I was very excited to read about the discovery published last week by NASA’s Curiosity rover of the seasonal variation in the amount of methane in Mars’ atmosphere. Curiosity found that the average methane concentration varied from 0.24 parts per billion (ppb) in the northern hemisphere winter to around 0.65 ppb in the summer. This… Continue reading Methane on Mars
Ever since the pioneering work of Frank Drake (1930-) in 1960, astronomers have been looking for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilisations and have failed to find anything. This could be because Earth-like planets containing complex life forms (such as ourselves) are rare in the Universe and only a series of highly improbable events led to the… Continue reading The Rare Earth hypothesis
Christmas is almost upon us. Once again I'm offering my e-books for free during the first five days of December! Just call me Father Christmas :-). "Is Anyone Out There?" is about the likelihood of there being extraterrestrial intelligent life. It is based on a number of posts from my blog. For readers based in the UK the… Continue reading A Christmas gift from The Science Geek 2017
Nearly 40 years ago, on 20 August 1977, the Voyager 2 space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to study the Solar System's four outermost planets. It was followed 15 days later by the launch of an identical spacecraft, Voyager 1. The Voyager spacecraft -Image from NASA Although Voyager 1 was… Continue reading Voyager 40th anniversary
With the recent discovery of three planets orbiting the red dwarf star Trappist-1 which have a similar size, mass and average surface temperature as the Earth, there has been considerable speculation as to whether one or more of these planets supports life. What the surface of Trappist 1f, one of the planets orbiting Trappist 1, might look… Continue reading Life in our galaxy?
Three years ago my first ever post was about Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It is interesting that once again this small moon is in the headlines as a possible place on which there could be life.
The Science Geek
Hello and welcome to the first post from the Science Geek 01. I intend to write a weekly blog about various topics of interest, which will cover all aspects of science. The articles will be aimed at the non scientist and won’t require any previous detailed knowledge. I hope you enjoy reading them and please feel free to comment.
My first posts will deal with the subject of life within the solar system, which in astronomical terms is our own backyard.
Life on Mars
Throughout most of the twentieth century many scientists thought that there could be life on Mars. Indeed the famous American astronomer Percival Lowell (1855-1916) claimed to have seen through his telescope a large network of canals built by an intelligent civilization and even produced maps of the Martian canal network. These canals certainly provided great material for science fiction writers but they were probably all due to Lowell’s imagination!
Percival Lowell’s Martian…
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I am sure that many of you will be aware of the discovery announced in February this year of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a small cool star known as Trappist-1. (Gillon et al 2017). In this post I'll talk about this exciting finding and the possibility that some of these planets might support life. Trappist-1 and its… Continue reading The Trappist-1 system