Today, my facebook feed showed a lot of "May the Fourth Be With You" . Apparently, it is Star Wars day today, a joyous occasion for many fans around this globe and the ones beyond our solar system.
Yet, when I saw those posts, another song popped up in my head, and another one and another one. So now, I got a bunch of songs about space, not necessarily restricted to space rock.
I know, Trekkies and Star Wars Fans haven't always been seeing eye to eye but you can't not love this golden oldie by The Firm and its amazing clay animation video.
It's David Bowie, it's a classic, it certainly deserves a spot on this list, don't you think?
Of course, the dance industry have also thrown their fair share of space influenced tunes into the world, like this massive hit by The Prodigy.
This anthem by progressive master minds Rush will takes you on a journey towards a black hole. You have been warned...
Another delightfully trippy space rock tune by psychedelic geniuses Ozric Tentacles.
Well, that's true, there's no denying that. Enjoy this groovy and immersive anthem by the original masters of space rock.
This space ambient project by founding member of Red Sparowes and Battle of Mice, Josh Graham is an absolute must for everyone who love to dwell in the darkest regions of outer space.
This beauty by krautrock legends Ashra will gladly guide you along the planets and stars, just close your eyes and imagine your beautiful trip.
On the somewhat more electronic side of the musical universe we find this massive hit by Germany's electro pioneers Kraftwerk.
Right, back to guitars and now we're dealing with something spacey, fuzzy and naughty, courtesy of stoner rockers Space Fisters.
The world of black metal also knows a thing or two about the cosmic infinity that surrounds us, just ask epic industrial black metal act The Kovenant.
Some more fuzzed out goodness, this time for the amazing Farflung. Space rock at its finest, and perfectly capable of getting you out there.
Of course, Black Sabbath's supernaut has to be on this list. Without them, some of the other bands might never have existed...
Here you go, some hip hop fun with undoubtedly one of the best acts that this scene has even seen.
Hey, look, a whole list of space songs without mentioning 'The Final Countdown' or 'Spaceman', isn't that nice. Let's end with this piece of educational genius by comedy masterminds Monty Python.
Oberon is a Uranus moon, discovered in January 11, 1787, by British astronomer Frederick William Herschel. Oberon is characterized by a heavily accidental and cratered surface, probably the result of constant impacts by comets and meteors wandering erratically throughout space. Given its enormous distance from the Sun, the average temperature in Oberon is exceedingly freezing, being estimated in approximately –200º. One of Uranus five major moons, Oberon is the second largest, after Titania, and the second darkest, after Umbriel.
Since its discovery, the field of astronomy has expanded greatly its knowledge about Oberon, although a lot of gaps do exist, and some lines below, I explain to you why. Orbiting Uranus from a distance of about 585.000 km, Oberon is the 9th largest moon in the Solar System, being expressively smaller than Earth’s moon. It is strongly believed that, among its components, water ice may exist in a somewhat prevalent scale. With generic geological features, Oberon has little to offer in terms of geography, and even less to outstand itself from other more curious and interesting moons in the Solar System. With craters and accidental geographical features known as chasmata – which would be Earth’s equivalent of deep and profound precipices, valleys and canyons –, Oberon’s surface is mainly irregular, but has a consistency and a uniformity typical of its structure, although several of these chasmata has been mapped, named and calculated.
Given its distance from Earth, full exploration of Oberon has never been seriously speculated nor considered. Since all of its known photographs have been transmitted by Voyager 2 during the eighties, and even then, taken at a colossal distance of approximately 470.000 km, what we really know about this mysterious Uranian moon – although it comprises a vast collection of information, for sure – still remains little, if compared to other moons in the Solar System. Given the fact that the dark nature of Oberon was a challenge to full visibility, and additional obstacles included distance, perspective and the axial moon’s inclination when the photos were taken, it became virtually impossible to decipher the vast majority of its surface. Unfortunately, there are no plans in any space station in the world today to undergo a more serious mission to study Oberon, or to examine the Uranian system as a whole. As we have no choice on this matter, apparently Oberon will remain, at least partially, a very promising mystery in the records of astronomy.
The universe has no boundaries, but boundaries do exist, precisely in what we know – or what we think we know – about the universe. But we can always count on astronomy to help us discover what exists out there, in the most distant places of the outer space. Fortunately for us, astronomy agencies, like NASA, are always discovering something new, almost every day, and, although it may be sometimes hard to follow all the news, it is not impossible to update our knowledge about the outer space once in a while.
For example: a lot of people still doesn’t know that Pluto is no longer a planet, but it has been reclassified as a dwarf-planet since 2006, and it has five known moons, being them Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx, which comes as a surprise to many, since, until recently, Pluto was known to us all as a solitary planet, isolated in the final boundaries of the Solar System. Today, this image of Pluto is completely demythologized, since ongoing studies about this fascinating and distant dwarf-planet is going stronger than ever, unfolding new knowledge, as well as impressing evidences, about its functionality almost every day.
One of the most intriguing discoveries about Pluto concerns its relation with Charon, its biggest moon. Being more than half the size of Pluto, Charon, besides being tidally locked – which means that both objects always have the same side of the surface pointing to each other –, has a great deal of members in the scientific community calling them a binary system, since the barycenter of their orbits it is not located in anyone of them.
Very recently, in July 2015, the NASA spacecraft New Horizons – part of the New Frontiers program of discoveries – passed by Pluto, and all of its moons, after an almost ten years journey throughout space, focusing its study on Pluto and Charon, more specifically, and revealing for the first time in great detail curious characteristics of the dwarf-planet, unbeknownst to us all, until recently, although what we know – or what we think we know – about Pluto is only a drop in the vast ocean of possibilities.
When it comes to dwarf-planets, astronomical investigations virtually never stop. Ceres, the closest to Earth, being located in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, recently had the NASA Dawn Spacecraft passing by its orbit, collecting new images and evidences about the mysterious dwarf-planet.
Another major field of study in astronomy concerns the exoplanets – also designated as extrasolar planets –, which means planets located outside the Solar System, orbiting another star, rather than the Sun. A lot of “new” exoplanets had come to light recently, since a lot of them have been discovered in a very fast succession, in the last few years, like 55 Cancri e, discovered in August 30, 2004, WASP-12b, discovered in April 1, 2008, Gliese 581 e, discovered in April 21, 2009, and Gliese 1214 b, discovered in December 16, 2009, only to name just a few.
The extrasolar planets field of study is not just interesting, but very intriguing, since you can really learn the different types of planets that exist in the vastness of the universe, having, all of them, different measures, colors, compositions, sizes and masses, besides a lot of other peculiarities, which makes this particular field of study of great interest to a large group of astronomers. But even science can make its faults, and the scientific community not always agrees in all astronomical considerations and discoveries. Far from that, divergent points of view are more common than we think they are. One case of such notice evolving exoplanets concerns Alpha Centauri Bb, discovered in October 2012. Categorized now as a purely speculative extrasolar planet, considered the closest to Earth, being distant “only” 4.37 light-years from us, the group of European scientists that takes the credit for its discovery received hard criticism from several groups of astronomers, skeptical and cynical for the lack of concrete evidence supporting the discovery, thus affirming that the discovery team misinterpreted their own calculations and information in their database, probably being mistaken by false positives, which is, at least at certain times, a common astronomical factor for wrong conclusions, since much of its results are achieved by mathematical method. Today, the existence of this exoplanet is very controversial, and at least three different groups are involved in efforts to prove or disprove, for once and for all, its existence. In June 2013, a group of scientists gathered together to establish deeply, through scientific methods, the probability of the true existence of Alpha Centauri Bb, and the conclusions they reached turned its existence as highly unlikely.
Another constant point of study in astronomy is Jupiter’s magnetosphere. Being the second largest structure in the Solar System, with an extension of seven million kilometers, behind only the heliosphere, constant research in this field is practically endless, since scientists are always unfolding new information about Jupiter’s magnetic field, and its interactions with the other planets, moons and sidereal objects in the Solar System. But investigating Jupiter’s magnetosphere always represents a risk, because the strong radioactive emissions from the gas giant tends to damage the spacecraft sent to collect images and data registers, and frequently, technical problems represents a challenge difficult to surpass, taking into consideration the strong nuclear radiation that impair the equipment, which was something greatly experienced by the Galileo Spacecraft, designed to carry on missions in the Jovian System from 1995 to 2003. The Cassini and the New Horizons spacecraft gave sequence to the mission, although little significant discoveries have been made, by virtue of the same difficulties.
As any of us can imagine, astronomy has very specific sectors of study, for each one of its many fields, and one of this fields occupies itself in the study of all the natural satellites in the Solar System, from the Earth’s moon to the five known moons of the dwarf-planet Pluto. The most studied moons are, undoubtedly, the Jovian’s Galilean moons – Io, Calisto, Europa and Ganymede –, Saturn’s Titan and Enceladus, and Neptune’s Triton, although there are several other moons in the Solar System extremely studied as well. With very specific programs of study and exploration for each one of the major natural satellites, one that can certainly be pointed out here is Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn, which has nowadays a lot of proposed missions, one of them being nicknamed as Enceladus Life Finder, whose goal is to send a spacecraft, equipped with technology able to enter the subsurface ocean of the moon, and investigate its potential habitability, unfolding – who knows – a whole new set of possibilities, that, until now, are of a merely theoretical speculative nature, although the importance of this mission cannot be minimized, especially if undertakes promising results, since a lot of similar projects, designed in the same category, are all under development in the present moment, being LIFE (Life Investigation for Enceladus) one of them. All of these projects combined will certainly perform a great degree of meticulous detailed study about this mysterious Saturn moon .
Investigative habitability of natural satellites, although it is not a new field of study, is another sector of astronomy greatly improved in recent decades. Taking into consideration a lot of important factors, especially the conditions on which specifically human life are able to maintain itself outside an earth-like place, habitability of natural satellites points out the very specific values, on which hypothetical possibilities of living are studied, pointing out real expectations of success, when analyzing the habitat of a specific satellite. The composition of the atmosphere, the existence of liquid water, and its location in the habitable zone – a place designated by astronomers as the point of highest chance to sustain life – are all evaluated, to set a standard for the real possibilities of life on such environments, although several conclusions in this field of study are of a highly speculative nature.
Astronomy is important to show us how little we are, inhabiting just a small planet, that could well be seen as just a grain of sand, in the unforeseeable vastness of the universe. Astronomy is also important to show us how much we can expand our knowledge about the universe. And as much as we are able to grow, as much as we are able to learn, we’ll acknowledge our own ignorance about this fascinating subject. It is not for us to establish specific truths about the galaxies, the planets, the several shapes of constellations that we know, to tell or not to tell if we are alone – or not – in the universe. Our final goal has to be aligned to the fact that we must improve our knowledge about the universe, little by little, every day, and, who knows, maybe we’ll be able, someday, to understand ourselves, when the comprehension of the universe, or at least, the most significant parts of it, are deeply rooted in the essence of our very existence, understanding that the process of learning should be infinite, as it is the universe, on which we are just a small – but important – part of it.
HD 189733 b is a giant extrasolar planet, discovered in October 2005, in the Haute-Provence Observatory, located in southeast France, through an astronomic method known as Doppler Spectroscopy Transit. Located in a faraway constellation called Vulpecula, it orbits the primary star of a binary system, known as HD 189733, also displayed on astronomic records as V452 Vulpeculae. Classified as a Hot Jupiter – which is a vulgar term associated with extrasolar planets that are as big as Jupiter in size, but, due to close proximity to its host star (amongst other reasons), are extremely hot –, the average temperature is estimated to be between 1066,85 ºC to 1266,85ºC. In 2013 it was discovered that HD 189733 b has a somewhat cobalt blue color, due to silicate components probably being abundant in the extrasolar planet’s atmosphere. HD 189733 b also became infamous in the astronomic international community after it was discovered that rains of glass are a constant in the extrasolar planet’s surface, all abundantly pushed by hostile winds on a speed of 8690 km/h.
Technology, mathematical algorithms and complex arithmetical systems play a major part on the discovery and examination of extrasolar planets, given the fact that they are so exponentially distant from the Solar System that full observation by a telescope helps little in a more accurate and precise analysis. One of the interesting points about HD 189733 b is the fact that it is so close to its star – 4,7 million kilometers approximately – that an orbit is fully completed in every two days. This proximity also causes the exoplanet to be tidally locked in its gravitational route, which means that one side of the surface is always facing its host star, while the other is perpetually hidden from it. In 2007, only two years after HD 189733 b’s discovery, a team of astronomical scientists published a study showing the probabilities of water vapor to be present in the extrasolar planet’s atmosphere. In this same period, NASA began to show interest and to study HD 189733 b as well. A team of scientists in the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, had started also their own studies about the curious exoplanet, measuring the alterations of its luminosity during its gravitational movement around its host star. HD 189733 b also became the first extrasolar planet to be fully heat mapped.
Although a fascinating discovery, there are several others extrasolar planets being fully studied as well, with many more to be discovered in the near future. With extremely improved technological devices and techniques available to realize a more profound study – aiming to compensate the blank spaces in knowledge that we have, since the hugely immense distance from our Solar System to the constellation where HD 189733 b is located turns useless a direct telescopic observation, given the fact that little, if any image whatsoever, can be actually seen – the astronomic international community is excited with the prospect of new discoveries. Although it is almost twelve years now since HD 189733 b has appeared on the map of the known universe, certainly a lot more information will be available in the years to come. Currently, NASA has plans to release in 2018 a new space telescope, called TESS – acronym for Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite –, which has as a primary objective the detection and study of extrasolar planets, using the transit method.
With several complexities that makes investigation of HD 189733 b an intriguing and fascinating challenge, scientists and astronomers are fully absorbed by the peculiarities of this incredible and majestic exoplanet. With a lot of the scientific data fully filled, they seem eager to pass to the next level, to decipher what they don’t know for sure, but are anxious to discover. Marvelously, the universe is filled with unexpected and joyful mysteries, and there are always people eager to decipher them all, for the sake of our fascination and curiosity.