This month, scientists published their discovery of 73,000-year-old cross-hatchings found in a South African cave. It’s now the earliest known drawing and evidence of early humans’ ability to store information outside the human brain.
The drawing found on silcrete stone in Blombos Cave. Image via Craig Foster.
On September 18, 1977, as it headed toward the outer solar system, Voyager 1 looked back and acquired a stunning image of our Earth and moon.
Artist's concept Voyager 1, via NASA.
The white markings here are bright residual carbon dioxide ice deposits – dry ice – on the south-facing rim of a pit crater on Mars.
This image shows the south-facing rim of a pit crater at 68°S in the Sisyphi Planum region of Mars. It is a colour composite made from images acquired on 2 September 2018 by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, onboard the joint ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, when the southern hemisphere of Mars was in late spring.
Most striking are the bright residual carbon dioxide ice deposits on south-facing slopes of the crater. In colder months carbon dioxide and some water vapour freezes on the surface. Then, as the Sun gets higher in the sky again, the ice sublimates away, revealing the underlying surface.
This particular crater is known to have active gullies – small, incised networks of narrow channels at the rim of the crater that are associated with debris flows. Ice-rich landslide-like flows of material down-slope can be seen in this image – perhaps related to the ‘defrosting’ of the ice as the seasons change.
Seasonal changes of ices and frost on Mars is one aspect of the ExoMars orbiter’s mission being discussed this week at the European Planetary Science Congress, a major European annual meeting on planetary science, this year hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin Germany.
The image measures 20 x 8 km and the resolution is 4.5 m/pixel. North is 45° on the upper left. The image was taken at 07:22 AM local solar time and assembled from the RED, PAN and BLU filters.
Launched last April, TESS is successor to the Kepler mission, which discovered a substantial fraction of all known exoplanets orbiting distant suns. This 1st-light image from TESS is cause for celebration. Ahoy! New worlds ahead!
We have an equinox coming up on September 23 at 1:54 UTC. That’s September 22 for clocks in North America. Details here. Happy almost-autumn (or spring)!
AURA said the decision was made to shut down the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico because of “criminal activity” and concern about a possible threat to the safety of local staff and residents.
Stop sign and yellow crime scene tape at the entrance to the Sunspot Solar Observatory. Image via Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Daily News.
A congressionally-mandated report recommends that NASA lead efforts to directly image possibly Earth-like exoplanets, using upcoming technologies. A major goal is finding habitable – maybe even inhabited – worlds.
Artist's concept of one of the Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1. A growing number of such worlds are now being discovered. How many of them could support life? Image via ESO/M. Kornmesser.
On September 16, 2018, Mars reaches perihelion, its closest point to the sun in its 2-year orbit. Mars’ brightness in July and August – and a recent global dust storm on the planet – are both linked to this event.
True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet. Read more about this image via ESA.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has generated mind-blowing science in the last decade – including the Higgs boson particle. How the LHC, one of the most complex machines ever created, is helping physicists decode the universe.
A view of the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)‘s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. The core of the Compact Muon Solenoid is the world’s largest superconducting solenoid magnet. Image via