I’m sure the writers had a laugh wording this one:
Researchers at the University of Oxford confirmed that the upper atmosphere of the planet is composed largely of hydrogen sulfide, a chemical compound with an infamous rotten egg scent. “If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’ clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions,” the report’s co-author Patrick Irwin said, the BBC reports.
The scientists uncovered the foul-smelling details using the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) of Hawaii’s Gemini North telescope. “Only a tiny amount remains above the clouds as a saturated vapor,” researcher Leigh Fletcher said. “The superior capabilities of Gemini finally gave us that lucky break.”
According to their findings, published in Nature Astronomy, the Gemini telescope detected between 0.4 and 0.8 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide existing as ice within Uranus’ cloud layer.
Oxford scientists added that while they found enough of the molecules required to trigger the familiar rotten egg smell, it’s unlikely any human will ever be unlucky enough to smell Uranus.
Earth is an over abundant plethora of very pleasant and extremely unpleasant (too many to count) smells, aromas, odors, perfumes, fumes, stenches. But the deep space medium beyond our protective atmosphere and radiation belt, amid the distant twinkling and mysterious and astonishing colors, what does space actually smell like? Is it comparable to our familiar odors and aromas down here? And once you can imagine experienced comparative testimony on that by astronauts, you then must ponder if such smells are more present within gaseous and matter active star regions and absent in the countless billions of light years miles far-far-FAR between stars and galaxies in the blackest of deep space.
One might think that the galaxy is completely mapped. But large parts of it are obscured by gas and dust, and it is hard to discern structure from the vantage of the solar system. Gaia is not only expected to clarify the spiral structures of the galaxy today, but because the satellite traces how stars move, astronomers can wind the clock backward and see how the galaxy evolved over the past 13 billion years—a field known as galactic archaeology. With Gaia’s color and brightness information, astronomers can classify the stars by composition and identify the stellar nurseries where different types were born, to understand how chemical elements were forged and distributed.
Gaia isn’t only about the Milky Way. For solar system scientists, the new data set will contain data on 14,000 asteroids. That’s a small fraction of the roughly 750,000 known minor bodies, but Gaia provides orbit information 100 times more accurate than before, says University of Cambridge astronomer Gerry Gilmore, who heads the U.K. branch of Gaia’s data processing consortium. That should help astronomers identify families of asteroids and trace how they relate to each other, shedding light on the solar system’s past and how planets formed from smaller bodies.
For cosmologists, the data set will improve distance measures to stars of known brightness such as Cepheid variables, crucial stepping stones that allow a “distance ladder” to be built out to other galaxies—so that the expansion rate of the universe, also known as the Hubble constant, can be calculated. And exoplanet hunters expect that Gaia will eventually see thousands of stars shifting from side to side because of the gravitational tugs of Jupiter-size planets in distant orbits, but these won’t emerge until the satellite’s precision improves in later data releases. “No one in the world knows what we’ll find,” says David Hogg of New York University in New York City.
I am always astonished at the scale by which educated scientists set for possible alien life on other planets. It is obvious the starting point these egg-heads set is “habitable Earth-like” planets. Pretty myopic and self-serving.
Who is to say any other form of life out there would even be remotely similar to our carbon based O2 breathers? Our own plant life on Earth doesn’t breathe the way we do. Why assume any alien life would hold the same needs human, or even plant life, on Earth does? Alien life could be something so alien outside our ability to even dare imagine, just as the ends of the universe are impossible to contemplate. Hell, even our own DNA’s universe is still a mystery to us…
“Super-Earth” planets are giant-size versions of Earth, and some research has suggested that they’re more likely to be habitable than Earth-size worlds. But a new study reveals how difficult it would be for any aliens on these exoplanets to explore space.
To launch the equivalent of an Apollo moon mission, a rocket on a super-Earth would need to have a mass of about 440,000 tons (400,000 metric tons), due to fuel requirements, the study said. That’s on the order of the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
“On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive,” said study author Michael Hippke, an independent researcher affiliated with the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany. “Such civilizations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission or a Hubble Space Telescope.”
As researchers have discovered alien worlds around other stars, one class of exoplanets that popped up was the super-Earths, planets that can reach up to 10 times the mass of our own. A number of super-Earths apparently lie in the habitable zones of their stars, where temperatures can theoretically support liquid water on the planetary surface and thus, potentially, life as it is known on Earth.
If life did evolve on a distant super-Earth, such aliens could have developed an advanced civilization capable of spaceflight. However, the strong gravitational pull of such planets could also make it more difficult for extraterrestrials to blast off their planets, Hippke said in the new study.
If you want a test study in what might happen when our sun goes red dwarf…
Just a note … Proxima Centauri neighbors Alpha Centauri and is an optional mission target for colonization in science fiction fare…
It seems by the time we’re with the Robinsons on the show, the Alpha Centauri colony is already fairly well established, and multiple trips have been made there by humans. So what exactly is Alpha Centauri, and how far away is it?
Alpha Centauri is a system of three stars and the planets that revolve around them. There’s Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, two stars that form a binary star system, and a smaller red dwarf star known as Proxima Centauri. The first star is brighter and a little larger than our sun; the second, smaller and cooler.
The system might consist of the closest stars to our own sun, but it’s still pretty far away: 4.37 light years, or more than 25.6 trillion miles. We don’t really have the technology yet to send humans that far, either; on a conventional rocket, traveling at about 17,600 miles per hour, it would take about 165,000 years for humans reach Alpha Centauri (and then another 4.37 years for communications to travel back at the speed of light to let Earth know they’d arrived). Proxima Centauri is a little closer than the other two stars at 4.24 light years away, making it the nearest neighbor to the sun.
As for whether there would really be a planet for people to live on in orbit around Alpha Centauri? There probably would be. Alpha Centauri is an attractive candidate for the search for exoplanets because Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B are similar to our own sun. Astronomers have also discovered that Proxima Centauri has at least one rocky planet located in its “habitable zone.” That’s an orbit not unlike Earth’s, close enough to the star to keep the planet warm, but not so close that the star’s radiation scorches the planet’s surface.
Scientists are skeptical about the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, known as Proxima Centauri b, though. Because of the smaller size and luminosity of Promixa Centauri, the chances the planet is so close that it would be tidally locked — meaning that one side always faces the star, making it perpetually day for one half the planet and perpetually night for the other — are higher. The nearer proximity to the star could also mean other problematic affects of gravity, like increased seismic activity. So while Proxima Centauri b is in the right orbit, it might not be habitable at all.
Scientists believe there could be more planets in the Alpha Centauri system and in it stars’ habitable zones, thanks to computer models. And the fact that Alpha Centauri A is a similar star to our own suggests there could be habitable planets in the system. So a colony for the Robinsons of “Lost in Space” to join isn’t too far-fetched — sci-fi writers have been suggesting it for quite a while.
We are millennia generations away from having such technology and fortitude to travel the galaxy this extensively, and humanity, while it likes to dabble in the adventure and excitement in leaving mother terra behind, is nowhere near psychologically willing to divorce itself forever from her. It is why such sci-fi offerings have characters claiming roundtrips from new frontier colonies in deep space and Earth … they can’t stay away. That element of any sci-fi production you may watch is, in and of itself, a very-very beyond fictional.
ALIEN: Resurrection has the smugglers groaning about returning to “shithole” Earth. One presumes society had hit the shit-skids and Earth has become an ecological dump so bad that the constant confinement of a narrow starship is preferable to smelly lawless space truckers. Even though in this franchise instalment “Ripley” is a human-alien clone hybrid there has been atleast three centuries plus a dozen years since “Parker” on ALIEN wanted to ‘go home and party’, screw the alien signal transmitting from the alien planet in their path.
Passengers (2016) has prematurely awakened characters assuming roundtrips: After a 120 year trip to a colony planet that she was supposed to sleep through writer Aurora Lane will spend only one year on the Homestead colony planet and then return (another 120 year trip) to Earth. The one crew member that abruptly awakens is stunned by the never-before technological failure of the hibernation pods on the starship, citing his multiple mission trips he’s taken. My problem with this is with the cited massive time limitations on sending ship-to-Earth/ship-to-Homestead Earth-Homestead transmissions how the Hell do any of these people believe either Earth or Homestead would still be civilized/inhabitable and/or the planets still be there beyond some over-century of possible mass war(s) or environmental disaster or asteroid/comet strike or mass extinction biological event? There is a faith there beyond that of an ethereal Almighty God to assume such an adventure of basically two and a half centuries simply because nobody has ever done it. And in that the “journalist” Aurora Lane is being dishonest if we are to believe crew member ‘Gus’ about his multiple missions.
So, as per usual, I always come back to my futileness regarding such open and easy deep space travel for mankind. To what purpose would it really serve? With whom would such newfound knowledge be shared?
I just want to see the Milky Way again, and often. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid. Just far too much light pollution in my area. If we hit the beach in, N.C. again this summer I am hoping for clearer skies and nightly treks onto the beach for a major look…