First sky maps from IBEX

IBEX, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, studies the boundary between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium by observing energetic neutral atoms created as the solar wind hits interstellar gas. They have just released the first scientific results and associated sky maps from the data collected by IBEX. There's a surprise within the results: IBEX observed a ribbon around the heliosphere that is a dense source of energetic neutral atoms, something that was completely unpredicted by any of the theoretical models. There also seems to be fine structure within the ribbon, something else completely unpredicted and suggesting something weird is going on in the boundary between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium.

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Source of the Moon's water

Remember how NASA's M3 instrument on ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft confirmed the sparse existence of water all over the surface of the Moon? One of the speculations was that the water formed as protons, which are basically hydrogen atoms without electrons, combine with the oxygen in lunar rock. And it seems that this is indeed the case as the ESA's SARA instrument on the same spacecraft had collected data showing that a substantial number of protons in the solar wind are being absorbed by the lunar regolith.

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Guns and illegal immigrants

It is pretty well known that at gun shows in the United States there are often less than strict background checks when guns are sold (as in, none at all), and I was reminded about it when the New York City mayor prompted undercover video tapings of such transactions to argue for stricter gun control. Opposition to gun control is a favorite canard for those of right-wing political beliefs, but so is a vehement reaction to illegal immigration.

This makes me wonder: for those who are both adamantly opposed to any gun control and want draconian measures enforced against illegal immigrants, would I get to see their heads explode when they're asked about an illegal immigrant trying to buy a gun at a gun show without any background checks?

LCROSS crashes into the Moon

The Moon as LCROSS closes in
The Moon as LCROSS closes in

LCROSS has just crashed into Cabeus crater on the Moon four minutes after the Centaur upper stage crashed, too. During the four minutes, LCROSS observed the plume that the upper stage kicked up and hopefully getting data that confirms the existence of water. The spacecraft had separated from the Centaur upper stage almost ten hours previously, after which they traveled almost 10,000 kilometers before reaching the Moon. NASA TV had just broadcast the impact live, and it's impressive how much media attention the LCROSS impact has grabbed. I had thought only space enthusiasts such as myself would have paid any attention to it.

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