Martian Bacteria?

"The presence of prismatic magnetites in Martian meteorite ALH84001 is strong evidence for life on early Mars."

- Kathie Thomas-Keprta, Biochemist,
Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Mars by Hubble Space Telescope on June 30, 1999.
Mars by Hubble Space Telescope on June 30, 1999.


December 24, 2000  Houston, Texas - Three Christmases from now on December 26, 2003, a spacecraft built by the British called "Beagle 2" is scheduled to land on Mars to look for life. The lander will use a robotic arm to burrow into soil and under rocks. Samples will be analyzed chemically and results transmitted back to earth. What are the odds that Beagle 2 finds traces of organic life?

 

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Immortal Human Skin Cells – A Miraculous Answer for Burn Victims?

Could skin cells that do not die at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide a better and unlimited skin supply for burn victims? Healthy skin supply is limited, demanding experiments such as this film seeded with autologous keratinocyte skin cells to repair a burned shoulder. Photo: Lyons Burn Centre, Edouard Herriot Hospital, Claude Bernard University, Lyons, France.
Could skin cells that do not die at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide a better and unlimited skin supply for burn victims? Healthy skin supply is limited, demanding experiments such as this film seeded with autologous keratinocyte skin cells to repair a burned shoulder. Photo: Lyons Burn Centre, Edouard Herriot Hospital, Claude Bernard University, Lyons, France.

December 17, 2000  Madison, Wisconsin - In a week, it will be Christmas - a holiday to celebrate the birth of the man named Jesus Christ long considered by many to be divine, even immortal. The New Testament says his disciples heard Christ tell them that "whosoever believeth in Him who sent me shall have ever lasting life." As if to prove the lesson of his words, he also told the disciples that he would die before them and then resurrect with new life to walk among them again.

 

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A Pleiadian Star Tears Apart Black Interstellar Cloud

An black interstellar cloud is being destroyed by strong radiation from a nearby hot star named Merope in the Pleiades. Hubble telescope photograph courtesy NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.
An black interstellar cloud is being destroyed by strong radiation from a nearby hot star named Merope in the Pleiades. Hubble telescope photograph courtesy NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.

December 14, 2000 Hubble Space Telescope - In this new Hubble image, the star Merope in the Pleiades cluster is just outside the frame on the upper right. Not far away in astronomical terms is a cloud of dust and gas referred to as "Barnard's Merope Nebula," or IC 349. The cloud is being destroyed by the passage of Merope. NASA says the beautiful and eerie light effect is produced "like a flashlight beam shining off the wall of a cave. The star is reflecting light off the surface of pitch black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. These are called reflection nebulae." The parallel wisps extending from the lower left to upper right are explained by University of Hawaii astronomers, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, as dust particles slowed down by the strong starlight. Physicists call this phenomenon "radiation pressure."

 

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Bacteria from Outer Space?

Example of comet is Hale-Bopp © March 6, 1997 by Dean Ketelsen, Tucson, Arizona.
Example of comet is Hale-Bopp © March 6, 1997 by Dean Ketelsen, Tucson, Arizona.

December 3, 2000  Europe -

Mad Cow Disease Spreading in Europe

Mad Cow Disease continues to panic Europe. Several countries including England, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands have all reported the fatal disease. The European Union's agricultural minister told reporters, "Mad cow disease knows no borders, but is moving from one member state to another."

 

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Hubble Telescope Solves Puzzle of Stephan’s Quintet of Galaxies

Hubble Space Telescope image of Stephan's Quintet center where three galaxies are colliding 270 million light years from earth. The partial galaxy image at the bottom of the frame is now seen to be a much closer galaxy only 35 million light years away. Photograph courtesy European Space Agency and NASA.
Hubble Space Telescope image of Stephan's Quintet center where three galaxies are colliding 270 million light years from earth. The partial galaxy image at the bottom of the frame is now seen to be a much closer galaxy only 35 million light years away. Photograph courtesy European Space Agency and NASA.

November 26, 2000  Madrid, Spain - Galaxies in collision have fascinated scientists since 1877 when French astronomer Edouard Stephan discovered the first cluster that became known as Stephan's Quintet. The name applied to a group of five galaxies (NGC7317, 7318A, 7318B, 7319 and 7320) about 270 million light-years from earth in the constellation Pegasus. A sixth galaxy, NGC7320C, shown at the bottom of the above photograph, was originally thought to be part of the colliding cluster of galaxies. When its red shift (increasing wavelength emitted by receding celestial bodies) was measured in 1961, it was moving away from earth much more slowly (800 km/second) compared to the other galaxies (6000 km/second). That puzzling and discordant measurement provoked some scientists to argue that red shift is not related to distance and that the universe was not expanding.

 

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Great Pyramid At Giza – Star Alignment Might Determine Age

Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops located across the Nile River about six miles west of Cairo, Egypt in an area called the Giza Plateau. The pyramid is 481.4 feet high, contains an estimated 2,300,000 carved stones, each estimated to weigh an average 2.5 tons. Photograph © by Steve Beikirch.
Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops located across the Nile River about six miles west of Cairo, Egypt in an area called the Giza Plateau. The pyramid is 481.4 feet high, contains an estimated 2,300,000 carved stones, each estimated to weigh an average 2.5 tons. Photograph © by Steve Beikirch.

November 19, 2000  Cairo, Egypt - This week a Cambridge University Egyptologist from England, Dr. Kate Spence, announced a possible recalculation on the age of the Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops on the Giza Plateau near Cairo. She wanted to know how the ancient Egyptians lined up the Cheops pyramid so precisely north to south. She hypothesized that stars were the guide, so she used a computer to wind back time in the sky from today to about 4500 years ago. Dr. Spence found that the star Mizar, in the Big Dipper's handle, and Kochab, in the bowl of the Little Dipper, would have appeared one over the other at a point directly above the North Pole. Dr. Spence thinks that the Egyptians then hung a plumb line against the two stars to find true north for the construction of the great Cheops Pyramid. Her revised date for that construction is now 2478 B. C., give or take five years. If correct, the Great Pyramid could be 75 years older than traditional estimates.

 

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Near-Earth Object 2000 SG344 – Is it an asteroid?

Hundreds of near-earth asteroids such as this one orbit around the sun. Some are bigger than a mile across and a collision with earth would cause global destruction. Others are much smaller such as Near-Earth Object 2000 SG344 discovered September 29, 2000. Its size is estimated at only 150 feet. But what is it? Why is it pacing with our planet in the earth's plane?  And could it hit the earth in 2071? Photograph courtesy NASA 2000.
Hundreds of near-earth asteroids such as this one orbit around the sun. Some are bigger than a mile across and a collision with earth would cause global destruction. Others are much smaller such as Near-Earth Object 2000 SG344 discovered September 29, 2000. Its size is estimated at only 150 feet. But what is it? Why is it pacing with our planet in the earth's plane? And could it hit the earth in 2071? Photograph courtesy NASA 2000.

November 5, 2000  Pasadena, California - Asteroids headed towards, or near, earth are in the news again. On Friday, NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office in Pasadena, California announced that a small object discovered on September 29th had a small chance of colliding with this planet in September 2030. In fact, this was the first asteroid-like object to be given a Number One on the Torino scale which measures space collision threats. The scale was developed in 1998 by Richard Binzel, Professor of Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to help categorize near-earth objects. It's a sliding scale from zero to ten. Zero is no threat. A ten means definite impact that would cause a global catastrophe. A category one means scientists think this new object deserves careful monitoring. Paul Chodas, Principal Engineer for the NEAR Program Office at JPL, said "This is the highest probability of impact that we have ever calculated for an object."

 

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Science, Environment and Medical Updates

International Space Station's first crew, left to right: William Shepherd, United States; Yuri Gizenko and Sergei Krikalev, Russia. Inside the Soyuz capsule for final time before historic launch at 2:53 AM EST on October 31, 2000 to spend at least four months orbiting the earth. Photograph courtesy NASA 2000.
International Space Station's first crew, left to right: William Shepherd, United States; Yuri Gizenko and Sergei Krikalev, Russia. Inside the Soyuz capsule for final time before historic launch at 2:53 AM EST on October 31, 2000 to spend at least four months orbiting the earth. Photograph courtesy NASA 2000.


October 30, 2000 -

International Space Station Historic Mission

­ NASA is counting down the hours until American astronaut Bill Shepherd will lead the first expedition to the International Space Station. The historic mission is scheduled to lift off on Tuesday, October 31st at 2:53 AM east coast time. Shepherd will be joined by two Russian cosmonauts, Yuri Gizenko and Sergei Krikalev. This expedition crew plans to spend nearly four months on the space station.

 

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Astronomy Updates

Stars Sirius A and B, a Chandra x-ray image courtesy NASA and Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Stars Sirius A and B, a Chandra x-ray image courtesy NASA and Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

October 9, 2000  Cambridge, Massachusetts - The Chandra X-ray Observatory has been revealing layers of the cosmos around us with beautiful clarity. One of its x-ray images from October 1999 shows the Sirius A and B star system located 8.6 light years from Earth. The large central light is Sirius A, the brightest star in the northern sky in optical light. Sirius B is a white dwarf that is ten thousand times dimmer, but clearly shows up in x-rays. Because the two stars are so close together, Sirius B was not discovered until 1862 by Alvan Clark using the best optical telescope in the world at the time. The pink sapphire pattern is produced by the satellite's transmission grating. For comparison, below is an optical image by Arizona's McDonald Observatory.

 

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Unidentified Moving Spiral of Light Photographed in Crop Formation

Olympus digital camera photograph of unidentified light spiral taken on July 21, 2000 between 8 to 9 PM inside the White Hill crop formation in Lockeridge, Wiltshire, England © 2000 by Amica Kusaka, Okyamaa, Japan.
Olympus digital camera photograph of unidentified light spiral taken on July 21, 2000 between 8 to 9 PM inside the White Hill crop formation in Lockeridge, Wiltshire, England © 2000 by Amica Kusaka, Okyamaa, Japan.

September 30, 2000 Lockeridge, Wiltshire, England - Recently I received the above photograph from Amica Kusaka, a resident of Kusaka, Okyamaa, Japan. Before sending the color print, she e-mailed me the following information:

 

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