Draconid Meteor Shower Normally meteor showers can be seen in the early morning sky, but Draconid meteor shower is different from others. We can see it in the evening sky. In this instance, 10 meteors per hour get released near the star constellation Draco and these can appear anywhere in the sky. It can be seen in its extreme intensity on 6th October. Geminds Meteor ShowerThis meteor shower consists of very attractive, different colors. This is the best meteor shower which can be seen this year. The specialty of this meteor shower is that one meteor slowly spreads through the sky. This meteor shower occurs due to the remaining particles of an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon and spreads near star constellation Gemini. Around 120 meteors occur per hour and can be seen in extreme intensity on 13th December night and 14th December morning.Ursids Meteor Shower Several meteor showers are to be visible from Sri Lanka this month, the Ministry of Science Technology and Research said today.The Ministry said that the Draconid, Orionids Orion, Taurids Tours, Leonids Leo, Urside and Geminids Gemini will be visible over the next several weeks. Orionids Meteor ShowerThis shower occurs due to the particles remaining from the comet Halley. In this occurrence, around 20 meteors per hour get released near the star constellation Orion and they can be noticed anywhere in the sky. It can be observed in its peak on 21st and 22nd October. Taurids Meteor ShowerThis meteor shower is also a little bit unusual. It is observed as two separate light steams. One light beam occurs due to asteroid 2004 TG10 and the other occurs due to the remaining of the comet 2P Encke. Furthermore, 5 to 10 meteors are released per hour. Although this meteor shower occurs near Tours star constellation, it can be seen anywhere in the sky. On 4th November it can be observed in maximum intensity.Leonids Meteor Shower This meteor shower occurs due to the dust particles and grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. Normally 15 meteors can be observed per hour. This meteor shower occurring near star constellation Leo, activates once in 33 years emitting 100 meteors per hour since comet Temple-Tuttle comes near the earth once in 33 years. This happened in 2001 and will occur once again in the year 2034. This meteor shower can be seen in this year, its peak on 17th and 18th November in the morning sky. This is a minor meteor shower consisting of a small number of meteors, 5 to 10 meteors are released per hour. This occurs due to the remaining dust particles from comet Tuttle. It occurs near the star constellation Ursa Minor and can be observed in maximum intensity on 21st and 22nd December.
Calling it a “major science finding,” NASA announced Monday it has discovered evidence of flowing water on Mars. The press conference from Washington was a major milestone for NASA’s ongoing exploration of the Red Planet and the search for signs of life.Paying close attention to the announcement were Mariek Schmidt, Nigel Blamey, and Frank Fueten, three Brock University professors whose research focuses on Mars.Schmidt, an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences is directly tied to the work NASA is doing. Since early 2012, Schmidt has been part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission, which sent the rover Curiosity to Mars later that year.Since Curiosity landed in mid-2013, Schmidt has worked with scientists from around the globe deciding what Martian rocks should be analyzed by the rover and then examining the data that came in. Because Monday’s announcement was a discovery made by a Mars orbiter mission, and not the rover mission, Schmidt wasn’t involved.However, she said the news is significant.“Finding that liquid water periodically flows on the Mars surface is not too surprising. The major discovery is that these dark streaky features are associated with liquid water. These dark streaks are relatively abundant in crater walls on the surface of Mars and it opens up the possibility that these relatively common features represent a habitable environment,” Schmidt said.Schmidt said the discovery raises the likelihood of life being possible on the planet.“There’s this growing body of evidence that Mars was once or is possibly habitable,” she said. “Whether or not microbes could exist today is still an open question, but this is one more thing that could speak towards that.”Blamey, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences whose research involved analyzing Martian meteorites that had landed on Earth, agreed the discovery of water was a major scientific discovery.“It would be significant. Having liquid water is vital for life on Mars. You have to have everything in place before you can have life,” said Blamey.“You need liquid water and the energy that the life needs to support itself. From my data, the energy is potentially there, but I was missing the quantitative analysis of water.” Blamey said his analysis of the Martian meteorites discovered trace amounts of hydrogen and methane, which would provide the energy required to support life.Earth Sciences Professor Fueten, meanwhile, has been researching a specific geographic feature of Mars for more than a decade. Using images and spectrometer data made available to the public by NASA, Fueten has closely examined a 4,000 km canyon system found on Mars. Those same images and pieces of data are what led to NASA’s announcement Monday.He said the findings lead to more questions.“Whenever we get one answer we ask 10,000 more questions. There’s still the source of the water, the amount of water, the mechanisms,” he said. “This brings us closer to understanding where we might find it.” read more