The star is laced with oddball elements like europium, gadolinium, terbium and holmium. Moreover, while iron and nickel appear in unusually low abundances, we get short-lived ultra-heavy elements, actinides like actinium, plutonium, americium and einsteinium. Hence the mystery: How can such short-lived elements persist in the atmosphere of a star?
How indeed? Some people have speculated that an alien intelligence is somehow adding in these unusual elements, as a way of drawing attention to themselves. It all sounds a bit complicated though. Why don’t they make a few TV shows, and broadcast them on a strong signal, instead?
If so, you’re going to love this animation, depicting the movements of stars in the night sky, or our view of the Milk Way, over the next five million years. Except, it’s not like watching paint dry, with five million years uncoiling over about four minutes, it is quite absorbing.
Unlike several thousand years, five million years is a little more than a blip in terms of cosmic timescales, and it’s interesting to see how the appearance of the Milky Way, or what we can see of it, alters significantly.
I wonder if there’ll be people around in five million years to see how things actually turn out?
Before diving into Saturn’s atmosphere, and disintegrating in the process, Cassini is scheduled to make twenty-two plunges into the region between the planet and its rings, an area that has been little explored to date.
I wouldn’t mind being on board for one or two of those passes, though obviously not the final one. Much as I like Saturn, I have no desire to become part of it.
The Moon takes the same amount of time to make one complete rotation on its axis, as it does to orbit the Earth. This means we only ever see one side of the Moon, with its far side forever facing away from us. The Moon is said to be tidally locked, as a result.
A trailer for the The Mars Generation, a Netflix produced documentary, about people of approximate high school age, who look forward to travelling to Mars, and establishing human colonies there, and sooner rather than later.
Our true place is among the stars. There’s no doubting the passion driving these aspiring explorers of the red planet, despite the many hazards.
A proposal to reclassify what a planet is, may see the planet count of our solar system jump from eight, to one-hundred-and-two bodies. The latter number would certainly make the Sun’s family sound large. But what is the size of the solar system in terms of the amount of room it occupies in interstellar space?
According to one estimate, there may be ten thousand such bodies, situated beyond the orbit of Neptune, in orbit around the Sun. Ten thousand dwarf planets. That’s a staggering number. The solar system is big, no matter what way you look at it.
Whether or not people have had sex in space, to date, remains unknown. Space agencies insist no one has, but who is to know for sure?
At the moment though, our off-planet exploits have been strictly for work purposes. Even crews aboard the International Space Station, who are in orbit for months at a time, and presumably have some leisure time, are still officially working.
But what about when we start colonising other parts of the solar system? Certainly people settling on Mars, which I’m sure will happen eventually, won’t be on a holiday, but they’ll be leading relatively normal lives. In so much as that will be possible, as the first human inhabitants of another body in the solar system, of course.
There will be no avoiding the issue of sex in space, and away from Earth, in that situation though. Surprisingly it’s a vexed problem, as this video, by London based designer and animator, Tom McCarten, sets out.
Safe for work, the clip at least, but possibly not the subject matter.