The Science of Sustainability

Astronomy

The International Year of Astronomy

The International Year of Astronomy

2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo first pointing the new invention of the telescope at the sky.

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Stars and Sand Grains

Stars and Sand Grains

Astronomers have estimated that there are about 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Galaxies come in many sizes, both much larger and considerably smaller than our home galaxy.

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Looking for Mars Life on Planet Earth

Looking for Mars Life on Planet Earth

Last week, NASA declared the Mars Phoenix Lander mission completed as the lander succumbed to Martian winter and lost radio contact. NASA scientists are already preparing their next mission: to send a rover to search for evidence of life on Mars. But to help decide what signs to look for, scientists are studying extreme life forms on our own planet.

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Reporter's Notes: Looking for Mars Life on Planet Earth

Reporter's Notes: Looking for Mars Life on Planet Earth

When I hear about searching for alien life, it's hard not to think about all those science fiction movies with little green men and Earth-destroying spacecraft. But it's an idea that's far from science fiction for scientists at NASA Ames.

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Exoplanet Snapshots

Exoplanet Snapshots

Exoplanets are planets in other solar systems. Though astronomers have detected over 300 exoplanets since 1995, we only have visible-light images of one of them.

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Eclipse Chasers

Eclipse Chasers

Meet the Bay Area's eclipse chasers – adventurers who travel the world to witness and document solar eclipses. In these rare moments, the moon covers the sun for a few minutes, leaving only its fiery atmosphere visible. Watch the China 2008 eclipse and learn about an invention that helped researchers photograph the sun's atmosphere in breathtaking detail.

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Producer's Notes: Eclipse Chasers

Producer's Notes: Eclipse Chasers

QUEST tells the story of two Bay Area eclipse chasers – people so entranced by the sight of the moon completely covering the sun that they travel around the world to get a firsthand view of the phenomenon.

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Last Gasps from Phoenix?

Last Gasps from Phoenix?

It seems like only last month that we witnessed the drama of NASA's Phoenix landing on Mars. We were on the edge of our seats in Chabot's planetarium during those "seven minutes of terror" as Phoenix burned a meteoric path through Mars' atmosphere.

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Mercury MESSENGER: The View Is Great; Wish You Were Here

Mercury MESSENGER: The View Is Great; Wish You Were Here

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has made yet another swing past our Solar System's innermost planet, Mercury. But, like the traveler who just can't seem to get enough sightseeing in, this was another whirlwind flyby set to the furious tempo of a camera snapping pics–about 1200 in all…

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Asteroid 2008 TC3 Strikes Earth!

Asteroid 2008 TC3 Strikes Earth!

News Flash! Asteroid 2008 TC3, on a collision trajectory with Earth, made a meteoric atmospheric entry into the skies above Sudan, Central Africa Tuesday morning, October 7th (local time-about 7:46 PM PDT). Entering the atmosphere at a speed of 12.8 kilometers per second, it exploded with the force of a low-level nuclear bomb…

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Top Energy (and Money) Saving Thermostat Tactics

Top Energy (and Money) Saving Thermostat Tactics

The Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others recommend that we set our thermostats at 68°F in the winter and F in the summer. Some people are comfortable at home with these temperatures and some or not. So how can we save energy and still be comfortable?

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Expressly Venus

Expressly Venus

With all the attention that the exploration of certain other planets has received lately, I feel that Venus exploration has fallen off our radar a bit, and that it is high time for an update.

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The sky is falling… or is it?

The sky is falling… or is it?

Why is it that meteorites are brought to me for identification in clusters? I don't mean that people bring clusters of meteorites-but it seems I get calls and visits from possessors of unknown rock samples, hopeful that they are of extraterrestrial origin, in bursts. This time I got two inquiries in two days!

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Opportunity is Still Rockin'!

Opportunity is Still Rockin'!

Is there life on Mars? Well, that investigation is still ongoing–but from a cybernetic perspective, the surface of Mars is literally crawling with it: in the form of robots!

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Mars Phoenix:  Is It Ice Yet?

Mars Phoenix: Is It Ice Yet?

Since witnessing the historic landing of NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander on May 25, I've been holding my breath to learn if Phoenix has made the discovery it set out to make: whether it landed on a vast deposit of water ice near Mars' northern polar cap.

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Messages from Mercury

Messages from Mercury

MESSENGER is the space probe that NASA sent to Mercury to give the Solar System's innermost planet the first up-close look since 1975, when Mariner 10 flew by. The MESSENGER's main mission will begin in earnest when it returns to Mercury and finally settles into an orbit around the planet, on March 18th 2011.

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Nobel Winner Used Stars to Map History of the Universe

Nobel Winner Used Stars to Map History of the Universe

Sitting in a small, non-descript room in the basement of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, astronomy graduate student Hannah Swift and physicist Saul Perlmutter are searching for supernovae, stars destroyed in huge explosions millions or billions of years ago.

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The Asteroid Hunters

The Asteroid Hunters

On July 14th, 2008, an almost Hollywood-like drama took place in space nearby: a "double," or binary, asteroid whizzed past Earth, grazing by at a distance of only 1.4 million miles. One of the rocks is over 200 meters across, the other a whopping 600 meters– about half the size of Half Dome in Yosemite!

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Water Becoming California’s Gold

Water Becoming California’s Gold

For those in the East Bay, a lush green lawn for lounging may become a thing of the past. Photo Credit Michele Nikoloff It was the talk of my Wednesday morning Pilates class. "I'm letting my lawn die, but saving the plants. Plants are harder to replace." "We only lived in our house six months […]

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Planetary Robotic Roundup

Planetary Robotic Roundup

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury-artist concept. Photo by: NASA I've been waiting for the "whole story" on Martian ice at the Phoenix lander site to unfold more completely, but the chemical analyses have not yet run their full courses-so I've decided to widen the focus on this blog to give a status report on current […]

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