Geostationary Revolution

For 4.5 billion years, life evolved on planet Earth.  Not once were the inhabitants of this tiny blue mote of dust able to gaze upon their home as one entity.  To them it had always been an endless land without borders and an endless supply of food and resources.  Most of them were blissfully unaware that they could ever venture further, and so they accepted the boundaries of their existence unquestionably.  Once humans started making tools, we were taken down a path of discovery that would let us escape the bounds of our shrinking world. Finally, just over 70 years...

Review: Planetary

On the heels of my last review, I watched another movie with a space-documentary theme.  Though it started out with the human perspective from space, it progressed into so much more.  This is the TVO documentary called Planetary. It began with Apollo.  Humanity broke the bonds of our world and set foot on another heavenly body.  For the first time, we could look back and see the world as it truly is.  One of my favourite quotes from the movie came up early, though I’m paraphrasing: We are the Earth, and the Earth is all of us.  Seeing the Earth...

New Kepler Planets Confirmed!

In a major announcement this week, researchers with the Kepler Space Telescope science team have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new planets that had originally been found by Kepler.  This is a huge leap in the number of confirmed planets, bringing the total to over 2,300. The previous science data collection done by Kepler was completed in 2013, so why is this new news? Well the exciting part is that these are confirmed planets.  Usually when Kepler detects a signal indicating a potential planet, it needs to be verified by using some of the larger ground-based telescopes.  Kepler is not immune...

The How and Why of Planet Nine

It hasn’t been found yet – let me make that clear.  But with evidence that it should exist, astronomers are looking more closely at the proposed planet nine and how it might have formed, and how it could have ended up in such a distant orbit. When you start to think about how a planet ten times the mass of Earth could have ended up more than ten times as far from the Sun as Neptune, a few scenarios pop into mind: It was formed in the inner solar system, where interactions with gas giants or another star pulled it out It formed...

Lunar and Martian Farming

Can we grow crops on the Moon? How about Mars? If you saw the movie “The Martian,” it seems you could grow potatoes on Mars with a supply of water, oxygen, and some fertilizer, but without these necessities (soil nutrients, water, oxygen) they just wouldn’t last. If we eventually want to colonize places like the Moon and Mars, finding a way to live off the land is a must. The sunshine will help, but can we really grow crops on alien soil? As it turns out, Earth scientists have been working on this problem, by simulating the soils of the...

1000 Things You Didn’t Know About The Universe #6: Earth’s Moon is Big

When we see the Earth’s only Moon up in the sky, we often think about how small it is.  It’s only about 1/4 the diameter of the Earth, and at a distance of 384,000 Km, it looks small in the sky.  But often size is entirely a matter of perspective.  What we compare something to, that’s what determines it’s size.  When the Moon is high in the sky we easily compare it to the size of the window we are looking through, or to a nearby tree, or our outstretched hand.  All of this can make the Moon seem pretty tiny....

Motivation Monday: Smile – You’ve got it Good!

I woke up at 5:30am this morning.  It sucked. It was pitch dark but I had to get out and beat traffic.  I fed the cats, got dressed, had breakfast, then drove to the gym for a 6am workout.  Still dark.  Finished my workout, had a shower, got back in the car, still dark out, and drove to work, sitting in traffic.  People were cutting each other off, tailgating, and doing everything from eating to putting on makeup in the car.  This is a normal day driving in Toronto, and I was thinking about how people curse and complain and...

Motivation Monday: Fear 2

Tackling fear is a tough one, but It’s too important not to cover in a motivational post. I am afraid.  I am afraid of waking up and facing the world. I am afraid of the work I have to do today, and the people I have to interact with.  I am afraid of driving in traffic.  I am afraid of being tired and not having the energy to keep the life I have, because I am afraid of losing it.  I am afraid of the past because of the hurt I’ve felt.  I am afraid of the present because I worry...

Talking Space Flight With Future Astronauts

One of the things I love most about my job at the Ontario Science Centre is that it gives me opportunities to connect with some pretty amazing people.  I’ve met some incredible communicators, scientists, leaders, astronauts, and people from all walks of life doing amazing things.  Last night my astronomy background gave me an opportunity to work a special event for future astronauts who are participating in the Virgin Galactic commercial space flight program. The group consisted of about 20 people, some of whom were lead flight engineers and technicians forking on SpaceshipTwo.  Others were commercial development and administrators for Virgin...

Rare Double Meteorite Strike

Around 470 Million years ago, two asteroids collided in the asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter.  This sent fragments everywhere, and millions of years later these fragments moved into the inner solar system, many of which struck the Earth as meteorites.  Recently, in Jämtland county, Sweden, a team of geophysicists has identified a pair of impact craters that were formed at the same time, likely from two separate impactors.  One of the craters is a massive 7.5 Km across, while the other is smaller at 700 meters.  This is the first time a double impactor has been scientifically confirmed on Earth....