William Shatner ‘overwhelmed by sadness’ while discussing spaceflight


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George Back·Producer, Yahoo EntertainmentThu, October 14, 2021, 10:33 PM·1 min readIn this article:

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Just one day after hurtling into space on the Blue Origin rocket, an emotional William Shatner appeared on Cuomo Prime Time to discuss the profound experience. The 90-year-old actor revealed that the once-in-a-lifetime trip was incredibly bittersweet.

“I wish I had better news and more entertainment and jokes to tell you, but I was moved to tears by what I saw,” Shanter said. “And I come back filled with… overwhelmed by sadness and empathy for this beautiful thing we call Earth.”

The Yahoo Immersive Team re-created the inside of the Blue Origin capsule and what the crew might have seen during their time in space.https://www.yahoo.com/nel_ms/_rcv/remote?m_id=web-3d-launch&ctrl=Embed&m_mode=document&slug=blue-origin-shatner-215128313&selectedObjectIndex=0

Shatner was visibly overcome with emotions while talking about how the trip affected his view on humanity. The usually jovial actor stressed the importance of implementing cleaner business practices to reduce the impact of climate change.

“We’re at the tipping point, we haven’t got time to wait 30 years and argue about a few billion dollars,” Shatner said. “Burying your head in the sand another instant about global warming and the destruction of the planet is suicide for all of us.”

Shatner appeared to reference the climate change agenda in President Biden’s embattled $3.5 trillion spending bill. He also warned that if we don’t do something about the industrial pollution, we will not only be stripping the planet of its natural resources, we will be stripping it of the future.

“What is tragic is if our children, especially our children’s children, don’t have a chance to be part of this beautiful thing we call Earth… and it’s just sad,” Shatner lamented.

[Disturbing News]: Humans could make babies on Mars after new sperm discovery, study says


By Ben Cost

June 14, 2021 | 9:56am | UpdatedEnlarge Image

Humans could one day be able to reproduce on Mars because sperm can survive there for up to 200 years, according to a new study.

Humans could one day be able to reproduce on Mars because sperm can survive there for up to 200 years, according to a new study.NY Post composite



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There’s no need to discover life on Mars — not when we could possibly make our own.

Scientists have discovered that sperm can potentially survive on Mars for hundreds of years, meaning that humans could possibly reproduce on the Red Planet in the future.

“These discoveries are essential for mankind to progress into the space age,” lead research author Professor Sayaka Wakayama, a scientist at Japan’s University of Yamanashi, told the Daily Mail of the study.

However, no humans pleasured themselves in the name of science, per the research published Friday in the journal Science Advances. Instead, scientists studied the effects of radiation on a batch of mouse sperm that had been freeze-dried and stored aboard the International Space Station for six years.

Experts previously believed that space radiation would destroy sperm, rendering breeding impossible — or even causing cancer.

However, new analysis revealed that the rodent reproductive fluid was perfectly healthy after its interstellar sojourn. Even subjecting the spunky stuff to X-rays on Earth didn’t affect fertility.


Lunar sperm bank could help humanity survive apocalypse

“Many genetically normal offspring were obtained,” said Wakayama, whose team estimates that freeze-dried semen could last aboard the ISS for up to 200 years.

These space-sex findings could prove a major step in our goal of becoming an interplanetary life form, something that scientists deem increasingly essential in light of dwindling resources, the Science Times reported.

“When the time comes to migrate to other planets, we will need to maintain the diversity of genetic resources, not only for humans but also for pets and domestic animals,” said Wakayama of our intergalactic propagation plans.

Sperm isn’t the only thing that can possibly survive the vacuum of space for extended periods of time. Tardigrades — also known as “water bears” — can reportedly live for 30 years without food or water and endure temperatures of 302 degrees Fahrenheit, leading researchers to deduce that these microscopic superheroes could survive on other planets as well.

Newly discovered planet could have water clouds


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

Updated 3:58 PM ET, Thu June 10, 2021

(CNN)Scientists have discovered an exoplanet located 90 light-years from Earth with an intriguing atmosphere — one that could contain water clouds.Exoplanets are planets located outside of our solar system. This exoplanet, called TOI-1231 b, completes a full orbit around its star every 24 Earth days.It orbits a red, or M-type, dwarf star, known as NLTT 24399, that is smaller and dimmer than stars like our sun.

The discovery of the planet was detailed in a new study that will be published in a future issue of The Astronomical Journal.

What alien raindrops on other planets have in common with rain on Earth

What alien raindrops on other planets have in common with rain on Earth“Even though TOI 1231 b is eight times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun, its temperature is similar to that of Earth, thanks to its cooler and less bright host star,” said study coauthor Diana Dragomir, an assistant professor in the University of New Mexico’s department of physics and astronomy, in a statement.

“However, the planet itself is actually larger than earth and a little bit smaller than Neptune — we could call it a sub-Neptune.”

Why this exoplanet might have clouds

The researchers were able to determine the planet’s radius and mass, which helped them calculate its density and infer its composition.Enter your email to sign up for the Wonder Theory newsletter.“close dialog”

Want to stay updated on the latest space and science news?We’ve got you.Sign Me UpBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.The exoplanet has a low density, which suggests it’s a gaseous planet rather than a rocky one like Earth, but scientists don’t yet know for certain the composition of the planet or its atmosphere.”TOI-1231 b is pretty similar in size and density to Neptune, so we think it has a similarly large, gaseous atmosphere,” said lead study author Jennifer Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.”TOI1231b could have a large hydrogen or hydrogen-helium atmosphere, or a denser water vapor atmosphere,” Dragomir said. “Each of these would point to a different origin, allowing astronomers to understand whether and how planets form differently around M dwarfs when compared to the planets around our Sun, for example.”The researchers believe TOI-1231 b has an average temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), which makes it one of the coolest of the small exoplanets available for future study of its atmosphere.”Compared to most transiting planets detected thus far, which often have scorching temperatures in the many hundreds or thousands of degrees, TOI-1231 b is positively frigid,” Burt said.The cooler the exoplanet, the more likely it is to have clouds in its atmosphere.This artist's illustration shows TOI-1231 b, a Neptune-like planet about 90 light-years away from Earth.This artist’s illustration shows TOI-1231 b, a Neptune-like planet about 90 light-years away from Earth.The similarly small exoplanet K2-18 b, discovered in 2015, was recently observed in more detail, and researchers found evidence of water in its atmosphere.”TOI-1231 b is one of the only other planets we know of in a similar size and temperature range, so future observations of this new planet will let us determine just how common (or rare) it is for water clouds to form around these temperate worlds,” Burt said in a statement.This makes TOI-1231 b the perfect candidate for observations by the Hubble Space Telescope — or the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in October. Webb will have the ability to peer into the atmospheres of exoplanets and help determine their composition. And Hubble is scheduled to observe the exoplanet later this month.Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.

The search for exoplanets

Burt, Dragomir and their colleagues discovered the planet using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS. The planet-hunting satellite, launched in 2018, observes different areas of the sky for 28 days at a time. So far, TESS has helped scientists find large and small exoplanets orbiting stars like our sun as well as the smaller M dwarf stars. These diminutive stars are common in the Milky Way galaxy.When a planet crosses in front of its star during orbit, it blocks a certain amount of light. This is called a transit, and it’s one way astronomers search for exoplanets using missions like TESS.

These 7 Earth-size exoplanets named after beer may be incredibly similar

These 7 Earth-size exoplanets named after beer may be incredibly similarGiven that M dwarf stars are smaller, the amount of light blocked by a planet orbiting them is larger, which makes the transit more detectable. Scientists look for at least two transits before determining if they have found an exoplanet candidate. Follow-up observations were made using the Planet Finder Spectrograph on the Magellan Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

“One of the most intriguing results of the last two decades of exoplanet science is that, thus far, none of the new planetary systems we’ve discovered look anything like our own solar system,” Burt said.”This new planet we’ve discovered is still weird — but it’s one step closer to being somewhat like our neighborhood planets.”

NASA Photos Prove There Is Life On Mars, Scientists Claim


BY : NIAMH SHACKLETON ON : 06 MAY 2021 09:47

NASA Photos Prove There Is Life On Mars, Scientists Claim

Photos released by NASA could prove that there’s life on Mars.

The photographs show what appears to be fungi on the Red Planet, therefore proving that Mars could in fact be home to some forms of life.

The theory comes from microbiologist Dr Xinli Wei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, astrophysicist Dr Rudolph Schild from Harvard-Smithsonian and Dr. Rhawn Gabriel Joseph after studying NASA’s Curiosity rover images.


They’ve dubbed the odd-looking specimens as a type of mushroom, MailOnline reports.

Describing the appearance of the mushrooms as being like ‘puffballs’, the scientists wrote in the study:

Fungi thrive in radiation intense environments. Sequential photos document that fungus-like Martian specimens emerge from the soil and increase in size, including those resembling puffballs (Basidiomycota). After obliteration of spherical specimens by the rover wheels, new sphericals-some with stalks-appeared atop the crests of old tracks.

This fungi then changes and grows along with Mars’ seasons, and is believed to grow up to a staggering 300 metres in the spring, but will disappear by the time winter comes round.


Leading on from this, scientists believe that this ‘may represent massive colonies of black fungi, mould, lichens, algae, methanogens and sulfur reducing species’.

Comparative statistical analysis found that nine ‘spherical specimens’, believed to be the so-called puffballs, emerged from beneath the soil. They were also found to have moved closer together over time.

In regards to how this proves that there could be life on Mars, the trio went on to explain:

Although similarities in morphology are not proof of life, growth, movement, and changes in shape and location constitute behaviour and support the hypothesis there is life on Mars.


Upon the discovery of fungus on Mars, it hasn’t just opened up the possibility of life on the planet, it’s also opened the possibility of buildings there being made out of it.

Last year, NASA announced that it was exploring technologies that could see people’s future homes on the Red Planet being made of the organisms.

Lynn Rothschild, the principal investigator on NASA’s myco-architecture project said at the time, ‘Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are like a turtle — carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs. Instead, we can harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there.’

Possible life signs in the clouds of Venus

Posted by Paul Scott Anderson in SPACE | April 13, 2021

A new analysis of data from the 1978 Pioneer Venus mission, by researchers at Cal Poly Pomona, finds evidence not only for phosphine, but also possible chemical disequilibrium in Venus’ atmosphere, an additional possible sign of biological activity.Sharing is caring!

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Artist's depiction of 4 small probes approaching the planet Venus.

Artist’s illustration of the Pioneer Venus mission, which sent 4 small probes into Venus’ atmosphere in 1978. A new analysis of the data sent back supports the previous finding of phosphine, as well as other “biologically relevant chemicals” that seem to show a state of disequilibrium – a possible hallmark of life – in the planet’s atmosphere. Image via NASA/ The Planetary Society.https://5d8eee595750ed79a83255b365e62810.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

In late 2020, scientists studying the atmosphere of Venus announced the surprising – and controversial – discovery of phosphine, a chemical that, on Earth, is produced primarily by living organismsJane Greaves at Cardiff University in Wales and her colleagues asked at the time: could the phosphine be a sign of microorganisms inhabiting Venus’ atmosphere? Maybe, other scientists said, but phosphine itself wouldn’t be proof of life, and subsequent studies questioned whether the phosphine was ever there at all. Then – in March, 2021 – a study from Rakesh Mogul of Cal Poly Pomona supported the original finding of phosphine and went further. It suggested other “biologically relevant chemicals” in Venus’ atmosphere that appear to be in a state of disequilibrium: another hallmark of life.

The new study focused on the re-analysis of data from the old Pioneer Venus mission, which sent four probes into Venus’ atmosphere in 1978, collecting data as they plunged toward the surface. This was the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe part of the mission, with three small probes and one larger one. The scientists analyzed data from the largest probe. The tantalizing peer-reviewed results were published in Geophysical Research Letters on March 10, 2021.Molecules shown as small spheres connected by rods are displayed in an inset to the left, with a crescent planet in background.

Artist’s illustration depicting molecules of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere. On Earth, and as far as scientists know, there are only 2 ways to produce phosphine: either artificially in labs or via living microbes. Image via ESO/ M. Kornmesser/ L. Calçada/ NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ Royal Astronomical Society/ Attribution: CC BY 4.0.https://5d8eee595750ed79a83255b365e62810.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

From the paper:

We re-examined archived data obtained by the Pioneer Venus Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer. Our results reveal the presence of several minor chemical species in Venus’ clouds including phosphine, hydrogen sulfide, nitrous acid (nitrite), nitric acid (nitrate), hydrogen cyanide, and possibly ammonia.

The presence of these chemicals suggest that Venus’ clouds are not at equilibrium; thereby, illuminating the potential for [possibly life-related] chemistries yet to be discovered.

Mogul and his team found that the original analysis back in 1978 focused only on the most common chemicals that were expected to be found in Venus’ atmosphere. He told space journalist Nancy Atkinson in a March 25 article for The Planetary Society:

The focus on the minor and trace [chemical] species was minimal. That’s what we realized after looking at the archival data and the associated publications. We immediately found signals in data that other publications hadn’t discussed or mentioned. That was all we needed for motivation to keep going.

As well as phosphine, the new analysis suggested the existence of additional chemicals including hydrogen sulfide, nitrous acid, nitric acid, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, ethane, and potentially ammonia and chlorous acid.https://5d8eee595750ed79a83255b365e62810.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html3.1M1.2KMust Watch Sky Events in 2021

According to Mogul and his team, these chemicals could be evidence for redox disequilibria, processes suggestive of life. For example, on Earth, microbes take advantage of the redox disequilibrium found in natural environments like water to derive energy. Could something similar be happening in the atmosphere of Venus? Are parts of the atmosphere, at least, a potential habitable zone for microorganisms?Colorful thick clouds on surface of a planet in space.

False-color view of Venus (to bring out details) from Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter. Image via JAXA/ ISAS/ Akatsuki Project Team/ Royal Astronomical Society/ Attribution: CC BY 4.0.Chart of differently colored horizontal layers of atmosphere, with arrows, lines and text annotations.

The temperate zone in Venus’ atmosphere where temperatures and pressures are more habitable for life. Image via Seager et al. (2020)/ Astronomy.

The data for this study come from the Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS), which was on the largest of the four probes that descended to Venus’ surface in 1978. The composition of the atmosphere was measured several times during descent. LNMS targeted gas molecules in the atmosphere that have a neutral charge. Phosphine would be one of those gases.

The Pioneer Venus data are important, especially since they were obtained in-situ, in the atmosphere itself, instead of remotely by Earth-based telescopes, as the other data last year had been.

The disequilibrium in Earth’s atmosphere is due to life, but whether the same is true for Venus is still unknown. This latest study supports that it could be, but more data are still needed, most likely from a return mission, to know for sure. Astronomers also say that this kind of disequilibrium could be used to search for evidence of life on exoplanets. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if that first evidence actually came from someplace much closer to home? From the linked paper in Science Advances (2018):

Chemical disequilibrium in planetary atmospheres has been proposed as a generalized method for detecting life on exoplanets through remote spectroscopy. Among solar system planets with substantial atmospheres, the modern Earth has the largest thermodynamic chemical disequilibrium due to the presence of life.

Headshot of man in front of lake and trees.

The new study was led by Rakesh Mogul at CalPolyPomona. Image via LinkedIn.

I asked Greaves on Twitter what she thought about the new analysis:https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1377210043267960835&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fearthsky.org%2Fspace%2Fphosphine-disequilibrium-venus-atmosphere-pioneer-venus-1978&sessionId=47f37d5d416ca03d1f04d2120895349439690223&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1ead0c7%3A1617660954974&width=500px

Something else that isn’t known yet is whether there could be any correlation between the chemicals found and the unusual “unknown absorber” dark patches in Venus’ atmosphere. Some scientists had previously hypothesized that they could actually be microbes, since the size and absorption characteristics of the particles in the patches were found to be similar to some earthly bacteria. I asked Mogul and he replied:https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1375330432393244674&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fearthsky.org%2Fspace%2Fphosphine-disequilibrium-venus-atmosphere-pioneer-venus-1978&sessionId=47f37d5d416ca03d1f04d2120895349439690223&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1ead0c7%3A1617660954974&width=500px

Today, the surface of Venus is horrendously uninhabitable, with temperatures of 840 degrees F (450 degrees C) – hot enough to melt lead – and crushing atmospheric pressure. But the middle layers of the atmosphere are temperate and Earth-like in temperature and pressure, although the clouds do contain abundant sulphuric acid. But there has been growing evidence that the planet used to be much more Earth-like earlier in its history, with rain, lakes and oceans. Less than a billion years ago however, something happened to cause a catastrophic greenhouse effect, where Venus transformed into the hellish world we see today.

Could there have been microscopic life of some kind, which then sought refuge in the clouds, away from the burning surface? Perhaps.

It will be very interesting to see what other follow-up studies say about this newest chapter in the phosphine on Venus enigma, and the possible disequilibrium. As Mogul said:

There are always mysteries to be solved and I think what we just showed that sometimes old data can reveal new stories. This is all a process, and moving forward is what science is all about.

Earth-like planet in space.

Scientists think that Venus was once much more Earth-like, with rain, lakes and even oceans. Did it ever have surface life? Image via NASA.

Bottom line: A new analysis of data from the 1978 Pioneer Venus mission finds evidence not only for phosphine, but also possible chemical disequilibrium in Venus’ atmosphere, an additional possible sign of biological activity.

Mars Is a Hellhole

Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity.

9:57 AM ETShannon StironeWriter and journalist


Landscape of Mars's surface

There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it.

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In the video, Musk is seen reading a passage from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot. The book, published in 1994, was Sagan’s response to the famous image of Earth as a tiny speck of light floating in a sunbeam—a shot he’d begged NASA to have the Voyager 1 spacecraft take in 1990 as it sailed into space, 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Sagan believed that if we had a photo of ourselves from this distance, it would forever alter our perspective of our place in the cosmos.

Photo of Earth
The Pale Blue Dot photograph that inspired Carl Sagan’s book of the same name. (JPL-Caltech / NASA)

Musk reads from Sagan’s book: “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.”https://8d566d959acc9a6fb67e31045d65b633.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html



But there Musk cuts himself off and begins to laugh. He says with incredulity, “This is not true. This is false––Mars.”

He couldn’t be more wrong. Mars? Mars is a hellhole. The central thing about Mars is that it is not Earth, not even close. In fact, the only things our planet and Mars really have in common is that both are rocky planets with some water ice and both have robots (and Mars doesn’t even have that many).

Mars has a very thin atmosphere; it has no magnetic field to help protect its surface from radiation from the sun or galactic cosmic rays; it has no breathable air and the average surface temperature is a deadly 80 degrees below zero. Musk thinks that Mars is like Earth? For humans to live there in any capacity they would need to build tunnels and live underground, and what is not enticing about living in a tunnel lined with SAD lamps and trying to grow lettuce with UV lights? So long to deep breaths outside and walks without the security of a bulky spacesuit, knowing that if you’re out on an extravehicular activity and something happens, you’ve got an excruciatingly painful 60-second death waiting for you. Granted, walking around on Mars would be a life-changing, amazing, profound experience. But visiting as a proof of technology or to expand the frontier of human possibility is very different from living there. It is not in the realm of hospitable to humans. Mars will kill you.

Musk is not from Mars, but he and Sagan do seem to come from different worlds. Like Sagan, Musk exhibits a religious-like devotion to space, a fervent desire to go there, but their purposes are entirely divergent. Sagan inspired generations of writers, scientists, and engineers who felt compelled to chase the awe that he dug up from the depths of their heart. Everyone who references Sagan as a reason they are in their field connects to the wonder of being human, and marvels at the luck of having grown up and evolved on such a beautiful, rare planet.

The influence Musk is having on a generation of people could not be more different. Musk has used the medium of dreaming and exploration to wrap up a package of entitlement, greed, and ego. He has no longing for scientific discovery, no desire to understand what makes Earth so different from Mars, how we all fit together and relate. Musk is no explorer; he is a flag planter. He seems to have missed one of the other lines from Pale Blue Dot: “There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

Sagan did believe in sending humans to Mars to first explore and eventually live there, to ensure humanity’s very long-term survival, but he also said this: “What shall we do with Mars? There are so many examples of human misuse of the Earth that even phrasing the question chills me. If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if [they] are only microbes.”https://8d566d959acc9a6fb67e31045d65b633.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://8d566d959acc9a6fb67e31045d65b633.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Musk, by contrast, is encouraging a feeling of entitlement to the cosmos—that we can and must colonize space, regardless of who or what might be there, all for a long-shot chance at security.

Legitimate reasons exist to feel concerned for long-term human survival, and, yes, having the ability to travel more efficiently throughout the solar system would be good. But I question anyone among the richest people in the world who sells a story of caring so much for human survival that he must send rockets into space. Someone in his position could do so many things on our little blue dot itself to help those in need.

To laugh at Sagan’s words is to miss the point entirely: There really is only one true home for us—and we’re already here.SHANNON STIRONE is a freelance science writer based in the Bay Area.

Hubble’s brand new image of Saturn will blow your mind


An image of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in early July 2020.
An image of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in early July 2020.


Yes, this is a real image of Saturn.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a new, exceptionally crisp picture of the ringed gas giant in early July, and the space agency posted the image of the planet on Thursday. 

“Hubble’s sharp view resolves the finely etched concentric ring structure,” wrote NASA, noting the rings are composed of chunks of ice ” ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders.”

Hubble orbits about 340 miles above Earth, and the telescope captured this detailed view of Saturn while the planet orbited 839 million miles from Earth.


Sharp images of the gas giant allow planetary scientists to observe the planet’s changing atmosphere. For example, NASA researchers spotted a “slight reddish haze” over Saturn’s north polar region, possibly indicating a changing atmosphere or heating by the sun.

“It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn,” Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

Amid the stark black background of space, Hubble also captured two of Saturn’s 53 confirmed moons: the ice-spraying Enceladus below, and the Death Star-like Mimas on the right.

The terrifying reality of actually living on Mars

The first spaceships that could carry humans to the red planet are being developed now, but we need to discuss accommodations once we’re there.


On Earth we never worry about going full soda, thanks to our very friendly atmosphere and helpful magnetic field. But on Mars we’ll need to create infrastructure to solve the problems our planet handles automatically.

And of course, we also have to develop ways to extract the water and oxygen we need to survive from a Martian landscape that has hidden them away in pockets of ice, soil, rock and extremely thin air.

Easy peasy.

However, Lee and others who have cataloged the many ways to die on Mars do not see them as insurmountable hurdles. In fact, there might be one ready-made solution for living on Mars that’s viable from the moment humans arrive for the very first time.

Just stay on the ship.

Living in the parking lot

This futuristic render shows a collection of Starships hanging out on the surface of Mars. Elon Musk and Space envision astronauts initially living out of the spaceships while constructing a more permanent human settlement on the Red Planet.


The first people to arrive via a SpaceX Starship will likely live and work out of the landed spacecraft in the beginning.

“[Starships] are very valuable on the surface of Mars,” said Paul Wooster, the company’s principal Mars development engineer, in 2018 at a Mars Society convention. “You’d actually be having most of the ships stay and you’d be operating using the various systems on them to support the activities there.”

Living in the ship after arrival isn’t just a SpaceX idea, though.

The Mars Society, founded in 1998 to advocate for exploring and setting up a human presence on Mars, has its own “Mars Direct” plan. It also suggests traveling to Mars in habitats or “habs” that could then be used to set up a base on the surface once the earthlings arrive.

The habs could be connected together, in much the same way that modular buildings are trucked around on Earth and quickly hooked together on site.

“We could have people on Mars by 2030 and a permanent manned base by 2040,” Zubrin told me in 2018.

Besides bringing their own shelter to start, Martian pioneers must also pack the right tools to harvest materials from the rugged landscape in order to build a more permanent crib.

“Very little that pertains to living on Mars in the early years will involve off-the-shelf equipment and supplies from Earth,” writes Stephen Petranek in his book How We’ll Live on Mars. “Almost every tool or device in use on Mars will need to have been carefully thought out.”

Building from scratch

For the long term, a basic modular camp like the one Matt Damon struggles with in 2015’s The Martian may not offer sufficient protection from radiation and other dangers, especially in the case of a powerful solar flare aimed directly at Mars.

Radiation shielding doesn’t need to be high-tech. A barrier made up of water or certain plastics can work, as can simply going underground.

Former NASA physician Jim Logan estimates putting our fragile, fleshy bodies behind or beneath about 9 feet (2.7 meters) of Martian soil should suffice. Zubrin has also suggested using thick bricks made from Martian regolith to construct shelter, adding a uniquely medieval castle vibe to the more traditionally sleek and futuristic vision of a Mars outpost.

Old lava tubes and underground caves are also ideal places to shelter, both early on and in the case of emergencies like major dust and solar storms that can sometimes spread across the entire planet.

In the absence of other options, 3D printing technology offers another alternative for creating custom structures. NASA held a 3D printed habitat challenge in 2019, with New York’s AI SpaceFactory (which bills itself as a “multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency”) winning the top prize for a system that built a lightweight but strong structure using autonomous robots requiring almost no human guidance.

Going underground or behind thick walls isn’t exactly great for the agriculture that’s going to be essential to sustain any presence on Mars, however.

Mechanical engineer Andrew Geiszler suggested at the 2015 Mars Society convention that geodesic glass domes could be the answer. Mars provides all the raw materials needed to create glass, plastic and metals that can then be turned into dome homes.

“Ultimately we’re going to need to use native materials. It’s very feasible. They’re there for the taking.”

The glass dome structure has been popular in visions of Mars settlements going back decades, including in some recent renderings from HP’s Mars Home Planet concept challenge that asked designers to draw up plans for a city on Mars.

This leaves the question of exactly where on Mars is best to establish a presence. None of the above is possible without access to water, which we need to create oxygen, grow food and produce fuel and other raw materials. So finding precious H2O will be a top priority along with shelter from the elements when choosing a site.

Water has been found in Martian soil, in trace amounts in the air, and in significant amounts near and below ice deposits. Moving to the edge of a Martian ice cap would likely be too cold and windy, but the planet also offers intriguing craters and canyons that provide a certain amount of shelter, building materials and water from deposits of ice or possibly even springs. The remarkable Valles Marineris, a massive gorge eight times longer and four times deeper than the Grand Canyon, is one place often suggested as a dramatic second home for hardy humans.

Time to Terraform

Maintaining all of the necessary life support systems on Mars will be quite an undertaking, which is why Musk and others have a long, long term vision of expanding the habitable bubble we construct on Mars to eventually encompass the entire planet.

The concept is often referred to as terraforming, and would involve changing the planet’s environment to be more earth-like. Musk notably proposed nuking Mars’ poles to release massive amounts of greenhouse gases to warm the planet, although he’s also amenable to massive solar mirrors.

Other methods involve importing methane or ammonia to kickstart the greenhouse effect. Regardless, such a project could be a centuries-long initiative.

“Terraforming will be incredibly expensive, and it may take a thousand years before humans can walk the surface of Mars in an environment not unlike what one finds along the west coast of Canada,” writes Petranek.

That kind of long-term thinking may be required for humans to become truly multi-planetary like Musk hopes. But first, we’ve just got to figure out how to make it through the first night on Mars.