Since the sixteen hundreds
A giant storm has raged,
Largest in the solar system,
One Jupiter has made.
A swirling gale that could
Swallow our Earth whole.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Is known to one and all.
A vortex lasting centuries
Can’t go on forever.
Two hundred years have seen it shrink
By half, in Jove’s great weather.
And still receding slowly,
So in a decade or two,
It could become the Great Red Ring
That memory carries through.
by Kate Rauner
“The GRS [Great Red Spot] will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM, by which he means the Great Red Memory.” space.com
Big Joe, a Martian rock Viking One studied
Earth first touched planet Mars
On the Golden Plain,
When forty years ago
The search for life began.
Where barren outflow channels
From the Tharsis ridge
May once have carried water,
Where something might have lived.
Viking One took images,
Surveyed the dunes nearby
And analyzed geology
Beneath the pinkish sky.
Its tests for life seemed negative,
But we don’t understand
Why something used the nutrients
Dripped on a bit of sand.
We’ve learned so much in forty years,
We found Martian organics,
Maybe Viking did discover
by Kate Rauner
It’s possible we have seen life processes on Mars. Thanks to phys.org for covering Gilbert V. Levin’s and Patricia Ann Straat’s paper “The Case for Extant Life on Mars and Its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled Release Experiment.”
In which they reconsider the results of the Viking LR experiment in light of recent findings on Mars and recent proposals for inorganic substances that may mimic the observed metabolism-like processes. They argue that none of the proposed abiotic substances sufficiently explains the Viking results, and that Martian microbes should still be considered as the best explanation of the results. In Astrobiology, October 2016, 16(10): 798-810. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2015.1464
Not proven – but – wow.
My books include science fiction stories of the first colony on Mars and collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.
in the 1990s, Biosphere 2 studied a closed system similar to what Mars colonists may need to create
Orbiting the planet,
above Viking’s bones,
Odyssey’s a switchboard
that seeks new landing zones.
Global Mars Surveyor
MAVEN and Mangalyaan
sniff at the Martian air,
Japan will gather samples
and bring them back from there.
in studying the rocks,
seeks life’s building blocks.
UAE will gather data
on the frigid dry climate.
China’s rover should be very good
Yup, that’s me at Biosphere 2
Sands of a planet solely occupied
Soon will carry boot-prints from
Far beyond horizons
where ancestors have roamed,
Mars One and SpaceX
want to claim Mars as a home.
By Kate Rauner
The list of missions to Mars – failed and successful – is long, but the list of planned missions is growing longer. Thanks to space.com for the update. You can visit Biosphere 2 in Arizona where environmental studies are ongoing.
Visit Mars yourself, in my science fiction series On Mars.
Who says Congress can’t get anything done? They’ve told NASA “you gotta go,” could be as soon as 2022. Jupiter’s gravitational flexing generates a lot of heat inside the moon – enough for a 150 km deep water ocean to exist under the ice crust.
What’s more, rusty colored stains on the ice around the cracks suggest that the water is heavy in salts and minerals. Chemistry plus energy plus time—all of which Europa has in the right mix—may be all that is necessary to cook up life…
[A lander’s] ultimate goal would be to peer directly into the calmer waters of the ocean and perhaps even go swimming.
Congress is a blunt instrument, so I hope their requirements don’t hurt the mission. NASA still has problems to solve. But I can’t wait to find out what’s swimming in Europa’s seas.
Thanks to time.com for the article and quote.
Tis but a moniker that yields strife;
Thou art thyself, though not a planet.
What’s planet? It is nor rock, nor atmosphere,
Nor dwarf, nor comet,
Nor bow wave in the solar winds.
But intermediate twixt them all, and unique,
Orbiting the Sun.
Retain that dear perfection
And doff attempts to classify.
Oh, be some other thing!
That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet.
By Kate Rauner
With apologies to The Bard
Thanks to csmonitor.com and Plutophiles everywhere.
sun projected – sorry, but the dots of sunspots and Mercury too small to show up in the photo
Mercury is transiting the sun – right now! With our small telescope projecting onto a piece of white paper (never look directly at the sun!) I can see a sunspot group and a dot of shadow. Had to check twice over an hour to see that dot had moved relative to the sunspots – to be sure it’s Mercury. Cool.
As our sphere orbits Sun,
So Sun orbits Black Hole
At the center of our galaxy,
As eternity unfolds.
In a quarter billion earthly years
Our solar system circles round,
Weaves thru the mid galactic plane
Where other stars are densely found.
Fifteen times since life began
We have circum-rotated,
And ten times in each orbit grand
The planet’s devastated.
Our Sun’s own cloud of comets
On the solar system’s edge
Are jostled from their sedate paths,
Fall inward from their ledge.
With corresponding timing
Ancient craters have been found.
It seems Earth’s plagued with comet storms
As the cosmic year spins round.
Life sized model
Bombardments are not good for life.
Half a dozen times
Mass extinctions cleared our world
As doomsday peals chimed.
Things have been quiet for some time
Since dinosaurs disappeared.
The Sun careens past cosmic dust,
Dark matter, stars, and fears.
Such grand cosmic motion can only be estimated, and the number of Earth’s mass-extinctions depends on your definition, but our movement through the galaxy makes me feel very small and oblivious.
space.com on extinctions and comet strikes
Wikipedia on Galactic year