Tardigrades aka “water bears” will outlive us on Earth and possibly outlive the Sun.


Tardigrades are possibly the most resilient animals known. Better known as “water bears” or “moss piglets”, these water-dwelling microanimals have been found all over the world and can survive extreme conditions-such as extreme temperatures and pressures, air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation.Tardigrades are typically 0.5 mm as adults, with short plump bodies and four pairs of clawed legs. The are often found on mosses and lichens but can be found on a variety of terrains and sediments. These organisms are nearly indestructible- they can last 30 years without eating, can be frozen, boiled, and squished. Most interestingly, they can be exposed to the vacuum and radiation of space.

David Sloan, a co-author on the new work and researcher at Oxford, quotes,”To our surprise, we found that although nearby supernovas or large asteroid impacts would be catastrophic for people, tardigrades could be unaffected,” he added. “Therefore, it seems that life, once it gets going, is hard to wipe out entirely. Huge numbers of species, or even entire genera may become extinct, but life as a whole will go on.” Perhaps, the subsurfaces of Saturn or Jupiter’s moons can host tardigrades. If tardigrades are Earth’s most indestructible and resilient species, who knows what exist out in the solar system, or better yet the universe?






















Europa’s water vapor hints at hidden ocean and possible life

Beyond Earth liquid water is hard to come by, however, scientists have detected water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Scientists have long speculated about a possible ocean below Europa’s icy surface. In order to host potential life, Europa would not only need liquid water but also some essential chemical elements and a source of energy. The necessary compounds appear to be abundant on the icy moon’s surface, and asteroid impacts may have gave it even more elements needed for life. Scientists have found sodium chloride on Europa’s surface, potentiating that this moon ocean maybe be more like Earth’s than originally thought. However, a major problem exists: the sunlight is 25 times fainter on Europa. This ocean could possibly be warmer than its surface due to its oval shaped orbit around Jupiter. NASA is in the process of developing a mission, Europa Clipper, which will launch mid-2020’s. Although it will orbit Jupiter, it will study Europa up close by dozens of flybys. It will search for spots for potential life-hunting lander can touch down for future missions.



Blog 4: The answer to dark matter might be under out feet

Dark matter is thought to explain the mysteries of unexplained motion in our stars and universe. We know that dark matter exists because its effects can be observed on visible matter. This type of matter is thought to be responsible for 85% of the mass of the universe. However, despite the overwhelming evidence of its existence, we are still unsure exactly of its makeup since its particle to not emit, absorb, or reflect light. We know that it exist through gravity. Dark matter has mass which means it can affect the biggest objects in the universe. It presence is revealed through the motion of the more luminous stars and galaxies. The weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) idea is promising in possibly determining the nature of dark matter.

In this case, “weakly interacting” does not denote that its feeble, but rather that it only occasionally interacts with normal matter through a weak nuclear force, making for a very short range and a rare occurrence of these types of interactions. When a dark matter particle interacts with a normal particle of matter through the weak nuclear force, a transfer of energy occurs where the dark matter kick the normal particle sending it somewhere we can try to detect. Detection attempts have been successful, and big detectors are needed in order to understand more about dark energy. This detectors should be buried very deep below the surface of the planet because other high energy particles like neutrinos and cosmic rays cause similar “kicks.” We need to use lots of rocks to absorb these particles before they hit the detector, ensuring a signal of dark matter. However, with present dark matter detectors we haven’t found anything.

According to a recent paper, the gigantic dark matter detector, which has been collecting data for millions of years is right under our feet ūü§Ē¬†. The crust of Earth itself serves as dark matter detector because when stray dark matter particles interact with normal matter in a rock, a proton or neutron can possibly get knocked loose, changing the chemical composition of the rock a t the impact site and potentially leaving behind a microscopic scar after the particle is kicked. Whats more, deep digs have access deeper portions of Earth’s crust than the detectors. So if we dig up a bunch of rocks and analyze it to detect any signs of subatomic violence, we can possibly learn more about dark matter. Because Earth rocks contain some radioactive elements and decays, they give rise to similar features. Researchers suggest digging into oceanic crust instead. A super detector could possibly be within our grasp, we would just have to dig in. However, maybe dark matter is created not to be explained at all, and should be held as the magic of our universe.


The tilt of Uranus, an enigma

All in all, Uranus, is a pretty bizarre planet with many qualities that continue to vex scientists. Also interesting is its greek name while all of the other planets have Roman names. The blue-green ice giant boasts the coldest temperatures in solar system although not being the farthest from the Sun because it has little to no internal heat. The small amount of internal heat limits atmospheric activity. Most puzzling, however, is its sideways tilt and the weather that occurs on Uranus because of it.

Its axis tilt is at a 98 degree angle to the plane of the solar system, making it appear to rotate sideways. In general, planets can be thought of as spinning tops going around the Sun; however, Uranus defies this rule. This unusual tilt gives rise to extreme seasons which last for around 20 years each.

The most widely accepted theory for why Uranus seems to be knocked sideways involves a single interplanetary collision with a planetary body with the mass of Earth or bigger. But there is debate on whether on not this explanation explains the orbits of the moons. Some reason that a sudden tilting that resulted from an impact would disrupt its satellite system. Large impacts could have generated enough heat to vaporize any ice on these moons, however, the moons are still icy.

Some theorize that Uranus was tipped on its side due to a succession of blows rather than one single collision. Researchers found that a single impact would cause the disk to reform around Uranus’s new equatorial plane and that the moons would still share Uranus’ tilt. However, their simulations showed that these moon’s would display a retrograde motion. These scientist tweaked their simulation and instead found that a series of two or more smaller collisions can help to explain the actual motion of the moons.

There are many other theories to describe this peculiarity but it seem that all are missing a puzzle piece. As we begin to gain more knowledge on planet formation, perhaps someday we can finally figure out why Uranus orbits on its side.

space.com/13231-planet-uranus-knocked-sideways-impacts.html(opens in a new tab)

space.com/13231-planet-uranus-knocked-sideways-impacts.html(opens in a new tab)

Blog 1 (Chapters 1 & 2) Powers of Ten Video

The Powers of Ten Video begins at an image of a lakeside picnic in Chicago and as the exponent on the number 10 increases, it leads you on a huge journey through and outside of our solar system into the universe. Every 10 seconds the exponent goes up. For example, in its first iteration it goes from a 10 meter square area to an 100 meter square area in ten seconds. As it zooms out and covers greater area, we start to see the full lake and eventually central north region of the United States. At 10^7 meters we can see the whole Earth. At 10^10 we can see the invisible orbit of earth drawn and those of lesser neighboring planets such as Mars and Venus, and at 10^11, 100,000 million meters, we can see the sun and the smaller orbits curving to right of the Sun. The outer orbits are seen at 10^13. At 10^16, marks 1 light year however it hasnt yet reached the next star. At 10 light years we pass the star Arcturus and some of the Big Dipper stars. At 100,000 light years we are finally out of the Milky Way galaxy. We begin to see scattered galaxies at 10 million light years. The video begins to zoom back in and go into negative powers of ten and we see the surface of the hand, then cells, organelles, dna helixes, then atoms.

The video was mind blowing. It was interesting to see the size and scope of both our galaxies and bodies. How electrons, protons, and neutrons make up just about anything. When observing what was once a small area on Earth transform into space beyond our galaxies, one begins to feel really small and insignificant. However, we have this special cosmic energy in every fiber of our being. The video itself is powerful because it gives a visual representation of the scale of the observable universe, as well as our own bodies.

Solar System ASTR2110 – Teilei Hall

Blog 0– Interstellar and the Theory of Relatvity.

Hello, my name is Teilei Hall. I intend to graduate in fall 2020 with a major in HOD and a minor in studio art. I find the universe and its mysteries vastly interesting. I have always had an interest in Saturn; however, my moon sign is cancer which is ruled by the moon. Although I have seen Interstellar multiple times I am still confused about relativity and how exactly the characters on Earth aged while Matthew Mcconaughey did not. For this blog, I inquire about relativity as it relates to the film.

This article and this video yielded very interesting insights and general knowledge. First off, I learned that time is relative, which means the rate at which time passes varies due to numerous factors, such as gravity or a person’s velocity. Einstein’s theorizes that there is fabric, spacetime, which permeates the universe. Time dilation occurs when spacetime varies due to matter and energy. Time moves slower on Earth than in space due to Earth’s gravitational force bends space time. There is both gravitational and velocity time dilation. Albert Einstein, in his theory of¬†special relativity, concluded that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and he demonstrated that the¬†speed of light¬†within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels. Moving forward, he found that space and time were interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another. As he worked out the equations for his general theory of relativity, Einstein determined that massive objects caused a distortion in space-time.

The majority of the film revolves around the space crew”s interactions with Gargantua, a giant black hole. The astronaut”s quest is helped through their travel inside a¬†wormhole, a tunnel-like celestial object that allows for quicker travel from distant parts of the universe. Nobody knows whether or not they actually exist. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, they are possible, but have never been observed in space. In addition, scientists say, a wormhole would likely collapse unless it was held open using negative-energy matter. Nevertheless, critics and physicist agree that the film provides adaptations of scientific theories, although every minute detail may not be necessarily accurate or possible.