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January 07 2015

jamesbros1919

NASA Confirms Liquid Water on Saturn’s Moonell

A major scientific discovery was made this week as scientists uncovered overwhelming evidence indicating the presence of a ‘great lake’ on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The discovery is important because it marks Enceladus as being a possible site for life existing outside of our own planet.

Initially, icy material was seen being squirted into space from an odd ‘striped’ pattern on the moon’s southern pole. It was theorized that this material was water being ejected from a large body of liquid H20 on the moon’s surface. This week, measurements from NASA’s Cassini probe revealed the water’s gravitational signal, effectively confirming the theory. The Cassini probe even sampled the water as it was ejected into space.

Professor Luciano Less, of the Sapienza University of Rome, who was interviewed on the subject by BBC news, said, "The measurements that we have done are consistent with the existence of a large water reservoir about the size (volume) of Lake Superior in North America,"

To add context to this statement, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface and the third largest in the world by volume. It reaches depths of 147 metres and has an approximate volume of 12,000 Km3. It also plays home to over 80 different species of fish.

Data extracted from the probe suggests that the water is about 40km underneath Enceladus’ icy surface.

Enceladus is locked in an eccentric orbit around its parent planet; this means that the moon’s orbit is non-circular and it therefore follows that Saturn’s gravity will have the effect of melting the ice in some places and freezing any liquid found in others.

There are a lot of places in our solar system that possibly house liquid water, but not as many where that water can come into contact with rock. Rock is important because rocks release minerals and salts into the water - and these materials are among the key building blocks of life.

Professor Andrew Coates of the UCL-Mullard Space Science Laboratory was also interviewed for BBC news, he remained positive regarding the possibility of microbal life on Enceladus. Prof Coates said, "I think Enceladus has gone to the top of the charts in terms of a place where there could be life. (...) It's got several of the things which you need for life - there's certainly the presence of heat, there's liquid water in this ocean, there's organics and that type of chemistry going on. (...) The only question is, has there been enough time for life to develop?"

However, as Professor David Stevenson, from the California Institute of Technology, pointed out “we don’t know whether the ocean is beinghere or is freezing up”. It is theoretically possible that the great body of water confirmed this week has been there for 100 million years, but it is also potentially a far more recent development. At present, no one knows for sure.

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December 08 2014

jamesbros1919

Tech We’d love to to end up being able to See: Cities around the Moon

Placing a city (or several) on the moon has long been a dream of science fiction writers, futurists and ambitious scientists. Recently however, renewed public interest in space exploration, together with a growing realization that the world is becoming dangerously overpopulated, has lead some scientists, artists and zealous would-be lunar colonists to start taking this ages-old dream extremely seriously.

Why we want it:

Because it could potentially be one of the only non-genocidal solutions to the eventual overpopulation of planet earth. Also, who wouldn’t want to sit on the moon and watch the Earth rise?

When can we expect it?

A couple of years ago, a group called Moon Capital launched a high profile competition, allowing scientists, architects and aspiring artists the chance to create scientifically plausible scenes of moon colonisation (in the style made famous by super-artist Chesley Bonestell).

The competition had (hypothetical) moon colonisation taking place in the year 2068. This estimate was good enough for the entrants of the competition, so it’ll be good enough for us, too. Hopefully, then, you’ll get your lunar colony in about 55 years time (just under a hundred years after Neil Armstrong took that one small step....)

Of course, the problems posed by such a feat of engineering are many-fold. For starters, the moon is some 380,000 km away from us at any given time, (which is quite a trip for a moving van, even taking speed cameras out of the equation), then there’s the difficulty of actually building a working city in such a hostile environment...



We’ve built space stations, of course, so we know we can construct things in space, but they aren’t exactly desirable places to live. Also, we can get people to the moon and back (we’ve been at it since the 60’s, no matter what the conspiracy nuts tell you), but the trip is still intensely dangerous and requires a great deal of training and preparation.

Finally, we come to the complete lack of breathable atmosphere on the moon; this would require scientists to create some sort of artificial environment (or else speed up development of terraforming methods, but that’s a story for another time).

Oh yeah, there’s no food either, not unless you like your Selenite steaks rare.

Yes, the idea of colonising the moon poses a number of mind-boggling obstacles, but if there’s one thing that we as a species excel at, its overcoming obstacles.

So, while it may seem far-fetched to imagine something like this actually happening, consider this; the first powered flight took place in 1903 and just 66 years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were hanging out on the moon. Think on that for a second.

Cool Factor: 5/5

Cities on the moon? Now that’s cool.

you can find more info from this site here

Tags: moon city
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