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Author Archives: richardficek
Chroococcidiopsis was sent aboard EXPOSE-R2 as part of the Biofilm Organisms Surfing Space (BOSS) experiment on July 24, 2014. Its goal was to test the hypothesis that “microorganisms grown as biofilms, hence embedded in self-produced extracellular polymeric substances, are more tolerant to space and Martian conditions compared to their planktonic counterparts” (or, put simply, to … Continue reading Chroococcidiopsis Aboard EXPOSE-R2 → Continue reading → Continue reading
Chroococcidiopsis is a primitive, photosynthetic, coccoidal cyanobacteria that is able to resist desiccation (extreme dryness). Its ability to live in arid environments is due in part because it colonizes on the underside of translucent rocks which provide both enough condensed moisture for growth and enough light for photosynthesis to occur. Hence, because Chroococcidiopsis is resistant … Continue reading Extremophile: Chroococcidiopsis → Continue reading → Continue reading
Makemake is a reddish-brown dwarf planet in the outer solar system and the fourth body identified as a dwarf planet; it, along with Eris and Haumea, were responsible for Pluto’s drop in status from planet to dwarf planet. It is the second brightest known object in the outer solar system (behind Pluto) and is 870 miles (1,400 … Continue reading Makemake → Continue reading → Continue reading
One goal of studying exoplanet atmospheres is to understand its composition and temperature. Specifically, we want to be able to recognize planets that could potentially have atmospheres most similar to Earth’s (with water vapor, oxygen, ozone, and carbon dioxide) – with the main objective being to find planets with strong water features that could support … Continue reading Chemical Composition of Exoplanet Atmospheres → Continue reading → Continue reading
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System and is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers (864,000 miles) – 109 times that of Earth – and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. The Sun accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System and its … Continue reading Sun Facts → Continue reading → Continue reading
Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation first appeared in the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in July 1687. It describes why that apple fell on Newton’s head (as some stories would have it), why we stay rooted to the ground (without drifting off into space), and why the Earth is locked in orbit around the Sun (among … Continue reading Newton’s Law of Gravitation and General Relativity → Continue reading → Continue reading
Johannes Kepler succeeded his mentor, Tycho Brahe, in his attempt to explain the motion of planets. Kepler used Brahe’s data on the paths of planets – with particular discern for Mars – to postulate the three laws of planetary motion as they are known today. They are (1) the orbit of each planet about the … Continue reading Historical Astronomers in Context: Johannes Kepler → Continue reading → Continue reading
The priests of ancient Babylonia and Egypt were pioneer astronomers – they studied the sky, mapped constellations, and noted movements in both the Sun and the Moon – but, it was a Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, who made the first major new discovery in astronomy: precession. Comparing observations more than a century apart (particularly those done by … Continue reading A Brief History of Precession → Continue reading → Continue reading