So, just happened across this post: Water Vapor Was Just Found on Europa, More Evidence There’s Liquid Water Beneath All that Ice
Lots of cool details to this story at the link, ending with this:
Hopefully, scientists—and the rest of us—won’t have to wait too much longer to get some more definitive answers to Europa’s many questions. The Europa Clipper was moved to its final design stage in August 2019, and is due to launch sometime in the mid 2020s. It’ll carry a whole suite of instruments to probe Europa’s mysteries. The most exciting of all might be its ground-penetrating radar. It might see right through the ice and confirm the existence of a subsurface ocean once and for all.
I’m looking forward to the xenobiology to follow, aka A Darkling Sea.
This post made me wonder what other new and interesting things astronomers might have tripped over this year. So I poked around, and found this:
Astronomers have spotted an ultrafast star, traveling at a blistering 6 million km/h, that was ejected by the supermassive black hole at the heart at the Milky Way five million years ago.
How do stars get ejected from black holes? I thought stuff that fell into black holes was gone for good?
While we’re on the subject of black holes:
[Theoreticians have] proposed the possibility of thousands of planets around a supermassive black hole.
Did anybody think it was?
Sure, if you tweak the software you’re using to model ecological and other factors just right, obviously that could be true! I just get a kick out of what appears to be a fun but completely made-up project like this.
I think it’s safe to say that IF complex extrasolar life exists, then on some planets its more diverse and on some planets it’s less diverse than on Earth. What else could you possibly expect?
Still, I expect the software was fun to play with.