Comet outbursts


Although European Space Agency’s comet-landing mission Rosetta ended on 30 September, the data gathered through it will keep teaching us about comets for a while.

Here are images taken by the Rosetta spacecraft’s camera when Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko approached closest to the Sun in August. The comet became very active and outbursts occurred, a typical one thought to release 60–260 tonnes of material in just few minutes!

The outburst can be divided into three categories based on how their dust flow looks like, and the outbursts occurred both when the Sun had started to warm up the previously shaded surface, and after illumination of a few hours. [1]
So the outbursts could happen in at least two different ways.

Anyhow, they provide scientists insights of cometary lives and they look pretty cool.

1. Summer fireworks on Rosetta’s comet.

Existence of gravitational waves


One hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, they have been detected directly.

In a highly anticipated announcement, physicists with LIGO revealed today, on 11 February, that their twin detectors have heard the gravitational ‘ringing’ produced by the collision of two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

This means we now have a new tool for studying the Universe. For example, waves from the Big Bang would tell us a little more about how the universe formed.
read more here

NASA’s 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Contest


 Δ S > 0 | sci-universe

The top Three of NASA’s 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Contest

Could future Mars astronauts live in places like that? Possibly.
NASA awarded the three winners of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition on Sept. 27. In the first stage the participants had to develop architectural concepts to imagine what habitats on Mars might look like using 3D printing and in-situ resources.

The first prize went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for the “Mars Ice House” design, which looks like a translucent pyramid and “in which the mind and body will not just survive, but thrive”. It would be built of Martian ice and serve as a radiation shield, protecting the lander habitat and gardens inside it.

Team Gamma got the second place for its distributed functionality of three inflatable modules to find a suitable location and a protective shield around it, which the habitats would be supported by.
The third place, LavaHive, is a modular design using a proposed novel ‘lava-casting’ construction technique as well as utilizing recycled spacecraft materials and structures.

Teams were judged on many factors, including architectural concept, design approach, habitability, innovation, functionality, Mars site selection and 3D print constructability. The 30 highest-scoring entries with descriptions are here.

Taurid meteor


The Taurid meteor shower, usually a rather unremarkable fall celestial event,
has provided some spectacular fireballs aka very bright meteors this year.

Those meteors, appearing from our perspective to come from the constellation Taurus,
are a little bit unusual because the comet debris which Earth collides with
(this causes meteor showers) are a bit bigger.

Here are a couple of them captured in action!

image credit: Jonas Piontek, Leigh-Ann Mitchel,Bill Allen, Jake Stehli




This is the phenomenon of gynandromorphism  – an organism having both male and female characteristics – seen in butterflies. Gynandromorphs usually form when sex chromosomes fail to separate properly when the fertilized egg (or zygote) divides.
all images by Andrew D. Warren, Butterflies of America

Perseid meteor shower

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The annual Perseid meteor shower is my favourite and the most famous stargazing event during the summer. It puts on a great show this week as you can see 60 or more “shooting stars” per hour! The meteor shower lasts until late August but as Phil Plait said the best time to watch is Wednesday night after local midnight – that’s when your part of the Earth is facing into the oncoming meteoroids and you see more.

Here are some general tips which make stargazing better:

  • Give your eyes 20 minutes to adjust to the dark. Any exposure to bright lights will instantly ruin your eye’s acclimatization to the dark.
  • If possible go outside the city, or search for good local stargazing places
  • For the best chances of spotting a shooting star, scan the whole sky repeatedly
  • Be prepared to spend a few hours sitting outside. Meteor showers can be seen as soon as it gets dark, but better viewing begins about 11 pm
  • Here’s NASA’s visibility map from last year:


The meteors are bits of rocky debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits the Sun. When Earth goes through the comet’s path, some of the bits of comet dust slam into the atmosphere.
Have further questions? You’ll probably get an answer here.

Space has never been more beautiful


The nebula Gum 29 is a star-forming region about 20,00 light-years away in the constellation Carina. At the core of the nebula is a cluster of several thousand stars called Westerlund 2. These newborn stars are about 2 million years old, and their light illuminates and heats the surrounding gas. The Hubble Space Telescope image, utilizing both visible and infrared light observations, was released in celebration of its 25th anniversary