Amazing Features in a Supernova Remnant

How often does a star explode as a supernova in the Milky Way? With as many as 400 Billion stars, you would expect it to happen often  But stars live a very long time, and most massive stars take anywhere from a few hundred million to a few billion years to reach maturity and explode.  Putting all this together gives us a surprisingly human estimate.  A supernova explodes in the Milky Way, on average, once every 50 years, or about once per human lifetime.  We can still see remnants of great explosions that happened long ago, still expanding into the...

Ceres Full Maps

Since the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March of this year, it has slowly been taking high resolution maps of the surface from several different altitudes. After each successive mapping run it moves into a closer orbit of the icy world for a higher resolution glimpse. After two successful mapping runs, we finally have a full high resolution topographic map of Ceres, revealing its cratered surface in unprecedented detail. With a quick look at the map, a couple of things become apparent immediately.  For one, the surface craters are quite deep, and consistent with an icy crust.  The size...

Motivation Monday (on Tuesday): Drive

What drives people to achieve? How can some people fight tooth and nail for something they may never get? And why do they believe that if they keep working hard, something good will happen, even if it never has before? We often hear of the dreamers, the great innovators, the visionaries; Those who change the world through hard work and seemingly supernatural talent.  Is this kind of skill and achievement available to anyone? Or is it something you’re born with. One important lesson I have leaned in my life is that the energy to achieve goals comes from a deep desire to change your...

Tiny Spacecraft are the Future!

For a long time, the scientific community has been hopeful for a mission to some of the most interesting moons of the solar system.  Europa, Enceladus, and Ganymede all have subsurface oceans and will give substantial insights into the formation and evolution of life in the solar system and beyond. The only problem is that it costs an astronomical (literally) amount of money to get there.  A bare bones mission to Europa would cost over 600 Million dollars, and if we are spending that much we had better be sure it will work. Money aside, the technology to get appropriate...

Motivation Monday: Satisfaction

“Dissatisfied people change the world” I have seen this quote in many different forms, though I couldn’t find any one person to attribute it to.  The idea behind it is very powerful; It means that those who are unhappy with their situation in life or with the state of the world will inevitably be driven to innovate and change it.  If it’s the former, it may drive someone to get a new job, break up with a significant other, or even move.  If the latter,  it may drive someone to become a social or political activist in order to create...

Holiday Lights Make Cities Visibly Brighter from Space

With the extra lights shining in cities across the world at this time of year, we are outputting a significant number of photons into Space.  So many that Satellites in orbit have been able to see the difference.  In the maps below, the areas in green are locations where the brightness has increased by as much as 50%. Being able to see the difference from Space is amazing.  The maps also exist for Caribbean nations, where much of the population celebrates Christmas. Now I’m not avoiding any one particular holiday in my use of the phrase ‘holiday lights,’ because it turns...