NASA Closer to Finding ET?

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. This breakthrough is an important step toward finding chemical biotracers of extraterrestrial life.

The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But the Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other stars. Organic compounds also can be a by-product of life processes, and their detection on an Earthlike planet someday may provide the first evidence of life beyond our planet.

Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope found water vapor. Earlier this year, Hubble found methane in the planet’s atmosphere.

NASA Mars Mission Delayed

NASA has delayed the October 2009 launch date for the Mars Science Laboratory stating that they need further testing to ensure mission success. The new launch date has been scheduled in 2011.

“We will not lessen our standards for testing the mission’s complex flight systems, so we are choosing the more responsible option of changing the launch date,” said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

One of the reasons why the launch date was pushed back so far is because Earth and Mars only come close to each other once every 26 months and the next window of opportunity comes in fall of 2011. Of course the other reason is due to technical issues.

Astronomers Have All Eyes on the Sky Thanksgiving Night

Astronomers have all eyes set on a light show on Thanksgiving night when Jupiter and Venus will being to light up the sky. They will be the brightest objects in the sky and a bit hard to miss. The two planets will appear only 2 degrees apart on Sunday and Monday.

While looking up at the sky, the two planets will be the width of a finger held out at arm’s length. Both Jupiter and Venus will be joined by a crescent moon on Monday night.

“It’ll be a head-turner,” Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky and Telescope magazine, said in a statement. “This certainly is an unusual coincidence for the crescent moon to be right there in the days when they are going to be closest together,” he added.

Jet Pack Man Sets World Record Stunt

Eric Scott or otherwise known as, Jetpack Man uses his hydrogen-peroxide powered jet pack to travel over 1,500 feet across the Royal Gorge near Canon City Colorado on Monday. Eric said it was incomparable to anything he’d done in the past, saying he’d never gone that far or had such a huge gap below.

The Royal Gorge, cut by the Arkansas River in southern Colorado, is more than 1,100 feet deep and Eric crossed it in around 23 seconds. Scott works for Denver-based Jet P.I., which developed the futuristic-looking jet pack for stunts, promotions and other events around the world for Go Fast Sports & Beverage. Both companies were founded by former professional skydiver Troy Widgery.

YouTube Goes Widescreen and HD

What’s better than YouTube? You Tube in wide-screen of course! YouTube’s Google Video-ization continues by using more space for the player and less space for the sidebar. YouTube changed the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9, generally used for high-definition TV. Since the videos aren’t yet converted to a widescreen format, you’ll see an annoying pillar box effect.

“The pillar box effect occurs in wide screen video displays when black bars (mattes or masking) are placed on the sides of the image. It becomes necessary when film or video that was not originally designed for wide screen is shown on a wide screen display, or a narrower wide screen image is displayed within a wider aspect ratio.”

Microsoft Windows Vista SP2 Unofficial Release Dates

Microsoft is targeting a February 2009 date for the release candidate (RC) version of Windows Vista SP2. There have also been numerous reports that Microsoft is shooting for an April 2009 release date for RTM.

Microsoft has been very quiet relating to the release dates but sources close to Microsoft appear the dates specified are strong. The new service pack will include Windows Search 4 along with Bluetooth wireless support, support for the new VIA 64-bit CPU and lots of security fixes and compatibility updates.

Among other features there will be the ability to record Blu-ray media natively in Windows. A more simplified Wi-Fi configuration will be presented by Windows Connect Now (WCN) and in addition, improved support for resuming with active Wi-Fi connections.