Category Archives: Space Science

Devilish Weather

We’ve lost a lot of probes in the attempt to explore Mars (though the Soviets and now Russians, have had even worse luck–have they ever had a successful Mars mission?). There even used to be grim jokes in Pasadena about the “Great Cosmic Ghoul” who ate Martian-bound robots.

But interestingly, once a mission is successful, it tends to be very successful–the rovers that landed a couple years ago were only designed (and expected to last) for three months, but they’re still going strong. Michelle Thaller has an article that explains why bad weather is good for Martian explorers.

Extrasolar Planet Next Steps has a good summary of the recently discovered extra solar planet massing only five times as much as ours.

My recommendation for the planet finders is to start looking for wobbles on the wobbles of the super massive planet orbits to see if they can find smaller planets or Moons. Or wobbles on cold binary stars that circle near the hab zone of hotter primaries that may also turn up lower mass planets.

Even if we never directly detect low mass planets, big hab zone planets may be like Jupiter or Saturn and have lots of moons, some of which have comfortable gravity and an atmosphere.

A New Earth?

I’ve been told by someone at NSF that there may be an announcement today of an extrasolar “earth-like” planet (in terms of mass) at 1 PM. We’ll keep an eye out.

[Update at 11:30 AM EDT]

Here’s a link to a webcast on it, coming up in an hour and a half. The person who notified me of this writes:

“I believe, based on the level of media they’re expecting that it will be an earth-size and mass planet outside of the solar system.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

[Update at 2 PM]

OK, it’s “more earth like than anything previously found,” but still not that earth like. It masses several times as much as the earth, at a distance of only a couple million miles from its star, with a year of only two earth days. Sounds more like a large “Mercury-like” planet.