By the appearance of the pic, I think that's the back of Ballmer's head (but I'm not sure how big the moon is, need scale).
The Hubble space telescope is usually eyeing up far away galaxies, but a novel technique has allowed it to peer inside the largest moon in our Solar System – and find signs of water. Jupiter's Ganymede is massive, about twice the size of Earth's moon, and has both an iron core and its own magnetosphere. Just as with Earth, …
"Liquid water outside of Earth is very rare indeed, "
Not sure if we can say so any more. We now have strong evidence of three moons having ice-covered oceans (Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus), and there might be even more. Suppose we eventually find most of the liquid water in the solar system is not on Earth...
Several old sci-fi stories revolved around the idea that water is very rare outside Earth (like the TV series "V"(1983) where the aliens came to steal Earth's water). They seem quite dated now!
" Find something to help solve our problems on earth.. like food distribution!!"
Food distribution is technologically and logistically solved. It is inexpensive to ship millions of tons of staples around the world, or deliver fresh fish affordably to the interior of continents. There's nothing for NASA and astronomers to contribute to food distribution, not even their research budgets.
The problems with food distribution waiting to be solved include, but are not limited to, the following non-technological issues:
1) Hungry nations refusing food aid (typically for inane reasons)
2) Rich nations refusing to provide direct food aid under the belief (right or wrong) that it will turn hungry nations into dependents
3) Hungry nations continuing to use low-productivity farming techniques because they can't afford mechanized farming, or can't support mechanized farming
4) Rich nations trying to avoid destroying local agricultural industry, the way the US destroyed Afghanistan's wheat farms with cheap food aid and drove the farmers to opium.
And so on.
Taking money from a scientist studying Ganymede to research a solved technological problem is a wasteful reinvention of the wheel, especially when the remaining issues are not technological.
"If you observe the aurorae in an appropriate way, you learn something about the magnetic field. If you know the magnetic field, then you know something about the moon's interior."
Cap well and truly d'offed.
95 miles under the surface though? "Cat, are you drilling?"
"it's likely Ganymede's hot iron core, and the proximity to Jupiter, will keep the sea rather warm. Under such conditions life could be a possibility, although only in its most basic form."
Many miles away
Something crawls from the slime
At the bottom of a dark [Ganymedean] lake...
"Under such conditions life could be a possibility, although only in its most basic form."
Why only in it's most basic form? Why couldn't it have developed/evolved in a totally different way than life as we know it, and be far from basic? Who defines the standard of what is considered "basic"?
The reasoning is probably that a lot of the complexity and diversity we see in life on Earth arose through there being a range of different environments here, with areas being temporary isolated from each other, and you presumably don't get that so much with an underground sea. However, it's an argument from lack of imagination, really, so not very convincing.
How can anything complex grow in an environment that is buried below miles of ice? Where do all the other necessities of complex life come from?
From the same place that ocean-vent lifeforms on Earth get it - upwelling solutions chock-full of mineral ions and chemicals with stored energy. Even on this planet, with its tasty biosphere film in the easy-living zone of temperate-range surface and upper ocean level, has myriad extremophile organisms living far from solar radiation and the other goodies we enjoy.
Of course, "basic" and "complex" are not terms of art here; they're arbitrary and subjective labels. But hydrothermal-vent dwellers on Earth are pretty complex, compared to the whole range of organisms. Tubeworms, clams, etc - we're talking large multicellular critters with a good array of specialized organs and the like.
Precisely the question I had. Fortunately, I read all the comments before popping off. One minor quibble is that due to the smaller size but liquid core, it's likely to have greater exposure to radioactivity thus, perhaps, having a higher rate of mutations. That's even before sorting out the tidal influences from Jupiter mixing things up. Until we go there and look, and robotics doesn't get you too far along here, we'll never know. So far, we have rather limited sample size of known life-bearing worlds to draw from and a larger sample of worlds that we 'believe' do not bear any life at all. I don't like mixing beliefs into science.
NASA is finally ready to launch its unmanned Orion spacecraft and put it in the orbit of the Moon. Lift-off from Earth is now expected in late August using a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
This launch, a mission dubbed Artemis I, will be a vital stage in the Artemis series, which has the long-term goal of ferrying humans to the lunar surface using Orion capsules and SLS technology.
Earlier this week NASA held a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) for the SLS vehicle – fueling it and getting within 10 seconds of launch. The test uncovered 13 problems, including a hydrogen fuel leak in the main booster, though NASA has declared that everything's fine for a launch next month.
NASA has chosen the three companies it will fund to develop a nuclear fission reactor ready to test on the Moon by the end of the decade.
This power plant is set to be a vital component of Artemis, the American space agency's most ambitious human spaceflight mission to date. This is a large-scale project to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, and establish a long-term presence on Earth's natural satellite.
NASA envisions [PDF] astronauts living in a lunar base camp, bombing around in rovers, and using it as a launchpad to explore further out into the Solar System. In order for this to happen, it'll need to figure out how to generate a decent amount of power somehow.
Sadly for NASA's mission to take samples from the asteroid Psyche, software problems mean the spacecraft is going to miss its 2022 launch window.
The US space agency made the announcement on Friday: "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11."
While it appears the software and testbeds are now working, there just isn't enough time to get everything done before a SpaceX Falcon Heavy sends the spacecraft to study a metallic-rich asteroid of the same name.
NASA's Moon rocket is to trundle back into its shed today after a delay caused by concerns over the crawlerway.
The massive transporter used to move the Space Launch System between Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and launchpad requires a level pathway and teams have been working on the inclined pathway leading to the launchpad where the rocket currently resides to ensure there is an even distribution of rocks to support the mobile launcher and rocket.
The latest wet dress rehearsal was completed on June 20 after engineers "masked" data from sensors that would have called a halt to proceedings. Once back in the VAB, engineers plan to replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical. The stack will then roll back to the launchpad for what NASA fervently hopes is the last time before a long hoped-for launch in late August.
Rocket Lab has sent NASA's Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft on its way to the Moon atop an Electron rocket launched from New Zealand.
The launch had been subject to a number of delays, but at 09.55 UTC today, the Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.
Pic When space junk crashed into the Moon earlier this year, it made not one but two craters on the lunar surface, judging from images revealed by NASA on Friday.
Astronomers predicted a mysterious object would hit the Moon on March 4 after tracking the debris for months. The object was large, and believed to be a spent rocket booster from the Chinese National Space Administration's Long March 3C vehicle that launched the Chang'e 5-T1 spacecraft in 2014.
The details are fuzzy. Space agencies tend to monitor junk closer to home, and don't really keep an eye on what might be littering other planetary objects. It was difficult to confirm the nature of the crash; experts reckoned it would probably leave behind a crater. Now, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has spied telltale signs of an impact at the surface. Pictures taken by the probe reveal an odd hole shaped like a peanut shell on the surface of the Moon, presumably caused by the Chinese junk.
An asteroid predicted to hit Earth in 2052 has, for now, been removed from the European Space Agency's list of rocks to be worried about.
Asteroid 2021 QM1 was described by ESA as "the riskiest asteroid known to humankind," at least among asteroids discovered in the past year. QM1 was spotted in August 2021 by Arizona-based Mount Lemmon observatory, and additional observations only made its path appear more threatening.
"We could see its future paths around the Sun, and in 2052 it could come dangerously close to Earth. The more the asteroid was observed, the greater that risk became," said ESA Head of Planetary Defense Richard Moissl.
Interview NASA has set late August as the launch window for its much-delayed Artemis I rocket. Already perched atop the booster is the first flight-ready European Service Module (ESM). Five more are in the pipeline.
Airbus industrial manager Siân Cleaver, whom The Register met at the Goodwood Festival of Speed's Future Lab, has the task of managing the assembly of the spacecraft, which will provide propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen for the Orion capsule.
Looking for all the world like an evolution of the European Space Agency's (ESA) International Space Station (ISS) ATV freighter, the ESM is not pressurized and measures approximately 4 meters in length, including the Orbital Maneuvering System Engine (OMSE), which protrudes from the base.
NASA engineers had to work fast to avoid another leak affecting the latest Artemis dry run, just hours after an attempt to reboost the International Space Station (ISS) via the Cygnus freighter was aborted following a few short seconds.
The US space agency on Monday rolled the huge Artemis I stack back to its Florida launchpad having worked through the leaks and problems that had beset its previous attempt at fueling the beast in April for an earlier dress rehearsal of the final countdown.
As propellant was loaded into the rocket, controllers noted a hydrogen leak in the quick-disconnect that attaches an umbilical from the tail service mast on the mobile launcher to the core stage of the rocket.
Pondering what services to switch off to keep your laptop going just that bit longer? NASA engineers can relate, having decided the Mars InSight lander will go out on a high: they plan to burn through the remaining power to keep the science flowing until the bitter end.
The InSight lander is in a precarious position regarding power. A build-up of dust has meant the spacecraft's solar panels are no longer generating anywhere near enough power to keep the batteries charged. The result is an automatic shutdown of the payload, although there is a chance InSight might still be able to keep communicating until the end of the year.
Almost all of InSight's instruments have already been powered down, but the seismometer remains active and able to detect seismic activity on Mars (such as Marsquakes.) The seismometer was expected to be active until the end of June, at which point it too would be shut-down in order to eke out the lander's dwindling supply of power just a little longer.
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