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Posts Tagged ‘Water’

10/10/2019 – Ephemeris – Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have the building blocks of life

October 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 7:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:52. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:23 tomorrow morning.

Even though the Cassini mission to Saturn ended two years ago its data will be will be studied for decades by scientists around the world. One of Cassini’s discoveries were geysers of water ice being ejected from the small moon Enceladus, that creates Saturn’s tenuous E ring. Two instruments aboard Cassini, a mass spectrometer and a cosmic dust analyzer, discovered organic compounds in the geysers and the E ring. Further analysis by German geologists found nitrogen-oxygen molecules among the ice grains. These are like the constituent compounds that make up amino acids which on Earth make up the proteins of life. Currently both NASA and the Europeans are considering return missions to Enceladus.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Enceladus, a small moon of Saturn spews continues to geysers of water rom cracks in its south polar region indicating an ocean below its frozen icy exterior. Sampling the plumes with the right instruments may detect life on this small world without the need for drilling. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech

How organic compounds are attached to ice grains and ejected from Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech.

04/15/2019 – Ephemeris – Why land at the Moon’s south pole?

April 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tax Deadline Day Monday, April 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:57. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:53 tomorrow morning.

The hottest piece of real estate on the Moon is the south pole. Unlike the Earth’s south pole and the rest of the Moon, except the north pole, there are mountain tops that are always in sunlight. The Moon has a very small axial tilt, only a degree an a half, compared to the Earth’s 23 and a half degrees which plunges the earth’s poles into a 6 month’s night. Another benefit of the small tilt is that the floors of craters at of near the poles never see sunlight, so are hundreds of degrees below zero and can be cold traps for water vapor from passing or colliding comets. Yes, thar’s water in them thar craters. It’s more valuable than gold, providing oxygen to breathe and hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

South pole ice

The south pole of the Moon where the presence of water ice is detected by the absorption of neutrons by the hydrogen atoms in the ice. Credit NASA/GSFC/SVS/Roscosmos.

08/02/2018 – Ephemeris – Has liquid water been found on Mars?

August 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 2nd. The Sun rises at 6:30. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 9:07. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

The European Space Agency has announced the possible discovery of liquid water beneath Mars’ southern polar cap. Perhaps it’s like the lakes found under Earth’s Antarctic ice sheet. The discovery was made by the Mars Express orbiter’s ground penetrating radar. Mars south polar cap is primarily made of water ice up to 3.7 kilometers thick, covered in winter by a meter, give or take, thickness of carbon dioxide ice, what we call dry ice. Mars elliptical orbit happens to make southern hemisphere summers short and hot, and winters long and especially cold. Liquid water could exist several kilometers below the martian surface. Mars’ internal heat flow is what NASA’s InSight lander, now en route to Mars is going to tell us.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)