In case you missed it, here is the video of this week’s “Weekly Space Hangout” hosted by my pal, Fraser Cain. Lots of great space news, fun discussions, and some special guest appearances.
The folks at Cosmoquest have released a cool new citizen science app for Android! “Earth or Not Earth” allows players to test their knowledge of Earth, as well as learn more about the fascinating geology of the rocky worlds in our solar system. You can also challenge your friends on Facebook to beat your scores, thanks to the Facebook integration feature.
“Earth or Not Earth” was developed by Southern Illinois University graduate student and Cosmoquest developer Joseph Moore. Moore designed “Earth or Not Earth,” and included two additional game features: “Matching” and “Pick 2.”
The images used in “Earth or Not Earth” are public domain, and are sourced primarily from NASA planetary science missions, with more images to be added to the app in the future.
The app does cost $1.99 USD, and the Proceeds from “Earth or Not Earth” help fund the programmers at Cosmoquest, as well as citizen science programs, educational programs, and future mobile apps.
Check out my full review of “Earth or Not Earth” at Universe Today!
Over the past few years, the field of astrobiology has made great strides. With missions such as Kepler making exoplanet discoveries commonplace, the question no longer is “Are other planets out there?” but “When will we find a true twin of Earth?”
A new book, “Five Billion Years of Solitude,” takes the reader from the earliest efforts of astrobiology, along with information on how life took hold on Earth, to how we can use that information to help understand how life may flourish on other worlds – all while giving us a glimpse inside the minds of some of the field’s most notable scientists.
Check out my full review of “Five Billion Years of Solitude” by Lee Billings at Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/105344/book-review-five-billion-years-of-solitude-by-lee-billings/
Rogue planets – also known as free floating planets – are pretty intriguing. They are not orbiting a star but instead are wandering through the galaxy, having been either forcibly ejected from a solar system or having formed very early on in the Universe. While only a handful of these planets have been actually found, astronomers estimate these vagrant worlds could vastly outnumber stars. In fact, it’s been suggested there could be 100,000 times more rogue planets than stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone!
Check out the full article, courtesy of Universe Today at: http://www.universetoday.com/98478/new-rogue-planet-found-closest-to-our-solar-system/
Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) states, “These warp-speed planets would be some of the fastest objects in our Galaxy. If you lived on one of them, you’d be in for a wild ride from the center of the galaxy to the Universe at large.” Idan Ginsburg (Dartmouth College) adds, “Other than subatomic particles, I don’t know of anything leaving our galaxy as fast as these runaway planets.”
The mechanics responsible for the super-fast planets are similar to those responsible for “hypervelocity” stars. With stars, if a binary system drifts too closely to a supermassive black hole (such as the ones in the center of galaxies), the gravitational forces can separate the stars – sending one outward at incredible speeds, and the other in orbit around the black hole.
Interestingly enough, “Warp Speed” planets can theoretically travel at a few percent of the speed of light – not quite as fast as Star Trek’s Enterprise, but you get the point.
Read the full article over at Universe Today