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SETI Institute
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Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.
Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.

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#SpaceBookLive this week will be tomorrow, 18 July, at 2PM PDT. Trustee Jonathan Knowles will be talking to the NASA FDL Space Weather teams about the challenges they’re working on this summer. We’ll be joined by Esperanza Lopez Aguilera from our recently announced partner, Kx.

Kx partnership announcement: https://buff.ly/2Jw9RIR

Stay tuned!
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Institute in the News
July 5 - July 11, 2018

* SETI Scientist Peter Jenniskens Helps Locate Meteorite in Rare Find
* Imagining Contact: Xenolinguistics and Speculative Language
* Mapping New Worlds: NASA to Release Terrain Features of Pluto and Charon
* Communicating Ourselves: The Art of SETI Artist-in-Residence, Dario Robleto
* Searching for Life with Dr. Jan Cami
* Engineering the Future: Jill Tarter on the Progress of Women in STEM

All these stories and more: https://buff.ly/2uoUs8n
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A Piece of Mars: Spring is a messy time – Lori Fenton's Blog

In many areas on Earth that get winter snow, spring thaw is a messy time. Frozen ground turns to mud, and there may be runoff everywhere from melting snow and spring rain. Or if you live in a place that gets winter rains, spring might be the time when mudslides are most common. Spring can be messy on Mars too, although in this case the ice isn’t H2O, but CO2. Also, it’s not melting, but rather sublimating. But that can still make a big mess.

Here’s part of a dune field in early spring, located in the high southern latitudes. Normally dunes on Mars are dark because they’re made of dark sand, but here they’re still mostly covered by bright wintertime frost. If you didn’t already know there were dunes here, you might never guess that’s what’s there. Zoom in (click on the image) and you’ll see the ice is draped over sand ripples.

What about the weird brown and black splotches? Those form in the spring as the white ice begins to sublimate (Mars air is too thin to let ice melt, so it skips that step and goes right from ice to gas). The dark areas are places where the frost is thinner, or maybe just more easily sublimated for whatever reason. They’re dark because some of the dark dune sand underneath the ice is starting to show through. Those spots are characteristic of dune sand in the spring. Eventually they grow and coalesce until all that’s left of the winter ice are little bits that cling to the shady slopes, until those bits too finally disappear. In the meantime, there’s a wild mess for the winds to sweep up later on, if they can.

Credit: HiRISE ESP_055591_1150, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Larger image: https://buff.ly/2Jv79TA
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Based on new evidence from Jupiter's moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon's global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter's innermost large moon Io. The new findings propose answers to questions that have been debated since the days of NASA's Voyager and Galileo missions. This illustration of Europa (foreground), Jupiter (right) and Io (middle) is an artist's concept. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Read more: https://buff.ly/2mjNyNh
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Big Picture Science Radio Show: On Thin Ice (ENCORE)

Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise the level of our oceans. It’s part of Earth’s cooling system … a barrier preventing organic matter from releasing methane gas … and a vault entombing ancient bacteria and other microbes. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, global ice is disappearing. Find out what’s at stake as atmospheric CO2 threatens frozen H2O.

Listen here: https://buff.ly/2L29Wta
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APOD: 2018 July 16 - Neutrino Associated with Distant Blazar Jet

Illustration Credit: DESY, Science Communication Lab

With equipment frozen deep into ice beneath Earth's South Pole, humanity appears to have discovered a neutrino from far across the universe. If confirmed, this would mark the first clear detection of cosmologically-distant neutrinos and the dawn of an observed association between energetic neutrinos and cosmic rays created by powerful jets emanating from blazing quasars (blazars). Once the Antarctican IceCube detector measured an energetic neutrino in 2017 September, many of humanity's premier observatories sprang into action to try to identify a counterpart in light. And they did. An erupting counterpart was pinpointed by high energy observatories including AGILE, Fermi, HAWC, H.E.S.S., INTEGRAL, NuSTAR, Swift, and VERITAS, which found that gamma-ray blazar TXS 0506+056 was in the right direction and with gamma-rays from a flare arriving nearly coincidental in time with the neutrino. Even though this and other position and time coincidences are statistically strong, astronomers will await other similar neutrino - blazar light associations to be absolutely sure. Pictured here is an artist's drawing of a particle jet emanating from a black hole at the center of a blazar.

Larger version: https://buff.ly/2LlRJ5Z
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Last March, Institute scientist Rosalba Bonaccorsi had the pleasure to be part of a collective interview by Mário Gomes (University of Fine Arts in Berlin) titled "Xenolinguistics", published in the DIAPHANES Magazine (issue 4, April 2018), and dedicated to "Xenotism, aka to everything that is foreign, to alterity, to the alien”. The interview involved other researchers in the fields of linguistics, anthropology, SETI, and METI. Dr. Bonaccorsi provided her view as eco-ethologist, astrobiologist, and avid Science Fiction reader. A copy of the entire magazine can be downloaded from: https://buff.ly/2LczC5A
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Cornell Engineering’s Class of 2021 is the first in the college’s history to be composed of more women than men, bringing the total undergraduate female population to 47 percent. It’s a stark contrast to the experience of Jill Tarter ’65, who studied engineering physics as the only female in her entire class.

Tarter would eventually serve as a project scientist for NASA’s SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program and then co-found the SETI Institute, where she currently serves on the Board of Trustees and holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research. Tarter’s work has brought her wide recognition in the scientific community, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, two Public Service Medals from NASA, a TED Prize and a spot on Time Magazine’s list of the100 most influential people in the world in 2004.

Excited to hear about the college’s growing female population, Tarter jumped on the phone from Berkeley, California, to chat with Leah Forrest ’18, an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) student and senior finance director of the Society of Women Engineers at Cornell. Forrest has been working on a CubeSat mission as a member of Cornell’s Space Systems Design Studio and will be working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) after graduating in May.

Read their conversation here: https://buff.ly/2JlAKz1
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NASA Juno Data Indicate Another Possible Volcano on Jupiter Moon Io

Data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft using its Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument point to a new heat source close to the south pole of Io that could indicate a previously undiscovered volcano on the small moon of Jupiter. The infrared data were collected on Dec. 16, 2017, when Juno was about 290,000 miles (470,000 kilometers) away from the moon.

“The new Io hotspot JIRAM picked up is about 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the nearest previously mapped hotspot,” said Alessandro Mura, a Juno co-investigator from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome. “We are not ruling out movement or modification of a previously discovered hot spot, but it is difficult to imagine one could travel such a distance and still be considered the same feature.”

The Juno team will continue to evaluate data collected on the Dec. 16 flyby, as well as JIRAM data that will be collected during future (and even closer) flybys of Io. Past NASA missions of exploration that have visited the Jovian system (Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons), along with ground-based observations, have located over 150 active volcanoes on Io so far. Scientists estimate that about another 250 or so are waiting to be discovered.

Read more: https://buff.ly/2mfp87m
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For the first time ever, scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found the source of a high-energy neutrino from outside our galaxy. This neutrino traveled 3.7 billion years at almost the speed of light before being detected on Earth. This is farther than any other neutrino whose origin scientists can identify.

High-energy neutrinos are hard-to-catch particles that scientists think are created by the most powerful events in the cosmos, such as galaxy mergers and material falling onto supermassive black holes. They travel at speeds just shy of the speed of light and rarely interact with other matter, allowing them to travel unimpeded across distances of billions of light-years.

The neutrino was discovered by an international team of scientists using the National Science Foundation’s IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. Fermi found the source of the neutrino by tracing its path back to a blast of gamma-ray light from a distant supermassive black hole in the constellation Orion.

Read more: https://buff.ly/2NP2bES
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