Hard Science Fiction by Brandon Q. Morris
Dust storms discovered on Saturn’s moon Titan Titan

Dust storms discovered on Saturn’s moon Titan

If you want to see a dust storm on Earth, you only need to visit one of its deserts. Beyond that, the next best opportunity for a dust storm is many millions of miles away on Mars, as NASA’s Mars rovers recently discovered. But there is yet a third celestial body that is regularly hit by dust storms – Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan, after Ganymede the second largest moon in the Solar System, seems to be predestined, with its dense methane atmosphere, for such phenomena. There are, however, no active probes currently in the area around Saturn and wind…
Where is the Milky Way’s sibling now? Space

Where is the Milky Way’s sibling now?

Once upon a time there were three siblings who roamed the universe together. Two of their names are still known today: the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are still the dominant galaxies of the Local Group. But the third sibling went missing two billion years ago – today, astronomers call it “M32p.” At the time, M32p was the third largest galaxy of the Local Group and twenty times larger than any galaxy that has ever merged with the Milky Way. (more…)
Become an astronaut now: the Austrian Space Forum is looking for two new analog astronauts Mars

Become an astronaut now: the Austrian Space Forum is looking for two new analog astronauts

In February 2018, I spent a couple of exciting days in Oman. There, I was allowed to participate in the Mars Simulation Amadee-18 mission. For a couple weeks, approximately twenty men and women from different countries lived as if they hadn’t landed in the Oman desert, but instead on the Red Planet. This wasn’t about fun and adventure (although the participants had quite a bit of that too), but instead about identifying problems and weak points in a real Mars expedition before one is actually attempted. (more…)
Selfies in space: cool NASA app Fun

Selfies in space: cool NASA app

Have you ever wanted your picture taken in front of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Crab Nebula, or the center of the Milky Way? A new app from NASA will do just that. To make these selfies of you, the app puts you in a spacesuit and places you in front of your chosen backdrop. (more…)
Confirmed for the first time: there’s ice on the surface of the Moon Space

Confirmed for the first time: there’s ice on the surface of the Moon

Anyone who wants to stay on the Moon for a long time (for example, in their own base) will need water. It has been known for some time that water exists buried deep in the Moon’s rocks, but of course it would be easier to reach if it were directly on the surface. Using data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument, a research team led by Shuai Li from the University of Hawaii and Brown University has now shown that water is just waiting to be collected from permanently shaded areas of craters in the Moon’s north and…
New Horizons probe sees the hydrogen wall at the end of the Solar System Space

New Horizons probe sees the hydrogen wall at the end of the Solar System

NASA’s New Horizons probe is on its way to its next destination. Scientists are using the interim time (when the probe is not sleeping) to evaluate the measurements of its instruments. Even before arriving at Pluto, the probe’s ultraviolet telescope might have measured a shadow of the wall of hydrogen that is expected at the outermost limit of our Solar System. (more…)
Complex organic molecules from the depths of Enceladus Enceladus

Complex organic molecules from the depths of Enceladus

The Cassini probe that sent us the spectacular pictures of tiger stripes on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and that flew through the ice plumes there several times has long since crashed into Saturn. Nevertheless, scientists are still discovering more and more new details from the data that it sent. Now a research team led by Frank Postberg and Nozair Khawaja from the University of Heidelberg have succeeded in identifying fragments of complex organic molecules in the particles ejected from the ice geysers. “This is the first-ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water world,” says Postberg. “we found large fragments…
Ganymede awakens: whistling and chirping around Jupiter’s moon Space

Ganymede awakens: whistling and chirping around Jupiter’s moon

The Sun generates low-frequency radio waves in the Earth’s radiation belt. If you were to listen to them in a loudspeaker (which is actually what scientists were doing when these radio waves were discovered in the 1960s), they sound like the whistling and chirping of a flock of birds. These special waves were therefore given the name chorus waves. It was later discovered what these chorus waves produce: they are particularly well suited for transferring energy to electrons in the solar wind. Charged particles accelerated by them can then produce particularly good auroras when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.…