Astronews Daily (2455534)

December 3, 2010 12:15 by scibuff

Top Stories

Back-in-Action Cassini Doesn’t Disappoint – Here are a few raw images from the Cassini spacecraft‘s most recent flyby of Enceladus. The probe seems to be in good health following several weeks in safe mode, after a bit flipped in the command and data subsystem computer. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

X-37B space plane returns to Earth in the next few days – The landing window for the U.S. military X-37B space plane opens Friday, but officials are mum about the timing of specific opportunities to return the craft to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. -Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

Special fueling test could be ordered for Discovery’s tank – NASA managers and engineers met Thursday to discuss the potential root cause of cracks in the shuttle Discovery’s external tank, what additional tests might be needed and what, if any, modifications might be required before another launch attempt can be made. -William Harwood / Spaceflight Now

Landing on Mars in 2016 – I remember going up to a leading French planetary scientist at a meeting in Paris last year and asking if he was interested in taking part in Europe’s mission to land a spacecraft on Mars in October 2016. “No,” was his response, “because there is no science on it.” -Jonathan Amos / BBC

Super Venus steampunk planet! – Last year, astronomers discovered a remarkable planet orbiting another star: it has a mass and radius that puts it in the “super-Earth” category — meaning it’s more like the Earth than a giant Jupiter-like planet. Today, it has been announced that astronomers have been able to analyze the atmosphere of the planet (the very first time this has ever been accomplished for a super-Earth), and what they found is astonishing: the air of the planet is either shrouded in thick haze, or it’s loaded with water vapor… in other words, steam! -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

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Videos

NASA science update - Astrobiology - The search for life

  

Photos

Alauda binary system

Alauda binary system

Comet 103p/Hartley and M46

Comet 103p/Hartley and M46

Aurora Borealis from Greenland

Aurora Borealis from Greenland

Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia

Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

A Flame in Orion's Belt

A Flame in Orion's Belt - This mosaic image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, features three nebulae that are part of the giant Orion Molecular Cloud. The image covers an area of the sky about three times as high and wide as the full moon (1.5 by 1.8 degrees). Included in this view are the Flame nebula, the Horsehead nebula and NGC 2023. - Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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 (2455531)

November 30, 2010 09:56 by scibuff

Top Stories

NASA sets news conference on astrobiology finding related to extraterrestrial life – NASA will hold a news conference at 19 UT on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. -NASA

Russia Wants to Build “Sweeper” to Clean up Space Debris – Russia is looking to build a $2 billion orbital “pod” that would sweep up satellite debris from space around the Earth. According to a post on the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos’ Facebook site, (which seems to confirm an earlier article by the Interfax news agency) the cleaning satellite would work on nuclear power and be operational for about 15 years. The Russian rocket company, Energia proposes that they would complete the cleaning satellite assembly by 2020 and test the device no later than in 2023. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Observations of Jupiter reveal rare signatures of weather – One of Jupiter’s dark brown stripes that faded out last spring is regaining its color, providing an unprecedented opportunity for astronomers to observe a rare and mysterious phenomenon caused by the planet’s winds and cloud chemistry. -Keck Observatory

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Videos

A safe return for the Expedition 25 crew, a status report on the STS-133 mission, enter the Dragon; a newly-licensed reusable spacecraft, space talks with the ISS crew, wind tunnel testing, and it's all Good when an astronaut goes home sweet home.

  

Photos

Sunrise

Sunrise

Red Sea

Red Sea

Lakes in northern Italy

Lakes in northern Italy

M33 - Traingulum Galaxy

M33 - Traingulum Galaxy

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

NGC 520

NGC 520 — also known as Arp 157 — looks like a galaxy in the midst of exploding. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. Two enormous spiral galaxies are crashing into each other, melding and forming a new conglomerate. This happens slowly, over millions of years — the whole process started some 300 million years ago - Credit: ESO

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 Ext. Edition (2455498)

October 28, 2010 11:59 by scibuff

Top Stories

Unwind with some spirals – A very important aspect of astronomy often overlooked is how much our eyes don’t tell us. We see a very limited range of the spectrum of light emitted by astronomical objects, and many times it’s what we don’t see that tells us what’s going on. -Phil PlaitBad Astronomy

Bright Close Approach: 2003 UV11 – The asteroid designated 2003 UV11 was discovered on October 21, 2003 by B. Skiff during the LONEOS survey with a 0.59-m Schmidt. According to its absolute magnitude (H=19.3) this object has an estimated diameter of roughly 400-500 meters, so it is a relatively large near-Earth asteroid. 2003 UV11 will have a close approach with Earth on 2010 October 30 when it will be within 0.013 AU (~5 lunar distances). -Ernesto Guido & Giovanni Sostero

What’s up in the solar system in November 2010 – The major event of the month will be, of course, Deep Impact’s flyby of small comet Hartley 2, which happens at 13:50 UTC on November 4. But there’s some other things to take note of: Cassini has a very, very close flyby of Enceladus’ north pole (not the pole with the plumes, the other one) on November 30. Also China’s Chang’E 2 is, as I write, orbiting even closer to the Moon than that, passing just 15 kilometers over Sinus Iridum. November is also the most likely month for the reestablishment of contact with the long-silent Mars Exploration Rover Spirit — keep your fingers crossed. -Emily Lakdawalla / The Planetary Society

Space Buckyballs Thrive, Finds NASA Spitzer Telescope – Astronomers have discovered bucket loads of buckyballs in space. They used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to find the little carbon spheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy — in the space between stars and around three dying stars. What’s more, Spitzer detected buckyballs around a fourth dying star in a nearby galaxy in staggering quantities — the equivalent in mass to about 15 of our moons. -NASA/JPL

Hard-Core Astrophysics: Massive Neutron Star Hints at How Matter Behaves at Its Densest – An extremely dense celestial object thousands of light-years away is serving as a natural nuclear physics experiment, providing clues to processes that cannot be reproduced in the lab. -John Matson / Scientific American

Scientists Watch for a “Hartley-id” Meteor Shower – This month, Comet Hartley 2 has put on a good show for backyard astronomers. The comet’s vivid green atmosphere and auburn tail of dust look great through small telescopes, and NASA’s Deep Impact/EPOXI probe is about to return even more dramatic pictures when it flies past the comet’s nucleus on Nov. 4th. Another kind of show might be in the offing as well. Could this comet produce a meteor shower? -NASA

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Videos

Animation of 2003 UV11 on October 28 at 07:00UT (01:00am local time) through the GRAS network, using 0.25-m, f/3.4 reflector + CCD located in Mayhill (NM). The animation is composed of 15 unfiltered exposures, 10-seconds each. Credit: Ernesto Guido & Giovanni Sostero

Launch Soyuz Progress M-08M Expedition 25

  

Photos

5 days to launch

5 days to launch

STS-133's SRBs

STS-133's SRBs

M104 - Sombrero Galaxy

M104 - Sombrero Galaxy

NGC 1232

NGC 1232

  
M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

Milky Way over Lady Mountain

Milky Way over Lady Mountain

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Solar Prominence on Oct. 28, 2010 - Credit: Alan Friedman

Solar Prominence on Oct. 28, 2010 - Credit: Alan Friedman

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 (2455488)

October 18, 2010 12:43 by scibuff

Top Stories

How to Weigh a Star Using a Moon – How do astronomers weigh a star that’s trillions of miles away and way too big to fit on a bathroom scale? In most cases they can’t, although they can get a best estimate using computer models of stellar structure. -Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics

Get ready to see lots more exoplanet images soon – Nearly 500 exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars — have been detected since the first was discovered in the mid-90s. A variety of methods have been used to find them: Doppler shift of starlight as the circling planets tug their stars, the dip in light as a planet passes directly in front of its star, even the change in light of a distant star as the gravity of a planet briefly magnifies it a la Einstein. -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

STS-133: TCDT completed – Engineers troubleshooting leaky flight cap - Another milestone was passed on Friday, after Discovery, along with her astronauts and controllers, successfully completed the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT). With the dress rehearsal completed, engineers are pushing forward with troubleshooting on a Air Half Coupling (AHC) flight cap, a Quick Disconnect (QD) which is leaking small amounts of hypergolic vapors. -NASA Space Flight

Soyuz moves to the launch pad with its six Globalstar second-generation satellites – The Soyuz vehicle with Globalstar’s initial cluster of six second-generation satellites is now on Launch Pad #6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, where it is being readied for liftoff on October 19 in an Arianespace mission performed by its Starsem affiliate. -Ariane Space

Facing the radiation dangers of interplanetary travel - In principle, with enough money and expertise, it should be possible to build and fly a manned spacecraft to Mars and return safely to Earth. However, nobody knows yet how to deal with the dangerous cosmic radiation that floods through space. -ESA

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Videos

10 Years of www.esa.int

10 Years of www.esa.int

  

Photos

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

Solar prominence

Solar prominence

Alluvial fans in Pakistan

Alluvial fans in Pakistan

Waxing gibbous Moon

Waxing gibbous Moon

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

STS-133 heading for the TCDT

The STS-133 crew leaves the crew quarters at the Operations and Checkout Building to head to the launch pad 39A for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) - Credit: NASA/KSC

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 ext. Edition (2455484)

October 14, 2010 13:01 by scibuff

Top Stories

Ghosts of the Future: First Giant Structures of the Universe Hold 800 Trillion Suns – Astronomers using the South Pole Telescope report that they have discovered the most massive galaxy cluster yet seen at a distance of 7 billion light-years. The cluster (designated SPT-CL J0546-5345) weighs in at around 800 trillion Suns, and holds hundreds of galaxies. -Science Daily

Confirmed Exoplanets Could Reach 500 by the End of This Month – If it seems like a new extrasolar planet is discovered every week these days, that’s because there is. In fact, the rate is actually faster than one per week – 70 have been discovered thus far this year alone, bringing the overall tally of confirmed exoplanets at 494. At that pace we very well might hit exoplanet number 500 before the end of this month. -Clay Dillow / PopSci

Being in space can change the way you view the Earth – That was certainly the case for the Apollo 8 crew who produced the iconic image of our planet emerging from behind the limb of the Moon -Jonathan Amos / BBC

Hubble and Rosetta unmask nature of recent asteroid wreck – High-resolution images from the Hubble Space Telescope and a rare view obtained, from a unique perspective, by the Rosetta spacecraft provide a comprehensive picture of P/2010 A2, a puzzling body in the asteroid main belt. -ESA

Camera That Saved Hubble Leaves Nest for Good – NASA’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 was loaded for transport from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Oct. 13, 2010. – NASA/JPL

Where In The Universe Challenge #122 – Ready for another Where In The Universe Challenge? Here’s #105! Take a look and see if you can name where in the Universe this image is from. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

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Videos

This spectacular image shows the Rosette star formation region, which is located about 5,000 light years from Earth.

  

Photos

Melas Chasma in Valles Marineris rift valley on Mars

Melas Chasma in Valles Marineris rift valley on Mars

Sculptor Galaxy

Sculptor Galaxy

Sun and Mercury

Sun and Mercury

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

  
Horse Head and Small Flame

Horse Head and Small Flame

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

M33 - Triangulum Galaxy

M45 - Pleiades

M45 - Pleiades

Bubble Nebula

Bubble Nebula

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

STS-133 Mission: Inside a shuttle training aircraft, Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey practices landings at Kennedy

STS-133 Mission: Inside a shuttle training aircraft, Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey practices landings at Kennedy - Credit: KSC/NASA

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