Time flies as the end of the year approaches, so fast that I got caught by surprise when my turn to hose the Carnival of Space came around again! It’s been a surprisingly quiet week, if you go by article submissions, so let’s get to it:
Our first bit of news comes from Universe Today. The crew of ISS Expedition 45 recently returned to Earth after spending 141 days in space. Their Soyuz capsule landed them safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan after an unusual night-time re-entry.
Also from Universe Today, a piece on the (still active) Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids are one of the best showers of the year for Northern Hemisphere meteor watchers, and have reliably put on displays of over a hundred meteors per hour for the past few years. Click the link for observing tips, a clue on where these meteors are all coming from, and even validation for people like me who have heard the mysterious “Hiss” sound that meteors sometimes seem to make, in apparent defiance of the laws of physics!
The official blog of the Chandra X-ray space telescope poses an interesting question: What spawned the Jellyfish Nebula? This nebula, catalogued as IC 443, is a supernova remnant some five thousand light years away. Recent observations from Chandra reveal what appear to be a pulsar buried near one edge of the nebula, and intriguing structures that may or may not link the pulsar to the nebula at large.
Kimberly Arcand shares her Huffington Post piece called The True Story of Light. Light is such a fundamental part of the human experience, in practical, psychological, social and religious spheres, yet few people really understand what it actually is. This story looks briefly at the physics behind light, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation.
An interesting article from Planetaria brings us the latest in an ongoing stream of images from Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft is cursed with a painfully slow data connection – a deliberate compromise that allowed the mission designers to cram more scientific instruments onboard. As a result, the incredible high-resolution images of the surface of Pluto are only being received and released in a slow trickle. This latest batch are the best quality high-resolution images yet, and reveal surprising surface features of the distant, icy little world.
Planetaria also writes about the famous mysterious white areas dotting the surface of Ceres. From their first appearance in low-resolution images, they’re fuelled speculation that they could be anything from icy deposits to alien spotlights. However, as the Dawn spacecraft dres closer and collected more data, the answer started to come into focus, and it now seems clear that what we are seeing is deposits of salt (specifically, a form of Magnesium Sulphate, which you can buy in any grocery store as Epsom Salts). It seems that there is a layer of salty water beneath the surface, and meteor impacts bring this water to the surface. It boils away in the vacuum of space, leaving the salt behind.
And with that, we conclude this week’s Carnival of Space. Next week will be hosted by The Universe – be sure to check it out!