Earth 2.0 – Plan B for Mankind

Looks like there might just be a Plan B for when we eventually gas ourselves out of our own planet or those apocalyptic zombie films finally make good on their promise to obliterate mankind. Astronomers have discovered a planet that – upon preliminary investigation – would appear to be so similar to our own that there’s a very real possibility it could be fit for human habitation. This comes as great news, because by the time we are forced to move planets (and the technology for interstellar travel has been invented), local asteroid-defeating hero, Bruce Willis, will be long dead. Hooray for Plan B!

Video Source: “Could we move to Earth 2.0?” uploaded by Science Channel to YouTube channel https://youtu.be/fdksRkeBcNU

“The First Man In Space” – a NASA Parody

This video was submitted to me a few days ago by one of Why? Because Science‘s enthusiasts, Lena Brooks. It’s a funny short by her sketch comedy group called Naptime Comedy and I thought it was so amusing (and well done) that it deserves a share…

Video Source: “The First Man In Space” by Naptime Comedy on YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2WJdjJfcNM&feature=youtu.be

TED Talks: Nature’s Grossest Creature a Master of Motion!

funny cat pictures

It is literally nature’s most disgusting creature and there are few people – men and women alike – who are unbothered by it coming within close proximity: the cockroach. And yet, the cockroach is an extraordinarily successful creature on planet Earth and one that will easily survive any apocalypse: mad-made or natural.

And so, in this fascinating TED Talk video, Dr. Robert Full (Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory at Berkeley University) shows us just how amazing these creepy crawlers are in their ability to move through, up, around and over any obstacle or terrain. He and his team have applied the various laws of mechanics and modes of stabilisation they learned from the cockroach to the fabrication of robots, which are cute in a weird and creepy way.

Video Source: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) at YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekUh9AW1hKg

Why is this research prudent? Because getting into tiny spaces, travelling over very rough terrain, pulling off gymnastic maneuvers in air and getting around impossible obstacles could be extremely useful in delivering aid to people trapped in disaster situations, such as earthquakes, tornado or hurricane swept areas. Robots such as these could also be the future of unmanned planetary exploration.

Prestige aside, watching cockroaches move around in slow motion is super interesting!

 

 

Pluto is Avenged: Evidence of Ninth Planet Found!

Just when you got over the news that Pluto is no longer considered a planet, comes the compelling evidence that our solar system may indeed have a ninth planet that is considerably larger than Earth! The reason we haven’t picked up on its presence yet is because it lies a staggering distance from the sun and has an orbital period (time it takes to bumble its way around the sun) of 20,000 years! Check out the very interesting findings and discussions of the team at Caltech…

Video Source: “Evidence of a Ninth Planet” uploaded by caltech to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=6poHQ2h00ZA

Cool Things Col. Hadfield Taught Us About Space Livin’

Colonel Chris Hadfield is pretty much the modern face of space exploration. In this video and others that have been uploaded to YouTube, he demonstrates the awesomeness of zero gravity and the various peculiars of space living, answering age-old questions asked by children everywhere: How do you sleep in space? How do you wash your hands? What food do you eat?

Video Source: “Cool Things Col. Chris Hadfield Taught Us About Space” Uploaded by Mixtape Master on YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy50lRbOpW8

How Black Holes Are Born

In this cool video, we learn how black holes are created from the death of massive stars, leaving behind a collapsed star so dense and with such skull-crushing gravity that not even LIGHT can escape it! Here’s a cool fact… if you were floating towards a black hole, the atoms in your feet would accelerate towards it faster than the atoms in your head and so effectively, you would be instantaneously ripped apart. Fun!

Video Source: “The Birth of a Black Hole” Uploaded by Alexander Guseff to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=8grTbzAo0PA.

Life on Mars: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation!

Planet Mars with Rising Sun

Every single morning, when my alarm drops a hydrogen bomb into the middle of my sexy dreams, I lie in bed entertaining fantasies of further sleep. What would I do to be able to sink back into the cotton wool comfiness of my sub-consciousness for another half hour? In my irrational sleep-addled state, a lot! So, sign me up for the first commercial flight to Mars because with days that are not 30 minutes, but 40 minutes longer than on Earth, my desperate desire for extra sleep would be granted!

Curiosity Weighs 899 kg

Luckily There Aren’t Any Cats on Mars

On the 5th August of 2012, the Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ made a successful landing on the powdery, rock-strewn surface of the Red Planet. A part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, Curiosity’s primary objective is to explore the real estate on Mars and the possibility of humans inhabiting it at some time in the not-so-distant future.

Curiosity Mars Rover self-portraitA self-portrait of the Mars rover, Curiosity. #Selfie.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Derivative work including grading, distortion correction, minor local adjustments and rendering from tiff-file: Julian Herzog – http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16239

This sophisticated piece of machinery (see above image) cost NASA $2.5 billion to build and is designed to investigate features of Mars’ geology and climate during the course of its two-year long investigation. More specifically, the aptly-named ‘Curiosity’ will be looking for “ancient organic compounds,” according to NASA Ames Research Centre’s planetary scientist, Carol Stoker. This would help us understand the history of Mars, Earth’s sister planet,’ as a previous or even current supporter of life

All of the high tech gadgetry aboard the ‘Curiosity’ is essentially geared to measure the presence, nature and concentration of organic compounds that are possibly locked within the planet’s dry soils. After two years of exploration, ‘Curiosity’ will hopefully have answered our many pressing questions about the habitability of Mars. This could bring us closer, much closer, to planning an alternate future on the Red Planet… just in case we gas ourselves out of our own home in the solar system.

Or, you know, Bruce Willis chickens out of his mission to blow up an Earth-bound asteroid.

Meet The Red Planet! 

Planet Mars

Hey, hi, how are ya?

Astute academics such as Dr. Richard Zurek, Chief Scientist in the Mars Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), have strong reason to suspect that Mars was once home to living organisms and that the Curiosity mission will indeed yield fruit. The presence of frozen water at the poles, an atmosphere that consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide, geological features that appear to have been carved and shaped by running water and a climate that is not wholly intolerable, indicate that out of all other known planets and moons in our solar system, Mars is or at least was the most accommodating of life.

What we want to know is whether we too could one day inhabit this arid red landscape… and if so, what would life on Mars be like?

Planet Profile: Mars

Mars planet

Etymology: Thanks to its blood-red colour, Mars was named by ancient civilizations after the Roman God of War.

Diameter: 6,787 kilometres

Average distance from Sun: 227,936,640 kilometres.

Rotation period (length of day): 1.026 Earth days

Orbital period (length of year): 686.98 Earth days

Menstrual period: huh?

Tilt of axis: 25° (Earth’s is approximately 23.4°)

Maximum surface temperature (tanning weather): 37°C

Minimum surface temperature (cuddle weather): -123°C

Best view from Mars: Olympus Mons, which is 27 kilometres higher than surrounding lava plains.

Atmospheric constituents: (1) 95% carbon dioxide, (2) 3% nitrogen, (3) 1.6% argon and (4) other trace gases. Methane was recently discovered there, too.

Your Martian Calendar and Climate

Because of Mars’ distance from the sun, 227,936,640 km on average, it takes quite a bit longer for it to bumble its way around the fiery focal point of our solar system. This means that a Martian year is much longer than an Earth year; approximately twice as long, in fact. There are 687 days in a year on Mars. Thanks to the planet’s tilted axis, however, there are still two primary seasons: summer and winter. This doesn’t really matter though. With average year-round temperatures of -60°C (-80°F) you’re still going to need to take a very warm jacket and maybe a pair of mittens, too. There are a few balmy days to look forward to… in summer, the mercury in Mars’ equatorial regions can actually hit 20°C (70°F), punctuated by days of a roasty toasty 37°C (98°F).

In spite of the cold, Mars is a desert planet, much like Tatooine, the one Star Wars’ Anakin Skywalker comes from… wait, hold on… did I just say that out loud? It never rains on Mars’ rust-red landscape and the only break you get in the distant and diluted sunshine is high level, coruscating congregations of ice-crystals; similar in fact to the cirrus clouds we get here on Earth. Bitterly cold winters aside, Mars would seem to be a rather affable place to settle.

Wouldn’t it?

Not always! When the horizon darkens and the wind picks up, it’s time to hit to road, Jack. Mars’ raging dust storms are the most tempestuous in the entire solar system.

Mars 2001 sandstorm NASA

In 2001, the Hubble Space Telescope captured the complete transformation of Mars as an enormous dust storm swept over the entire globe’s surface. These storms are driven by winds of up to 160 km/hr and can last weeks or even months. On the up-side, with nothing else to do other than stay inside, this would hurry along the population of Mars…

Martian Tourist Attractions

Once you get bored of admiring endless vistas of red nothingness and of tripping over the legions of sharp rocks that are ubiquitous to Mar’s dusty, empty landscape, you will need to take in a few of the planet’s more redeeming features. Thankfully, there are plenty of those. Mars offers some spectacular natural attractions that make the Grand Canyon look like a butt crack and Earth’s biggest volcano, Mauna Loa, look like a bug bite. Albeit a bad one.

Olympus Mons is Mars’ largest mountain/volcano/OMG-look-at-THAT!! At a lofty 27 kilometres (17 miles) high and an expansive 600 kilometres (372 miles) across, this megalith is three times as tall as Mount Everest, Earth’s largest mountain. It’s also the largest known volcano in the solar system.

Olympus Mons on Mars

What was once a suppurating abscess of death is now a brooding blackhead on the face of Mars’ blood-red landscape. Olympus Mons sits conspicuously in the top-right hand quadrant of this colorised topographical map of The Red Planet, from the MOLA instrument of Mars Global Surveyor.