Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

An exoplanet where it rains iron

Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet 640 light years away hot enough for iron to be vapor in the atmosphere and to condense out as rain.

The high-resolution spectrum reveals lots of iron vapor within the sliver of atmosphere undergoing the transition from day to night. However, this iron vapor signature is missing from the sliver of atmosphere transitioning from night to day. The astronomers think this happens because strong winds push iron vapor to the nightside, where it cools and condenses into clouds.

“This planet has a twilight zone at a temperature close to the iron condensation temperature,” Ehrenreich explains, “so the change in atmospheric composition (with iron vs. without iron) is occurring right where we are able to observe.”

Because the planet is a gas giant, there’s no surface onto which the droplets can fall, says coauthor Nuno Santos (University of Porto, Portugal). But the planet’s gravity likely pulls the clouds downward, enveloping the nightside in iron fog. The global winds then push the clouds and fog onto the dayside, where the vaporization-condensation cycle repeats again.

Very exotic, and alien, and I guarantee it is probably far more alien than we so far can guess.

You can find out more in this second more detailed article.

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  • Phill O

    It is interesting from logistics point that they are able to distinguish between evening and morning sides of an exo-planet and get spectra of each.

    The links do not indicate the telescope system nor the spectrographic instrumentation. I did not make a payment for the whole article.

  • Lee S

    I had no problem accessing the whole article….
    “The hot Jupiter crosses the face of its star from Earth’s perspective, so astronomers can take a spectrum of the starlight that passes through the planet’s atmosphere during its passes. Ehrenreich and colleagues used the ESPRESSO spectrograph mounted on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in the Chilean Atacama Desert. “ESPRESSO delivers a precision . . . never achieved before by any other spectrograph,” explains coauthor María Rosa Zapatero Osorio (Center of Astrobiology, Spain).”
    We genuinely have absolutely no idea of the chemistry that occurs in this kind of environment…. As Bob says…. A truly alien world.

  • Phill O: I have added a link to a more detailed article about these results.

  • Phill O

    Thanks you all. Not your avergae back yard spectrograph for sure.

    Here some basic metallurgist would have great fun. Conditions of oxygen, carbon and sulfur would come in to play.

  • Lee S

    This is REALLY out there, but I consider life to be entirely possible on Titan. Cold and slow, but possible.. Given the only thing we know about the needs for life is an energy gradient, could there be some sort of life that requires a super hot, metal rich atmosphere to exist? Highly unlikely I know, but we know so little about the universe I do not discount the possibility out of hand…

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