Science Channel 1 is a great place to find out explore the world of sciences.
After working in the software industry for almost twenty years, Mr. Vilot decided it was time to merge his two passions: astronomy and kids.
Being the quintessential “kid magnet,” Mr. Vilot has been volunteering at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, CO., in their K-12 outreach program.
Mr. Vilot studied acting for two years.
He launched SkyGuy.com, a series of short videos answering the many questions he has received from kids while volunteering at Fiske. The project is an abrupt change from his past, throwing himself into a completely new industry and learning all new tools. Once again, he is rapidly teaching himself. This time it is video, lighting, sound, editing and animation.
At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, they don’t forecast the weather. They get inside the weather, climate, and surrounding environment to understand it better. Collaborating with researchers all over the country and all over the world to study the thin layer of air that surrounds our planet and connects all of us to each other. They study the Sun, air chemistry, how the atmosphere interacts with the land and oceans, and how we change and are changed by weather and climate.
December 31st, 2009
July 20th, 2009
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December 11th, 2008
July 14th, 2008
We call it “The Red Planet.” But how did it get that way? SkyGuy looks at some possible explanations.
Mars! People have always been curious about this next-door neighbor of ours. First, Mars looks really cool. It is a beautiful shade of rusty red and it is often very bright in the night sky. Also, it is similar to Earth in some ways. So people can’t help but wonder whether there’s life there.
If we find evidence, no matter how small, that life once existed on Mars, that greatly increases the odds that there is life elsewhere in the universe. Maybe even intelligent life.
There have been several missions to Mars using robotic landers and satellites. Five years ago, NASA sent two rovers to Mars: Spirit and Opportunity. Those little rovers were designed to last just a few months, but five years later they are STILL GOING! They’ve gathered more information about our brother planet than we could have hoped for.
One of the most important things scientists want to know about Mars is this: is there now, or was there ever, liquid water there? Water is so important because if it is there, that could mean two things:
First, it increases the chances that there was or is some basic life on Mars.
Second, it would make it a lot easier for humans to visit Mars. We wouldn’t have to bring so much water with us from Earth.
The less stuff you have to bring with you, the easier it is to travel!
Scientists know that there is water on Mars, but right now it exists only as ice.
Mars is too cold and the atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist on the surface of the planet. But in the past, things might have been very different there. Many canyons and other features on mars sure look like they might have been created by erosion from running water. It’s possible there still is liquid water under the surface somewhere.
A lot of people want to know: Why is Mars red?
The answer to that question ties back to our search for water there — but in a strange way. Mars looks red because the Martian soil is rich in a substance called iron oxide. Iron oxide is just another name for “rust.”
Rust gets made when oxygen (a key part of both air and water) comes in long-term contact with iron. Over time, oxygen combines with the iron at an atomic level. And that turns into iron oxide.
On earth, iron usually gets rusty when it’s exposed to water.
This is why you don’t want to leave iron exposed to the elements and let rain fall on it. Rust is a bad thing for buildings and cars. It causes the metal to become weak and brittle. And if you landed your spaceship on Mars, you certainly wouldn’t want it to rust!
But here’s a puzzle: If there’s no liquid water on Mars, then how did the whole planet get so rusty?
For a long time, scientists thought it was possible that there had been liquid water on Mars billions of years ago. In fact, evidence that Mars was once a very wet planet has been growing steadily. So it seems logical that, if at one time water flowed freely on the Martian landscape, it might have combined with rocks that contain lots of iron — creating the rust that we see today.
But in 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder found that Martian soil contains more iron than Martian rocks. So where did the extra iron come from? Maybe meteorites? Well, that makes sense. We see craters all over Mars. Clearly, lots of meteorites have hit that planet.
I feel kinda sorry for Mars — Getting rocks thrown at it all the time …. that must hurt!
There is another possible answer, though.
Recently, scientists in Denmark suggested that the red dust on Mars might have been formed by a stranger process: the ongoing grinding of quartz and magnetite.
By simply tumbling these two kinds of rocks in a flask for several months, scientists were able to create the same kind of red dust that appears on Mars. No water was needed at all! The only thing you would need is wind, and there’s plenty of that on Mars.
OK, I’m not saying that the rust on Mars definitely comes from wind grinding up certain kinds of rocks. The truth is, we just don’t know for certain why Mars is red.
But scientists are still working hard to answer this question.
Hmmm… Who knows, maybe you will be the scientist (or astronaut) who finally figures that out! And how cool would that be?
Personally, I like to think that at one time there was a lot of water on Mars, and that the rust is what’s leftover.
I like thinking of all that water on the surface of Mars.
It is a terribly dry, inhospitable place today and I like to think it looks that way partially because of all that water that used to flow on Mars billions of years ago.
But science doesn’t work like that.
You can imagine all kinds of answers, but the real job is to explore, test, and figure it out for real. That’s fun too.
Mars is a great planet to study. Sure, it doesn’t have oceans and so far it looks very unlikely there is any life there. But by sending these rovers and orbiters, we are learning so much about the planet’s history, its climate, and a lot about the potential for life on Mars in the past.
So remember … the sky is not the limit. You can go a lot farther than that. Just … Maybe pick a cozier place than Mars.
Skyguy talks about the 40th anniversary of the historical Apollo 11 mission where one small step for man and one giant step for mankind. We also learn about how the spacecraft was designed, where it landed, what the astronauts did on the moon and who was apart of the mission.
Thursday was a great day for the astronauts working on the Hubble Space Telescope. But …. I have to tell you, it wasn’t all easy.
The highest priority for this service mission to the Hubble was to replace the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 with a new one, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 3.
In order to put the new one in, the astronauts first had to take the old one out. But …. things were not going according to plan at one point. Watch the video and see how calm and professional astronaut Drew Feustal is in the face of a stuck bolt that could ruin the highest priority of the entire mission…
Great news about the Hubble Space Telescope
Yesterday, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis reached the Hubble and — using the shuttle’s robotic arm — pulled it into the cargo bay. Very, very carefully!
The astronauts are going to give Hubble some important repairs, and also give it some really powerful new equipment.
Hubble was launched into orbit on April 24th, 1990. So last month, it turned 19 years old. So you could say we’re giving Hubble some very cool but slightly overdue birthday presents!
I think Hubble is the greatest scientific instrument ever created.
It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble. In [YEAR], he discovered that nearly all the galaxies in the universe are moving *away* from each other — which shows that our universe is expanding.
Since we know that our universe is expanding, it makes sense that this expansion must have had a starting point. Scientists call that starting point of the whole universe the “big bang.”
The Hubble Space Telescope has taken lots of great pictures of stars, nebulae, and galaxies. But it’s also allowed scientists to figure out the age of the universe far more accurately than ever before.
Because of information from the Hubble, we know that our universe is about 13.7 billion years old.
But the Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers discover many other very surprising things.
For instance, we know that not only is our universe expanding — but it keeps expanding faster and faster!
Here’s what that means: Imagine that you blew up a balloon so much that it popped. Then — instead of the pieces of the balloon slowing down as they move away — they actually sped up!
Let me tell you — plenty of astronomers and scientists were very, very surprised when they saw that!
Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers also learned that supermassive black holes are probably common in the centers of all galaxies.
And in 1994, when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit the planet Jupiter, Hubble took fabulous pictures of this big event. And that was a lucky break for astronomers — it was just a few months after the first time the Hubble got some upgrades and repairs, so it was all ready for action.
So Hubble has been GREAT for astronomers and it will only get better after this week. With repairs and new instruments on board, Hubble is sure to surprise us with great new discoveries about this strange universe we live in.
I’d like to wish the Hubble Space Telescope a very very happy birthday — and I’m looking forward to lots more great pictures and science.
So go outside tonight, look up at the night sky, wave, and yell “HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUBBLE!”
Comets don’t come along every day. There’s one you can see RIGHT NOW!! Check it out!
Here are the links I mention in this video. You can find astronomy clubs hear you here:
SkyGuy takes a look at global climate change, Venus, and the future of Earth.
SkyGuy continues to explore the planets in our solar system and answers the question about what the hottest planet in our solar system is. You’re first guess is probably, lets say you’re getting warmer…