Astronews Daily (2455539)

December 8, 2010 12:50 by scibuff

Top Stories

Japanese spacecraft fails to enter orbit around Venus – Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft missed its chance Monday to enter orbit around Venus, and the next opportunity will not come for another six years, according to statements by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. -Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

Arsenic and old Universe – Two news updates, both of which are pretty interesting. 1) The arsenic-utilizing bacterium is still in the news… Last week, a paper made the rounds on various sites that Roger Penrose and a collaborator had found circular patterns in the cosmic background radiation that might point to clues about what happened before the Big Bang. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

SpaceX Dragon capsule set for launch – A US capsule that could soon be hauling cargo and even astronauts to the space station is set to make its first demonstration flight on Wednesday. –Jonathan Amos / BBC

One Hundred Days until Mercury Orbit Insertion – One hundred days from now, MESSENGER will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place the spacecraft into orbit about Mercury, making it the first craft ever to do so, and initiating a one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. – MESSENGER Mission News

Sneak Attacks from the Sun – Our Sun can be a menace when it sends out powerful solar blasts of radiation towards the Earth. Astronomers keenly watch the Sun to learn more about what powers these solar eruptions, in hopes of being able to predict them. New research shows that one-third of the Sun’s blasts are “sneak attacks” that may occur without warning. –Center for Astrophysics

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Videos

A team of NASA-funded researchers find there may be different criteria by which we search for life elsewhere in the universe. Also, shuttle Discovery gets a new target launch date; SOFIA flies its first science mission; NASA's Small Business Awards, and an alternative fuels pilot program. Plus, Scott Kelly's geography trivia from space, and the anniversary of Gemini 7.

  

Photos

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Discovery at the Pad

Discovery at the Pad

Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod, MA

Sun in 3D

Sun in 3D

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

P/2010 V1 (Ikeya-Murakami) outburst development

P/2010 V1 (Ikeya-Murakami) outburst development

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily (2455538)

December 7, 2010 12:31 by scibuff

Top Stories

Geminids Meteor Shower 2010: What You Might See – The final meteor shower of 2010 is the Geminids, the peak of which falls on the night of the 13/14 December 2010. The Geminids is described by the IMO as “one of the finest, and probably the most reliable, of the major annual showers presently observable”, and this year’s shower is set to put on a good show. -Steve Owens / Meteorwatch

Geminid Meteor Shower Defies Explanation – The Geminid meteor shower, which peaks this year on Dec. 13th and 14th, is the most intense meteor shower of the year. It’s also NASA astronomer Bill Cooke’s favorite meteor shower—but not for any of the reasons listed above. “The Geminids are my favorite,” he explains, “because they defy explanation.” –NASA

Japan’s Akatsuki to Reach Venus Today – Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft will arrive at Venus later today, and will enter orbit around the planet. The box-shaped orbiter will make observations from an elliptical orbit, from a distance of between 300 and 80,000 kilometers looking for — among other things — signs of lightning and active volcanoes. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch Attempt To Dec. 9 – SpaceX will delay the launch attempt of the Falcon 9 rocket until at least Thursday, Dec. 9. At a press conference today, company president Gwynne Shotwell said a final review of closeout photos this morning found some indications of a potential issue on a second stage nozzle. Reports from journalist Robert Pearlman on Twitter said the Falcon 9 had been lowered from the vertical launch position. And Shotwell said if they have to replace the nozzle, the launch would be no earlier than Friday, Dec. 10. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

15 years ago, Galileo arrived at Jupiter – At about 2200 UTC, a 340kg probe from NASA’s robot spacecraft Galileo will plummet into Jupiter becoming the first probe to fly through the atmosphere of a gas giant planet. –NASA/APOD

So You Think You Can Solve a Cosmology Puzzle? – Cosmologists have come up with a new way to solve their problems. They are inviting scientists, including those from totally unrelated fields, to participate in a grand competition. The idea is to spur outside interest in one of cosmology’s trickiest problems — measuring the invisible dark matter and dark energy that permeate our universe. –NASA/JPL

The Milky Way Project is live – The Milky Way Project is a joint venture between the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the Zooniverse. So how can you help? Using our bubble-drawing interface, our hope is that you will find bubbles and note any important or unusual characteristics. For example, if you can see what looks like a knot in the bubble, flag it! This knot might tell us something about how the bubble is affecting star formation in the region. –Zooniverse

A HUGE looping prominence on the Sun! – That was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory at about 17:50 UT, or just an hour or so ago as I post this. Wow! That prominence must be nearly a million kilometers across! [Update: Geeked on Goddard estimates it at 700,000 km.] Mind you, on the scale of this image, the entire Earth would be about 5 pixels in size. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

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Videos

The launch of Apollo 17 - December 7th 1972. Onboard are astronauts Gene Cernan (CDR) Ron Evans (CMP) and Jack Schmitt (LMP). The first and only Saturn V night launch - Film coverage starts at T-3:04 through 1st stage Sep. Audio begins with the KSC PAO through to Tower Clear when it switches to the Command Module onboard recorder tapes (No PAO just the comments made by the crew). The countdown is the raw TV feed from KSC and the launch is NASA stock footage.

  

Photos

Launch of Apollo 17

Launch of Apollo 17

Galileo Spacecraft

Galileo Spacecraft

Looping prominence

Looping prominence

Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Earth - Moon Conjunction

On December 16, 1992, 8 days after its encounter with Earth, the Galileo spacecraft looked back from a distance of about 6.2 million kilometers to capture this remarkable view of the Moon in orbit about Earth - Credit: NASA/JPL

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.