The Mars Opportunity rover has driven 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers) since it landed in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars on Jan. 25, 2004 (Universal Time, which was Jan. 24, PST). That is farther than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has driven. The rover’s work on Mars was initially planned for three months. During that prime mission and for more than a decade of bonus performance in extended missions, Opportunity has returned compelling evidence about wet environments on ancient Mars.
NEW YORK — Long ago, humans left their evolutionary cradle in Africa and passed through the Middle East on their way to Europe. Now scientists have found the first fossil remains that appear to document that journey, a partial skull from an Israeli cave.
The skull, named Manot, dates from about 55,000 years ago, fitting into the period when scientists had thought the migrants inhabited the area. Details of its anatomy resemble ancient skulls from Europe, wrote Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University in an e-mail.
He and others presented the finding in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature. The skull, which lacks facial features and its base, was found in Manot Cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
The migrants are called modern humans because of their anatomy. The earliest remains of modern humans in Europe date to about 45,000 years ago.
John Timmer on the discovery of what maybe the oldest planets in the universe.
The first stars, which formed 400 million years after the Big Bang, were massive, short-lived beasts. But their deaths scattered the heavier elements into the Universe, which eased the formation of smaller stars like our Sun. The heavier elements were also essential for the formation of another feature of our Solar System: the planets.
But just because the raw materials for planets were in place, it doesn’t mean that the conditions were appropriate for their formation. But a new discovery, made using data from the Kepler mission, suggests what the authors call the “era of planet formation” didn’t take too long. The discovery is the Kepler-444 system, which contains five small rocky planets that formed over 11 billion years ago.
As far as the Kepler data was concerned, Kepler-444 was simply a single star with evidence of transiting planets. But an international team of researchers took a closer look with Hawaii’s Keck I telescope, which has a significantly higher resolving power than Kepler. And there they spotted a separate object, orbiting with a period of 430 years. An examination of the light from this revealed that it was a binary containing two red dwarfs. That makes Kepler-444 a three-star system.
Becker said she has a Republican co-sponsor, though he hasn’t publicly supported the bill yet. Becker’s prefile efforts include correcting misconceptions that IUDs induce abortions.
Several prominent Republicans, including GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez and state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, have characterized IUDs as abortifacients, or substances that induce abortion — a statement health care experts say is inaccurate.
Lundberg, R-Berthoud, called CDPHE arguments “poor science.” He described the IUDs as potentially “stopping a small child from implanting,” referring to the fertilized egg. The definition of pregnancy used by CDPHE and other scientists has pregnancy beginning at the implantation of the fertilized egg.
If you can call adding an eleventh hour untruth that denies it’s man made as “outfoxing.” It’s horrible that they have to essentially lie on record to satisfy their contributors and the ignorant portions of their base.
Senate Republicans head-faked Democrats on climate change Wednesday, agreeing in a floor vote that the planet’s climate was changing, but blocking language that would have blamed human activity.
“There is archeological evidence of that, there’s Biblical evidence of” the climate changing, Inhofe, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works panel,In a complicated maneuver that was the first politically perilous test for Senate Republicans, the new majority party split up the votes that Democrats had hoped would force the GOP into an awkward roll call on whether they believed in the science behind climate change — just hours after President Barack Obama slammed Republicans in his State of the Union address for dodging the issue.
But Republicans made an eleventh-hour change in strategy on two Democratic attempts to divide them — with Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, their most vocal denier of humans’ effect on the climate, joining a leading liberal in a symbolic vote on whether global warming is “real and not a hoax.”
Check out the first episode of this new youtube series here.
For those of you who don’t know, Phil Plait also runs the Bad Astronomy blog. He’s a famous skeptic who specializes in debunking false claims about how the universe works. Hence his nickname and the name of his blog.
I need to give credit to Skepchick Amy Roth for alerting me to this.
The United Nations, with support from UNESCO, has dubbed 2015 the International Year of Light. To celebrate, the international society for optics and photonics (SPIE) and the Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are leading a new international exhibition project.
The project, “LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb,” was launched this month in about 40 locations around the globe with more sites coming soon. The exhibition is also a cornerstone project for the International Astronomical Union.
The inspiration for “LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb” came from an award-winning public science exhibit called “From the Earth the Universe,” which took place during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. In that project, tens of millions of people participated in over 1000 exhibits held in 75 countries.
So, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was just named to be the chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness as Republicans take over the Senate. This subcommittee (which used to be just Space and Science but was recently renamed) is in charge of oversight of, among other things, NASA.
This is not a good thing. Just how bad it is will be determined.
Before I rip into this, I want to be as fair as possible here: Poking around the Web, I don’t see any statements from Cruz that I’d consider directly antithetical to NASA’s efforts specifically to explore space. For example, in 2013 he wanted to reduce NASA’s budget, but that was more so that it would comply with the caps set by the Budget Control Act. In fact, he made a statement saying, “Proceeding with an authorization while pretending that the existing law is something other than what it is, is not the most effective way to protect the priority that space exploration and manned exploration should have.” That’s at least superficially heartening.
But that’s not to say he doesn’t pose a clear danger: Cruz is a staunch denier of global warming.
Astronomers who discovered two pulsars in a pas de deux have used the massive dancers to test Albert Einstein’s theory of gravitation — general relativity.
Big shocker! Einstein got it right.
Pulsars are neutron stars, huge collapsed stars compacted by their own gravity into objects only a few miles across. Matter falling into the pulsars radiates intense beams of energy, which, if the rapidly rotating stars are pointing in the Earth’s direction, resemble lighthouse beacons.
The twin pulsars are both pointing their beams toward Earth, providing astrophysicists a “laboratory” to check Einstein’s prediction that gravity slows down time and warps space.
By monitoring the pulses’ arrival at Earth, the team was able to measure how the beams from each neutron star were being disturbed as they passed through the curved space-time near their companion.
“We see their orbits edge-on, so what happens is that one pulsar will eclipse the other,” explained co-researcher Dr Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University, Morgantown, US.
“We can measure the signal from the [far] pulsar so precisely that we can see the delay of the signal as its beam passes through the curved space-time of the pulsar sitting in the way; the signal has to travel an extra distance. It’s called ‘Shapiro delay’,” he told BBC News.
The team found this delay to be close to 90 millionths of a second and the ratio of the observed and predicted values to be 1.0001, plus or minus 0.0005 - a precision of 0.05%.
More at news.bbc.co.uk