December 13, 2013 |
The habitable zone around sun-like stars might be a little wider - or thinner - depending on how big you thought the habitable zone was in the first place, suggests new research in the journal Nature. The findings, based on 3-D models of the runaway greenhouse gas effect, may alter the estimated number of habitable planets around sun-like stars in our galaxy - and they may also may affect how future planet-hunting space telescopes are designed and built. The habitable zone is the doughnut-shaped "Goldilocks" region around a star where a planet would be warm enough to have liquid water and cool enough to keep it from evaporating away.
December 6, 2013 |
"A Journey to Planet Sanity," Blake Freeman's comedic documentary and purported quest for "truth," proves a tedious, half-baked outing. It mostly plays like a slapdash mockumentary crossed with a bad reality TV show. The engine here is director-star Freeman's mission to make things right for 69-year-old LeRoy Tessina, a food delivery man whose unfounded fear of aliens and ghosts has caused him emotional and financial distress (he's supposedly spent his life savings on psychic guidance, among other forms of "protection" from the paranormal)
December 3, 2013 |
There's water in them thar planets - five massive “hot Jupiters” spied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. But if you just thought "Life?!" think again. Despite the presence of water molecules in their atmospheres, none of these five planets is suitable to life as we know it. They are all gas giants, and they are all too close to their suns to sustain liquid water on their surfaces. These planets -- WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b -- are tidally locked with their stars so that the same side of the planet always faces the star and is constantly bombarded with a powerful stream of solar radiation.
November 28, 2013 |
Move over Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, there's another observance that's looking to share the spotlight this Thursday: Red Planet Day. That's right, Thursday, Nov. 28, marks the 49th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 4, the first spacecraft ever to complete a successful mission to Mars. Roughly eight months after its launch, the flyby probe gave us our first close-up look at the Red Planet. These days, as the Mars rover Curiosity makes wheel tracks all over Gale crater and zaps rocks with its ChemCam laser, this might not seem like a big deal.
November 20, 2013 |
As NASA's MAVEN mission heads toward Mars , scientists say they've discovered highly unusual, light-colored rock on the mostly dark-toned Red Planet - and two teams have dueling ideas of what such pale rock could be. Could it be granite, the stuff found in fancy kitchen counter tops on Earth? Or could it be anorthosite, the rock that characterizes the bright highlands of the moon? Either way, the two papers published in Nature Geoscience indicate that Mars' inner workings may have been more complicated, and its rock collection more diverse, than planetary scientists once thought.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 19, 2013 |
A former Animal Planet reptile expert is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to a federal charge that he illegally sold two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards . Donald Schultz faces a sentence of two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $6,000 fine, according to a plea agreement filed last week. The Inglewood-based herpetologist, who tracked down unusual creatures as host of the Animal Planet TV series "Wild Recon," also agreed to give up the lizards to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and to pay $3,000 restitution for their cost and care, the plea agreement said.
November 15, 2013 |
Four billion years ago, rivers and lakes dotted the surface of Mars, their waters reflecting puffy clouds drifting in a blue sky, scientists believe. Now, it's a dry, rusty rock that's subject to fierce sandstorms, withering blasts of radiation and freezing temperatures that have frozen carbon dioxide to the planet's poles. What happened? That's the question NASA seeks to answer with the scheduled launch Monday of the MAVEN spacecraft. Planetary scientists believe the answer lies high in the Martian atmosphere.
November 13, 2013 |
Recently, a curious case appeared before New Zealand's High Court. The plaintiff, Ioane Teitiota, a resident of the island-nation of Kiribati, was seeking refugee status in New Zealand. His reasoning? Climate change and rising sea levels were making Kiribati uninhabitable. "There's no future for us when we go back to Kiribati," Teitiota argued. I used to live in Kiribati, a remote nation of 33 atolls in the equatorial Pacific scattered over an area nearly two-thirds as large as the continental United States.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 11, 2013 |
Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but also society, posing risks to the world's economy and the food and water supply and contributing to violent conflict, an international panel of scientists says. The warnings came in a report drafted by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The 29-page summary, leaked and posted on a blog critical of the panel, has been distributed to governments around the world for review. It could change before it is released in March.