Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Tag

Lunar Eclipse Fire Wolves–Eclipse Mythology Of The World   34 comments

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“Eclipses are a chance to see the universe working. It’s the solar system doing its thing right before your eyes and it’s a deep and personal pleasure.”

– E.C Krupp director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

clip_image006clip_image008Blood moon eclipses – the moon is bathed in a red orange hue of refracted (bent) light coming from around the Earth. This April 4, 2015 blood moon eclipse, is part of the series of 4 consecutive Lunar Eclipses known as a “tetrad.” These are set approximately 6 months apart. April 15, 2014 – October 8, 2014 – our most recent one on April 4, 2015 and the shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century and the final one on September 28, 2015. The longest Total Lunar Eclipse this century will last 1 hour 24 minutes and will take place on July 27, 2018. Both Lunar and Solar Eclipses habitually occur in 18 year-long cycles known as Saros Cycles. Eclipses separated by a Saros Cycle are incorporated into a Saros Series. The recent Lunar Eclipse is part of Saros Series 132 which includes 71 Lunar Eclipses – the last one being on June 26, 2754.

“It’s an amazing experience, even though you know it’s just the moon moving in front of the sun. That’s why there are so many eclipse chasers”

Eclipse Fire Wolves

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Lunar Eclipse Myths from around the World

The Chinese word for “eclipse” is shih or chi meaning “to eat.” In many cultures people were of the firm belief that demons or animals were swallowing the sun or the moon at the times of eclipse. As a result of this belief they went to great pains to drive them away, commonly banging pots and pans or playing drums to this end.

clip_image012The Vikings view was that two “sky wolves” were chasing the Sun or the Moon and lunar or solar eclipses occurred whenever the wolves caught one of them. Similarly in Korea’s eclipse myths eclipses occurred when “fire dogs,” acting on orders of the king try catch and steal the Sun or the Moon. Although they only ever manage to bite their prey of “fire or ice” their actions spark an eclipse.The_Hunt_resized

Vietnam have slightly different ideas in so far as they believe it is a frog/toad that consumes the Sun or the Moon and on the West Canadian coast the Kwakiuti tribe is convinced that during the occurrence of an eclipse the “mouth of heaven” eats the Sun or the Moon.

– E.C Krupp director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

In the minds of The Inca lunar eclipses were a result of a Jaguar attacking and eating the Moon. This bloodshed explained the red-brown hue of the “Blood Moon” commonly seen during a total lunar eclipse such as seen recently (4th April 2015) The Inca would fiercely shake their spears at The Moon and make as much noise as possible, often “beating their dogs to make them bark and howl” in the hope of scaring the Jaguar away, afraid that it would fall to Earth and eat the Inca people too!

– David Dearborn, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California

clip_image015Chinese mythology states the Dragon, a “masculine solar energy” causes lunar eclipses when he tries to eat the Moon. The Chinese too would make much noise to chase it away and as late as 19th century cannons were fired by the Chinese navy to this end.

The ancient Mesopotamians whose culture stated that their king also symbolised the land believed that the seven demons they considered to be attacking the Moon at the time of lunar eclipse were also attacking their king. Therefore at such times they would substitute a temporary king – who if he survived the demons attack would probably be killed off later when the real king was reinstated!

Healing Lunar Eclipse Myths

clip_image017In contrast to the more aggressive lunar eclipse myths, The Luisno tribe – Southern California, would sing and chant and say prayers to restore the Moon back to good health and well-being, believing that an eclipse indicated that the Moon was very sick and feeling thoroughly under the weather!

Lunar eclipses are seen as a time of reconciliation by the people of Togo and Benim in Africa – The Batammaliba. In their culture, during an eclipse the Sun and the Moon are in battle with one another. The people work hard to discourage the discord between the two heavenly bodies and it is seen as a time when families and friends get together, and old arguments and disputes are resolved.

– Jarita Holbrook, cultural astronomer at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

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Eclipses are considered to be simply another natural part of the balance of the universe’s cosmic order, by The Navago. It is considered a special time and a time to take a break and reflect on the cosmic order. In order to stay in balance with the universe avoid looking at, sleeping during or eating and drinking for its duration of the eclipse. Instead the time can be spent safely indoors singing special songs and enjoying time with family.

– Nancy Maryboy, President on San Juan Island, Washington working with NASA to bring indigenous astronomy into mainstream awareness

The Hupa were of the mind that 20 wives and an array of pets (Mountain Lions and snakes) were an important part of the Moon’s life. The Moon was required to supply food for them all and when he fell short on his duty he was attacked by the Mountain cats and the snakes. This of course led to blood-letting for the Moon – Blood Moon Eclipses – But luckily for the Moon his 20 wives would come to his aid, protecting him and dutifully collecting his blood so as to restore him to his former glory and good health. This was believed to bring an end to the lunar eclipse.

– E.C Krupp director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

clip_image004In astrology many believe wars and conflicts, political events and acts of nature such as earthquakes can occur as a result of eclipses. Tibetan Buddhists say that during a lunar eclipse regardless of whether they are good or bad our actions increase by a thousand fold! So if you were naughty during the eclipse look out!!!

Sources:

lifeasmyth.com

Wikipedia

NASA

National Geographic

Fukushima Solar Fire   21 comments

 

Japan’s Renewable Energy Village

Fukushima Farmers Solar Rays of Hope in a Dark Land

renewable_energy_wno.org

 

Deserted Minamisoma_City_Office_wikimedia creative commons licenseDeserted_Lawson_Haramachikitahara_Shop_wikimedia creative commons licenseContaminated and deserted_Fukushima Prefecture_March 2011

Radio-active farmland in the Japanese prefecture of Minamisoma, a coastal city contaminated by nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi N-Plant in March 2011, is now leading the way in building a blueprint for modern Renewable Energy Villages.

Construction has already begun on this community run project to build the foundations of its Renewable Energy Village.

solar-energy-panels-and-wind-turbine

Roughly two-thirds of the Minamisoma farmland is located inside of Fukushima’s radio-active exclusion zone.

Hi level contamination Minam.outskirts_greenpeace.org

  • To date the Renewable Energy Village (REV) prides itself on 120 photovoltaic panels, generating 30 kilowatts of power which is sold to a local utility.
  • Locating wind turbines on some of the land is another innovative idea currently in the planning stages.
  • Recreational and educational facilities as well as an astronomical observatory are also being aspired to depending on the availability of further funding.

Solar-SharingFukushima Farmers Solar Rays of Hope

renewable-energy-world_nuclear-news.netThe basis of this project is known in Japan as "solar sharing"growing crops beneath raised solar panels. Most other large-scale solar parks in Japan whether already operational or still in the planning stages have/will have solar panels resting on the ground itself, which makes growing crops impossible.

Solar sharing_bellona.ru

The largest solar park to be built in Japan of this nature will also be located in Minamisoma causing Project Leader Ryozo Hakozaki for the Renewable Energy Village (REV) some concerns; "If farmers decide to sell up their land, entire communities will be wiped off the map." However Sohei Takahashi, Project Chairman believes the Renewable Energy Village project offers a workable solution to this problem. "Through the project we can protect farmland and communities, and with two parallel revenues create increased prosperity compared with before the disasters."

 

Rapseed_anagarden.seTakahashi also plans to conduct research into crops that can tolerate radioactive contamination. One crop, rapeseed, has already been planted, as its oil is contaminants-free, although the actual plants do absorb a percentage of radioisotopes such as those of caesium. The project is supported by generous ‘feed-in tariffs’ the government set and which were introduced in mid-2012.

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All proceeds from the crops and energy will go back into the REV project, the hope and aspiration is that the model will inspire and be copied by farmers whose livelihoods were decimated by the nuclear disaster. "People evacuated from areas closer to the plant have given up ever farming their fields again. There might be an amusement park feel to the project, but we’re trying to show them what the future could hold." Project leader Ryozo Hakozaksolar-energy-panels-and-wind-turbine

Source: New Scientist

2014 Winter Olympics–Coming Soon to a Crater Near You!!   46 comments

Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics 2014

 

2014 Winter Olympics – Chelyabinsk Meteor Anniversary

2014-winter-olympics-logoThe 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games (22nd Winter Olympic Games), are set to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.                 clip_image001clip_image001[1]

Chelyabinsk meteor Chelyabinsk meteor 2The Chelyabinsk meteor was a Near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 exploding in an air burst about 40 km above Korkino, south of central Chelyabinsk Oblast. The explosion created a bright flash, churning out a sizeable quantity of small meteorite fragments and a formidable shock wave.

Lake Chebarkul The meteorite fragments fell in and near to Lake Chebarkul with the largest extracted from the bed of the lake on 16 October 2013. Despite its 654 kg (1,442 lbs.) mass tipping and breaking the scales it was weighed on, it proved very fragile and shattered into three distinct pieces. In the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteor event an unofficial market swiftly arose for meteorite fragments.

The anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

2014 Winter Olympic Medals with meteorite fragmentsFragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite

 

Callisto (2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics)

callisto2In a very interesting to note lol that by some strange cosmic coincidence the 2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics will be held on Jupiter’s extremely ancient Galilean moon Callisto, the most heavily cratered moon in the Solar System.

Callisto’s impact-battered surface features multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae). Probably due to the icy nature of its surface Callisto lacks any large mountains. The water that has spread over the surface forming bright rays and rings around the crater is a result of the meteorite impacts puncturing holes in Callisto’s crust.

It is now believed that beneath Callisto’s crust may lie a salty, subsurface ocean of liquid water around 50–200 km deep indicated by studies of the magnetic fields around Jupiter and its moons. This leaves open the option that there could be extra-terrestrial microbial life on Callisto, though conditions are thought to be less conducive to life than on neighbouring Jovian moon Europa.

Callisto in Olympian Mythology

Mount-olympusZeus and CallistoZeus-greek-mythology-god-of-the-godsCallisto is named after one of Zeus – god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus’s many lovers, in Greek mythology. It is said that Callisto herself was a nymph who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

Zeus was held in exceptionally high esteem and power by the Ancient Greeks and once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus, rather the ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

 

Valhalla Basin (2014 Galactic Winter Olympics)

Valhalla Basin_Credit_WikipediaValhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPLIn another wildly unlikely cosmic coincidence, the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. (Not the same one as Russia’s! Don’t be silly!) Furthermore it is not only the largest multi-ring impact crater on Callisto but also in the Solar System.

Discovered by the Voyager probes in 1979–80 it is located slightly to the north of the equator on Callisto’s Jupiter-facing hemisphere. Part of an extensive system in the

Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ‘ghostlike ripples’ extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

Valhalla in Mythology

ValhallaOdinThis huge impact crater is named after Valhalla, Odin’s great hall in Norse mythology.  

                                                                         

Valhalla_was_in_Asgard_Home_of_the_fallen_VikingsValhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Norse mythology is the most beautiful of Asgard’s many great halls. It was here with Odin that the W Door Valhalla Guarded by a Wolfheroes who had been slain in battle – the Einherjar, feasted nightly on the meat of the boar Schrimnir and from the goat Heldrun, mead, whilst preparing for the up and coming battle of Ragnarok. Eight hundred warriors marching shoulder to shoulder will emerge from each one of Valhalla’s five hundred and forty doors when this time comes.

Vast and daunting Valhalla was said to have spears for rafters and golden shields providing roofing thatch, along with a fine array of breast plates, scattered around the Hall.

The western door of Valhalla is guarded by a wolf and hovering high above the door an eagle. Outside the front of the hall is Glasir, a golden tree and on the roof of Valhalla, the green leaves of another tree known as Læraðr – happily munched through by the goat Heldrun and the stag Eikþyrnir.

Asgard Crater Region– Callisto

To the west of Valhalla is another large multi-ring basin—Asgard Crater; the second largest multi-ring structure (impact crater) on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The crater is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology,

Asgard in Norse Mythology – Olympic Links

Bifrost and ValhallaThe Norse equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, Asgard was the home and stronghold of the Norse gods. Set in the skies the only way to reach it was to cross Bifrost – the rainbow bridge.

Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin was the grandest and most magnificent of the many gold and silver halls to be found in Asgard. Norse mythology stated that Asgard would be destroyed at Ragnarok -"Doom of the powers (gods)," also known as “Gotterdammerung” which in Norse mythology means “the end of the cosmos.” A huge final battle would be fought and the world enveloped in flames; the gods defeated by giants and demons. But a number of the gods will survive, or will be reborn and out of the sea a green and fertile world will emerge.

2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics!

Coming soon to a Crater Near You!!

Valhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPL

Sources:

Viking Mythology : http://www.missgien.net

http://www.wikipedia

Related blogs on this site.

Zeus god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus – https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/zeusgod-of-the-olympics-and-supreme-ruler-of-mt-olympus/

Russian Fireball Explodes over Chelyabinsk–And it’s all the US’s Fault!!!! https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/russian-fireball-explodes-over-chelyabinskand-its-all-the-uss-fault/

Galactic Olympics – Mars 2012 https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/2012-gale-crater-galactic-olympics/

2012 Gale Crater Galactic Olympics   59 comments

Galactic Olympics ~ Gale Crater 2012

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Mars Rover Curiosity – the Mars Science Laboratory has arrived safely on Mars  August 6th 2012 ~ right in the middle of Earth’s Olympics…

 

Let the Galactic Olympics Begin!!

Valles Marineris Canyon (The Mariner Valleys)

imageNamed after its discoverer the Mariner 9 space probe, Valles Marineris is definitely not for the faint-hearted! For those with nerves of steel it is perfect for **Abseiling. However! Assuming that you haven’t already fallen over one of the massive cliff edges; be warned! The colourful canyon walls are unstable and could collapse suddenly due to the onslaught of temperature changes and Martian dust storms. It will be little consolation in this case scenario to know that Valles Marineris, as the presence of sedimentary rocks shows, was once an underwater area – because it isn’t now! It’s very rocky and you will meet your doom on them! You will also meet it considerably faster than you would on Earth due to Mars’s low air density meaning that it will not slow your worrying speedy descent to a rather unpleasant doom.

Winter Olympics are best held very early in spring as Martian night lasts for thmars-snowree months and whilst Skating on the Martian Polar Icecaps may be a fantastic sport and lots of fun doing so in pitch black conditions on an alien and potentially dangerous planetscape may not be the most well-advised of activities. And unless you have a particular penchant for breaking your neck, ski-ing is probably best saved for Jupiter’s moons Europa (watch out for Ice wolves) and Callisto where frosty-white Valhalla Basin offers excellent skiing options. Alternatively you may prefer to visit Saturn’s moon Titan where high-speed Winter Olympian Ice skating and Ice Hockey events take place on the frozen methane ice sheets.

However spring does not disappoint bringing rewards of its own. With the sunlight reflecting off dazzlingly layers of frosted Carbon Dioxide the crunch through the Martian snow, will show the true depths of the very beautiful sights the Polar Icecaps of Mars have to offer.

There are of course certain other risks attached to holding the Olympics on Mars…

Discus ThrowingThere is of course only one place for this Olympic event to take place; from the very top of the huge extinct volcanic mountain Olympus Mons. The largest known volcano in the solar system it is best viewed either at sunrise or sunset on Mars, when the rippling lava flows, otherwise hidden are brought into sharp relief and are easy to see. This is in sharp contrast to your discus which will travel at rocket speeds in Mars’s low wind resistance. Your distance scores will be phenomenal but unfortunately so will everybody else’s. It is also quite possible that you will never see your discus again unless you are also an Olympic marathon sprinter.

Alternatively The Tharsis Bulge, a chain of Great Volcanoes ; Arsia, Paionis and Ascerus Montes, of which Olympus Mons, although it is set apart from, also belongs to, is a fantastic venue for the Olympian Mountain Biker and also for BMX Racing. It also provides something of a challenge for those athletes unfamiliar with Mars, who are not so heavily weighted down by gravity as on Earth, or elsewhere. It does raise the issue of exactly how high and how far you’re going to bounce when you leap-frog over those lava ridges and the bumps in the track. But if you harbour a secret, all-consuming desire to risk becoming rocket man careering into space at something resembling light-speed, this is the sport for you.

Warning! Riding a mountain bike down the sides of a volcano is not recommended for the non-Olympian mountain biker. Stick to rock climbing at the base of Olympus Mons and fossil hunting in its dried-up ocean basins. Even the smaller volcanoes all stand higher than the Hawaiian volcanoes that rise up from the Pacific Ocean floor on Earth, and far above the Tharsis Bulge itself on Mars.

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Galactic Olympic Events are taking place at various different venues around the Solar System…

Sailing The Jovian moon of Callisto is a dangerously thrilling venue offering rowing races in the dark on a liquid ocean of sea salt.

You might wish to take your Olympic Torch with you to this event, (one that will stay alight on Callisto would be useful) assuming you wish to see where you’re going and keep tabs on far behind you your opponent is trailing. And if they’re not and look like they may be in danger of ‘going for gold’ you may wish to torch their boat.

titan_surfacenasaWater Polo and Canoe Sprints are highly popular Olympic events on Saturn’s moon Titan, in the methane oceans, though depending on what species you are and which world you hail from Swimming may not be a great experience for the average Olympic swimmer. It may be an interesting experience but if you’re from Earth, best not to give it a go. You won’t get the gold and you’re unlikely to live to tell the tale. Spectators should take note, unless you thrive in methane rain you would be well advised to bring an umbrella. Earth dwellers will be comfortably familiar with the rain showers routine and will carry an umbrella as a matter of course, but anyone else, take heed!

The razor-blade crags of Saturn’s moon Hyperion play host to Olympic Hurdling events whilst the Caloris Basin on Mercury, a crater with cliffs that reach up to 3km (2miles) high and stretching for hundreds of kilometres in diameter, provides great terrain for the Equestrian Cross-country events. For sight-seeing spectators the polar ice caps, a strange and bizarre sight on this baking little world are home to frozen water-ice lakes that co-exist alongside roasting rocks so hot they could easily melt the Earth metal, lead.

Venus Credit J WhatmoreThe frozen lava runs on Venus’s Maat Mons offer thrill-seeking spectators heart-stoppingly dangerous Bob sleighing races along with stunning views of Venus’s highest mountain at 4.9km (3miles) high – Maxwell Montes. And if you have survived this far you may wish to return to Gale Crater on the host world, Mars for the Olympic Show Jumping and Dressage events. Don’t get too carried away if you are taking part in the Martian Show Jumping. The low gravity on this world is something of a liability in this sport and unless you have changed your mind about not becoming the next rocket man and wish to do so still attached to your mighty Olympic steed, extra care should be taken at jump-take off. Given the excessive speed you will be propelled forward at should you have an ill-timed collision with a fence in such low Martian wind resistance, you would be well advised to avoid such an error of judgement unless you fancy plastic surgery.

Galactic Olympics Closing Ceremony at: Mount Scarp, Gale Crater!

Curiosity - Gale Crater_Mt Scarp

**(Not strictly an Olympic sport that I’m aware of, but if the Olympic Torch can abseil to London Bridge then I think that qualifies it for a mention)

New Discovery! Great Lake On Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa!   40 comments

Great Lake of Europa

INTRODUCTION –SEARCHING FOR LIFE BEYOND EARTH

A large liquid lake has been discovered just below Europa’s icy shell may provide a habitat for life.

Europa's icy surface_plains of bright ice

Europa’s icy surface, as viewed from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. Visible are plains of bright ice, jumbled cracks an indication of a sub-surface heat source that run to the horizon, and dark patches that likely contain both ice and dirt. CREDIT: NASA/Ted Stryk

HOW HAVE SCIENTISTS DETERMINED THE EXISTENCE OF THESE LAKES ON EUROPA?

  • New research studies show Jupiter’s moon could have numerous large lakes just beneath its icy shell, and consequently closer to energy from the Sun, potentially providing a habitat for life.

JUPITER’S ICY MOON EUROPA IN BRIEF

  • Europa is one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter which has at least 63 moons in total including Europa
  • Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon and orbits Jupiter every 3.5 days. It has an iron core, a rocky mantle (shell), a radius of 1,569 km and it is 670,900 km distant from Jupiter.
  • Although Europa is about 500 million miles away from earth it comes closer to resembling our planet and providing potential for life than anything else in the solar system
  • There is a large, subsurface ocean of salty water deep beneath its frozen, ice pack crust thought to be in some areas tens of kilometers thick.
  • Recently discovered lakes appear to be embedded closer to the surface.
  • Europa has more water than all the oceans of Earth

EUROPA’S GREAT LAKE

  • New research: A large liquid lake discovered approximately just 1.5 miles (3km) below Europa’s icy shell. Estimated to be equal in volume to all the North American Great Lakes combined.
  • Europa could have numerous large shallow lakes just beneath its icy shell placing them closer to energy from the Sun.

Thera Macula

One such lake lies underneath Thera Macula, one of Europa’s chaos terrains. Thera Macula (false color) is a region of likely active chaos production above a large liquid water lake in the icy shell of Europa. Color indicates topographic heights relative to background terrain. Purples and reds indicate the highest terrain.
CREDIT: Paul Schenk/NASA

  • Research also explains how nutrients and energy could get from the moon’s surface to its buried ocean.
  • In doing so they could possibly provide a habitat for life which would be a key finding in the search for places where life might exist beyond Earth.

Europa's Great Lake

Europa’s "Great Lake." Scientists speculate many more exist throughout the shallow regions of the moon’s icy shell.
CREDIT: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin

HABITAT FOR LIFE

Scientists believe that

  • The interaction between the Europa ice pack and the subsurface bodies of water transfer nutrients and energy that may lead to life existing under the Europa surface.
  • Life in the oceans of Europa would be similar to that which exists deep beneath the oceans on Earth where light does not penetrate.
  • Liquid water is thought to be necessary for life,
  • Microbial organisms may survive in this buried sea.

The “lake” holds potential as a habitat for life, and there may be many more such lakes throughout the shallower regions of Europa’s shell, said lead author Britney Scmhidt, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Geophysics.

“The potential for exchange of material between the surface and subsurface is a big key for astrobiology. Europa’s subsurface harbours much of what we believe is necessary for life but chemical nutrients found at the surface are likely vital for driving biology.”~Wes Patterson, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. and a co-author of the study.

“Now we see evidence that it’s a thick ice shell that can mix vigorously, and new evidence for giant shallow lakes. That could make Europa and its ocean more habitable. The material cycled into the ocean via these lakes may make Europa’s ocean even more habitable than previously imagined. The lakes may even be habitats themselves."~Britney Schmidt, lead author.

CHAOS TERRAIN ON EUROPA POINTS TO SUBSURFACE LAKES

Determining the existence of such a body of water

Chaos terrain on Europa

Chaos terrain on Europa points to subsurface lakes. (NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk)

  • Europa’s surface is cold, around minus 170 degree Celsius (minus 100 K). The bottom of the ice is slightly warmer.
  • Two circular bumpy features on Europa’s surface called "chaos terrains." similar to features on Earth suggest that Europa is still geologically active heated likely by tidal forces. These tidal forces provide more heat on Europa than would normally be the case for a celestial body that far away from the sun.
  • That means plumes of warm water well up against the Europa ice cap, fracturing them, to churn the ice and subsurface water causing the "chaos" terrain features.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE ON EUROPA?

Nutrients and energy are transferred from the frozen surface to the vast ocean below resulting in the possibility that environments suitable for life could exist under the Europa surface. Life in the oceans of Europa would be similar to that which exists deep beneath the oceans on Earth where light does not penetrate. This could also mean that Europa is more likely to harbour extra-terrestrial life than Mars.

"On Earth, it is the volcano [melting the ice]. On Europa, it is the warm ice plume coming up from below” ~Schmidt

"You and I might not notice the difference, but geologically it’s very different. Heat melts some of the ice into enormous lakes beneath the crust. Think of Europa as one giant ice shelf floating on a global ocean, with a really rocky core.” ~ Paul Schenk, of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Europa rising above Jupiter

The icy moon Europa rising above Jupiter’s cloud tops. The picture was one of a handful of the Jupiter system that New Horizons took primarily for artistic, rather than scientific, value.
CREDIT: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

CONFIRMATION? – the next step in confirming liquid water under Europa?

  • Confirmation of the existence of these lakes will involve a thorough investigation of both above and below the icy surface of Europa meaning a future mission to Europa is essential. The National Research Council’s Planetary Science Decadal Survey gave such missions one of the highest priority ratings.

FUTURE EUROPA EXPLORATION MISSIONS PROPOSALS

A joint NASA/EUROPEAN SPACE STATION SPACE mission to Europa known as the EUROPA JUPITER SYSTEM MISSION is being considered. The intention being that the EUROPA ORBITER probe, which is estimated to launch in 2020 arriving in orbit off Europa in 2028 will by remote study hopefully give clues as to how the ice layers and the subsurface ocean interact. It will also study the organic exchange between them which could result in the existence of microscopic life in the subsurface ocean and lakes.

The EUROPA ICEPICK MISSION would involve the drilling through of Europa’s ice pack and a unique opportunity to explore the subsurface ocean, in the hope of finding some form of life and also other valuable scientific data.

"Europa is likely to have a deep ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust, making it an object of enormous interest as a possible abode for life," ~Planetary scientist Steve Squyres, with Cornell University

Funding for such missions to Europa is very uncertain. Most likely the Europa landers would cost anything from $800 million to $2 billion and that is only a rough estimate. This would involve input from several nations in order to obtain the necessary funding to make any one of these missions a reality.

Mythology of the Stars   22 comments

Interstellar Mythology…Star Myths

The stars, remote but also familiar, have been a source of fascination us throughout history and are an integral part of many myths and legends. Early references to the Greek constellations mythological significance are found in the works of Homer, dating back to around the 7th century B.C

                          deep_sky_big_dipper

“Children of the sun and moon” is the way The Paiute of North America refer to the stars. They consider the sun loves to eat his children, based on the stars disappearing at sunrise. They say the moon, is the mother of the stars, who dances happily across the sky with them. To the Yakut of Siberia, see the stars as crystal windows giving the gods opportunity to look upon earth. The Turko-Tatar, tent-dwellers of Central Asia view the sky as a large tent covering earth, and the stars tiny holes in it.

Myths of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way, the faint band of light visible in the sky on clear dark nights, runs along the line of the galactic equator, marking the centre of the galaxy to which our solar system belongs. It consists of a combination of the light of a vast array of stars, and in areas clouds of obscuring interstellar gas and dust. 

      milkyway Our_Location_Milky_Way milky_wayA

One Peruvian tradition, believes the Vilcanota River is a reflection of the Milky Way and water constantly circulates back and forth between the river and the heavens. In the minds of The Navajo the Milky Way was created by “Coyote” a con artist who using a blanket threw and scattered in a huge arc, in the sky, an array of sparkling stone chips to form a pathway between heaven and earth.

           Vilcanota_Rivernavajo xibalba

The Maya considered the Milky Way to be the road to Xibalba, the underworld. Native Americans believed the Milky Way was the path the souls of the dead walked. According to the Southern African Zulu and Ndebeles the stars are the ancestor’s eyes, watching over them.

Constellations and Individual Stars in Myths.

 By the 5th century B.C., most of the constellations were connected to myths, “At this stage, the fusion between astronomy and mythology is so complete that no further distinction is made between them” (the Catasterismi of Eratosthenes)

In Chinese mythology gods such as the god of literature and the god of long life, were connected with the stars.

                                                god of literature god of longlife

In Greek mythology Pleiades were the seven daughters of the Titan, Atlas and the ocean nymph Pleione. Zeus placed them in the sky to protect them from Orion the hunter. But Orion became a constellation and continued to chase the Pleiades across the heavens. The Inuit of northern Greenland considered Orion a series of steps in a great bank of snow linking earth and heaven.

                                         pleiadesatlas

Mythology, influenced the naming of many objects in the night sky, including planets. Their Roman mythological name reflected their characteristics

In Norse mythology Venus was originally the toe of the hero Aurvandil. Thor carried Aurvandil out of Giantland across the river Elivagar. En-route, one of Aurvandil’s toes froze, so breaking it off Thor threw it into the sky. To the Greeks, Venus was Hesperus, grandfather of the goddesses called Hesperides. She who guarded the golden apples of eternal life on western sea

            Surface_of_VenusThor planet-venus

Even the names of the Galilean moons of Jupiter (the four largest). Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto were all desired–and taken by force–by Jupiter. Ironically the mythological women the king of the gods so fervently pursued now revolve around him.

          jupiter-moons-1Jupiter_and_moonsGalilean_moons

**(Credit for this blog post topic and also previous one: “Androgoth Prince of Goths”)

Thank you for the subject suggestions Androgoth Smile