Mainly for reasons of (lack of) time, I have decided to start a periodical feature on this blog devoted to space news. There are weeks when they are so numerous and /or interesting that one dedicated post is not sufficient and choosing would be difficult. Hence, the list – and this is what caught my attention this week:
Sloan Found Aliens (or did it not?)
In case you don’t (already) know about it, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a project that uses dedicated 2.5 meter telescope to systematically map a quarter of the sky and that has created, in time, the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky, and spectra for more than three million astronomical objects. The surprising claim of this week is that two astronomers (from Laval University in Quebec), parsing Sloan’s data, think they have spotted messages (in the form of laser as a means of interstellar communication) from not just one extraterrestrial civilisation, but 234 of them. Far-fetched, sure, but quite intriguing. Read the story here.
Two More Moons for Uranus
You wouldn’t imagine that 30-year-old data would yield new discoveries, right? By this is what seems to have happened. Two scientists from the University of Idaho have re-examined Voyager data and discovered wavy patterns in two of Uranus’s dark rings, finding evidence of gravitational tugs of possible moons near each ring. “These moons are pretty tiny, at only 4 to 14 kilometres across if they exist. That means they’re probably smaller than any Uranian satellite known – and too diminutive for Voyager to have seen clearly. Still, at least four of Saturn’s moons are even smaller.” Read more about it on New Scientist.
Welcome to Asgardia, First Nation in Space
Want to become a spacenoid? You’ll be probably able to in the near future, and you’ll be called an Asgardian. Yes – Asgardia aims to be “a place in orbit which is truly a ‘no man’s land’,” the first nation-state in space created by a group of scientists. “For the first time in history, a new nation state has been created – not on Earth but in the heavens above. Asgardia is the prototype of a free and unrestricted society which holds knowledge, intelligence and science at its core along with the recognition of the ultimate value of each human life. You can join like-minded people on this new exciting step in fostering an extended future for humankind. The journey begins!” But expect legal complications to be solved first – since international law prohibits national sovereignty claims in outer space. BBC explains the issue, while for signing up you can visit the official website. And hurry: up to now, there are already 302871 volunteers.