Enceladus, shown in this recent image captured by the Cassini spacecraft, one of Saturn’s moons (Reuters / NASA)
The newly-discovered subsurface ocean on Saturn’s icy moon of Enceladus is similar in makeup to some of the life-bearing salt lakes on Earth, a new US study suggested.
Astrobiologists believe this small moon is the best place to search for alien life in the Solar System.
The 505-kilometer-wide satellite is geologically active, with powerful geysers blasting through its ice shell.
Those geysers contain water which researchers suggest comes from an ocean located beneath the moon’s icy surface.
A new paper entitled ‘The pH of Enceladus,’ published on Wednesday in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, looks into the chemical reactions that occur as Enceladus’ ocean water comes into contact with its rocky mantle.
The authors based their research on data gathered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.
They used mass-spectrometry measurements of the gases and ice grains in Enceladus’ plume to develop a model that estimates the saltiness and pH of the water in the moon’s inner ocean.
According to the US team’s findings, the ocean on Enceladus is likely salty and has a basic pH of 11 or 12, neutral pH being 7.
The same pH levels are found in ammonia-based glass-cleaning solutions, but some organisms on Earth are still capable of living in such conditions.
The high concentration of sodium chloride (NaCl) makes Enceladus’ ocean resemble terrestrial ‘soda lakes,’ such as Mono Lake in California.
It’s good news for the those hunting alien life as a the fauna of Mono Lake includes brine shrimp and many different microbes.
The team’s model suggests that the ocean’s high pH is explained by serpentization, a process where metallic rocks from Enceladus’ upper surface are transformed into minerals due to contact with water.
Serpentization also leads to the production of molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a potential source of chemical energy for any life form in the ocean’s water, the paper said.
“Molecular hydrogen can both drive the formation of organic compounds like amino acids that may lead to the origin of life, and serve as food for microbial life such as methane-producing organisms,” the study’s lead-author Christopher Glein, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, said in a statement.
Glein described serpentinization as a link between geological processes and biological processes on the moon.
“The discovery of serpentinization makes Enceladus an even more promising candidate for a separate genesis of life,” he stressed.
The hidden ocean was discovered on Enceladus earlier this year by Italian scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, who also analyzed Cassini data.
They said that active hydrothermal vents are likely to exist on Enceladus’ seafloor, providing conditions similar to those that gave rise to some of the first life forms on Earth.
Read more at http://endthelie.com/2015/05/08/cradle-of-alien-life-ocean-on-saturn-moon-resembles-habitable-lakes-on-earth/#aYHUOIUcJpEW18zX.99
Data has been flooding in from the nation’s latest space telescope, one with a 30-meter-diameter mirror (the Hubble’s, for comparison, was 2.4 meters). The initial searches for signs of life on exoplanets by 2020s telescopes found so many tantalizing hints. The new telescope, with thousands of times the capability, has searched hundreds of the nearest Earth-size exoplanets and found something astonishing: A large fraction show unusual chemistry in their atmospheres.
We are working hard to understand if any of the unusual chemistry can be attributed to gases produced by life. If geophysical or other contributions can be ruled out, we might establish that our galaxy is teeming with life, or at least microbial life.
If we instead hit a dead end with ambiguous chemical signals, we’ll need to go to the next step. Thanks to telomere gene therapy that has extended my life, I am willing and able to direct an even more capable space telescope, but that isn’t good enough. We will have to leave it to the next generations to figure out how to send the first interstellar space probes to actually travel up to tens of light years away to visit the other Earths.
A few weeks ago, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan made news by saying, “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” It was a bold statement, but NASA is now backing those words with action.
The field of astrobiology just got a significant boost thanks an ambitious new alien-hunting initiative launched by NASA. Called NExSS, the initiative will bring together an impressive array of experts and teams across a variety of scientific fields.
The goal of NExSS — short for Nexus for Exoplanet System Science — is to improve our understanding of extrasolar planets, and how their stars and neighboring planets interact to support life. To achieve this, NASA has put together a multidisciplinary team consisting of earth scientists, planetary scientists, heliophysicists, and astrophysicists.
“This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” noted Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary science, in a statement. “The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it’s of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well.”
Since 1995, over 1,000 exoplanets have been discovered. Thousands of additional candidates are still waiting to be confirmed. The time has come, says NASA, for scientists to acquire a better understanding of these distant objects to learn how they might be capable of giving rise to life and how we might be able to detect their bio signatures from Earth using current and next-gen telescopic technologies.
By applying a “system science” approach, the teams will work to understand how biology interacts with the atmosphere, geology, oceans, and interior of a planet, and how host stars contribute to habitability. At the same time, the scientists will classify the diversity of worlds (including a “periodic table of planets”), assess potential habitability of exoplanets, and develop new alien-hunting tools and technologies.
Among the teams assembled, some notable contributions will come from: the University of Arizona, Tucson’s “Earth in Other Solar Systems” team; Hampton University, Virginia’s “Living, Breathing Planet” team; NASA’s own Solar System astrobiological initiative; and the Pennsylvania State University project studying the atmospheres of giant planets orbiting hot Jupiters.
This is very exciting stuff, especially in consideration of future projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). Over the course of the next 10-to-20 years, astrobiologists may very well detect signs of alien life. But that alien life is bound to be microbial in nature. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is another challenge altogether.
E-Vectors Space Company to build two type of space planes. A suborbital, the Fire Fly 200 and a manned unmanned plane that will be capable of traveling through deep space to Jupiter and beyond the Fire Fly 400. Both space planes will take off vertically before accelerating to speed of 22,000 miles per hour using fusion /neutronic engines. A spaceplane is an aerospace vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth’s atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that can fly like an airplane.
As in a previous blog most of the construction would take place in space at the space factory using the 3 D printer with some of the components built here on Earth.
NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is
an advanced launch vehicle for a new era of
exploration beyond Earth’s orbit into deep space.
SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket, will launch
astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on
missions to an asteroid and eventually to Mars,
while opening new possibilities for other payloads
including robotic scientific missions to places like
Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
Offering the highest-ever payload mass and volume
capability and energy to speed missions through
space, SLS will be the most powerful rocket in
history and is designed to be flexible and evolvable,
to meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs
In early December, NASA will take an important step into the future with the first flight test of the Orion spacecraft — the first vehicle in history capable of taking humans to multiple destinations in deep space. And while this launch is an un-crewed test, it will be the first peek at how NASA has revamped itself since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
While the space shuttle achieved many ground-breaking accomplishments, it was limited to flights in low-Earth orbit (approx. 250 miles high). Its major goal, over the program’s last 10 years, was to launch and assemble the International Space Station, where the risks and challenges of long duration human space flight can be addressed and retired. With the ISS construction complete, NASA is in the process of handing over supply and crew transportation missions to private industry, so NASA can focus on what’s next – deep space exploration. And this first flight test of Orion is a significant milestone on the path to get there.
The flight itself will be challenging. Orion will fly 3,600 miles above Earth on a 4.5-hour mission to test many of the systems necessary for future human missions into deep space. After two orbits, Orion will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at almost 20,000 miles per hour, reaching temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
While this launch is an important step to taking humans farther than we’ve ever gone before, it is important to note that it also reflects the fact that, after 30 years of space shuttle missions dominating its human spaceflight activities, NASA has reevaluated everything – from its rockets and launch facilities to how it designs and manages its programs. With the Orion spacecraft, NASA wanted to develop a vehicle that could fly for decades with the flexibility to visit different destinations and safely return astronauts to Earth as the nation’s exploration goals evolve. As capable as the Apollo capsule was, the longest round trip mission to the Moon took 12 days. Orion is designed as a long-duration spacecraft that will allow us to undertake human missions to Mars – a two year round trip. In addition, NASA built enough capability into Orion so there is no need for redesign, or to start up a new program, as new destinations are identified.
Innovation and flexibility are also evident with the ground infrastructure. At Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, NASA has eliminated the ground systems and launch pads that were built specifically for the space shuttle. They have developed a “clean pad” approach that can be used by a variety of launch vehicles. The new streamlined infrastructure will be much more cost-efficient, reducing the time for on-the-pad processing from 30 days, the space shuttle’s timeline, to just five to six days.
The key to launching Orion on deep space exploration missions is NASA’s new “super rocket.” Known as the Space Launch System (SLS), it will be the most powerful rocket in history. The enormous power of the SLS will provide the capability to go farther into our solar system than humans have ever gone before. It will enable launches to other planets in less than half the time of any existing rocket. And, like Orion and the new ground systems at KSC, it is designed to be flexible and evolvable to meet a wide variety of crew and cargo mission requirements.
The SLS is an absolute game-changer for ambitious robotic missions to the outer planets and large unprecedented astronomical observatories. Those missions will build on the discoveries of Curiosity on Mars, the Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, and multiple robotic missions in the years ahead.
Through the development of the SLS and Orion, NASA has learned many lessons on how to streamline the design to make it more affordable than past systems. For the early missions, SLS will use heritage space shuttle hardware for the liquid engines and solid rocket boosters. Also, instead of initially building the “full-up” SLS, NASA has designed it to evolve by planning upgraded upper stages and boosters that future missions will require in the 2020’s and 2030’s. These innovations have allowed SLS to stay on a relatively flat budget throughout its design phase.
Even the way NASA manages its programs has been revamped. The Agency’s management structure for systems engineering and integration has been streamlined to increase communication and enhance decision-making. Strong communication has led to increased precision, and the potential cost avoidance is close to $100 million per year. Evidence of these savings can be seen in the successful completions of Preliminary Design Reviews for Orion, SLS and KSC ground systems.
As a nation, the U.S. has not sent crews beyond low Earth orbit since the last Apollo crew walked on the Moon in 1972. With Orion and SLS, America will have the fundamental capabilities to support missions taking the next steps into deep space, and with innovation and flexibility at the foundation of these programs, NASA is building a “Highway” for deep space exploration that will be sustainable for decades to come.
Those familiar with either the writings of Zecharia Sitchin or the current internet rantings about “the return of Planet X” are likely familiar with the word “nibiru”. According to self-proclaimed ancient languages scholar Zecharia Sitchin, the Sumerians (a member of the indigenous non-Semitic people of ancient Babylonia. ) knew of an extra planet beyond Pluto. This extra planet was called Nibiru. Sitchin goes on to claim that Nibiru passes through our solar system every 3600 years. Some believers in Sitchin’s theory also refer to Nibiru as “Planet X”, the name given to a planet that is allegedly located within our solar system but beyond Pluto. Adherents to the “returning Planet X hypothesis” believe the return of this wandering planet will bring cataclysmic consequences to earth.The new information on Nibiru is more mysterious than its own origins. Not too many people know the true details of Nibiru, and why it exists in our solar system. Let me tell you some basics first about this planet. Planet Nibiru, which was referred by the Sumerians as Planet X, was supposedly the 12th planet in our solar system. The true meaning of planet Nibiru is ‘Planet of Crossing’. In the hydrophilic of Sumerians, and Egyptian, they talked about how planet Nibiru had an elliptical orbit than a normal horizontal orbit. The elliptical orbit goes in a roundabout very close to the sun on one end, while 80% of orbit away from the sun. The planet took around 750,000 years to come between Mars and Jupiter, and when it did, it created devastation on all the planets during its flyby. This is why the earthquake that are happening in Japan, Chile and other places, could be due to the fact that magnetic pull from Nibiru is increasing as it nears our plain. The pull from Nibiru will increase gravitational force of each planet in a rubber band effect.Many researchers are worried and trying to figure out why 10 major volcanoes along the ring of fire have suddenly come to life. Although it is not rare to have a few active at the same time, but 10 at the same time is highly unusual and causing quite a bit of concern.Some Nibiru trackers are reporting this could be evidence of Nibiru’s proximity to our planet and the gravitational effects it is causing as it pull on Earth. Increased volcanic activity is one of the symptoms that many have been predicting would occur as planet Nibiru nears our solar system.
They also point to how mainstream media is all but silent on this phenomenon which could be to keep people from looking to closely at what might be the real cause of this out of the ordinary volcano activity.
Another extremely rare occurrence happening along with the recent increased volcanic activity is that a volcano off the coast of Japan is actually creating a new island. The birth of a new island is extremely rare and hasn’t been seen in decades in these parts.
The existence of Nibiru has been a topic of heated debate amongst historians, Nibiru watchers and critics for decades. Mentions of Nibiru or Planet X have even made the mainstream news, most notoriously in the Washington Post on December 30, 1983 as well as other respected papers such as the Boston Globe.
Not always naming it “Nibiru”, they discuss the existence of a mysterious large planetary body far beyond Pluto orbiting on a different plane than the rest of the planets. This correlates with many researchers beliefs of Planet X’s long predicted path back through our solar system.
As Nibiru cuts through our solar system in retrograde motion to the other planets it performs its various duties such as displacing or replacing planets and causing general havoc in the process. Its passage is momentous but short taking only a few weeks or months at most, after which it disappears from view. It is fiery red in color with a debris-filled tail, and circling it are a number of moons which it sometimes uses as weapons to pound other planets. Nibiru or its moons were responsible for such feats as the destruction of Maldek and other planets which are now asteroid belts; the craters or surface scars on the Moon or planets of our solar system, as well as their varying axial tilts and orbits; the sinking of Atlantis and Noah’s Flood; and God knows what else. It is the physical link or “ferry” between our solar system and the dark star system.
The image above is Dutch designer Mark Rademaker’s CGI design concept; created to illustrate how NASA engineer Harold White’s IXS Enterprise “Warp ship” might look. White has been researching into possible methods of propelling space craft beyond the speed of light. The strongest theory involves the disruption of space-time in front and behind the craft. White claims he has calculated a plausible method that improves upon an earlier theory by physicist Miguel Alcubierre, and is working towards a proof of concept for the idea. Rademaker’s design shows large rings that would be used to create a “warp bubble” and was originally submitted for the Star Trek “Ships of the Line” 2014 calendar.
Warp propulsion is based on a theory that an object (like a spaceship) can move at speeds many times faster than the speed of light to go vast distances through space. It’s currently believed that if something reaches light speed, it would transform into energy and thus cease being whatever it used to be.
Not only that, but the fuel cost and time it would take to travel would make space voyages pretty unrealistic. However, warp propulsion gets around these obstacles by placing a spaceship within a warp field “bubble” of normal space, while the space surrounding the bubble moves extremely fast — basically warping the fabric of space-time.
Advanced Propulsion Theme Lead for NASA Engineering Directorate Harold White says creating technology to accomplish warp propulsion (a warp drive) is absolutely possible, and he’s even started work on creating it.
White explains that his team is currently working on complex math equations to help create and discover microscopic instances of these “warp bubbles.” If the results from his team’s experiments prove successful, it could be possible to create a warp engine capable of interstellar space travel. For perspective, he uses the example of traveling to Alpha Centauri (the closest star system to Earth) in just two weeks in Earth time.
[Image credit: Mark Rademaker]
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On May 28, NASA demonstrated that it can land an unmanned spacecraft on a rugged planetary surface in the pitch dark.
The free-flight test was the first of its kind for NASA’s Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT.
Morpheus an unmanned spacecraft capable of carrying 1,100 pounds (499 kg) of cargo powered its way up to more than 800 feet (244 m) into the dark Florida sky at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center using solely ALHAT’s Hazard Detection System for guidance.
The Hazard Detection System, assisted by three light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors, located obstacles such as rocks and craters and safely landed on the lunar-like hazard field a quarter mile away from the NASA Center. Lidar which stands for Light Detection and Ranging is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
“The team has been striving for almost eight years to reach this point of testing the ALHAT system in a relevant space-flight-like environment on Morpheus,” said Eric Roback, ALHAT flash lidar lead engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
During testing, the Hazard Detection System pointed its sensor at the hazard field and made a mosaic of flash lidar three dimensional range images encompassing the hazard field.
“The flash lidar performed very well, and we could clearly identify rocks as small as one foot (0.3 m) in size from the largest range that Morpheus could give us, which was approximately a quarter mile,” (402 m) Roback said. “With this sensor we could even find the safest landing site in a pitch black crater.”
The Hazard Detection System then had to stitch the flash lidar images together to a three dimensional map of the landing site, analyze the map and select the best landing sites. Shortly after, the Doppler lidar measured the vehicle’s altitude and velocity to land precisely on the surface. The high-altitude laser altimeter provided data enabling the vehicle to land at the chosen landing site.
“Once this technology goes into service, the days of having to land 20 or 30 miles (32 to 48 km) from where you really want to land for fear of the hazardous craters and rocks will be over,” Roback said. “Then we can land near the truly interesting science and near the critical resources that will be needed for eventual colonization, and we can do it over and over again safely.”
The ALHAT Hazard Detection System brings together expertise from three different NASA Centers. Langley created the lidar sensors. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, developed the pointing and real-time image processing technology, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston developed the guidance, navigation and control technology.
The Advanced Exploration Systems Division of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate manages ALHAT and Morpheus. Advanced Exploration Systems pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit. I would appreciate your support by visiting the advertisers below .
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