Astrobiology: February 2011 Archives

Keith's note: This video, "The Sagan Series (Part 2): Life Looks for Life" is the second video by Reid Gower. You may recall that an earlier video of his (the precursor to this one) went uber viral a month or so ago with over 900,000 views on YouTube Alas, NASA was unable to find a way to link to that video then and I doubt that they will find a way to link to this one now. I would very much like to be proven wrong - but I am not holding my breath.

Poignant Video: NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere (Update), earlier post

Keith's update: To be fair, NASA Is not ignoring videos like this. In fact with Mr. Gower's previous video they did try and find a way to link to it or acknowledge it. This is where NASA's notoriously inconsistent official party poopers, the lawyers, come in. The issue has to do with the sources of imagery and sounds that Mr. Gower has used. This video is a mash-up - a compilation of sampled images, music, and vocals assembled from a variety of sources. Although Mr. Gower has been diligent in listing his sources, NASA's issue is whether he actually has their formal permission to use these materials. The Fair Use Doctrine does enter into this - somewhat - except some works are sampled in great part - like Carl Sagan's voice and the background music. NASA has gotten clearance from the organizations that guard recording artist issues to allow things such wake up songs and other copyright items to be used since NASA is not out to make a profit and uses these works for education purposes.

Life is a montage of other people's stuff - but these are the rules that this one government agency tells itself that it must follow in this fashion. But as culture adapts, NASA needs to adapt too. This is not the first video to appear that NASA should pay attention to and it will not be the last. Instead of just staying silent NASA needs to explain why it cannot link to such things. All that continued silence does is to support the premise made by many (like me) that NASA doesn't "get it". NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach Alan Ladwig has stopped by here to make comments on this topic. Perhaps NASA Watch readers could offer him some solutions to this problem - and some encouragement. He's trying.

What Do Kepler's Worlds Look Like - From The Surface? What might the sky look like on one of these worlds that Kepler has discovered?

Planetary scientist and space artist Dan Durda has a bunch of ideas. This is one notion - a piece called "Snowy Mountains".

NASA Finds Earth-size Planet Candidates in the Habitable Zone

"The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter. The findings are based on the results of observations conducted May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009 of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler's field of view, which covers approximately 1/400 of the sky."

Six Small Planets Orbiting a Sun-like Star Amaze Astronomers, UCSC

"A remarkable planetary system discovered by NASA's Kepler mission has six planets around a Sun-like star, including five small planets in tightly packed orbits. Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and their coauthors analyzed the orbital dynamics of the system, determined the sizes and masses of the planets, and figured out their likely compositions -- all based on Kepler's measurements of the changing brightness of the host star (called Kepler-11) as the planets passed in front of it."

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Discovers Extraordinary New Planetary System

"Few stars are known to have more than one transiting planet, and Kepler-11 is the first known star to have more than three," said Lissauer. "So we know that systems like this are not common. There's certainly far fewer than one percent of stars that have systems like Kepler-11. But whether it's one in a thousand, one in ten thousand or one in a million, that we don't know, because we only have observed one of them."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Astrobiology category from February 2011.

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