Cover photo
Verified name
SETI Institute
7,570,047 followers|309,799,416 views


SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Martian Mantle Models Pave the Way for NASA's InSight Lander

InSight’s goal is to reconstruct how rocky planets like Mars—and Earth—form. One of its most important objectives (to be performed with the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe developed at the German Aerospace Center) will be measuring how much heat rises from the planet’s mantle to the surface. This heat, produced by the decay of radiogenic elements, has been building and escaping to the surface since Mars was forged in the early solar system. Knowing the planet’s global average heat flux will help scientists determine the composition and structure of its interior and constrain different models of planet formation.

But to make a truly global measurement, InSight will need some help. It’s not a rover: It will remain stationary, and thus, its heat flux readings will be heavily biased if, for example, it happens to land atop an enormous mantle plume stretching out below the Elysium Mons volcano, roughly 1500 kilometers to the north. To generalize its findings to the rest of the planet, scientists must rely on computer models that simulate how heat flows up through the mantle and crust to the surface.

To that end, Plesa et al. have produced the most detailed simulations to date. They’re the first to use 3-D thermal evolution models with crustal thickness changes across the planet based on gravity and topographical data. These models are combined with an inference of residual radioactivity in the rock of the crust, which also emits heat that makes its way to the surface. Such residual radioactivity wouldn’t be unprecedented: Patches of radioactivity near the Apollo 15 landing site caused surface heat flux readings to be an estimated 2–4 times higher than elsewhere on the Moon.

Read more:
lanita perez's profile photoGorgor Gor's profile photo
+lanita perez i changed the comment but then i your comment and changed it back again because that was awesome 
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
TODAY #SETITalks - Exocomets: Now you see them, now you don't

Speaker: Barry Welsh, UC Berkeley

Minor bodies such as Kuiper Belt objects, comets, and asteroids constitute the rocky and icy debris left over from the planet building phase of our solar system. The existence of reservoirs of small rocky bodies (i.e., asteroids/planetesimals) in orbits around young stellar systems is now well established, with their presence being required by current (exo)planetary formation theories. The initial proto-planetary disks that contain the reservoir of dust and gas required to form (exo)planets are short lived (<< 1 Myr) and thus the circumstellar debris disks observed around young stars of ages 10 – 50 Myr must be being continually replenished by collision and evaporation events amongst planetesimals. In such systems, the gravitation field associated with the newly formed exoplanets can potentially enable the disruption of large numbers of these kilometer-sized icy bodies into trajectories directed towards the young central star.

Present technology does not enable us to view images of these kilometer-sized infalling bodies, but the evaporation of gaseous products liberated from exocomets that occurs close to a star can potentially cause small disruptions in the ambient circumstellar disk plasma. For circumstellar disks that are viewed “edge-on” this evaporating material may be directly observed through transient (night-to-night and hour-to-hour) gas absorption features seen at rapidly changing velocities. Using high resolution spectrographs mounted to large aperture ground-based telescopes, we have discovered 15 young stars that harbor swarms of exocomets. In this lecture we briefly describe the physical attributes of comets in our own solar system and the instrumental observing techniques to detect the presence of evaporating exocomets present around stars with ages in the 10 – 100 Myr range. We note that this work has particular relevance to the dramatic fluctuations in the flux recorded towards “Tabby’s star” by the NASA Kepler Mission, that may be explained through the piling up of swarms of exocomets in front of the central star.

Free tickets:
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
APOD: 2017 January 23 - Winter Hexagon over Manla Reservoir

Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Dai (TWAN)

If you can find Orion, you might be able to find the Winter Hexagon. The Winter Hexagon involves some of the brightest stars visible, together forming a large and easily found pattern in the winter sky of Earth's northern hemisphere. The stars involved can usually be identified even in the bright night skies of a big city, although here they appeared recently in dark skies above the Manla Reservoir in Tibet, China. The six stars that compose the Winter Hexagon are Aldebaran, Capella, Castor (and Pollux), Procyon, Rigel, and Sirius. Here, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy runs through the center of the Winter Hexagon, while the Pleiades open star cluster is visible just above. The Winter Hexagon asterism engulfs several constellations including much of the iconic steppingstone Orion.

Annotated image:
Saidur 75's profile photoShelsea Laurent's profile photoLaura Lamarque's profile photoDanae koraly Moya Alzamora's profile photo
Hermoso 😍😍
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Astronomers search for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet

As one of the world's leading "planet hunters," San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane focuses on finding "habitable zones," areas where water could exist in a liquid state on a planet's surface if there's sufficient atmospheric pressure. Kane and his team, including former undergraduate student Miranda Waters, examined the habitable zone on a planetary system 14 light years away. Their findings will appear in the next issue of Astrophysical Journal in a paper titled "Characterization of the Wolf 1061 Planetary System."

"The Wolf 1061 system is important because it is so close and that gives other opportunities to do follow-up studies to see if it does indeed have life," Kane said.

But it's not just Wolf 1061's proximity to Earth that made it an attractive subject for Kane and his team. One of the three known planets in the system, a rocky planet called Wolf 1061c, is entirely within the habitable zone. With assistance from collaborators at Tennessee State University and in Geneva, Switzerland, they were able to measure the star around which the planet orbits to gain a clearer picture of whether life could exist there.

Read more at:
Is there anybody out there? The question of whether Earthlings are alone in the universe has puzzled everyone from biologists and physicists to philosophers and filmmakers. It's also the driving force behind San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane's research into exoplanets—planets that exist outside Earth's solar system.
Ashwini Khandare's profile photoAlexis Logié's profile photoGentleman Adventurer's profile photoAmir Azad's profile photo
Are they searching for only liquid water, or other chemical elements and compounds like oxygen?
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Extreme Astronomy Unlocks Cosmic Secrets From the South Pole

Imagine doing astronomy where grease won't stay greasy, where it's nighttime all day during the winter, and where nighttime temperatures fall to -100 Fahrenheit. Well, there's a hardy group of astronomers that enthusiastically do that, year-in, year-out, at Antarctica's South Pole Telescope.

The South Pole is a harsh environment, but it's excellent for astronomy due to its dry atmosphere (water vapor interferes with observations). Researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are even considering building a telescope at a site called Dome A, about 1,000 miles from the pole and a long trek from habitation.

What is it really like to work down there for up to a year, which is the typical over-winter stay of Antarctic personnel? According to University of Toronto experimental cosmologist Keith Vanderlinde, who spent 11 months there over the winter, it attracts a certain type of person who doesn't necessarily need the company of other people to work well.

Read more:
The South Pole Telescope is perfectly located to gaze deep into the universe, but it takes a hardy group of astronomers to live there over the winter.
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Public to Choose Jupiter Picture Sites for NASA Juno

Where should NASA's Juno spacecraft aim its camera during its next close pass of Jupiter on Feb. 2? You can now play a part in the decision. For the first time, members of the public can vote to participate in selecting all pictures to be taken of Jupiter during a Juno flyby. Voting begins Thursday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) and concludes on Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. PST (noon EST).

"We are looking forward to people visiting our website and becoming part of the JunoCam imaging team," said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. "It's up to the public to determine the best locations in Jupiter's atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby."

More info:
For the first time, the public can vote on which pictures the spacecraft's JunoCam imager takes of Jupiter.
Robert Johnson's profile photo
So Cool to be a part of this...
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
First big-picture look at meteorites from before giant space collision 466 million years ago

To learn what the meteorite flux was like before the big collision event, Philipp Heck of The Field Museum in Chicago and his colleagues had to analyze meteorites that fell more than 466 million years ago. Such finds are rare, but the team was able to look at micrometeorites—tiny specks of space-rock less than 2 mm in diameter that fell to Earth, which are a little more widespread. Heck's Swedish and Russian colleagues retrieved samples of rock from an ancient seafloor exposed today in a Russian river valley that contained micrometeorites, and then dissolved the rocks in acid so that only microscopic chromite crystals remained.

"Chrome-spinels, crystals that contain the mineral chromite, remain unchanged even after hundreds of millions of years," explains Heck. "Since they were unaltered by time, we could use these spinels to see what the original parent body that produced the micrometeorites was made of."

Analysis of the chemical makeup of the spinels showed that the meteorites and micrometeorites that fell earlier than 466 million years ago are different from the ones that have fallen since. A full 34 percent of the pre-collision meteorites belong to a meteorite type called primitive achondrites; today, only 0.45 percent of the meteorites that land on Earth are this type. Other ancient micrometeorites sampled turned out to be relics from Vesta, the brightest asteroid visible from Earth, which underwent its own collision event over a billion years ago.

Read more:
Four hundred and sixty-six million years ago, there was a giant collision in outer space. Something hit an asteroid and broke it apart, sending chunks of rock falling to Earth as meteorites since before the time of the dinosaurs. But what kinds of meteorites were making their way to Earth before that collision? In a new study in Nature Astronomy, scientists have tackled that question by creating the first reconstruction of the distribution of met...
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Big Picture Science Radio Show - Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart

She’s among the most famous missing persons in history. But what happened during the last leg of her round-the-world trek? Did she just crash into the ocean, or was she captured? A non-profit international organization, TIGHAR, suggests that she was a castaway, and offers up new analysis of bones found on a Pacific atoll.

Listen here:
Yuriy Lapitskiy's profile photo
We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet... We are running north and south.
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Habitable Exoplanets Debunked!

Kepler 186f rekindled our hopes and dreams of colonizing space. “Habitable exoplanet!” we heard, “Space Travel IS NOW!” Top that off with multiple breakthroughs in companies like SpaceX and BAM. The Future is now! But there’s a small problem… When we say a planet is habitable, we aren’t REALLY saying what we think we are saying. “Habitable” means something else. Is Kepler 186f habitable, in the true sense of the word? And if not, what other planets should we be looking at? Watch this episode of PBS SpaceTime and find out!

Watch here:
Colin Jones (Ponder - FUHA)'s profile photoSami Naili's profile photo
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
ICYMI: Mid-infrared light reveals a contaminated crust around Ceres

Using a combination of space telescope data, as well as recent data acquired with the SOFIA Airborne telescope and lab experiments, a team of astronomers including researchers from the SETI Institute and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have revealed the presence of dust of exogenic origin at the surface of dwarf planet Ceres. This contamination likely stems from a dust cloud formed in the outer part of the main belt of asteroids following a collision in recent times. That study challenges the relationship proposed between Ceres and asteroids in the C spectral class and instead suggests an origin of this dwarf planet in the transneptunian region. This study was published on January 19 2017 in Astronomical Journal.

Interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), which form meteors when they cross Earth’s atmosphere, represent the largest fraction of extraterrestrial material accreted on Earth. A team led by Pierre Vernazza, research scientist CNRS in the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM – CNRS/AMU), have shown that IDPs are also an important and continuous source of material captured on the surface of asteroids.

Pierre Vernazza explains that « by analyzing the spectral properties of Ceres we have detected material made up of fine particles of dry silicate called pyroxene. However, thermal evolution models proposed for Ceres have predicted a surface composed of aqueously alterated (e.g., clays, carbonates) which was confirmed from recent observations collected by the NASA Dawn mission. Hence the researchers concluded that it is unlikely that those fine grains of dry material could still be preserved in Ceres’ interior.

Read more:
Using a combination of space telescope data, as well as recent data acquired with the SOFIA Airborne telescope and lab experiments, a team of astronomers including researchers from the SETI Institute and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have revealed the presence of dust of exogenic origin at the surface ...
Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
Paranal bow

The four huge Unit Telescopes (UTs) at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile are among the most advanced in the world. The perfect backdrop is provided by a view on the galaxy in which we live — the Milky Way.

Credit: P. Horálek/ESO

Larger image:
Wolf Campbell,'s profile photoRodolfo Humberto Meléndez Cañas's profile photoM Jb's profile photonurul jannah najwa's profile photo

Add a comment...

SETI Institute

Shared publicly  - 
A Colorful ‘Landing’ on Pluto

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto -- starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon -- and leading up to an eventual ride in for a "landing" on the shoreline of Pluto's informally named Sputnik Planitia.

To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.

After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto. Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are.


Watch here:
Add a comment...
SETI Institute's Collections
Our mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

The Institute comprises 3 centers, the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach.

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 120 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by two centers. Dr. Gerry Harp leads the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research and  Dr. David Morrison is the Director for the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Edna DeVore leads our Center for Education and Public Outreach.

Contact Information
Contact info
189 Bernardo Ave Mountain View, CA