No, you’re not looking down at the Amazon or the Nile (although the confusion would be understandable)… this is actually a river on an entirely different world: Saturn’s moon Titan! Radar imaging by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed what appears to be a long river system, complete with side-branching tributaries, meandering across the surface of Titan.
Of course on frigid Titan the river wouldn’t be flowing with water but rather liquid methane and ethane — quite literally a river of natural gas. Water on Titan’s surface stays frozen harder than rock and what’s a gas here on Earth is cold enough to be a thick, viscous liquid there, 880 million miles from the Sun.
See the full-size image and read more below:
Kidding aside, the internet science world is abuzz with the anticipation of some big news from the Mars Science Laboratory team, spurring many on Twitter to make up their own amusing suggestions. (Martian Twinkies??) What that news could be — organic compounds? water ice? methane outgassings? — is still anyone’s guess. But since this IS Mars we’re talking about, any “big news” is of course awaited with bated breath.
Stay tuned for more!
(And if you don’t know the story that inspired the picture above, click here.)
UPDATE: Apparently the NPR article that spurred rumors of big discoveries from Curiosity was a misunderstanding… while data from the rover is “one for the history books,” that pertains to the mission as a whole — not any individual discovery. It was not made entirely clear, but the internet ran with the more exciting option. Another example of why you can’t always believe what you hear. Still, news from the MSL mission will be delivered very soon.
“Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect… at this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.” – JPL news release, 29 Nov. 2012
Read more here.
Today, tens of thousands of people are gathering in northeastern Australia to witness one of the most amazing and dramatic astronomical events known: a total solar eclipse. At 2:39 p.m. EDT (19:39 UT) the Moon will begin to pass in front of the Sun for viewers around Cairns, Australia, leading up to a brief period of totality at 5:12 p.m. EDT (22:12 UT). At this time, the Sun will be completely blocked by the disk of the Moon, revealing the wispy strands of the Sun’s outer corona. It will be a spectacular view that’s possible at no other time, and will give scientists a chance to study some curious aspectsof the Sun’s atmosphere.
“On a scale of one to ten, a total solar eclipse is a MILLION.” – Fred Espenak, aka “Mr. Eclipse“
Earlier today, Friday, September 14, 2012, Neil A. Armstrong’s burial at sea service was held aboard the USS Philippine Sea in the Atlantic. The first man to walk on the Moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong passed away on Saturday, August 25. He was 82.
An icon of exploration for all of humanity, he will be missed by millions and remembered forever. Godspeed, sir, and thank you.
See more photos from the service here.
Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls
“In my own view, the important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”
— Neil A. Armstrong
Today we mourn the loss of a true hero and icon of a generation, if not an entire century: Neil Alden Armstrong, former NASA astronaut and first person to set foot on the Moon, has passed away due to complications from cardiovascular surgery. Armstrong had recently turned 82 years old on August 5.
Can’t see the video below? Click here.
This is one for the OMG Holy Crap files… a passenger on board an airplane waiting at JFK airport captured this incredible video this morning as the space shuttle Enterprise landed on the adjacent runway! Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime shot!