tagged w/ Astronomy
Not a joke. NASA confirms they have a plan to "bag" an asteroid. Literally put an asteroid in a bag.
"The asteroid retrieval mission is based on a scenario set out last year by a study group at the Keck Institute for Space Studies. NASA's revised scenario would launch a robotic probe toward a 500-ton, 7- to 10-meter-wide (25- to 33-foot-wide) asteroid in 2017 or so. The probe would capture the space rock in a bag in 2019, and then pull it to a stable orbit in the vicinity of the moon, using a next-generation solar electric propulsion system. That would reduce the travel time for asteroid-bound astronauts from a matter of months to just a few days."
http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/06/17630481-administration-confirms-nasa-plan-grab-an-asteroid-then-focus-on-mars?liteNot a joke. NASA confirms they have a plan to "bag" an asteroid. Literally... more
"A massive particle detector mounted on the International Space Station may have detected elusive dark matter at last, scientists announced today (April 3).
The detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), measures cosmic-ray particles in space. After detecting billions of these particles over a year and a half, the experiment recorded a signal that may be the result of dark matter, the hidden substance that makes up more than 80 percent of all matter in the universe.
AMS found about 400,000 positrons, the antimatter partner particles of electrons. The energies of these positrons suggest they might have been created when particles of dark matter collided and destroyed each other."
http://d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/darkmatter2.jpgWicked cool! "A massive particle detector mounted on the International Space... more
Does anyone know where Rhea is?
Maybe not the last-ever, but the last one for a looooong time.
http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/16/17340546-nasa-craft-snaps-last-close-up-photos-of-icy-saturn-moon?liteDoes anyone know where Rhea is? Maybe not the last-ever, but the last one for a... more
Comet Pan-STARRS dazzled stargazers while streaking across the skies of North America and Europe on Tuesday with a newly released time-lapse video capturing its flight.Comet Pan-STARRS dazzled stargazers while streaking across the skies of North America... more
NASA temporarily lost all communications with the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday but officials say the crew was in never in any danger.
http://www.examiner.com/article/nasa-temporarily-loses-contact-with-crew-of-international-space-stationNASA temporarily lost all communications with the International Space Station (ISS)... more
Iran says they have successfully launched a live monkey into space in what it says is a prelude to sending humans in the next several years.
http://www.examiner.com/article/iran-launches-monkey-into-space-videoIran says they have successfully launched a live monkey into space in what it says is... more
Watch an impact caught on the planet Jupiter.
This evening, an asteroid the length of three football fields will buzz by Earth at a rate of 7 miles per second.
The asteroid called 2012 QG42 is about to get its close-up.
A month ago, scientists weren't even aware it existed. But it's now on the radar, and viewers can watch it pass by Earth from the convenience of the Web. No astronomy lessons necessary.
Although tonight's flyby is harmless, the asteroid has been named "potentially hazardous" by the Minor Planet Center. That means it's not dangerous, at least not yet. But it could pose problems in the future.
Meanwhile, this close encounter with the space rock will be a comfortable seven and a half times the distance to the moon—1.8 million miles to us Earth-bound folk—at its closest to us, which will be this evening.
The asteroid won't be viewable by the naked eye or low-powered telescope.
However, the object will be bright enough to see on a live webcast.
The Virtual Telescope Project, run by astronomer Gianluca Masi in Italy, has been tracking the asteroid and will carry a live feed. The Slooh Space Camera will also present a live stream of the event from images caught on its half-meter-wide telescope on the Canary Islands, plus have running commentary.
more at the linkWatch an impact caught on the planet Jupiter. This evening, an asteroid the length... more
A fifth moon orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto has turned up in new Hubble Space Telescope images. Planetary scientists say the newfound moon serves as yet another reminder of how little we really know about this remote, chaotic world.
"Every time we look harder, we find new stuff," said Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and a member of the moon's discovery team. In recent decades, he and his colleagues have identified signs of an atmosphere on the dwarf planet, as well as polar caps, a high albedo (highly reflective surface), and of course, a growing collection of moons.
But in-depth investigation of Pluto has proven tremendously difficult from 3 billion miles away. The best images we have of the icy world come from the Hubble Telescope, but to the untrained eye, they're not much to behold. At a slim 1,429 miles wide — roughly the distance from Maine to the tip of Florida — Pluto will likely remain a dim blur until NASA's New Horizons spacecraft arrives there in July 2015.
RELATED: Are you scientifically literate? Take our quiz!
What secrets might lie in wait? [The Greatest Mysteries of the Planets]
For one thing, the dwarf planet could possess a set of everyone's favorite cosmic accessories. "It's a very distinct possibility and the theoretical arguments are very strong that Pluto has rings that come and go with time," Stern told Life's Little Mysteries.
Space rocks and other debris litter the Kuiper belt, where Pluto resides, and they probably pepper the icy world and its moons. "The moons are being hit all the time, and the ejecta [collision debris] escapes, making a ring," Stern said. "And then radiation and gravity depletes the ring through erosion."
Computer models of this cycle suggest that all the dwarf planet's rings sometimes get eroded before a new one forms. "When you model that on a computer there is randomness to [the spacing of the collision events], and so the rings come and go according to these models," he said.
Beneath those fleeting rings, and beneath Pluto's thin, nitrogen-rich atmosphere, it's anyone's guess how the surface will appear when viewed up close. In Hubble images, the dwarf planet's mottled façade varies between extremes of charcoal black, dark orange and white. What materials compose these assorted regions? And do they give rise to cold-liquid-spewing cryovolcanoes or geysers? The surface's geochemistry might even hint at a giant underground ocean. [The True Stories of 5 Mystery Planets]
More data is also needed to clarify how Pluto wound up in its frigid Kuiper belt domain. Astronomers think it and its neighbors formed from the same disk of material around the sun that coalesced into the other major bodies in the solar system. But at some point early on, a planetary collision probably sent Pluto ricocheting far beyond the rest, forever to carry the mark of this fateful encounter in the form of its strange, oval path around the sun, which lies off the plane of the other planetary orbits.
Considering all the mysteries that remain, Pluto's newfound moon almost definitely won't be the last of its surprises. "When New Horizons gets there, I think it's going to knock our socks off," Stern said. "It's going to be a whole new world."
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0716/Fifth-moon-discovery-reminds-us-how-little-we-know-about-PlutoA fifth moon orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto has turned up in new Hubble Space... more
Hubble discovers a fifth moon around Pluto.
Can you name three of Pluto's moons? No Googles! No cheating!
http://www.spacestationinfo.com/images/pluto.gifHubble discovers a fifth moon around Pluto. Can you name three of Pluto's... more
A huge gas cloud is floating through our Milky Way. Its end is near. It is going to be swallowed up by a great black hole.
Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, discovered this future collision and now they have the chance of a ring-side seat to see this event due sometime in the middle of next year.
The black hole at the centre of our galaxy was discovered in 1992 and has a mass of about four million times that of the Sun.
The distance to the earth is roughly 27.000 light years - it is the closest black hole astronomers can observe and has been in their focus for many years.
The VLT - very large telescope in Chile is Europe's ground-based eye into the sky. Astronomers here have been studying the galactic centre. The telescope is playing an important role in helping to know just what will happen in 2013.
In the last few years, the edges of the cloud have already started to shred. Astronomers are excited that they will be able to observe how a black hole sucks up another interstellar object.A huge gas cloud is floating through our Milky Way. Its end is near. It is going to be... more
NASA scientists have isolated an ethereal glow permeating parts of the sky that may be the remnants of the earliest objects in the universe.
The glow, which is seen as the red and orange glow in the NASA image at the top of this article, is thought to be from the first stars that formed in the universe, some 13 billion years ago, shortly after the theorized “Big Bang” some 13.7 billion years ago.
“All we can say is that these sources do not exist among the known galaxy populations, which have been observed to very early times (large distances),” said Alexander “Sasha” Kashlinsky, a NASA scientist who led the team that made the discovery, in an email to TPM. “This likely puts us within the first half-giga-year of the universe’s evolution, the epoch of first stars.”
The glow was first detected in 2005 by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, but scientists weren’t able to fully isolate it from the brighter glow of stars and galaxies until recently, when they were allowed to point the Spitzer at a region of interest in the sky — near the constellation Boötes — and study it for over 400 hours.
“It is not unlike looking at an old TV set, where the noise and resolution of each pixel are poor,” Kashlinksy added. “In this measurement we have to isolate a very faint signal, so the most challenging task was map-making.”
Fortunately, the Spitzer Space Telescope was the exact right tool for the job: The telescope, which is currently in orbit around the Sun, following behind Earth, was at the time of its launch in 2003 the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space (The European Space Agency’s Herschel has since succeeded it).
Spitzer’s infrared array camera “has the right wavelengths range for probing the (redshifted) emissions from these early populations, good angular resolution for isolating and removing known intervening galaxies, and sufficiently wide field-of-view for probing the remaining structure on large scales,” Kashlinksy explained.
That said, due to Spitzer’s shorter-wavelength view, scientists still aren’t sure exactly what the early objects that caused the glow were or are — stars, black holes, galaxies or some previously unknown celestial formation.
“The measurements we have done with Spitzer cannot unambiguously answer this,” Kashlinsky told TPM.
In order to discern the precise origin of the glow, astronomers will have to turn to instruments with wavelengths different from those of Spitzer.
“We hope to achieve this in the coming years (or months),” Kashlinsky said.
Ideally, the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which is now under construction for a planned 2018 launch date, will be able to trace the faint light of the earliest structures back to their source. But the project has been beset by delays, ballooning costs and budget-cutting legislators.
Still, for now, his team is elated with the results, which are set to be published in a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal.
“This opens a window to the epochs of universe’s history inaccessible by other means and which will remain inaccessible for many years to come,” Kashlinksy told TPM. “With these measurements, we can learn about the activity, abundances and nature of the first sources of light in the Universe, which has been a subject of great theoretical activity, but only limited empirical evidence.”
Correction: This article originally misspelled “Big Bang” as “Bing Bang.” The error has since been corrected in copy and we regret it.NASA scientists have isolated an ethereal glow permeating parts of the sky that may be... more
June 5, astronomers will witness an astronomical event that has been observed in the modern era only six times previously, a passage or transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun. The next time such an event will occur is 2117, so researchers are gearing up to devote as many resources as possible to view the transit from both Earth and space. Among other things, scientists hope observations of the transit will inform efforts to detect extrasolar planets -- those around distant stars -- a feat that is achieved in part by observing the dimming of a star as a planet passes between it and the Earth.
Venus' orbit around the sun lies in a slightly different plane than the Earth's, so transits occur only rarely and in pairs. The cycle of transits is 243 years long, with intervals of 8, 105.5, 8 and 120.5 years. The last transit was in 2004 and was also heavily observed, but the upcoming transit will be the first in which astronomers also have a satellite, the Venus Express, in orbit around the planet.
When Venus is fully in front of the sun, it will be visible to the naked eye -- although one should never look directly at the sun without an approved filter to block rays that could damage the eye -- but it will dim the sun's light by only 0.1%. A similar dimming of distant stars observed by NASA's Kepler spacecraft has identified more than 1,000 potential exoplanets, but so far only about 100 of them have been confirmed as actual planets. One problem is that the eruption of sunspots can cause a similar dimming and it can be hard to distinguish between the two events. The 2004 transit of Venus occurred at a time when sunspot activity was at a minimum, but this year's event will be at a time when sunspot activity is fairly high. That should provide astronomers new insight into ways to distinguish between the two events.
The transit will begin about 3:04 p.m. PDT on June 5 and will be visible in its entirety only from the western Pacific, eastern Asia, eastern Australia and at high northern latitudes. The transit will be shown on NASA TV, which is available on many cable and satellite transmission systems, and on NASA TV's website. Astronomers from the European Space Agency will also be blogging the event from a viewing site on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen.
More at the linkJune 5, astronomers will witness an astronomical event that has been observed in the... more
Solar Eclipse of May 20
On 2012 May 20/21, an annular eclipse of the Sun is visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses Earth's northern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's antumbral shadow begins in eastern Asia and crosses the North Pacific Ocean where it ends in the western United States. The Moon's penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering East Asia, North Pacific, North America and Greenland.
Partial Lunar Eclipse of June 04
The first lunar eclipse of 2012 occurs at the Moon's ascending node in southern Ophiuchus about 6° northeast of Antares (mv = +1.07). It is best seen from locations in and near the Pacific Ocean (Figure 3). Most of the Americas will experience moonset before the eclipse ends while eastern Asia will miss the beginning of the eclipse because it occurs before moonrise. The Moon's contact times with Earth's shadows are listed below.
Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 08:48:09 UT
Partial Eclipse Begins: 09:59:53 UT
Greatest Eclipse: 11:03:13 UT
Partial Eclipse Ends: 12:06:30 UT
Penumbral Eclipse Ends: 13:18:17 UT
At the instant of greatest eclipse the umbral eclipse magnitude will reach 0.3705. At that time the Moon will be at the zenith for observers in the South Pacific. In spite of the fact that just a third of the Moon enters the umbral shadow (the Moon's southern limb dips 12.3 arc-minutes into the umbra), the partial phase still lasts over 2 hours.
2012 Transit Of Venus
Watch NASA's Sun-Earth Day Web Cast!
June 5, 2012, Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii
FIGURE 2: 14,000 FT SUMMIT OF MAUNA KEA OBSERVATORY COMPLEX, HILO, HAWAII
Figure 1: 14,000 ft summit of Mauna Kea Observatory Complex, Hilo, Hawaii
To view the 2011 archived web cast, go to the NASA Edge Ustream Channel and scroll to the bottom.
View the 2011 archived web cast!
Subscribe to the NASA Edge podcast on iTunes
NASA EDGE is proud to join forces with the Sun Earth Day Team to celebrate the Transit of Venus! On June 5, 2012, we will air a live 'remote' webcast from Mauna Kea, Hawaii, through our partnership with the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. The event will not be visible from the continental U.S. in its entirety. A mountainside Visitors Station site near the observatories in Hilo, Hawaii will give a wonderful view of the entire transit with little chance of cloud cover to a worldwide audience. Leveraging our partnership with the University of Hawaii in Hilo will enable us to bring you real-time images of the transit for the duration of the event in various wavelengths of light.
This webcast will also emphasize the history and importance of Hawaiian astronomy and its connections to NASA space science. It will use the backdrop of Mauna Kea, combined with world class University of Hawaii (UH), NASA scientists and Hawaiian cultural leaders to weave multigenerational stories combining ancient ways of knowing with modern scientific discoveries. The University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy is a premier astronomical research facility and host to the Mauna Kea Observatory, one of the most important observational astronomy sites in the world. Mauna Kea is a unique astronomical research facility, emphasizing respect for Hawaiian cultural beliefs, as well as protection of environmentally sensitive habitats. The exceptional stability of the atmosphere above Mauna Kea permits more detailed studies than are possible elsewhere, while its distance from city lights and a strong island-wide lighting ordinance ensure an extremely dark sky, allowing observation of the faintest galaxies that lie at the very edge of the observable Universe.Solar Eclipse of May 20 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEmono/ASE2012/ASE2012.html... more
And Voyager. These are still images put together in stop-action animation from Cassini
What a beautiful universe we live in.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBTj42QF7pQ&feature=player_embeddedAnd Voyager. These are still images put together in stop-action animation from Cassini... more
Okara: While most want to see the world, Asad Mahmood, from the small city of Okara, Punjab, wants to see the universe. It was 18-year-old Mahmood’s passion that inspired him to seek the moon and stars and his determination that drove him to make the 6th most powerful telescope in Pakistan.Without formal science expertise or resources the young stargazer created his own Galilean telescope using lenses from a local glasses store. Then he upgraded, making a Newtonian telescope with a 6-inch lens, which took eight months and two attempts to shape! On his first attempt the lens broke, but his spirit didn’t, and he went on to align his telescope with one of the best this nation has seen.“I can see craters 100 kilometers in diameter on the moon’s surface, Venus, Saturn’s rings and even Jupiter in the summer” says Mahmood, who wants to be a physicist.Mahmood is a hard worker who believes in the power of science. Currently, he works as a tutor to financially support his family, but he plans to study at Punjab University and be the genius behind Pakistan’s largest telescope.If a school boy has the mind to craft a place in the stars for Pakistan, think of the progress our nation will see.
http://www.facebook.com/merapassionpakistanOkara: While most want to see the world, Asad Mahmood, from the small city of Okara,... more
If the skies are clear in your area Saturday night, you will be able to see an uncommon sight as the full moon makes its closest approach to Earth in over a year.
http://www.examiner.com/article/huge-full-moon-to-brighten-the-sky-saturday-nightIf the skies are clear in your area Saturday night, you will be able to see an... more
This Saturday evening, take a look at the night sky and you might see something special. The moon will make its largest, most stunning appearance of the year—an event known to scientists as “the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system” and to the popular skywatching public simply as the “supermoon.” As one of the most spectacular supermoons in years, the moon will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than when it is on the far side of its orbit.
Why does the moon sometimes appear larger, and sometimes smaller? The answer lies in the fact that its orbit around Earth is elliptical, so its distance from us varies—it ranges from roughly 222,000 to 252,000 miles away each month. On Saturday, the moon will reach what is known as the perigee, coming as close as it ever does to the Earth, just 221,802 miles away. At the same time, it will be a full moon, with the entirety of its Earth-facing surface illuminated by the light of the sun.
This supermoon will appear especially large because the exact moment of perigee will neatly coincide with the appearance of a perfectly full moon. The full moon will occur at 11:34 p.m. EST, and the perigee will occur at 11:35. During last year’s supermoon on March 19, 2011, for comparison, the perigee and full moon were 50 minutes apart.
Full Story: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/05/the-biggest-supermoon-in-years-is-coming-saturday-night/This Saturday evening, take a look at the night sky and you might see something... more
(This artist’s impression shows a sunset seen from the super-Earth Gliese 667 Cc. The brightest star in the sky is the red dwarf Gliese 667 C, which is part of a triple star system. The other two more distant stars, Gliese 667 A and B, appear in the sky also to the right. Astronomers have estimated that there are tens of billions of such rocky worlds orbiting faint red dwarf stars in the Milky Way alone.)
There should be billions of habitable, rocky planets around the faint red stars of our Milky Way galaxy, a new study suggests.
Though these alien planets are difficult to detect, and only a few have been discovered so far, they should be ubiquitous, scientists say. And some of them could be good candidates to host extraterrestrial life.
The findings are based on a survey of 102 stars in a class called red dwarfs, which are fainter, cooler, less massive and longer-lived than the sun, and are thought to make up about 80 percent of the stars in our galaxy.
(read more at link)(This artist’s impression shows a sunset seen from the super-Earth Gliese 667... more