Science Channel - InSCIder

NASA

8 Apr

Finding Alien Life by 2025

Watereventfeature20150407_mainNASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan thinks so. "I think  within a decade, we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," she said Tuesday during a panel event on water in the universe.

That’s a thought provoking statement! Why would she make this announcement during a panel on water? NASA has long been searching for the evidence of water in the universe and is announcing new missions to discover and understand how water is distributed in the universe. With this announcement, it is no surprise the topic turns to finding life beyond Earth. The discovery of water on other planets and exoplanets is one strong indicator that alien life could be found there, as in many cases it is a building block for known life forms.

Stofan isn’t the only one who believes the pace at which we are unlocking new understanding about the universe will reveal alien life.

"It's definitely not an if, it's a when," said Jeffery Newmark, NASA's interim director of heliophysics.

Information coming back from NASA missions has shown the atmospheres and interiors of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are thought to contain enormous quantities of water. Even the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn show evidence of there may be oceans beneath their icy surfaces. As we probe further in the universe we are finding more evidence of the water and the elements of water, hydrogen and oxygen everywhere and in many forms.

Scientists are quick to point out that finding alien life doesn’t necessarily mean meeting little green men, or the kind of semi-human sentient beings we think of from Star Trek or Star Wars. The likelihood is our first encounter may be microbes, perhaps similar to those that evolve and change on our own Earth over time.

More: Will Aliens Have Bodies?

As much as the headline of yesterday’s panel focused on water as a barometer of finding alien life, the study of water and how it behaves in the universe is also helpful in understanding how our own solar system evolved and why some planets have water and why some who may have had water have dried up.

By being able to observe other planetary systems as they form helps paint the picture of how our own solar system developed, and water is a big part of that story. NASA reports the Spitzer Space Telescope has observed signs of a hail of water-rich comets raining down on a young solar system, much like the kind of bombardment planets in our solar system would have endured in their youth. This could very well be how our own Earth became populated with water.

Many of NASA’s existing missions like Kepler and its successor K2 are laying the groundwork now. NASA is also launching the TESS mission will search nearby, bright stars in the solar neighborhood for Earth sized exoplanets in conjunction with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

More: The Quest For Life: Water

Watching another distant solar system that could be like ours is a powerful concept to wrap one’s head around. The oceans we swim and sail in, the rivers we see, and the water we drink may well have come from a cosmic event that is just in the offing for other planets in other solar systems.

With that in mind, when we look to the skies, and consider the idea of alien life forms being found it’s hard not to wonder if there are other life forms on distant planets who are going through the process of developing into life forms we might recognize.

With its targeted missions to understand deeper space better in the pipeline, NASA is in the unique position to be able to make that bold prediction that we may find some form of life within the next 20 – 30 years.

 All we can say is wow!  For more of where water has been discovered, explore NASA's infographic below.

Oceanworlds_infographic_full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: NASA, Huffington Post

27 Mar

Astronaut Leland Melvin On The #YearInSpace

We are fortunate here at the Science Channel to have Astronaut Leland Melvin as a friend and adviser. As we contemplated the enormity of Expedition #43 and the #YearInSpace mission we turned to Leland to give us a reality check.

What does it feel like to be launched into space? As we watched the crew in the capsule during the various stages of launch they had nothing but the "RIght Stuff." Calm, composed, and punching their checklists. That doesn't mean they aren't feeling and noticing every change as the stages fall away, they get lighter and faster and feel those g's.

Leland tells us what it feels like to launch into space and what it's like to live and work in the ISS. Did you know that the ISS is about the size of a 747? It's that kind of perspective only an Astronaut would have and Leland shares that fact - and many more insights on the incredible opportunity of having traveled in space. Be sure to watch all three videos to get the scoop.

We are thrilled to share and promote his passion for space, exploration, curiosity, as humankind taking steps together to explore deeper into space.

 

27 Mar

What Will Happen In The #YearInSpace?

Astronauts have been noting the effects of space on the human body since the very first launch. We've come a long way from the first orbits to the six month stays. We now know there are changes that happen over time - things like bone density loss, vision changes and more. So if that happens in a six month period, what will happen if we plan to colonize and explore deep space - missions that will take years to complete?

The #YearInSpace mission is going to study the Astronauts closely to see what will happen. Here's a video from #NASA featuring NASA Commentator Pat Ryan interviewing Dr. John Charles of NASA’s Human Research Program about just what is planned for their extended stay.

 

27 Mar

The Crew Is Getting Ready!

Check out this great Vine video of Astronaut Scott Kelly and Cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka on their way to "suit up." For Scott and Mikhail it will be a year before they face the space paparazzi again. #SCISpaceLive #YearInSpace

 

26 Mar

The Year in Space

Why all the fuss about the launch tomorrow from the Baikour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan? Expedition 43, also being referred to as the #YearInSpace is a giant step forward for humans one day colonizing other planets and exploring deep space.

This is the first time astronauts will have spent over a year in space and in addition to their regular duties on the ISS, they will be closely studying the effect prolonged space travel has on the human body. The mission will test the physical and psychological health and changes to the crew, and presents a unique opportunity for scientists and flight surgeons since Astronaut Scott Kelly's identical twin Mark will be part of the mission here on Earth. Since they possess the same DNA, seeing changes between Scott and Mark will provide a fascinating and exacting insight as to how space travel changes the body.

 

And, since we here at Science Channel believe in questioning everything, we wonder if perhaps Mark Kelly, the Earth-bound twin will experience any changes himself since twins have reported sharing the same changes and experiences across long distances?

The International Space Station is in orbit some 240 miles above the Earth, and a year is a long time to participate in this exploration of human endurance. By participating in this crucial mission, these bold adventurers will truly be helping humankind make its first steps towards a greater unknown by testing the limits of what we now know about long term living and exploring space.

 

26 Mar

SCISpace Live

Hello InSCIder fans!

We hope you'll journey with us here at Science Channel as we launch SCISpaceLive.com a comprehensive destination for all those who are curious about space, astronomy, and humankind's exploration of what exists beyond our planet Earth.

We are debuting this site at a special time, as NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will travel with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka to the International Space Station via the Soyuz spacecraft on Friday, March 27. The trip begins a one-year mission aboard the station for Kelly and Kornienko, the longest any humans have spent in space. Science Channel will show this historic launch, breaking into coverage at 3:35 EST to broadcast the launch via a live NASA TV feed.

SCISpaceLive.com will cover the launch live via three of NASA TV's feeds, and will continue to be a destination for the kind of deeper coverage we've seen our fans have a love for. The NASA TV feeds will continue to live on the site and visitors will be able to see the spacecraft dock and the astronauts transfer into the International Space Station.

We'll have astronauts and experts participating in the #SCISpaceLive social feeds during key events like this launch, and take deeper dives into the mission and more through the InSCIder blogs. We are also proud to have Astronaut Leland Melvin, Atlantis Space Shuttle Traveler, Explorer and Promoter of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) engaging with us via Google chats, blogs and more to give us a personal perspective on space travel. 

We'll also be curating the best space and astronomy stories and photos so SCISpaceLive.com so we hope we'll be the first stop on your journey to learn more about the universe!

10 Nov

Expedition 41 Astronauts Return to Earth (Just in Time for Space Week!)

It's Space Week on Science Channel and just in time, the astronauts of Expedition 41 returned safely to Earth Sunday after more than five months aboard the International Space Station.

The trio landed in Kazakhstan at 10:58 p.m. EST; Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman (NASA) and Alexander Gerst (European Space Agency) traveled more than 70 million miles during 165 days in space.

Among the men's most memorable moments from the ISS: Wiseman sent the first Vine video from space and later engaged in a friendly wager when Germany faced the United States in the World Cup.

Welcome home!

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14 Oct

Sun Looks Like A Jack-O'-Lantern In New NASA Photo

Just in time for Halloween, a new photo from NASA reveals a spooky sight in the sky: a jack-o'-lantern face on the sun.

NASA explains:

"The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy — markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona."

NASAHalloweenSun

Tonight on 'The Unexplained Files,' learn about an unexplained solar phenomenon spotted in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some say it's a religious miracle, others believe it has a supernatural element. What do you think?

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18 Sep

NASA Finds 'Big Surprise In Teeny Tiny Galaxy' (PHOTO)

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a supermassive black hole inside a "teeny tiny" galaxy, which "crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th of our galaxy’s diameter."

"It’s very much like a pinprick in the sky," astronomer Anil Seth said, while NASA's press release revealed that this ultra-compact galaxy has an incredibly dense and dazzling night sky:

"If you lived inside this dwarf galaxy, the night sky would dazzle with at least 1 million stars visible to the naked eye. Our nighttime sky as seen from Earth’s surface shows 4,000 stars."

An artist's rendering of the M60-UCD1 Black Hole -- captioned "Our Hubble Space Telescope finds big surprise in teeny tiny galaxy" -- shows the astounding scale:

Did A Black Hole Create The Milky Way?

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10 Sep

Jupiter Moon Europa Could Have Plate Tectonics Like Earth

New research reveals Jupiter moon Europa may have plate tectonics similar to those on Earth, giving new hope to the search for extraterrestrial life.

Our friends at DNews report:

"During studies of photographs taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft that orbited the gas giant from 1995 to 2003, planetary geologists have found it hard to explain why most of the crust was relatively new ice (on average, the icy surface is 40-90 million years old) and yet there was little evidence of old ice that had been crushed up on the surface to make way for the new material.

...

Their conclusion is that, like Earth’s rocky crust, there must be subduction zones where old material is pushed against plate boundaries, making the ice sink into the subsurface ocean, where it melts and gets cycled."

"Europa may be more Earth-like than we imagined, if it has a global plate tectonic system," planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn said in a statement. "Not only does this discovery make it one of the most geologically interesting bodies in the solar system, it also implies two-way communication between the exterior and interior -- a way to move material from the surface into the ocean -- a process which has significant implications for Europa's potential as a habitable world."

Earlier in 2014, NASA put out a call for proposals to hunt for alien life on Europa, which is believed to have a deep underground ocean that could be capable of sustaining life.

Want to learn more? Get to know Europa:

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Welcome to the inSCIder, where you can connect with the people who bring Science Channel to life. Find out what's in the works here at SCIENCE, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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