process involved. What do you think of the idea of putting astronauts into hibernation for a Mars transit? Image via ThinkStock

The Universe Is Expanding But Not At An Accelerating Rate, New Research Debunks Nobel Prize Theory

Our universe is expanding, but perhaps not at the constantly accelerating rate we previously thought. In 2011, three U.S.-born scientists — Saul Perlmutter of Berkeley National Laboratory, Brian Schmidt of Australian National University, and Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University — won the nobel prize for physics, Aljazeera reported at the time. Their work focused on the Big Bang, exploding stars, and the expansion of the universe. The most compelling conclusion the physicists drew from their research was the theory that the universe was not only expanding, but that it was expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. “(It was) one of the truly great discoveries in the history of science, and one whose implications are not fully understood,” Princeton University physics professor Paul Steinhardt told Aljazeera. Based on this theory, “in a trillion years, galaxies will be spread apart from each other by more than the current size of the universe,” Steinhardt explained. The entire basis of that theory came into question this week with the publication of a new article in Scientific Reports. The report is titled “Marginal evidence for cosmic acceleration from Type Ia supernovae” and it was written by J. T. Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute, A. Guffanti of the Università degli Studi di Torino, and S. Sarkar, also of the Niels Bohr Institute. They explain in the abstract of the paper that one problem with the theory of accelerating expansion is that it was based on previous versions of the Hubble diagram of Type Ia supernovae. In recent years, however, significantly more data on Type Ia supernovae has become available. “There exists now a much bigger database of supernovae so we can perform rigorous statistical tests to check whether these ‘standardisable candles’ indeed indicate cosmic acceleration,” the report reads. “Taking account of the empirical procedure by which corrections are made to their absolute magnitudes to allow for the varying shape of the light curve and extinction by dust, we find, rather surprisingly, that the data are still quite consistent with a constant rate of expansion.” Expanding universe may render time travel impossible https://t.co/JS3ap9wYXn pic.twitter.com/eQsedf4b4T — WPM Robert (@wpmrgon) October 22, 2016 As an article form Futurism explains, Nielsen and his team studied a catalog of 740 Type Ia supernovae, which equates to roughly 10 times as many subjects as Perlmutter and is team studied in the 1990s. Because of the limited number of Type Ia supernovae looked at in the earlier study, Nielsen and his colleagues conclude that “accelerated expansion theory falls short of scientific accuracy,” Futurism notes. Another perplexing aspect of the new study is that it calls into question much of what is presumed to be known about dark energy and its role in the expansion of the universe. GAIA Satellite To Find Out If We’re Wrong About Dark Energy And The Expanding Universe via @forbes https://t.co/KfPilx3nS3 — rahulnehra (@rahulnehra2) October 10, 2016 The research that won Perlmutter and his colleagues the Nobel Prize inspired the theory that “the universe is dominated by ‘dark energy’ that behaves like a cosmological constant,” Sarkar explained to Phys.org. This is the so-called “standard model” of cosmology that has been widely accepted since Perlmutter and his team’s research gained traction. Sarkar suggests that, based on the new research, dark energy might not even come into play when understanding how the universe expands. “A more sophisticated theoretical framework accounting for the observation that the universe is not exactly homogeneous and that its matter content may not behave as an ideal gas — two key assumptions of standard cosmology — may well be able to account for all observations without requiring dark energy,” Sarkar told Phys.org. While the new study is getting considerable attention, there’s no guarantee it will replace the “standard model” theory. That would more than likely take more research. In the meantime, we can all agree that the universe is expanding. We just aren’t sure how fast it’s expanding. [Featured image by NASA/Getty Images]

Watch December Supermoon, Geminid Meteor Shower Streaming Live Online [Video]

According to NASA, 2016 is closing out the year with a series of supermoons. The last of which can be seen in the night sky between Dec. 13, 2016, and Dec. 14, 2016. During a supermoon, the full moon is in close proximity to earth, making it appear larger, brighter and more voluminous. The three supermoons that will close out 2016 occurred or are occurring on Oct. 16, 2016, Nov. 14, 2016, and on Dec. 14. Some people might see the moon at its brightest on Dec. 13, 2016. Science at Nasa released a video discussing the three supermoons. You may see that video below. Check the video above for footage from Virtual Telescope’s live streaming coverage of the Nov. 14, 2016, supermoon. Virtual Telescope will live stream the Dec. 14, 2016, supermoon that coincides with the Geminid meteor shower. Skywatchers will find that Dec. 13, is a great time to break out the telescope and do a bit of gazing. However; if you wanted to view the Geminid meteor shower, you’re likely to be disappointed. The December supermoon will be approximately 30 percent brighter than a typical moon, and the meteor shower will most likely be obscured by moonlight. You might see a falling star or two to make a wish upon, but the main attraction in the night sky will undoubtedly be the December supermoon. Check the video below for footage from Virtual Telescope’s Nov. 14, supermoon filmed over St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. A brief glimpse of the moon – at 97% – through a break in the clouds off Sth Tyneside, UK just now, final #supermoon this Wed #Stormhour pic.twitter.com/WNhaWRu4jw — PAUL KINGSTON ????☀️⛈✨ (@PaulKingstonNNP) December 12, 2016 Those who want to watch the December supermoon can tune into Virtual Telescope’s special live broadcast that will stream online on Dec. 13, 2016, beginning at 16 UT. You can tune into the live stream and watch the supermoon, regardless of your location, visibility or area. This is a great way for those who wouldn’t have a clear view of the supermoon to witness this amazing astronomical event. As the December supermoon coincides with the Geminid meteor shower, some people will choose to watch the meteor shower live streaming instead of the supermoon. As it will be virtually impossible to see both with the naked, visible eye, telescopes make it possible to watch one or the other online. While the Virtual Telescope will be streaming the supermoon, Slooh observatory will be live streaming the Geminid meteor shower. Those who want to watch the meteor shower can do so at the official website. There are several meteor showers that get a lot of attention throughout the year. These include the Perseids, the Leonids and the Geminids. The Geminids produce numerous falling stars (meteors) that can be seen with the visible eye. Sometimes viewers can see falling stars every minute or two as they streak across the night sky. The Geminids are one of the most popular meteor showers viewed each year and there’s no doubt that some will feel torn between viewing the December supermoon and the Geminids. Join our new expedition leader, Gerard Monteux (formerly Bill Patrick of @NBCSports) for the Geminid Meteor Shower on 12/13 at 8PM EST pic.twitter.com/uuA9qdxHog — Slooh (@Slooh) December 6, 2016 #Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week, But #Supermoon Full Moon Interferes https://t.co/OAzceLhVSp pic.twitter.com/bGxsq46JfI — SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) December 12, 2016 Mark your calendar for one of the best meteor showers of the year!
Explore the Geminid Meteor Shower during our livestream, Dec 13th 8PM EST pic.twitter.com/pbb5g7p921 — Slooh (@Slooh) December 9, 2016 A full moon occurs approximately every 29 1/2 days. Having three back-to-back supermoons have caused some to look to the sky for prophetic meaning. Some have even thought the Nov. 14, 2016, supermoon would herald the second coming of Jesus Christ. There is no denying there are many special factors pertaining to the December supermoon. These together have made the event a fitting end to the year. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Native Americans had several names for the December full moon including the Long Nights Moon and the Full Cold Moon. The December supermoon occurs one week before the winter solstice which is the longest day of the year. The winter solstice means that the sun is at the furthest southern point away from the northern hemisphere. The sun will travel the shortest distance during the sky giving the shortest hours of daylight during the year. The December supermoon will usher in the winter solstice marking the passing of autumn into winter until spring begins on March 20, 2017. You may see a video below from the Almanac discussing the Native American names for the December full moon. Which do you plan to watch? Will you watch the December supermoon live streaming online or are you going to watch the Geminids meteor shower? [Featured Image by Kriengsuk Prasroetsung/Shutterstock]

Tsunamis On Mars: Mega Storms Once Washed Across Ancient Oceans On Mars

Did giant tsunamis rock the ancient oceans of Mars? Scientists say the evidence is there of not one but two massive tsunamis that swept through the oceans of Mars, leaving telltale signs that may hold the clues to life on the Red Planet. The images that the world has seen of Mars as it is now consist largely of dry, red sand and a desert-like terrain, but researchers found the evidence of not one but two tsunamis that washed over Mars’ northern hemisphere. Their conclusions are published in a study in Scientific Reports, and involves an analysis of data from various missions that allowed scientists to create a detailed map of the northern region of Mars. J. Alexis P. Rodriguez, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson is lead author of the study. He is quoted in Scientific American. “Imagine this enormous red wave coming towards you, up to 120 meters high. It would have been pretty spectacular.” Scientists have long speculated about the possibility of an ancient Mars that was much different than it is today, including the presence of water in large enough quantities to create oceans. A variety of space missions have produced a range of images of the red planet, however none show the kind of shoreline markings that are present on earth. Alexis Rodriguez explains. “However, we didn’t find it and that kind of remained a paradox. Why do we have an ocean but we have no constant shoreline around the ocean?” Mars was once devastated by giant 50-metre tsunamis https://t.co/Iq51Eyqml4 pic.twitter.com/H9W6nJDbvn — New Scientist (@newscientist) May 19, 2016 Tsunamis on Mars Rodriguez began to search for explanation and came upon the idea of tsunamis after visiting the site of Japan’s 2011 tsunami. His team examined the images, particularly lobe-like deposits that has previously been identified in the northern region of Mars. On earth, such formations would typically indicate debris that had been pushed up by waves of water. Since the debris flows with the water, it will generally flow downhill. The formations on Mars, however, flow uphill, which is an indication of how strong the flow was. The signs are consistent with the action of a tsunami. Virginia Gulick, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, is co-author of the study. “A tsunami deposit is like a flood deposit; it’s just in the reverse direction.” The study’s authors concluded that not one but two giant tsunamis had washed through the area. They theorize that the two tsunamis occurred about 3.4 billion years ago and within a few million years of each other. The first tsunami roiled over an area about 800,000 square kilometers (300,000 square miles) with waves between 10 and 120 meters (400 feet) tall. The second was even larger, affecting an area of about 1 million square kilometers or 400,000 square miles. To put it into perspective, after the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, the waves that hit the shore rose to about 39 meters or 127 feet in height. Mars was plagued by MEGA-TSUNAMIS… and has the scars to prove it https://t.co/wvvGcA3jUz pic.twitter.com/i98nCBcCDm — Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) May 19, 2016 Meteorites, tsunamis and life on Mars The cause of the pair of destructive tsunamis isn’t known but scientists speculate that asteroids may be to blame. Incoming comets or meteorites that hit the oceans would have created impact craters and triggered the kind of massive waves that left the evidence on Mars. Researchers found supporting evidence in the form of about two dozen marine impact craters. What happened to the oceans on Mars? Mars’ magnetic field is much weaker than the one we experience here on Earth. That means it has little protection against the solar wind, a blast of charged particles that flows out from the Sun throughout the solar system. The solar wind played havoc with the atmosphere and weather, resulting in the dry and barren Red Planet we know today. The lobe-like formations may also hold clues to the existence of life on ancient Mars. Virginia Gulick is quoted in the LA Times. “If there was life that formed, say, in the large body of water, then tsunami deposits might have brought up some of that material that might show evidence for microbial activity in the past.” Mars didn't just have oceans; it might've had giant tsunamis. https://t.co/nz7HoFRW81https://t.co/UTKaCXdNbU — Newsy (@NewsyVideos) May 19, 2016 Cold oceans on Mars The evidence also suggests a changing climate – one that was getting colder. The shoreline shrank back between the first and second tsunamis and it appears that the waves from the second event that caused the lobe-like formations actually froze in place and did not recede. Alberto Fairén, Cornell is visiting scientist in astronomy and principal investigator at the Center of Astrobiology, Madrid. He explains in a media release. “These lobes froze on the land as they reached their maximum extent and the ice never went back to the ocean – which implies the ocean was at least partially frozen at that time.” The oceans of Mars were salty but also cold. Despite the chill, they may still have been able to support life as the salt content would have kept at least some of the water unfrozen. Fairén compares the oceans on Mars more to the frigid waters of the Great Lakes in winter than the sunny beaches of California. Fairén and the NASA team plan on continuing their analysis of data on the tsunamis on Mars to find suitable areas for future missions to explore. [Image via NASA/JPL/USGS]