More Planets Than Stars! Exoplanets and Our Little Blue Ball

Artist conception of a few of the probably billions of earth-like planets in the Universe.  Planets very similar to the chemical makeup of Earth are likely to be found but will they have any forms of biological life?  That is the big question.

Our solar system comes with planets of all sorts of sizes and compositions.   Not long ago, it was possible to debate if there were any other planets in the Universe other than those of our solar system.   Now, there doesn’t seem to be any question that other planets, called exoplanets, do exist. The […]

Get Your Daily Dose of Discovery: Seeing the Solar System Through Distant Eyes

Cassini image of the rings of Saturn with three moons. Image: NASA/JPL/Caltech

There are spacecraft and rovers at work right this moment collecting data on planets, moons and other solar system bodies.   These sophisticated instruments are beaming back data to Earth on a nearly daily basis. Much of that data would not be easy for most of us to interpret but the images they send back give […]

Can You Spot the Difference? The Slowly Changing Surface of Mars

The restaurant kids meal activity "spot the differences"  has many android app versions now including this one by ??.   I expect it would take a keen eye to notice the difference in a 6000 year old photograph of Mars and one taken today.

Below is a picture taken by the Curiosity Rover on Mars last week.  Had you been on Mars 6000 years ago at this very location what do you think it would have seen?  What differences do yo think you could spot between then and now? I have zoomed in on one section of this rock […]

The Case of the Shrinking Comet and the Age of the Universe

The dumbbell shaped Comet 67P.  The Rosetta satellite is presently orbiting this comet as is passes around the Sun.  Image:  Planetary Society/ESA

Ten years after launching, the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft finally caught up to its target, Comet 67P.   Rosetta, now 250 million miles from Earth, will travel along with the comet while it makes its way around the Sun measuring its activity as it goes through the process of forming a tail. Already Rosetta has detected and measured streams […]

Ken Ham’s Aversion to ‘Life’ on Other Planets, Part I – What is Life?

Is this alien life?  It may look alien to you but this is a reconstruction of life on our own planet from the Cambrian Period based on fossils found.

Ken Ham recently proclaimed that he thought it was highly unlikely that “plant life” would be found on other planets. I wonder what he thinks the word “life” means in this context? For example, does living mean that plants also experience death? If so, how can he say that animals and man were allowed to […]

Rewinding the Clock: An Asteroid Family History

Artist conception of the breakup of an asteroid into separate family members.

You might think of the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars as a assortment of space junk floating randomly in space. There are millions of asteroids of which more than 100,000 have been measured and mapped by astronomers. But analysis of those asteroids has shown that there are groups of asteroids that are related to one another and are referred to family members

NH Notes: Curiosity Update – Amazing Views Inside A Crater

Curiosity rover wheels after rolling into a portion of a sand dune (sol 527).  Image: JPL/NASA/MSSS

When I last updated you on the excursion that the Curiosity rover has been making across the floor of Gale Crater on Mars I noted that the images it has been beaming back had been getting rather routine.  But the rover has slowly been moving downhill toward what seems more and more likely to have […]

Cosmogenic Dating Methods Allow Estimates of Erosion Rates on Mars

Layers of rock seen at yellowknife bay in Gale Crater of Mars by the Curiosity Rover.  Image: JPL/NASA-Caltech

Just how fast are some rocks on Mars eroding?  A few months ago I asked a Martian rock that question (see: My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) and I was not given a very satisfying answer.  Well, that rock can be excused for being a bit confused about time given how boring […]

NH Notes: More Planets Than Stars Update

Artist’s representation of the “habitable zone,” the range of orbits where liquid water is permitted on the surface of a planet. The authors find that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor a planet between one and two times the size of Earth in the habitable zone. (Credit: Petigura/UC Berkeley, Howard/UH-Manoa, Marcy/UC Berkeley)

Our solar system comes with planets of all sorts of sizes and compositions.   Not long ago, it was possible to debate if there were any other planets in the Universe other than those of our solar system.   Now, there doesn’t seem to be any question that other planets, called exoplanets, do exist. The […]

Reflections on the 2013 PCA General Assembly and the Age of the Earth

old-earth

Dr. Jason Lisle of the Institute of Creation Research (ICR) presented a seminar entitled “Astronomy Reveals Creation” at this year’s PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) General Assembly which took place  two weeks ago.  Some billed this as the young-earth follow-up to a seminar given at last year’s PCA GA by Dr. Greg Davidson who presented […]

NH Notes: Identifying Pseudoscience – Velikovsky and Catastrophism

The Pseudoscience Wars by Michael Gordin

What is pseudoscience and how does one recognize it?  Scientists and philosophers have long struggled to answer this difficult question.  A book published last year,  The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe by Michael Gordin,  helps to further refine our understanding of what pseudoscience is by examining the rise and fall of […]

Curiouser and Curiouser: A Mars Curiosity Update

Many very fine layers are visible here in this closeup.   Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech

After the Mars Science Laboratory, otherwise known as the Curiosity rover, dropped down the rabbit hole and safely landed on the surface of Mars there was much ado about the first images and hints at a watery past.   Since then the rover has left the public eye but the rover has been no slouch, […]

More Planets Than Stars – Exoplanets and Our Little Blue Ball

Artist conception of a few of the probably billions of earth-like planets in the Universe.  Planets very similar to the chemical makeup of Earth are likely to be found but will they have any forms of biological life?  That is the big question.

To say that the Universe is a big place would be a huge understatement.  It is difficult to fathom just how big it is.  When we hear that there are an estimated 10 sextillion to 1 septillion stars in the Universe we have few reference points to compare to those numbers. A number followed by […]

NH Notes: Snapshot of a Chaotic Tumbler – Asteroid Toutatis

Toutatis-image-chinese-probe

A Chinese spacecraft has been only the fourth to fly past an asteroid and capture close-up images.   Here are a series of images of the 4 km long asteroid Toutatis which is considered a NEA (Near Earth Asteroid) though it won’t make another pass near the earth for another 50 years.   This is […]

Finding Mars on Earth: A Conversation about Martian Meteorites

Tissint-mars-meteorite-morocco

Maybe you missed it last week with all the excitement of  the pictures from Curiosity and its analysis of the rocks on Mars (See my last post: Curious Geology: Stunning Images Reveal a Complex Mars) but there was another pronouncement of further evidence that watery processes were once active on Mars.  Where did this evidence […]