Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015: A SPACE ODYSSEY, part 4

The Mysterious lights . Volcano's may be .
or Alien base .
NASA's Dawn space craft finally has made it to the dwarf planet Ceres.  On Friday it began an positioning it's self into a slow orbit that soon it will bring the spacecraft close enough for scientific investigations.At 7:39 a.m., EST, as the spacecraft, trailing a beam of blue-green vapor, closed in on the dwarf planet, Ceres , becoming the first spacecraft ever to circle a dwarf planet, as well as the first to orbit two bodies beyond the Earth-moon system. (Dawn studied the protoplanet Vesta up close from July 2011 through September 2012.) So far the first pictures look spectacular enough . They are also a bit mysterious for a number or reasons . First we don't have any color pictures as of now , we have to wait for that in the coming months of orbital study . However we have some black and white images that already are sending NASA abuzz with speculation on the origin of the mysterious lights .The image above  that has been making the rounds online shows two bright lights, one brighter than the other. The photo was released by NASA on Thursday and it was taken from a distance of 7,429 miles (46,000 kilometers). Scientists believe that the (1)>  two lights appear to be located in the same basin on Ceres. SO FAR Scientists are one step closer to finding out what’s causing those mysterious bright spots on Ceres after the Dawn space probe entered its orbit Friday morning. They are a bit puzzling , you might think that are reflecting off the surface as the Sun over head is bouncing off some substance in the crater . There is also some possibility that we are looking at a erupting volcano . I can't wait , but waiting to get close may be months in the working . Since DAWN moved into orbit it's now on the dark side of Ceres ,that just the opposite of the craft's camera,   Dawn’s trajectory has put it on the dark side of the dwarf planet, which is 590 miles wide and some 266 million miles from earth, which will face away from the sun until mid-April. At that time, as the spacecraft emerges from the shadow and spirals closer to the surface, its photographs will be become sharper. Hopefully I'll get to see the color photo's of this remarkable object.

MARS Lost Oceans .  ( The Photo's illustrate how  Mars went from Green , blue to Red and oxidized  Today )
The Other story that hit the roof this week is that Mars once had an ocean . This raises a lot of questions regarding how long the ocean was present . Scientists  who, using ground-based observatories, measured water signatures in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. They have assumed that A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean. Perhaps about 4.3 billion years ago, Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 450 feet (137 meters) deep. More likely, the water would have formed an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’ northern hemisphere, in some regions reaching depths greater than a mile (1.6 kilometers).The new estimate is based on detailed observations made at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the W.M. Keck Observatory and NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii. With these powerful instruments, the researchers distinguished the chemical signatures of two slightly different forms of water in Mars’ atmosphere. One is the familiar H2O. The other is HDO, a naturally occurring variation in which one hydrogen is replaced by a heavier form, called deuterium. Mars still HAS water today . It's frozen at the polar caps as well as subsurface ice . How ever , (2)>  I don't think that Martian water is drinkable for human consumption
The view of the planet’s ancient history radically re-writes what many scientists believed only a decade ago. Back then, flowing water was widely considered to have been a more erratic presence on Mars, gushing forth only rarely, and never forming long-standing seas and oceans.Martian water, like that on Earth, contains standard water molecules, made from two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, and another form of water made with a heavy isotope of hydrogen called deuterium. On Mars, water containing normal hydrogen is lost to space over time, but the heavier form is left behind.When normal water is lost on Mars, the concentration of deuterium in water left behind goes up. The process can be used to infer how much water there used to be on the planet. The higher the concentration of deuterium, the more
water has been lost.The huge body of water lasted for millions of years. But over time, the Martian atmosphere thinned. The drop in pressure meant more ocean water wafted into space. The planet lost much of its insulation too. No longer warm enough to keep the water liquid, the ocean receded and eventually froze. Today, only 13% of the ocean remains, locked up the Martian polar caps. It is possible that some day Mars might sustain life in the form of humans. But in order for that to happen,
science will need to advance. For example, water would not be easily obtainable on Mars for human consumption. Astronauts likely wouldn't be able to bring enough water along with them, so the need exists for an instrument to convert chemicals in Mars' soil, atmosphere into water (or even astronaut bodily fluid into water).
It's not news that water once existed on Mars. In 2013, grooves and slopes in the planet's surface hinted at recent water flow and last year, findings by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover suggested the planet's 96-mile-wide Gale Crater was once the location of a massive lake. But today's findings suggest that Mars' water supply was not fleeting. That Mars once hosted such a large body of water implies the planet may have been habitable for much longer than previously thought.

(1)> One idea that scientists have tossed around is that the luminous spots are cryogenic volcanoes, spewing out water vapor that reflects sunlight. That could mean that liquid water is leaking to the surface—an exciting possibility. Along with elements like carbon and hydrogen present on Ceres (the ingredients necessary to make organic molecules), and enough heat from sunlight and the warm radioactive elements in its core, liquid water on Ceres just might be enough to sustain life. Let that sink in, it means the light we are seeing is not a reflection of sunlight in ice.possibly geo-thermal activity. But most of those planets that far out are extremely cold. Seems strange.Reminder that the surface of Ceres is as reflective as coal, and thus to photograph it you need a long exposure time, and thus areas that are in fact bright will be exaggerated in their brightness.So scientists are hoping that Dawn will provide evidence of a subsurface liquid ocean on Ceres. So far, the evidence is unclear. The light is white, like city lights, not orange or red like a volcano. That rules out volcano. The light is not one, but two. You will see the two glowing objects have different shapes. The largest is a white glowing square, the smaller is a triangle. (2)> The subject of Mars water sounds intriguing, obviously I would not drink it. Yea, there might be microbes in it that we don't understand . It might be a cup of poison to us. Nobody seems to be asking the most important question: What exactly is the chemical composition of this so-called water? One of the interesting side-effects of this water discovery, however, is that it may re-awaken the scientific community's interest in searching for extraterrestrial life. As Eric Sofge argues on Popular Mechanics, Water is usually considered a precursor for living things, and now that we know water exists under the ground on our close planetary neighbor, it's becomes more statistically likely that water could exist elsewhere too. Or that life could exist on Mars.

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