Above: On ancient Mars, water carved channels and transported sediments to form fans and deltas within lake basins. Examination of spectral data acquired from orbit show that some of these sediments have minerals that indicate chemical alteration by water. Here in the Jezero Crater delta, sediments contain clays and carbonates. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL
The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (January-February 2020) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com (click the link to go directly to the issue).
Feature articles this month include (1) a great read on the history of the discovery of the (dwarf) planet Pluto, (2) SOFIA confirming the collision of two planets in an old star system, and (3) details about the landing site selection of Jezero Crater for Mars 2020 (with an image from the article featured about and downloadable from www.jpl.nasa.gov…PIA23239).
For those wanting a quick look at what the issue has to offer, the Table of Contents is reproduced below.
Above: The quasar J043947.08+163415.7 (red) is extremely far away, and its light has been amplified by an intervening galaxy (blue) much closer to Earth. Credit: NASA, ESA, and X. Fan (University of Arizona)
To the several NASA and ESA highlights included in this bi-month's issue (including a wonderful collection of Spirit and Opportunity images in celebration of Opportunity's recent end-of-mission status announcement), Michele Ferrara has managed to both (a) make you hopeful about our future as a science-spreading civilization in the galaxy and (b) remind you how far we have to go here on Earth to improve our appreciation of that same galaxy. Hopefully, the Genesis Project (no, not really that one (but sort-of). This other one – besides this issue, see phys.org and universetoday.com) and Orbital Advertising (not going to dignify it with additional links) articles give you deep – and different – pause.
Above: This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right). Credit: SETI Institute.
Slightly late to the posting game – the January-February issue of Free Astronomy Magazine is available for your reading and downloading pleasure. Highlights from the original content (h/t Michele Ferrara) include an excellent introduction to panspermia and the wonderful ways in which small, dense solar systems (like TRAPPIST-1, one of the only solar systems with its own website – www.trappist.one) might serve as test beds for better understanding if such an explanation is applicable to ourselves and our Earth – either from a local source (Mars?) or from the greater beyond.