Daily Archives: June 22nd, 2008

Phoenix finds water ice?; galactic star streams and Japanese astronomers look for ET

Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it.”It must be ice,” said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. “These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it’s ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can’t do that.”

The chunks were left at the bottom of a trench informally called “Dodo-Goldilocks” when Phoenix’s Robotic Arm enlarged that trench on June 15, during the 20th Martian day, or sol, since landing. Several were gone when Phoenix looked at the trench early today, on Sol 24.

Also early today, digging in a different trench, the Robotic Arm connected with a hard surface that has scientists excited about the prospect of next uncovering an icy layer.

If one takes JPL and NASA at its word, this is indeed good news. Some people speculate the white stuff is salt or CO2 ice though. From what I saw at the Space Daily site, I couldn’t really tell for certain the white substance was sublimating or not. Maybe a better trained eye can tell.

Mars Science Is A Sublime Affair For Phoenix Lander


The Star Streams of NGC 5907
Image Credit & Copyright: R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Observatory) – collaboration; D.Martínez-Delgado(IAC, MPIA), J.Peñarrubia (U.Victoria) I. Trujillo (IAC) S.Majewski (U.Virginia), M.Pohlen (Cardiff).

From my old pal Quasar 9‘s (who’s a very busy individual when he’s not posting photos or poetry) site.

This is a look at tidal star streams surrounding galaxy NGC 5907.



Everyone wonders at least once in their lifetime whether space is infinite and whether aliens really do exist,” said Shinya Narusawa, chief researcher at Nishi-Harima Astronomical Observatory in western Japan.

The search for aliens and UFOs is not new to Japan. Last year, unidentified flying objects grabbed the headlines after a lawmaker submitted a question to the cabinet on whether the country had confirmed any cases of their existence. The government’s answer: no.

In the scientific world, Japanese researchers have used antennas to catch radio signals from outer space and analyzed the prisms of celestial lights to see if any laser emissions from space can be found, Narusawa said.

By concentrating on one star the Japanese believe the chances of finding an ET civilization are enhanced simply because it would be easier to filter out artificial radio ‘noise’ from Earth, thus cutting down on false positives.

I don’t know about this. Our own industrial civilization is only 250 years old and we’ve only had radio for little over 100 years, and we’re already phasing it out in favor of fiber optics and broad band.

This is like tilting at windmills. If we were serious about finding ET, we would be investigating UFOs more seriously, developing ways to detect neutron beams, graviton waves or even patterns in quasar flashes.

All theater for the masses this is.

Life in outer space? Astronomers hunt aliens