Planets

Category archives for Planets

Is There Life on Maaaars?

You certainly didn’t hear it here first: today NASA, at a press briefing, announced that minerals analyzed by the Curiosity rover indicate that life might, in the galactic past, have survived on Mars. The rover’s been poking around an ancient network of stream channels descending from the rim of Gale crater since September of last year; now,…

The Canals of Mars

The space-heads among you have undoubtedly heard about the Curiosity rover’s first significant discovery: the remnants of an ancient streambed on Mars, which would seem to indicate the presence of water in the planet’s history. This jagged pile of alluvial rock and dust may not look like much, but it brings to mind one of my…

On Curiosity and its Shadows

The NASA Mars rover Curiosity just landed on Mars. Those of us who tuned in vicariously via NASA’s live coverage watched as a roomful of tense engineers exploded, and heard their disembodied voices whispering and booming through the control room. Holy shit. We did it. Their headsets fell askew, they glad-handed one another, criss-crossing the…

Universe Q&A: Frank White

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece here on Universe exploring the ideas of the futurist Gerard K. O’Neill, who designed far-out but ultimately quite pragmatic environments for human habitation in space in the mid-1970s. In that article, I touched briefly on the notion of the “Overview Effect,” a phrase coined by the…

On Seeing Further

“All things move and nothing remains still” — Heraclitus The history of astronomy can be read as a story of better and better vision. Over the centuries, we have supplemented our vision with technology that allows us to see further and more clearly; while Ancient astronomers, who relied only on their naked eyes to perceive…

Terrifying Science News Roundup

A large part of my affection for science comes from the thrill of terror I get when a particularly insane piece of science news hits the presses. When an article begins with a sentence like, “there is something strange in the cosmic neighborhood,” or “all the black holes found so far in our universe may…

There Goes the Solar System

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served us Nine Pizzas. My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets. My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwiches Usually Nauseate People. Mon Vieux Tu M’as Jeté Sur Une Nouvelle Planète! – Various mnemonic devices for remembering the order of the nine planets I just found out that Mercury is…