Liquid on Titan
Posted: 31 July 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]
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What a boon the Cassini project has been for our understanding of the solar system. 

It occurred to me recently that the space program has really diversified itself and quietly made real progress.  The focus is often on bad news such as problems withthe space station or the shuttle while stories like this get short shrift. 

Also, we see individual articles about small successes or new discoveries without seeing the bigger picture.  There is the recent flyby of Mercury and discovery that among other things the core is shrinking, the discovery of ice and alkaline elements that would be beneficial to growing plants on Mars, progress towards a return to the Moon, the fact that the third spot on Jupiter was consumed by the Big Red Spot, myriad Hubble based stories, and numerous other smaller news items. 

None of these stories alone will generate much public interest.  I vaguely remember the Viking missions as a child.  Think about how much different things are now 30 years later.  Humans are not just sending isolated missions out there anymore.  There is an integrated and increasingly systematic exploration of the solar system and universe going on.  One that is making significant discoveries. 

This should be exciting to people who like science.

 

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080730231339.40cxery2&show_article=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/science/space/27MARS.html?ref=space

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/science/space/22obspot.html?ref=space

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/science/space/17planets.html?ref=space

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/science/space/19moonmovie.html?ref=space

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Posted: 31 July 2008 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Thank you for the links - good stuff.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 31 July 2008 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Finally absolutely confirmed that there is water on Mars, I’m excited for test launches of the new rockets next April. Hope we get there in under 10 years even though that’s not the plan.

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Many bottles of alcohol were harmed in the making of this story.

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Posted: 31 July 2008 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That is very exciting news.

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Posted: 22 August 2008 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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As I’ve only recently developed an interest in astronomy and exploration of the universe, I was also very entertained by the type of liquid they found on titan, and their current theories for how it got there in the first place.

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Posted: 23 August 2008 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Remember, a liquid is merely a material that happens to be above the temperature at which it’s solid, and below the temperature at which it becomes a gas.  For example, I understand there’s quite a bit of liquid on Venus.  Since it’s about 800 degrees and has a fair amount of sulfur on the surface, the sulfur is a liquid. 

Occam

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Posted: 24 August 2008 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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“fractures from which the jets blast icy particles, water vapor and trace organics into space”

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Many bottles of alcohol were harmed in the making of this story.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I see little problem with the idea of life on the gas giants of this system.  The idea that a solid surface is a prerequisite to life is frankly very silly.  There may well be regions where life similar to what we understand is able to evolve in the many layers of materials present on a gas giant.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I think one of the prerequisites for life is the ability to form very large, complex, stable molecules.  In general, that means a rather limited temperature range.  I wouldn’t expect life to form on, say, Mercury, Venus, Pluto, or any of the gas giants if they are too cold (outer surface) or too hot (deep interior).  However, there may be a layer within them where the temperature is amenable.

Occam

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