The story of Voyager is perhaps one of the most incredible in human history. It’s a story of discovery, of love, of mystery and of hope. Traveling nearly a million miles a day, they are beacons for our existence in the universe.
Current location of the Voyagers: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/
Lighting up the Night
Humans are not nocturnal creatures. Our eyes have adapted to living in the light, and over the last few hundred years, we have slowly brightened the night so we can inhabit it more freely. Half the world is haloed in networks of light that shine so brightly they can be seen in space, but while they may look beautiful from above, there are consequences. Badly-designed lighting often shines light in all directions instead of just where it’s wanted, and this extra light washes out the darkness and pollutes the sky with brightness, altering natural light levels. Because light is such a powerful biological force, this messes with the rhythms animals including ourselves have adapted to—for example, birds migrating at night become disoriented by unnatural light, and are especially apt to collide with brilliantly-lit buildings. The vacant orange haze that light pollution casts across the sky also empties it of stars. This is why most observatories are located in isolated places, which is sad because the average person can no longer lift their eyes to see the universe above—the infinite canvas of stars and planets and galaxies is unknown to them. Remedying this pollution is relatively simple: altering the design of light installations can immediately block wasted light, helping to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Flagstaff, Arizona, made one of the earliest efforts to minimise light pollution to protect the nearby Lowell Observatory, and it became the first International Dark Sky City in 2001. Many other places have made the same efforts and have become Dark Sky Preserves—sanctuaries free from artificial light, where the darkness is kept so pristine that the universe soars above.
(Image Credit: Jim Richardson)
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody suggest that toilet paper or paper towels in public bathrooms shouldn’t be free. We’d consider it outrageous if that very basic necessity were to be missing, or provided only for purchase.
“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.”
IT TOOK ME TWO TIMES TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON, HOLY FUCKING SHIT MY SIDES.
Searching for Life in Our Solar System
Scientists expect that Europa may have more liquid water than in all of Earth’s oceans. It has all the elements thought to be key for the origin of life: water, energy, and organic chemicals, the carbon-containing building blocks of life. Unlike Earth though, Europa’s vast, salty seas lie beneath roughly 10 miles of ice. Not only is it difficult to get a probe beneath this icy armor, but Europa’s oceans are darker than a cave — which means photosynthesis won’t work. However, something down there may subsist on geothermal heat or complex molecules from the surface. http://bit.ly/1trVzvX
NASA says it’s setting aside $25 million for designing scientific instruments to address questions about the habitability of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter. A Europa probe that could be launched in the 2020s. http://nbcnews.to/1pU2JJe
Titan is Saturn’s largest moon and the only world in the solar system (besides Earth) known to sport liquid lakes. These are lakes of ethane and methane — liquid natural gas — endlessly topped up by hydrocarbon rain. Despite the odd ingredients and Titan’s extremely cold temperatures (minus 290 Fahrenheit, or minus 179 Celsius), it is a world where chemistry’s a happening enterprise. It’s so cold that water ice is rock-hard—in fact, the rocks littering the moon’s surface are made from water. Water is everywhere on Titan, but it’s locked in a state that’s inaccessible for life-sustaining chemistries. On Titan, scientists would most likely be looking for bizarre life. Life that, instead of being water-based, uses liquid hydrocarbons as a solvent. Yet if life is found, it could demonstrate a different way in which it could begin and populate the cosmos.
Like its more celebrated neighbor Europa, scientists suggest that Callisto’s interior contains a salty ocean separated by ice layers, with a rocky seafloor underlying everything. The likely presence of an ocean within Callisto leaves open the possibility that it could sustain life. Because of its low radiation levels, Callisto has long been considered a suitable place among the Galilean moons for future exploration. http://bit.ly/1pra4Qx
The largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede, may feature liquid oceans layered between vast sheets of ice. Studies suggest that there may be a layer of salty water directly on top of Ganymede’s rocky core. Chemical interactions between rock and water could lead to the formation of life. http://cnn.it/1q8jCj2
Venus, with its scorching surface temperatures (850 F, or 454 C). The planet is generally assumed to be unlivable but some scientists believe that high in the Venusian atmosphere where temperatures are more tolerable atmospheric sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide might serve as food for floating microbes. http://bit.ly/1l3sWVo
Mars remains popular for those hunting for otherworldly life. In 2013, scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon - some of the key chemical ingredients for life - in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater. Also, particularly intriguing are the dark stripes that appear in the Martian summertime at Horowitz crater. These are likely to be salty meltwater only inches beneath Mars’ dusty top layer.
In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft photographed geysers of frozen water spewing from cracks in Enceladus’ southern hemisphere. Scientists think reservoirs of liquid water lie beneath the frozen surface and are warmed by gravitational interactions between Enceladus and other moons around Saturn. http://bit.ly/1pZu0bf
(Credit: List compiled from Space.com “6 Most Likely Places for Alien Life in the Solar System”)