TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

The recent discovery of Earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system has been a major headline for the past few weeks. A team led by Michael Gillon found three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system in 2016, and recently reported at least 4 more which may contain the appropriate elements for life. One of the strongest indicators that a planet could harbor life is if a planet’s … Continue reading TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

In 2011 the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, was launched into space. AMS, housed by the International Space Station and led by a Nobel Prize winning principle investigator, is commonly referred to as the most sophisticated particle physics experiment in space. The experiment was designed to study cosmic rays, a variety of high energy particles produced in space. In five years of operation, AMS has collected … Continue reading New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

by Andy Greenspon Have you ever wondered how much gold remains to be mined on Earth? How about the lesser-known element indium, essential to computer and smartphone displays? Known sources of some metals could be depleted in as little as 20 to 30 years, especially the rarest ones necessary to construct computers, smartphones, and other advanced technologies. While some elements can be substituted for others, … Continue reading Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter

Historically, galactic rotation curves have suggested that galaxies are surrounded by a vast amount of invisible matter, otherwise known as a dark matter halo. A few weeks ago, a team of astrophysicists published a result that completely contradicts these halo models and could even change the popular understanding of dark matter. The team found that galactic rotation curves can be calculated explicitly from a simple … Continue reading Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter

NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

Recently, the Kepler mission announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets. The announcement represents the most planets ever discovered at a single time, and more than doubles the total number of planets discovered by the Kepler telescope. Launched into space by NASA in 2009, Kepler’s goal is to determine how many Earth-sized planets reside in or near habitable zones, and estimate how many of such planets might exist … Continue reading NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Surface features such as canyons and valleys on the “Red Planet” suggest an abundance of liquid water in its geological past. Water vapors on Mars were first detected in the early 60s followed by observation of water-rich ice patches decades later, but it was not until 2011 that Lujendra Ojha, a Nepali undergraduate student, spotted signs of possible water flows on our neighboring planet. While … Continue reading Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home

by Tansu Daylan figures by Kaitlyn Choi As Philae just woke up, we examine one exciting question of the Rosetta mission: what is the origin of water on Earth? A hypothesis proposes that comets brought to our planet this molecule central to life. The Rosetta mission is an ambitious scientific program launched by the European Space Agency to analyze the water on the comet 67P … Continue reading Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home

Cygnus Loop Nebula. Image courtesy of Skeeze (Pixbay).

Dark Matter Detected, or False Alarm?

Although dark matter makes up 80% of all matter in the universe, physicists are still struggling to understand exactly what it is. This perplexity is largely due to the fact that dark matter is invisible and difficult to study directly, but a dwarf galaxy named Reticulum 2 may have just changed the game. Many experts believe that when dark matter particles collide, high-energy light is … Continue reading Dark Matter Detected, or False Alarm?

Exploring the Quantum World: From Plants to Pulsars

Exploring the Quantum World: From Plants to Pulsars

Presented by Mike Goldman, Joey Goodknight, and Tansu Daylan What do the interior of an atom, the bottom of a volcanic caldera, and the center of the sun have in common? Mike will begin with an introduction to quantum mechanics, which explores its relationship with our everyday world. Some aspects of the quantum world seem perfectly sensible but other concepts, like superposition, are deeply counterintuitive. … Continue reading Exploring the Quantum World: From Plants to Pulsars

Space Faring Plankton: Fact or Fiction?

From Scientists find traces of sea plankton on ISS surface A recent article published by the Russian News Agency ITAR-TASS has made the unlikely claim that plankton, microscopic organisms typically found in the earth’s oceans, have been found on the surface of the International Space Station. These space faring plankton wouldn’t be the first microorganisms to survive (and even thrive) in space. However, it is … Continue reading Space Faring Plankton: Fact or Fiction?