Sunday, September 27, 2009
The first object in the night sky most of us ever saw, the Moon remains a mystery. Haunted by poets, looked upon by youngsters in love, studied intensely by astronomers for four centuries, examined by geologists for the last 50 years, walked upon by twelve humans, this is Earth's satellite.
And as we look towards the Moon with thoughts of setting up a permanent home there, one new question is paramount: does the Moon have water? Although none has been definitely detected, recent evidence suggests that it's there.
Why should there be water on the Moon? Simply for the same reason that there's water on Earth. A favorite theory is that water, either as water by itself or as its components of hydrogen and oxygen, was deposited on Earth during its early history--mostly during a period of "late heavy bombardment" 3.9 billion years ago--by the impacts of comets and asteroids. Because the Moon shares the same area of space as Earth, it should have received its share of water as well. However, since it has only a tiny fraction of Earth's gravity, most of the Moon's water supply should have evaporated and drifted off into space long ago. Most, but perhaps not all.
In ancient times, observers commonly thought the Moon had abundant water--in fact, the great lava plains like Mare Imbrium were called maria, or seas. But when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969, they stepped out not into the water of the Sea of Tranquillity, but onto basaltic rock. No one was surprised by that--the idea of lunar maria had been replaced by lava plains decades earlier.
As preparations were underway in the mid 1960s for the Apollo program, questions about water on the Moon were barely on the radar screen. Geologists and astronomers were divided at the time as to whether the lunar surface was a result of volcanic forces from beneath, or cosmic forces from above. Grove Carl Gilbert in 1893 already had the answer. That famous geologist suggested that large asteroidal objects hit the Moon, forming its craters. Ralph Baldwin articulated the same idea in 1949, and Gene Shoemaker revived the idea again around 1960. Shoemaker, almost alone among geologists of his day, saw the Moon as a fertile subject for field geology. He saw the craters on the Moon as logical impact sites that were formed not gradually in eons, but explosively in seconds.
The Apollo flights confirmed that the dominant geological process on the Moon is impact-related. That discovery, in turn, ushered in a new question: Since Earth's water was probably delivered largely by comets and asteroids, could this process have done the same for the Moon? And could some of that water still be there?
In 1994, the SDI-NASA Clementine spacecraft orbited the Moon and mapped its surface. In one experiment, Clementine beamed radio signals into shadowed craters near the Moon's south pole. The reflections, received by antennas on Earth, seemed to come from icy material.
That makes sense. If there is water on the Moon, it's probably hiding in the permanent shadows of deep, cold craters, safe from vaporizing sunlight, frozen solid.
So far so good, but... the Clementine data were not conclusive, and when astronomers tried to find ice in the same craters using the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico, they couldn't. Maybe Clementine was somehow wrong.
In 1998, NASA sent another spacecraft, Lunar Prospector, to check. Using a device called a neutron spectrometer, Lunar Prospector scanned the Moon's surface for hydrogen-rich minerals. Once again, polar craters yielded an intriguing signal: neutron ratios indicated hydrogen. Could it be the "H" in H2O? Many researchers think so.
Lunar Prospector eventually sacrificed itself to the search. When the spacecraft's primary mission was finished, NASA decided to crash Prospector near the Moon's south pole, hoping to liberate a bit of its meager layer of water. Earth's satellite might briefly become a comet as amounts of water vapor were released.
Lunar Prospector crashed, as planned, and several teams of researchers tried to detect that cloud, but without success. Either there was no water, or there was not enough water to be detected by Earth-based telescopes, or the telescopes were not looking in precisely the right place. In any event, no water was found from Prospector's impact.
In 2008, NASA plans to send a new spacecraft to the Moon: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), bristling with advanced sensors that can sense water in at least four different ways. Scientists are hopeful that LRO can decide the question of Moon water once and for all.
Our interest is not just scientific. If we are indeed to build a base on the Moon, the presence of water already there would offer a tremendous advantage in building and running it. It's been 35 years since we first set foot on the Moon. Now ambitious eyes once again look toward our satellite not just as a place to visit, but as a place to live.
Since man first touched the moon and brought pieces of it back to Earth, scientists have thought that the lunar surface was bone dry. But new observations from three different spacecraft have put this notion to rest with what has been called "unambiguous evidence" of water across the surface of the moon.
The new findings, detailed in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Science, come in the wake of further evidence of lunar polar water ice by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and just weeks before the planned lunar impact of NASA's LCROSS satellite, which will hit one of the permanently shadowed craters at the moon's south pole in hope of churning up evidence of water ice deposits in the debris field.
The moon remains drier than any desert on Earth, but the water is said to exist on the moon in very small quantities. One ton of the top layer of the lunar surface would hold about 32 ounces of water, researchers said.
"If the water molecules are as mobile as we think they are — even a fraction of them — they provide a mechanism for getting water to those permanently shadowed craters," said planetary geologist Carle Pieters of Brown University in Rhode Island, who led one of the three studies in Science on the lunar find, in a statement. "This opens a whole new avenue [of lunar research], but we have to understand the physics of it to utilize it."
Finding water on the moon would be a boon to possible future lunar bases, acting as a potential source of drinking water and fuel.
Apollo turns up dry
When Apollo astronauts returned from the moon 40 years ago, they brought back several samples of lunar rocks.
The moon rocks were analyzed for signs of water bound to minerals present in the rocks; while trace amounts of water were detected, these were assumed to be contamination from Earth, because the containers the rocks came back in had leaked.
"The isotopes of oxygen that exist on the moon are the same as those that exist on Earth, so it was difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between water from the moon and water from Earth," said Larry Taylor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who is a member of one of the NASA-built instrument teams for India's Chandrayaan-1 satellite and has studied the moon since the Apollo missions.
While scientists continued to suspect that water ice deposits could be found in the coldest spots of south pole craters that never saw sunlight, the consensus became that the rest of the moon was bone dry.
But new observations of the lunar surface made with Chandrayaan-1, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, and NASA's Deep Impact probe, are calling that consensus into question, with multiple detections of the spectral signal of either water or the hydroxyl group (an oxygen and hydrogen chemically bonded).
Chandrayaan-1, India's first-ever moon probe, was aimed at mapping the lunar surface and determining its mineral composition (the orbiter's mission ended 14 months prematurely in August after an abrupt malfunction). While the probe was still active, its NASA-built Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) detected wavelengths of light reflected off the surface that indicated the chemical bond between hydrogen and oxygen — the telltale sign of either water or hydroxyl.
Because M3 can only penetrate the top few millimeters of lunar regolith, the newly observed water seems to be at or near the lunar surface. M3's observations also showed that the water signal got stronger toward the polar regions. Pieters is the lead investigator for the M3 instrument on Chandrayaan-1.
Cassini, which passed by the moon in 1999 on its way to Saturn, provides confirmation of this signal with its own slightly stronger detection of the water/hydroxyl signal. The water would have to be absorbed or trapped in the glass and minerals at the lunar surface, wrote Roger Clark of the U.S. Geological Survey in the study detailing Cassini's findings.
The Cassini data shows a global distribution of the water signal, though it also appears stronger near the poles (and low in the lunar maria).
Finally, the Deep Impact spacecraft, as part of its extended EPOXI mission and at the request of the M3 team, made infrared detections of water and hydroxyl as part of a calibration exercise during several close approaches of the Earth-Moon system en route to its planned flyby of comet 103P/Hartley 2 in November 2010.
Deep Impact detected the signal at all latitudes above 10 degrees N, though once again, the poles showed the strongest signals. With its multiple passes, Deep Impact was able to observe the same regions at different times of the lunar day. At noon, when the sun's rays were strongest, the water feature was lowest, while in the morning, the feature was stronger.
"The Deep Impact observations of the Moon not only unequivocally confirm the presence of [water/hydroxyl] on the lunar surface, but also reveal that the entire lunar surface is hydrated during at least some portion of the lunar day," the authors wrote in their study.
The findings of all three spacecraft "provide unambiguous evidence for the presence of hydroxyl or water," said Paul Lucey of the University of Hawaii in an opinion essay accompanying the three studies. Lucey was not involved in any of the missions.
The new data "prompt a critical reexamination of the notion that the moon is dry. It is not," Lucey wrote.
Where the water comes from
Combined, the findings show that not only is the moon hydrated, the process that makes it so is a dynamic one that is driven by the daily changes in solar radiation hitting any given spot on the surface.
The sun might also have something to do with how the water got there.
There are potentially two types of water on the moon: that brought from outside sources, such as water-bearing comets striking the surface, or that that originates on the moon.
This second, endogenic, source is thought to possibly come from the interaction of the solar wind with moon rocks and soils.
The rocks and regolith that make up the lunar surface are about 45 percent oxygen (combined with other elements as mostly silicate minerals). The solar wind — the constant stream of charged particles emitted by the sun — are mostly protons, or positively charged hydrogen atoms.
If the charged hydrogens, which are traveling at one-third the speed of light, hit the lunar surface with enough force, they break apart oxygen bonds in soil materials, Taylor, the M3 team member suspects. Where free oxygen and hydrogen exist, there is a high chance that trace amounts of water will form.
The various study researchers also suggest that the daily dehydration and rehydration of the trace water across the surface could lead to the migration of hydroxyl and hydrogen towards the poles where it can accumulate in the cold traps of the permanently shadowed regions.
Water was first confirmed on Mars by the Phoenix lander last year.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
With the Planet Saturn changing its position from Leo to Virgo on magical date 09/09/09, mercury of curiosity has shot up suddenly. The magical date comprising 9/9/9 has appeared after a long gap of 1455 years.
Astrologers describe it a holy occasion and auspicious day for human being. Such yoga (phenomenon) will bring prosperity for the nation and human being. As the number 9 is believed to be a holy one in the Hindu Mythology, people can start favourable and auspicious work on this day.
According to the sources, several new couples have planned to tie the nuptial knot on 09/09/09 to make their weddings memorable.
As the Saturn is an important and most powerful planet among the all planets, its position and movement have great importance for human being. Changing its position, the Saturn moved to Virgo at 11.58 pm from Leo. It will remain in Virgo for the next three years. Virgo is friendly sun sign of the Saturn.
Though the Saturn's presence in Leo created problems, its present position is sure to give good results. Nine has great significance in the Hindu Mythology and represents number 9.
The current position of Saturn will bring prosperity and happiness for every sun sign.
Let us have a look on its affect on different sun signs:
Aries: Flourishing Business.
Taurus: Development of progeny.
Gemini: Good family life.
Cancer: Monetary gain, benefits for medical professional, Saadhe Saati (a special phase) ended.
Leo: Good health, monetary gains, last Dhhaiya.
Virgo: Starting of second phase, beneficial, rise in fame, wealth. Be moral.
Libra: Shining phase, offer prayers to your favourite Deity, maintain good relations with spouse, be moral.
Scorpion: Possibility of some auspicious works.
Sagittarian: Professional and mental problems will be solved.
Capricorn: Possibility of monetary gain and new job.
Aquarians: Possibility of monetary gain.
Pisces: Mix response, respect in society.
Aries – Mars – House 1
Taurus – Venus – House 2
Gemini – Mercury – House 3
Cancer – Moon – House 4
Leo – Sun – House 5
Virgo – Mercury/Chiron* – House 6
Libra – Venus – House 7
Scorpio – Pluto – House 8
Sagittarius – Jupiter – House 9
Capricorn – Saturn – House 10
Aquarius – Uranus – House 11
Pisces – Neptune – House 12
SOME FACTS ABOUT PLANETS
The solar system in order starting with the Sun to the farthest reaches beyond it, remember to make mental or actual notes on which planets sound like nice places to visit. Disregard details like a climate that would boil, bake, fry, or freeze you, if you could breathe the air long enough to stay more than a minute. This is a metaphorical tour. Anyone can afford it, and it requires no astronaut training.
Sun - It’s the center of our piece of cosmic real estate. All the other planets in our solar system revolve around it. This life-giver stands from an astrological perspective for will, self-awareness, personal power, self-expression, and the drive to make a difference. It governs the child phase of life and creativity itself. The Sun is associated with professions such as teacher, artist, actor and other entertainers. It is a symbol of the masculine principle, father, the ego and leaders. The Sun governs yearly cycles. As an energy, it is concentrated and focalized. Its primary association in the human body is the heart.
Moon - The Sun’s complement, the Moon reflects rather than shines. It governs moods, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and change. Its realm includes feelings, instincts, gut reactions, sensitivity, and protectiveness. The Moon is associated with the feminine principle, mothering, food, digestion, hunger, comfort, and the family. It particularly rules the mother-child relationship and all bonds that nurture. Comforts and habits are its domain, along with the home. The Moon governs monthly cycles. In the human body, its primary associations are the breasts, digestion, and the lymphatic system. As you can imagine, all professions that involve nurture from caretaking to food industries “come from this planet.”
Mercury - A quick moving planet that rules communications, thought, and clever ideas, Mercury governs our brains and nervous systems. On its downside, a Gemini friend (Mercury ruled) once complained how he “beats himself up with his brain.” Too much thinking, like too much accumulation of mercury in the fish we eat, can have negative, even fatal consequences (mercury poisoning). Mercury’s realms are thought, logic, research, and analysis. You might like to live on our metaphorical Mercury if you like facts, news, writing, and learning—and communications devices. If an extraterrestrial landed on Earth from Mercury, he might have numerous cell phones, PDAs, computers and other gadgetry hanging off a tool belt on his spacesuit—or the Planet Mercury equivalent of those gismos. Writers and communicators are associated with Mercury, inventors and those who conduct commerce. Other affiliations: short trips, work, and dexterity. The dead giveaway to a Mercurial person is their love of trivia. They are fact collectors who bore easily. Once boredom sets in, it’s time to find more facts or something else new to entertain and engage them!
Venus - Is there anyone out there who (honestly) wouldn’t want to visit the planet of beauty, love, and harmony? The atmosphere of Venus resonates charm, comfort, romance, and refinements. It’s a place where art, music and luxury thrive. The planet associated with partnership, relationship, and marriage, its realms are cooperation, consideration, balance, fairness, and that most illusive thing of all—happiness. Named for the goddess of love and beauty, Venus is affiliated with our veins and the female sex organs. Like the Moon, Venus represents the feminine. The downside of this planet is an over-the-top love of luxuries, money, and a tendency toward indulgence and not taking things seriously. Diplomats and lovers are Venusian. (Aren’t they one in the same?) Peace, pleasure, and serenity are what people from this planet strive for. You might come from this planet if you have a hard time being alone and simply must be in a relationship at all times, for better or for worse.
Mars - The complement to Venus (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), this planet is all about action, desire, impulse and drive—even force of strength. What a mixed bag of masculine energy—courage, decisiveness, competition, energy, and adventure, alongside anger, aggression, violence, the military, explosions, and sharp objects. Mars is male sexuality, and in addition to the male sex organ, Mars rules muscles. Athletes—especially the most beefy (muscular) ones—are from Mars. The atmosphere of Mars contains impatience, ego and a tendency toward selfishness, but the extroverted swashbucklers who inhabit it are go-getters in the spirit of the yang half of yin/yang. Mars energy is outer and accomplishes things in the world. Can’t sit around waiting! People from Mars make good police officers, athletes, and pioneers of every type. Since there isn’t much unmapped physical terrain left on earth, people from Mars find uncharted territories in whatever field interests them and apply their creativity and get-‘er-done excitement to the challenge. Men from Mars aren’t green in the sense of inexperience; rather, they are likely to be innovative leaders.
Jupiter – Unless you’re a complete stick-in-the-mud, I can’t image that you wouldn’t enjoy a stop on the planet associated with enthusiasm, luck, good fortune, optimism, upbeat attitudes, benevolence, outgoing nature, and goodwill. People who come from this planet tend to love travel, especially long journeys. (They love everything foreign.) On their serious side—the one it’s hard at times to imagine these fun-loving folks have—they are passionate about law, religion, and philosophy. They are likely to argue with you on these subjects until their jaws are sore. They tell the truth, often bluntly, and believe staunchly in their convictions. They thrive on higher education. They are also jovial types who love to play games, sports, and are generous, often to a fault. Santa Claus comes from Jupiter, where I suspect the mythical North Pole is really located. Since the job of Santa is already taken, some other professions people from this planet often gravitate toward are spiritual teacher, minister, professor, and teacher. In our bodies, Jupiter is associated with the arteries and liver. Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system, a place where exaggeration and things larger-than-life pervade the atmosphere.
Saturn – A planet many people tend to spurn for its reputation of discipline, self-sacrifice, and responsibility, making friends with Saturn yields a treasure trove of qualities that make life work on Earth. Among its blessings are wisdom, practicality, earthiness, ambition, structure, dependability, and incredible organizational skills. On the downside, there is guilt, fear, pessimism, sadness, and even a tendency toward depression. The darker side of Saturn often comes from difficult father or authority figures in childhood, whether they were within the nuclear family or larger circles of belonging such as government or organized religion. Saturn is Father Time, associated with aging and all things to do with clocks and efficiency. The atmosphere of Saturn contains caution, self-control, and can sometimes dip into too much seriousness, conservatism, and tradition for no other reason than “it has always been done this way.” Saturn rules corporate executives and anyone that tops a hierarchy, as well as politicians. It’s associated in the body with knees, bones, and teeth because Saturn’s best quality is providing structure. If you can imagine a human being without a backbone (hello, jellyfish!), imagine a life without structure. It’s obvious why travel to the resort areas of this planet is a must for successful living.
Chiron – Chiron houses a heroes’ school where teaching, mentoring, and bringing out the best in people is the purpose of the place. Here, you can learn how to give your gifts in order to make all of society tick. There is that one thing only you can do best. On Chiron, you learn how to develop it and contribute it. Most associated with mythical Chiron’s incurable wound, after whom this comet/planetoid (centaur) is named, there is a paradox to discover. In your wounding lies the key to your healing, and it is up to you to learn to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Chiron’s function is wholemaking and learning to weave together the fragments of ourselves into a not-so-crazy quilt. Chiron teaches the healing in humor, how to overcome sexual shame, and how to get unstuck from chronic wounds. People from Chiron may have an actual physical handicap. Note that word has “handy” in it, reflecting the hidden gift in learning to make lemonade from wounds that can’t be healed on the physical level. Although its atmosphere is the merging of all opposites—light/dark, higher/lower self, opposing astrological energies—one of its specialties is merging anima and animus, male and female. Here women learn to embrace their recessive male characteristics; men learn to integrate their recessive female traits. Issues often up for healing on Chiron are abandonment and a sense of not fitting in. Chironic occupations are hands-on healers, including the practice of medicine—especially herbalism and complementary (“alternative”) medicine— astrologers, and teachers. In the body, Chiron is associated with the hands, thighs, and the corpus collosum of the brain, the bridge between the right and left hemispheres.
Uranus - Call it Planet Free Spirit! Uranus is a place of the unexpected, breakthroughs, and sudden change. It is the opposite archetype from Saturn, which desperately wants things to remain the same. It is known for brainstorms, innovation, originality, and uniqueness. If necessity is the mother of invention, her child is Uranus, known for its revolutionary genius. Inventors, astrologers and reformers come from this planet. Here, insights, intuition, and experiments thrive. The natives are tolerant, independent, and seekers of truth. Science, technology, electricity, and communications are the industries. Often highly unusual in appearance or ideas, Uranians are the visionaries who light the fires of change, without which humanity would stagnate. In the human body, Uranus is associated with the ankles and capillaries.
Neptune - This dreamy place is the destination for inspiration, ideals, intuition, emotions, visions, hunches, and ESP. It’s not just another planet; it’s otherworldly all together. The natives ooze sympathy, compassion, sensitivity, and universal love. While mystics may be meditating on every street corner, you are likely to find plenty of substances abusers and lovers of mind-altering drugs hanging around with them—or they might be one in the same. On the fun side, Neptune is associated with movies and delicious escapism. On the downside, there are illusions, impracticality, confusion, self-pity, neuroses and other mental health challenges. People from Neptune gravitate to careers in psychology, treatment of alcohol or drug abuse, music, poetry, and other arts that translate deep personal and collective feelings—beautifully.
Pluto – Pluto is not for the feint of heart! This distant planet is the tiniest of all the wanderers in our solar system, but as anyone who has studied astrology will tell you, it packs a wallop. It is the planet of deep transformation, permanent change, death and rebirth, and endings and beginnings. On Pluto, you’ll discover your personal relationship to world events. You will meet the inner you, and if you don’t like what you see, “arrangements” will be made for you to transform yourself. If you don’t go willingly, you’ll be introduced to Darth Vader—or Tony Soprano. Pluto demands surrender. Its realm is power. Some of its associations include insurance, taxes, recycling, sexuality, group consciousness and cultural change, energy release, psychic powers, kundalini, and will. Its downside is fanaticism, compulsions, obsessions and power abuse. Pluto’s inhabitants span the very wealthy to the criminal element. One of the most archetypal Plutonian occupations is spy, but like Neptunians, these natives make great psychiatrists or anyone who does deep in-depth transformation with people. In the body, Pluto is associated with the sex organs and bowels. It may be dangerous territory, but everyone wants some of the goodies in this paragraph, especially personal power—the one thing, when achieved in a healthy way, that makes existence on any planet not only bearable but also rich.
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