Posted by: earthandbeyond | November 30, 2008

A planetary probe wish list

I’ve posted about current space probes and planned space probes earlier this year, but there are some things I feel are missing.  I know that the budget is limited for the various space programs in the world, but if we had a larger budget for space exploration, there are some ideas I’d like to see happen.  Some of my wishes below have already been considered and are possible plans in the future, but they are not approved (yet).

Mercury has an orbiter going to it now, but I’d like to see more.  How about a lander?  Of course, the lander should be at a pole, as Mercury’s slow rate of rotation would expose a lander to incredible temperatures at lower latitudes.

Venus needs another lander.  But one that can survive the heat and pressure of Venus’ atmosphere for a few days/weeks.  I want more surface pictures.  I want geological work done by the lander.  I want atmospheric measurements done.  And I want a seismometer!  Venusquakes would show that Venus is geologically active in some way.

For Mars, I want that flying probe that can fly around the planet, taking close up pictures of anything.  It’s just cool.

For Europa, we need a lander.  Of course, it should be very carefully built and stored so it doesn’t get contaminated by Earth microbes, in case there is life in Europa’s ocean.  Drill through the ice and see what’s down there.

For Ganymede, same thing as Europa.  We need a lander.  It’s also the solar system’s largest natural satellite, larger than Mercury.  It’s like a planet, basically.  Let’s get a probe there.

Titan needs another probe, but it needs an orbiter for detailed mapping, as well as an atmospheric flyer.  I want more clear images of the surface to search for more evidence of geologic activity.

Enceladus needs its own lander for similar reasons as Europa and Ganymede.  The presence of water there is something that needs to be investigated.

Uranus needs a probe of its own (please don’t read that with a dirty mindset).  Let’s study this oddball sideways planet and its satellites.  I especially want to see more about what’s going on with Miranda.  What happened to it?

Neptune also needs a probe.  It has a remarkably active atmosphere that needs more studying.  But it also has Triton, which is probably a Kuiper Belt object captured by Neptune.  It’s geologically active, and we only have pictures of one hemisphere.  We need to see the entire world.

Eris needs a probe, too.  Pluto’s got one, so how about one for the biggest dwarf planet of all?  Yeah, I know it’s very far away, and I’ll probably have grandchildren by the time a probe reaches it, but I still want to see all about Eris.

Finally, Haumea is an odd shape for such a large world.  I just want to see it.  That’s all.

Now it’s your turn.  What would you like to see?  Please leave a comment with your wish list.

Posted by: earthandbeyond | November 24, 2008

Did Phil Plait just call someone a toolbag?

That was my first thought when I read the title of this post, “Canadian fireball was NOT the ISS toolbag” at Bad Astronomy.  My brain wasn’t even considering the lack of comma after “ISS” meant that he was not insulting someone.  At first, I thought someone made a blog post somewhere that the fireball seen over western Canada last week was the ISS itself, and Phil called him/her a toolbag.  In fact, it was a comment about it possibly being the ISS toolbag that was lost during a spacewalk to service the station.  I wanted to see who the toolbag was, though.

Posted by: earthandbeyond | November 14, 2008

4 extrasolar planets imaged! Wow!

Really big news! News was released about 2 stars having a total of 4 extrasolar planets photographed. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy has a much better and very excited post about this news. He also has images, which I will post at some later time. I don’t have much time at the moment, but I will say a bit about the planets.

First, there is a planet that the Hubble Telescope has imaged orbiting Fomalhaut, which is a very bright star in the sky. Fomalhaut b is orbiting at a distance of 18 billion km from Fomalhaut, and appears as only a tiny dot. There’s a ring surrounding the star, as well.

Second, there’s HR8799 and its 3 planets. Bad Astronomy has an image with only 2 of the planets, but there are images available that show all 3 planets (from the Keck Telescope). The Gemini North telescope imaged 2 of the planets. HR8799 is 130 light years from us, and is a bit bigger and brighter than the Sun. The planets orbit at 3.8, 6 and 10.5 billion km from HR8799.

This is very exciting! I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these images in the near future!

Posted by: earthandbeyond | November 5, 2008

Congratulations Barack Obama

I’m not American, I don’t live in the USA, but I just want to say congratulations to Barack Obama for winning the Presidential election. This may have been one of the most watched elections around the world in history. The whole world was watching. I wish him luck over the next 4 years (or 8 years), and hope he takes the United States in the right direction. The USA is very influential in the world, and having a government that is willing to work with the world in a positive way is a very good thing. I hope he will do a great job!

And now, back to science!

Posted by: earthandbeyond | November 2, 2008

The most ridiculously false Big Bang explanation

Wow. I just watched a video on Youtube about how the Big Bang is a big lie. The video was created by CreationsTruth. This should already make you know that this will be filled with fallacies. Well, the video can’t be embedded, so just click here to watch it.

Have you watched it? Good. Don’t bother to make comments on the video, as the video’s creator doesn’t allow any comments that are against their opinion. I’m not one of those debunkers who will go through everything and explain away every mistake. I’ll leave someone else to do that. I’ll just make a few comments about the video.

First, the analogy is so simplistic and doesn’t even apply to the universe. First, the universe isn’t sitting on a table. Second, the planets and stars weren’t packed close together in a small area. They hadn’t formed yet! The expansion of the universe doesn’t take apart gravitationally bound systems. It does not affect a galaxy, it does not affect planets and their orbits, it does not affect our Moon. Yes, the Moon is slowly moving away from the Earth, but that has to do with angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system. But the whole pea analogy is what irritates me. The peas are on a table, subject to friction from both table and air. Of course they aren’t going to keep expanding apart. Also, they don’t clump together because their gravity is so weak, especially when the frictional force from the table is much, much stronger. The universe is a vacuum (well, almost a vacuum, but pretty darn close), there is no table making the planets and stars stop moving. The planets and stars did not just come together in groups. Large clouds of gas and dust gravitationally collapsed to form the stars and planets, as well as the galaxies.

Creationists, please think a little before making videos like this. Please read a bit about the subject you’re trying to say is false. Scientists don’t just make things up to lie to people. They are working hard to discover new things and learn about how the universe works. They’re not trying to deceive people. Scientists invite open debate about the science, actually. They invite others to do research for themselves. And I mean actual research. Not consulting the bible, not reading the internet, not listening to or watching Kent Hovind’s speeches. Use your brain.

Please comment everyone. Let’s discuss.

Posted by: earthandbeyond | October 26, 2008

The big picture of little Enceladus

Wow. has a page called The Big Picture, where they put up amazing photographs.  Well, this time around, they have some absolutely beautiful pictures of Enceladus.  Many of these I haven’t actually seen before, so it was a very impressive set of pictures for me.  I’m quite impressed by this picture:

The fractures throughout this image made me say “wow” out loud while I’m at home by myself.  Take a look at the entire set of pictures.

Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

Posted by: earthandbeyond | October 22, 2008

I’ll learn the truth from who???

So, I made a comment on a Youtube video, the contents of which I don’t recall at the moment.  But that’s not really important.  Someone said that the Great Flood created all the canyons in the world.  I said that a flood can’t create something so extensively large like the Grand Canyon.  He then sent me a private message providing me a place to find the proof, and also find out all the lies in science textbooks.  Who was he recommending me to listen to?  Kent Hovind.  The convicted fraud.  The creationist who makes so many fundamental scientific mistakes in his explanations.  I pointed this out to the guy who PMed me, but he’ll probably say I’ve been taught scientific lies all my life.  What a joke.  There’s something that I have that convinces me that science is true.  I actually did research and experiments in various fields of science in university, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, atmospheric sciences and geology.  I verified for myself what I have been taught.  That’s something that a university education has given me, the ability to search for the truth myself.  I did.  And the science isn’t lying to me.  I’m not lying to myself.  And the guy who PMed me?  He’s not even old enough to have a university education.  He’s probably not even studied science, other than high school science.  But these people don’t listen to reason.  This guy believes in a fraud and liar.  Wow.

Posted by: earthandbeyond | October 20, 2008

Welcome to the Universe documentary

I’d like to bring your attention to a new documentary that is being made about the universe.  It’s an educational series that will cover a lot of topics about the universe, kind of like a Nova documentary.  The creator of this series is AndromedasWake on Youtube.  He’s created a trailer for the series, and what’s remarkable is that he’s also created the musical score.  It’s quite good!  Have a look:

Please check out his Youtube channel and watch some of his other videos, as well.  His CrAP Debunked series is interesting, too.

Posted by: earthandbeyond | October 16, 2008

Translucent Ice on Mars

This is just a really fascinating image I found at the HiRISE website. Just take a look at it.

What you see is near the North Pole of Mars. The white is ice. The blue spots are dunes. According to the image information page, the streaks behind the dunes are likely the direction that the wind has blown recently. I frequent the HiRISE website quite often, and many of the pictures are amazing. But for some reason, this one just caught my eye. Impressive and beautiful!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Posted by: earthandbeyond | October 10, 2008

President McCain means stone-age USA?

I try not to get into politics, especially American politics, as I’m not American and don’t live in the USA. However, just watching the whole presidential debate, and looking at old man McCain and his creationist sidekick Sarah Palin makes me imagine what would happen if the USA was all like McCain and Palin. I was reading this Bad Astronomy article about McCain’s uneducated opinion about planetaria and thought that if the USA was all like McCain and Palin, the anti-science feeling would be so strong that the USA may as well be in the stone-ages. Science gave the world ALL of the technology that we have. Without science, the USA would be living like the Amish. Actually, many of the things the Amish use were created through invention, which involves a lot of science.

Really, is McCain stupid? He has a lot of experience, but to be so anti-science, it just doesn’t make sense. His selection of Palin as his running mate makes even less sense. She doesn’t understand the VP position. She doesn’t understand the world. She doesn’t understand the USA. She doesn’t understand science. Hell, her father was a science teacher, and now she pretty much thinks that what he taught was nonsense. Just reading around, I notice some other opinions of hers. She supports the US military operations that have been happening in Pakistan, even though it’s illegal and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. She initiated a lawsuit against the US government for naming a beluga whale and polar bear endangered species. Why? They are endangered. She supports creationism in public schools. Ok, put it in a religion or philosophy class, but keep it out of science classes. I can keep on going, but I’ll stop here.

Just as an added little bit, if McCain gets elected and dies while in office, Palin becomes President. It’s not just the USA that’s in trouble, but the whole world could be in trouble if this woman takes the helm of the world’s most powerful nation.

Post your thoughts.

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