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
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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Anybody who has looked up into the western sky after sunset in the past month will have noticed a brilliant white object - the planet Venus, sometimes called the Evening Star. It is brighter than any other planet and ten times brighter than the brightest star Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. The "Evening Star"… Continue reading The Evening Star-Venus
As most of you will already know, and much to our disappointment, the Schiaparelli probe failed to land successfully on Mars last Wednesday. The plan was that when it entered the Martian atmosphere, the spacecraft would immediately begin to slow down to 1700 km/h as a result of the friction caused by the atmosphere hitting its heat-shield. When it reached… Continue reading Schiaparelli on Mars -updated
On 14 March 2016 the European Space Agency used facilities at Baikonur in Kazakhstan to launch their long awaited mission to Mars, the not so snappily named ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and, bolted onto it, a smaller probe called Schiaparelli. Although the much larger TGO will only orbit Mars, next Wednesday, 19 October, Schiaparelli will attempt… Continue reading Schiaparelli on Mars.
As discussed in a previous post, in the far future humanity may decide to terraform Venus so that the planet has a similar temperature and atmosphere to that which currently exists on the Earth. However, the lack of a global magnetic field would cause significant obstacles to humans settling on Venus. Without this protective shield inhabitants would be exposed to the… Continue reading Giving Venus an artificial magnetic field
On 14 March 2016 the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on a seven month mission to Mars. When it arrives at the red planet, it will study how the distribution of the gas methane varies according to position on the planet's surface and over the course of time. Image from ESA What is… Continue reading Short post of the month – April 2016: Life on Mars?