Astronews Daily (2455548)

December 17, 2010 12:46 by scibuff

Top Stories

Become an Exoplanet Hunter With Newest Zooniverse Citizen Science Project – Planet Hunters is the latest in the Zooniverse project, and users will help scientists analyze data taken by NASA’s Kepler mission, the biggest, badest exoplanet hunting telescope in space. The project goes live on December 16 at http://www.planethunters.org. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Could This be the Start of a New Space Shuttle? – All is not lost for the space shuttle idea. Richard Branson is thinking big again and along with orbital sciences Corp, Sierra Nevada Corp and some others they may build a reusable taxi to space just like the space shuttle. NASA will find $200 million to help with the development. –Weirdwrap

A delicately violent celestial shell game – One of my favorite types of objects in space are the thin, ethereal shells of gas stars create when they die. So I was thrilled* to see this new image of one taken in exquisite detail by the Hubble Space Telescope: –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

X-rays From Lightning – What Superman would See – Using a custom-built camera the size of a refrigerator, Florida researchers have made the world’s first crude pictures of X-rays streaming from a stroke of lightning. –Daily Galaxy

Bright White Storm Raging on Saturn – About a week ago, a bright white storm emerged on Saturn’s northern hemisphere, and amateur astronomer/planet astrophotographer extraordinaire Anthony Wesley from Australia has captured a few images of it. “This is the brightest Saturn storm in decades,” Anthony said on his website, Ice In Space. “If you get a chance to see it visually then take it, as it may be one of the rare “Great White Spot” (GWS) outbreaks on Saturn.” –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

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Videos

Cassini Spots Potential Ice Volcano on Saturn Moon - New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal topography on Saturn's moon Titan that makes the best case yet for an ice volcano on Titan and reveals the most Earth-like candidate in the outer solar system.

  

Photos

Discovery on the pad

Discovery on the pad

ISS through clouds

ISS through clouds

Erupting Volcano

Erupting Volcano

Geminid in Death Valley

Geminid in Death Valley

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Launch of TMA-20

Soyuz lift-off with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli together with Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman for a challenging 6-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as members of Expeditions 26/27. They were launched in the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December at 19:09 GMT. Paolo’s MagISStra mission will be Europe’s third long-duration mission on the ISS. Between December 2010 and June 2011 he will be part of the ISS crew as a flight engineer. - Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2010

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 (2455499)

October 29, 2010 13:19 by scibuff

Top Stories

In which I predict the eventual downfall of mankind – A couple of days ago I recorded a video interview with the Fourcast podcast, where four people sit around and predict the future. It was a lot of fun — we talked about beaming energy, world governments, Firefly, colonizing the Moon, and BBQs. Seriously. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

Kepler Spacecraft Can “Hear” a Red Giant Concerto in Space – Not only is the Kepler spacecraft hunting down extrasolar planets, but it also provides the ability to study stars in unprecedented detail. “We knew that if Kepler had the sensitivity of detecting Earth-size planets, that it would have capability to transform our knowledge of stars themselves,” said Natalie Batalha of San Jose State University in California, a co-investigator on the Kepler Astroseismic Science Consortium. This international partnership of over 400 astronomers uses the Kepler spacecraft to “listen” to tiny oscillations, or “star quakes,” in red giant stars, allowing scientists to do groundbreaking work in deducing the fundamental properties of stars. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Space Radar Provides a Taste of Comet Hartley 2 – Exactly one week before the world gets a new look at comet Hartley 2 via NASA’s EPOXI mission, observations of the comet by the Arecibo Planetary Radar in Puerto Rico have offered scientists a tantalizing preview. –NASA/JPL

ISS Particle Detector Ready to Unveil Wonders of the Universe – The Principal Investigator (P.I.) for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS-02) experiment, Professor Samuel Ting, says that the experiment is already accruing data as it awaits its February 2011 launch date. Scheduled to fly aboard the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, AMS-02 will search through cosmic rays for exotic particles, antimatter and dark matter. The experiment will be mounted to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and will require no spacewalks to attach. -Jason Rhian / Universe Today

Chasing comets! – Secondary school pupils at the Collège Monteil (Monistrol sur Loire, France) have been busy observing Comet 103P/Hartley using the Faulkes Telescopes. –Faulkes Telescopes

[more stories]

Videos

Sun

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

STS-133 Crew Arrives for Discovery's Final Planned Launch.

STS-133 Crew Arrives for Discovery's Final Planned Launch.

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

Send a message to aliens

August 18, 2009 11:04 by scibuff

Update: The submission deadline for new message has passed. The packed is now being converted and packaged to be transmitted on August 29.

If you sometimes get tired of talking to your fellow Earthlings, consider sending a message to beings who could be living 20.3 light years away via the HelloFromEarth website.

HelloFromEarth is a project created by COSMOS magazine for National Science Week in Australia in collaboration with Australia’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and NASA, that enables anyone to send a short message to the potential inhabitants of the planet designated as Gliese 581 d.

Artist's impression of Gliese 581 d

Artist's impression of Gliese 581 d

Gliese 581 d is an extrasolar planet in the constellation Libra about 20.3 light years away from our solar system. It orbits a red dwarf (Gliese 581) at a distance of 0.22 AU – well within the habitable zone of the star, where liquid water could exists.

Artist's impression of the planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581. In the foreground planets Gliese 581 c and Gliese 581 b with super-Earth Gliese 581 d in a closeup - Source: ESO

Artist's impression of the planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581. In the foreground planets Gliese 581 c and Gliese 581 b with super-Earth Gliese 581 d in a closeup - Source: ESO

Until now, almost 19,000 messages from all around world have been collected for Glieseans to read. Submissions are accepted until August 24, after which the data will be send to NASA’s JPL in California to be encoded into binary form and packaged for transmission. JPL will then send the data back to Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, known as the Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43), which has for years been providing communication for NASA’s interplanetary missions. The 40-year-long wait for a potential response will begin August 29, 2009 when the 70-meter main antenna at DSS43 will transmit the signal aimed towards the Gliese 581 system.

Click here to send your message to Glieseans.

Here are a few selected submissions:

These are not the droids you’re looking for. Don – Denton, TX, United States

We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars… Jeff N – Sydney, Australia

2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19 23 29 31 37 41 43 47 53 59 61 67 71 73 79 83 89 97 101. Sam -Adelaide, Australia

All truth passes through three stages: first, it’s ridiculed; second, it’s violently opposed and third, it’s accepted as self-evident. It’s time to contact us! Simone – Latina, Italy

To Mr. Alien. I’ve got some jokes for you. Knock Knock. Who’s there. Rocket. Rocket who. Rockets coming to tickle you!! Watch out. See you later, Jack – Melbourne , Australia

We’ve been trying, but can’t read your crop circles. Tatyana – Seattle, WA, United States

Does “Santa” visit your planet? Have a happy holiday. Jan Kurrels – Canberra, Australia

What is the purpose of life? What is the universe and is there something beyond it? Can we reach your level of evolution one day? Pls answer. Bojidar -Sofia, Bulgaria

This is a chain SMS. Please send this forward to 10 new civilizations within a century and something good will happen to you. Kari-Pekka Arola – Tampere, Finland

Live Long and prosper. Miranda – Cleveland, United States

Please send the Cylon Number Six in the red dress. Craig CormickCanberra, Australia

The hunt for Earth-like planets is on

April 16, 2009 23:01 by scibuff

A little more than a month ago, NASA launched the Kepler space telescope which is specifically designed to survey our neighborhood looking for Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone of their stars. Since the launch, the spacecraft has been slowly drifting away from the Earth and is now trailing us by more 3,000,000 km on its sun-centric orbit. At 12:13 p.m. UT on April 7, mission operators sent the commands to jetisson the telescope’s dust cover. Engineers at Kepler’s mission operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, in Boulder, Colorado, will now use the incident startlight to calibrate the instrument and the “real” data collection will commence in a few weeks time. Meanwhile, NASA has released the first series of the star fields captured by the mission’s 95 megapixels camera (largest ever sent into space).

Kepler's full field of view. The capture region of the sky contains more than 14 million stars, more than 100,000 of which were selected as ideal candidates for planet hunting - Source: NASA

Kepler's full field of view. The capture region of the sky contains more than 14 million stars, more than 100,000 of which were selected as ideal candidates for planet hunting - Source: NASA

The star-rich region of sky between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra stretching across 100 square degrees will be monitored constantly for three-and-half-year years (with the exception of downlink times). Scientist will analyze the data looking for periodic dips in brightness which occur when a planet crosses in front of their stars from Kepler’s point of view. The instruments aboard the spacecraft can notice changes in brightness of 0.002%  – small enough to detect transits of Earth-sized planets.

The region of sky under the surveillance of Keplet's 42 CCDs - Source: NASA

The region of sky under the surveillance of Keplet's 42 CCDs - Source: NASA

Detailed info about the mission is available at the NASA’s Kepler page. You can also follow the Kepler’s Twitter feed.

Discover an Earth-like planet with Kepler

March 7, 2009 17:58 by scibuff

NASA’s Kepler mission successfully lauched into space last night.

Kepler Lanch - Source: NASA

Kepler Lanch - Source: NASA

It will be about two months before the observatory sends back first data, however it will take up to three years to confirm any Earth-like planets orbiting their stars in a habitable zone. Meanwhile, you can step into Kepler’s shoes with this interactive app:

Detailed info about the mission is available at the NASA’s Kepler page. You can also follow the Kepler’s Twitter feed.