Originally, a couple of these stories were to have articles of their own on my blog. The whole Blogger going down thing messed up my flow, and since I am limited on what I can post in a day (I try to keep it to one post), I decided to lump them together with some other cool astronomy news. So, I unofficially bring back a 'Caturday News Round-Up!' These are some of the best stories in the astronomical community from the past week or so. Check them out:
Squids in Space: On Space Shuttle Endeavour's last flight, it will be carrying some very special passengers: baby squid. Not just any squid either, they are glowing bobtail squid. They carry a bacteria called Vibrio fisheri which the squid use to generate light to ensure they do not generate shadows that predators might see. The goal of this experience is to build an understand of how "good" bacteria behave in microgravity.
|Cross-section of the interior of Jupiter's moon Io. (|
Magma Ocean Beneath Io's Surface: A new data analysis from NASA's Galileo spacecraft reveals a huge magma ocean beneath the surface of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io. This analysis shows the source of the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Io produces about 100 times more lava per year than all the volcanoes on Earth. The Galileo probe began orbiting Jupiter in the late 1990s, including flybys of Io and other moons, before it was intentionally sent into Jupiter's atmosphere in 2003.
Super-Earth Gliese 581d is in the 'Habitable Zone': While in recent years the idea of a 'habitable zone' has fluctuated in scope, a team of French researchers have come to the conclusion that Gliese 581d could reside in its star's habitable zone. The Gliese 581 system has been a popular place of study as of late because of the possibility of habitable planets, including 581g which would by located well in the habitable zone but existence is debated. 581d is a super-Earth sized planet on the edge of the habitable zone, but a suitable carbon dioxide atmosphere would allow liquid water. More direct observations are beyond the capabilities of current telescopes, but Gliese 581 would a good candidate for future instruments.
|Dawn's first glimpse of Vesta - Processed. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)|
Dawn's First Image of Asteroid Vesta: NASA's Dawn spacecraft has taken its first image of Vesta, the second largest object in the asteroid belt. It is set to enter orbit around Vesta on July 16. The image will help fine-tune navigation during it's approach. After Dawn completes its mission at Vesta, it will leave orbit and head to the largest object in the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet Ceres.
Bacteria Grow Under 400,000 Times Earth's Gravity: This biological finding would expand the definition of the habitable zone once again. These bacteria grew under the pressure of 400,000 times Earth's gravity, which would expand where life might be found. This "hypergravity" is usually found in massive stars or the shock waves of supernovas, and is recreated on Earth using an ultracentrifuge. Two of the species tested were E. coli, a common gut bacteria, and Paracoccus denitrificans, a common soil bacteria.