News from the Universe: 12/03/04

Posted by barb on Dec 3, 2004 in Science Musings |

Wow! It’s taken me much longer to recover from the wedding than I thought. No one said it was going to take a couple months to retrain my brain, and, frankly, I’m still not up to par. However, let’s take a stab at including some real content in this blog again. Here’s some recent news from the Universe of Astronomy:

  • As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Swift launched in November. This is a mission to study gamma-ray bursts (GRBs; check out the text I wrote for the web site for more on what GRBs are).

    The observatory is currently powering-on various instruments and testing them. The main web site has a daily log of Swift’s status you can check out.

  • The Mars rover, Opportunity, has found proof that Mars once had water:

    Researchers were able to determine – with the aid of Opportunity’s science package – that liquid water did flow on surface of Mars in the past, its currents etching ripples in stone as a calling card.

    But it still seems unlikely that life arose on the Red Planet — the environment would have been very hostile. On the other hand, we have found life on Earth in environments that were once thought too hostile to foster life, so who knows?

  • Just for fun, has a quiz to test your space IQ.

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