Space

You can't seeit from here, but the moon is lopsided; that's because of its gravitational tug-of-war with Earth.

The mutual pulling of the two bodies is powerful enough to stretch them both and they wind up shaped a little like two eggs with their ends pointing toward one another. On Earth, the tension has an especially strong effect on the oceans, because water moves so freely. The moon is the driving force behind tides. 

For the first time, scientists can see the moon's lopsided shape and how it changes under Earth's sway – a response not seen from orbit before. Because orbiting spacecraft gathered the data, the scientists were able to take the entire moon into account, not just the side that can be observed from Earth. 


The slopes of a giant Martian volcano nearly twice as tall as Mount Everest, called Arsia Mons, were once covered in glacial ice and they may have been home to one of the most recent habitable environments yet found on the Red Planet, according to new research.

Arsia Mons is the third tallest volcano on Mars and one of the largest mountains in the solar system. The new analysis of the landforms surrounding Arsia Mons shows that eruptions along the volcano's northwest flank happened at the same time that a glacier covered the region around 210 million years ago. The heat from those eruptions would have melted massive amounts of ice to form englacial lakes — bodies of water that form within glaciers like liquid bubbles in a half-frozen ice cube.


The structures and star populations of massive galaxies appear to change as they age, but much about how these galaxies formed and evolved remains mysterious. Many of the oldest and most massive galaxies reside in clusters, enormous structures where numerous galaxies are found concentrated together. Galaxy clusters in the early universe are thought to be key to understanding the lifecycles of old galaxies, but to date astronomers have located only a handful of these rare, distant structures.

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Andrew Newman has confirmed the presence of an unusually distant galaxy cluster, JKCS 041. It is published in the Astrophysical Journal


Following on from Crew Tether Spin - With Final Stage - On Routine Mission To ISS - First Human Test Of Artificial Gravity?, I've got some great videos to share now, showing the Soyuz and final stage spinning to create artificial gravity, over the turning Earth, against the stars. So, let's take a look at the highlights of the mission in video, ready for the Space Show webinar on artificial gravity.

First, launch sequence, if you haven't seen it yet

SETI scientist Gerry Harp writes of a "secret" experiment involving Kepler 186-f.   The senior scientist look only for a tuning fork like signal.  The least likely signal ET would send. Real signs of ET intelligence will be, and if I am correct are in fact, much fainter and on a broad band like channel.  A serious scientific search should not attempt to rely only on radio data, or look only for a strictly monochromatic, one frequency, radio signal.
You may remember, a while back I talked about Joe Carroll's ingenious idea to do our first ever true experiment in a gravity tether during a routine Soyuz crew transfer to the ISS, His idea is to use the third stage -which goes into orbit anyway, as the counterweight. Remarkably, the whole thing, even including the spin up to create artificial gravity, uses almost no extra fuel over a normal mission to the ISS. This could help with numerous health issues of zero g. 

Images of Saturn's auroras as the planet's magnetic field is battered by charged particles from the Sun have led a team to claim decisive evidence for the hypothesis that Saturn's auroral displays are often caused by the dramatic collapse of its "magnetic tail".

Just like comets, planets such as Saturn and the Earth have a "tail" – known as the magnetotail – that is made up of electrified gas from the Sun and flows out in the planet's wake.

When a particularly strong burst of particles from the Sun hits Saturn, it can cause the magnetotail to collapse, with the ensuing disturbance of the planet's magnetic field resulting in spectacular auroral displays. A very similar process happens here on Earth.


Elon Musk's ideas are in the news right now, rockets with first stages that fly back to a soft landing under auto pilot. But you might be surprised to learn how many other ideas there are under active development, for low cost ways to get into orbit.

The British Skylon would fly directly into space from a reinforced airport, taking off like a plane, without need to discard anything (single stage to orbit). Then JP Aerospace plan airships to float up to 200,000 feet followed by transfer to a lighter than gossamer skinned, "orbital airship" that never lands, but can accelerate gradually through the near vacuum of the troposphere and above, to orbital velocities.

Last year, people began wondering why part of the sun was missing.  What had happened was that changes to the magnetic field were allowing hot plasma to fly off into space toward Earth, creating a coronal hole.

Coronal holes are actually happening less right now, because we are experiencing a solar maximum. During this portion of the recurring cycle, the number of coronal holes decreases. During solar max, the magnetic fields on the sun reverse and new coronal holes appear near the poles with the opposite magnetic alignment.

The astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli first described them as 'canali' in the 19th century. A conspicuous net-like system of deep gorges known as the Noctis Labyrinthus is clearly visible on Mars' equatorial region.

The gorge system, in turn, leads into another massive canyon, the Valles Marineris, which is 4,000 km long, 200 km wide and 7 km deep. Both of these together would span the US completely from east to west.

These gorges resemble terrestrial canyons formed by water so most researchers assumed that immense flows of water must have carved the Noctis Labyrinthus and the Valles Marineris into the surface of Mars. Or perhaps tectonic activity had created the largest rift valley on a planet in our solar system.