Comet Lovejoy; Simulation of galaxies; Lettuce on Mars and other science tidbits

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Just as we approach the weekend, here are all the science tid-bits that we reported this week. The week has been pretty exciting because of the New Year and the ISS crew celebrating New Year’s eve 16 times, Comet Lovejoy, possibility of CO2 oceans over on Venus in the past, among other things.

Comet Lovejoy has been making its way past Earth since a few weeks and within days it will be closest to our planet on January 7 at 70.2 million kilometres. Named after his Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy and known by names such as green comet and sun grazer, the comet won’t be a bright, brilliant and sky-spanning affair as it cruises past Earth, but on a moonless night you may be able to get a glimpse of it through the unaided eye.

If you are in possession of binoculars or a telescope, you will be able to get a much better view. Using a pair of standard 10×50 binoculars and an area moderately polluted, you will be able to see is a faint, white smudge. Go out in open fields in the outskirts of the city where there is less pollution and you will be able to see the comet with a bit of shape.

In planetary news, scientists are of the opinion that Venus could have been once covered with bizarre oceans of carbon dioxide and believe them to have played an important role in shaping the planet’s surface. They are also contemplating building colonies above Venus.

Mars has been the talking point when it comes to space news and this week wasn’t any different with students over at the University of Southampton Spaceflight Society proposing growing Lettuce on Mars. The “objective is to demonstrate the ability to grow small plants with gases obtained from the Martian atmosphere, with a minimum of material imported from Earth.”

LHC came up in the news as well after it was confirmed that the Large Hadron Collider is ready to go live in March. Scientists are all geared up to dig deeper to look for answers to dark matter, dark energy, Supersymmetry among other questions.

Galactic research is also advancing by leaps and bounds and a team of astronomers from various universities from across the globe has developed a simulation of the universe with realistic galaxies in a bid to study their development from almost 14 years ago.

Other stories this week include:

NASA in 2014 – some highlights

NASA outs Space Station Research Explorer app

NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover having issues with memory; scientists looking to fix it

NASA’s Dawn starts Ceres approach

More science news