NASA confirms: Liquid Water exists on Mars!

Water on Mars

Liquid water exists on the surface of Mars during the planet’s warmer seasons, according to new research published in Nature Geosciences. This revelation comes from new spectral data gathered by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a spacecraft that studies the planet from orbit. The orbiter analyzed the chemistry of weird dark streaks that have been known to appear and disappear seasonally on the Martian surface. The analysis confirms that these streaks are formed by briny — or salty — water flowing downhill on Mars.

NASA has advertised these findings as the solution to a major Mars mystery: does the Red Planet truly have liquid water on its surface? Researchers have known that water exists in ice form on Mars, but it’s never been confirmed if water can remain in a liquid state. The space agency is claiming that we now have that answer.

This isn’t the first study to suggest liquid water is present in some form on Mars. Scientists have theorized for years that Mars was once home to a large ocean more than 4 billion years ago. And recent findings from the Mars Curiosity rover suggest that liquid water exists just underneath the Martian surface. The discovery of water on Mars has almost become a joke among planetary scientists. Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at Planetary Image Research Laboratory who also worked on this research, wrote in Scientific American that the studies have become extremely commonplace: “Congratulations — you’ve discovered water on Mars for the 1,000th time!” he joked.

Today’s findings seem to offer more direct evidence of liquid water than most, though the study only confirms what NASA has long suspected — that flowing liquid water forms the strange, dark streaks that have been observed on Mars. These streaks — called recurring slope lineae — were first observed by the MRO spacecraft in 2010. The lines are blackish and narrow at less than 16 feet across. During the warmer seasons, the streaks grow thicker and longer; they then fade and shrink at times when Mars is colder.

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The Earth Is About to Be Bombarded By Two Solar Storms!

This is not your usual weather forecast. Big storms are brewing. Your umbrella won’t help, but you might want to keep a flashlight handy.

These storms are coming from the sun. It’s raining down a huge amount of radiation. We’re safe, but it could affect power grids, radios and satellites.

Experts say the combined energy from two recent solar events will arrive at Earth on Saturday, prompting the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a strong geomagnetic storm watch.

Wait. What kind of watch? Basically, the sun is a giant ball of gas: 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium. Every now and then, it spits out a giant burst of radiation called a coronal mass ejection.

These ejections are sometimes associated with solar flares, the most explosive events in the solar system. The sun has released two ejections in the past two days, and both are linked to solar flares. NASA says the second flare is an X1.6 class, putting it in the most intense category.

The energy from those two ejections is heading toward Earth.

Space weather experts aren’t sure what this solar storm will do.

“This is a pretty strong solar storm, and we just won’t know until it gets here” what it will do, said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Earth’s atmosphere usually protects us humans, but you might want to keep a flashlight handy. Solar storms can knock out power, interfere with GPS and radio communications — including those on commercial airliners — and damage satellites.

“People on the ground really don’t have to worry,” said Lika Guhathakurta, a program scientist with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. She said solar storms don’t affect humans on the ground, although astronauts could be at risk.

And our technology.

But don’t worry too much. NASA can take steps to protect the crew members on the International Space Station, and satellite operators can turn off sensitive sensors on satellites to mitigate the risk to your smartphones and wi-fi connection. There may be temporary glitches, though, Guhathakurta says.

And if there is a major issue, scientists are taking precautions to make sure all the important parties are prepared.

“FEMA has been notified of these events just in case,” Thomas Berger, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, said at a Thursday news conference.

On March 13, 1989, a solar storm knocked out power for the entire province of Quebec for 12 hours. Power grids in the United States were affected but didn’t have blackouts. NASA says some satellites tumbled out of control for hours during what’s known as the Quebec Blackout. The space shuttle Discovery was in orbit at the time and had a mysterious sensor problem that went away after the storm, NASA says.

On the upside, solar storms also create beautiful aurora. Aurora watchers in the northern United States who are outside major metropolitan areas should be watching the skies on Thursday and Friday nights.

People in the southern part of the nation are less likely to get the kind of splendid aurora sights that people in the Northeast and Alaska will see, but it might not hurt for them to take a glance at the sky anyway, just in case.

Although it won’t be as intense a view as the one northerners will get, “if you want to take a look on Friday night, why not?” Berger said.

Android-powered satellites headed to space!

Android-powered satellites headed to space

The Android ecosystem has been rapidly expanding beyond phones and tablets lately – just in the last week we saw the introduction of an Android-powered Wi-Ficamera by Nikon, and Panasonic is using Android apps and NFC-equipped devices to control and program smart appliances. NASA is one-upping them all with a use for Android that is truly out of this world. NASA’s new PhoneSat program is experimenting with using Android-powered miniature satellites.

As part of a program to explore how small cheap satellites can be made with off-the-shelf parts, engineers are NASA’s Ames Research Center have created 10cm square satellites that use Nexus phones as the computing brains that power the satellite. The four pound mini-satellites can be launched dozens or even hundreds at a time, bringing lots of aggregate observing power on the cheap.

Android-powered satellites headed to space

Two models are currently in development, dubbed PhoneSat 1.0 and PhoneSat 2.0. The 1.0 model runs on the inveterate Nexus One, while the 2.0 model sees an upgrade to the Nexus S. The circling of our planet should being later this year, as two PhoneSat 1.0s are planned to hitch a ride to orbit alongside a PhoneSat 2.0. The simpler spacecraft will come with an extra battery (it’s hard to plug in while in LEO) and mostly serve to collect data on how the phones perform in the hard vacuum of space. The 2.0 version gets tricked out with more options, like solar panels and reaction wheels, allowing for a longer duration mission that can include changes in orientation of the satellite.

Sending little green robots into space will pick up next year, and NASA has missions on the drawing boards that include low-cost moon missions, as well as Earth observation missions that would benefit from many having many eyes in the sky. Now if NASA can just manage to snag a Galaxy Nexus for the next gen satellites they’ll be able to play Angry Birds in HiDef!

NASA Curiosity Rover Lands Safely on Mars

We now pause from reporting on Ryan Lochte’s abs and Michael Phelps’ girlfriend Megan Rossee to bring you some important news that should make any American proud:

Curiosity, NASA’s long-touted plutonium-powered rover, made a picture perfect landing on Mars today and etched its name in space exploration history.

Earlier Monday, the agency released a photograph taken by its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the rover still encased in the descent capsule.

Shortly after, it touched down on the planet’s surface.

Curiosity Rover on Mars

During the early hours of the morning, the rover, about the size of a small car, was lowered at the end of 25-foot-long cables into a Martian crater.

Over the years, NASA’s orbiter taken about 120 photographs of the crater in preparation for the rover, with left Earth more than eight months ago.

“But I really think this is the coolest one,” Sarah Milkovich, a NASA scientist who works with the orbiter camera, said during a news conference.

Mars Crater

“What’s amazing about it is the miracle of this engineering,” said John P. Grotzinger, the scientist who spearheaded the groundbreaking project.

The rover ushers in a new era of exploration that could turn up evidence that Mars once boasted the ingredients for life – or might even still.

NASA and administration officials were also quick to laud the mission amid criticism that the agency has become a bureaucracy long past its prime.

“If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space,“ John P. Holdren, the president’s science adviser, said. “There’s a one-ton, automobile-size piece of American ingenuity, and it’s sitting on the surface of Mars right now.”

 

Angry Birds Space gets Officially announced by NASA astronaut from outer space !

Angry Birds Space – it’s now official, the birds have flown into space. They really have – Rovio has unveiled its latest update to the Angry Birds franchise from space where there’s no gravitation and it’s got NASA astronaut Don Petit catapulting birds at pigs in the International Space Station, orbiting 242 miles above Earth.

Angry Birds Space gets announced by NASA astronaut in space

Angry Birds Space are what seems like a huge overhaul of the gaming experience. You can see parts of the game in the video below and the whole layout of the scenes is much more flexibly, more dynamic. There are various gravitational fields that will change the trajectory of catapulted birds. But you’d still have your well known bird weapons and pigs, so you can tell it’s still Angry Birds.

Angry Birds Space gets announced by NASA astronaut in space

The game arrives on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac on March 22nd, and it will also simultaneously launch in animation and merchandise. The whole announcement was presented on a Samsung Galaxy Note, a “galactic” smartphone to match the birds’ space adventures. Check out the video from space below and let us know how you like it.