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Space Earth Science

NASA's LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth 171

Posted by timothy
from the that-was-the-control-group dept.
Matt_dk writes "On Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, the LCROSS spacecraft successfully completed its first Earth-look calibration of its science payload. 'The Earth-look was very successful' said Tony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist. 'The instruments are all healthy and the science teams was able to collect additional data that will help refine our calibrations of the instruments.' During the Earth observations, the spacecraft's spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation."
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NASA's LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth

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  • by voidphoenix (710468) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:47PM (#28966075)
    It's [wikipedia.org] a misquote. [wikipedia.org]
  • LCrOSS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:49PM (#28966091)

    Note to spacefellowship:

    I'm going to save google some bandwidth and expand the acronym:

    LCrOSS=lunar crater observation & sensing satellite

  • Re:What gets me.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by andy_t_roo (912592) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @09:12PM (#28966309)
    i believe it detected spectral anomalies which are a necessary but not sufficient condition for chlorophyll based vegetation.
    ie, it is a definite detection of something matches what vegetation is expected to be like, but without more detailed info other sources of this anomaly cannot be conclusively ruled out. (unlike the spectral signature of methane, which is a much more binary choice once the SRN on your spectrometer is good enough - if you detect the absorption lines, methane is there in significant amounts, if you don't it isn't.)
  • Re:What gets me.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by woodchip (611770) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @09:35PM (#28966509)
    Don't worry, all the extra C02 in the atmosphere will cause more vegatation to grow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06, 2009 @01:10AM (#28968049)

    So it mentions that they detect levels of methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. etc.

    In an uninhabited planet, methane and oxygen are two completely incompatible chemicals (over a time period which is considered tiny on astronomical scales, these two chemicals to react to form carbon dioxide.) Therefore, the coexistence of methane and oxygen implies that a process is actively forming these two molecules, so that an equilibrium is reached between production and decay. This process, in other words, is photosynthesis, which in turn, implies life.

    The idea is that if we can detect incompatible chemicals in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, then we have a strong clue that life is on that planet, and what better way to calibrate our sensors than by pointing it at ourselves?

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @10:44AM (#28972095)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivization_in_the_Soviet_Union#Ukraine [wikipedia.org]

    Most historians agree that the disruption caused by collectivization and the resistance of the peasants significantly contributed to the Great Famine of 1932-1933, especially in Ukraine, a region famous for its rich soil (chernozem). This particular period is called "Holodomor" in Ukrainian. During the similar famines of 1921-1923, numerous campaigns, inside the country, as well as internationally were held to raise money and food in support of the population of the affected regions. Nothing similar was done during the drought of 1932-1933, mainly because the information about the disaster was suppressed by Stalin.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor [wikipedia.org]

    The Holodomor (translation: death by starvation) refers to the famine of 1932-1933 in the Ukrainian SSR during which millions of people were starved to death because of the Soviet policies, and there were no natural causes for starvation. In fact, Ukraine - unlike other Soviet Republics - enjoyed a bumper wheat crop in 1932. The Holodomor is considered one of the greatest calamities to affect the Ukrainian nation in modern history. Millions of inhabitants of Ukraine died of starvation in an unprecedented peacetime catastrophe. Estimates on the total number of casualties within Soviet Ukraine range mostly from 2.6 million to 10 million.

    In fact collectivisation killed so many people that it caused the 1937 census to give the wrong results. The people were responsible were sent to the Gulag as saboteurs ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Census_(1937) [wikipedia.org] )

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_farming#People.27s_Republic_of_China [wikipedia.org]

    Collective farming began in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong. It was further pursued during the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to rapidly mobilize the country in an effort to transform China into an industrialized communist society. The policy mistakes associated with this collectivization attempt during the Great Leap Forward resulted in mass starvation. According to many other sources, the death toll due to famine was most likely about 20 to 30 million people. The three years between 1959 and 1962 were known as the "Three Bitter Years" and the Three Years of Natural Disasters.

  • by CompMD (522020) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @11:59AM (#28973495)

    Data is sent back using heavy encoding. Not for the sake of keeping people out, but for the sake of error correction and detection. The Voyager probes used the Extended Golay code when sending imagery back to Earth. From WP: "The extended binary Golay code encodes 12 bits of data in a 24-bit word in such a way that any triple-bit error can be corrected and any quadruple-bit error can be detected."

    Radio transmission over astronomical distances is really hard, especially with objects like the massive open fusion reactor in the center of the solar system spewing forth all kinds of noise. Transmitting "in the clear" is practically worthless.

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