Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lots of Space: Both Real and Fictional

Wow, I can't believe I let the month of May go by without posting. Is it me or does time seem to be speeding up? I have been very busy lately, first with my Spring semester finals and then with starting my hectic and final Summer semester, so I’m sure it’s not due to some temporal anomaly of some sort. On to the post:

Despite my crazy schedule, I still find time to read regularly. I’ve been making my way through Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series. So far, I’ve read the novels: Revelation Space, Chasm City, and Redemption Ark and I’m currently reading the novel Absolution Gap and the anthology of short stories, Galactic North. The series is great. Lots of big, insane ideas with realistic characterization. If you like hard science fiction mixed with a healthy dose of space opera, you'll love these books.

On the “real” space news front, lots of interesting things are happening. First, the Phoenix Lander arrived on Mars and almost immediately found ice, which is no big deal on Earth, but is huge for the potential past and present life on Mars, not to mention future life (i.e. us). Analysis of the soil and ice should begin next week.

Also, astronomers have discovered 45 Super-Earths around other stars. These are rocky planets that are slightly bigger than Earth as opposed to the gas giants they’ve been finding. This means that planet finding techniques are becoming more refined and it’s only a matter of time before we find an Earth-like planet. So far the smallest planet found is MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb, which is 3 times the mass of Earth. The article tantalizingly hints that the planet might be covered in an ocean, but doesn’t really go into detail. Bastards!

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