Astronews Daily Extended Edition (2455547)

December 16, 2010 12:18 by scibuff


Soyuz TMA-20 Launch of Expedition 26 - A Russian Soyuz rocket launched the Expedition 26 crew to the International Space Station. The crew includes Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, American astronaut Catherine Coleman and from the European Space Agency Italian Paolo Nespoli.

Phobos shadow passing over Viking 1 landing site dust storm (40x actual speed) - On September 28, 1977, Viking Orbiter 1 observed a dust storm over the site where it had dropped its lander, more than a year previously. As Viking 1 orbiter watched, the shadow of Mars' inner moon Phobos passed over the cloud tops. Data: NASA/JPL. Processing: Daniel Machá?ek


Top Stories

NASA Discovers Asteroid Delivered Assortment of Meteorites – An international team of scientists studying remnants of an asteroid that crashed into the Nubian Desert in October 2008 discovered it contained at least 10 different types of meteorites. Some of them contained chemicals that form the building blocks of life on Earth, and those chemicals were spread through all parts of the asteroid by collisions. –NASA

Near-Synchronous Explosions Connect Across the Vast Distances on the Sun – For several decades, scientists studying the sun have observed solar flares that appear to occur almost simultaneously but originated in completely different areas on the Sun. Solar physicists called them “sympathetic” flares, but it was thought these near-synchronous explosions in the solar atmosphere were too far apart – sometimes millions of kilometers distant – to be related. But now, with the continuous high-resolution and multi-wavelength observations with the Solar Dynamics Observatory, combined with views from the twin STEREO spacecraft, the scientists are seeing how these sympathetic eruptions — sometimes on opposite sides of the sun — can connect through looping lines of the Sun’s magnetic field. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Galaxy Cluster Reveals Farthest Known Galaxy – Almost all of the bright objects in this Hubble Space Telescope image are galaxies in the cluster known as Abell 2218 -a cluster so massive and so compact that its gravity bends and focuses the light from galaxies that lie behind it. As a result, multiple images of these background galaxies are distorted into long faint arcs. –The Daily Galaxy

No Asteroid Particles Found in Second Hayabusa Compartment, But More in First – No visible material from asteroid Itokawa was found inside the second compartment of a canister returned to Earth by the Hayabusa spacecraft. However, JAXA also announced that more micron-sized grains have been found in the first compartment, opened earlier this year. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

93rd Birth Anniversary of Sir Arthur Clarke – Let’s cherish the 93rd birth anniversary of Sir Arthur Clarke, who rendered an immense service to the world, by means of his innovative concepts on telecommunication + thrilling scientific books, We should do something to remind the world about his being in a day like this, as what his imagination has rendered, continues to grow day by day –IYA 2009 / Sri Lanka

A Majestic Galaxy in One of the Largest Known Structures in the Observable Universe – This image shows a majestic face-on spiral galaxy located deep within the Coma Cluster of galaxies, which lies 320 million light-years away, in the northern constellation Coma Berenices. The galaxy, known as NGC 4911, contains rich lanes of dust and gas near its center. These are silhouetted against glowing newborn star clusters and iridescent pink clouds of hydrogen, the existence of which indicates ongoing star formation. –The Daily Galaxy

Dec 14/15 Meteors (night after the Geminids peak) – What a difference 24 hours makes! Only a day removed from the Geminids peak and rates have crashed to a fraction of their peak. During the past 5 nights SALSA3 detected 12, 22, 69, 124 and now 20 Geminids. This is a characteristic of the Geminids in that the post-peak rates fall off much more rapidly than the pre-peak increase. –Carl Hergenrother

[more stories]


H-alpha Orion mosaic

H-alpha Orion mosaic

Geminid bolide

Geminid bolide

IC1848 - Soul Nebula

IC1848 - Soul Nebula



Venus Rising

Venus Rising

Toronto, Ward’s Island

Toronto, Ward’s Island

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon


Gallery Pick of the Day

Geminids over Kitt Peak

Geminids over Kitt Peak - Credit & Copyright: David A. Harvey

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

Phobos Flyby Images

March 15, 2010 11:45 by scibuff

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, while executing a series of 12 flybys of Mars’ largest moon Phobos, passed the moon’s surface at an altitude of 67km on March 3 at 20:55 GMT. The close approach enabled scientists to gain valuable data an learn more about the mysterious moon.

Another flyby close of Phobos occurred on 7 March 2010, and ESA has just released the photos. The images show Mars’ rocky moon in exquisite detail, with a resolution of just 4.4 meters per pixel. They show the proposed landing sites for the forthcoming Phobos-Grunt mission.

Phobos from up close

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard the ESA spacecraft Mars Express took this image of Phobos using the HRSC nadir channel on 7 March 2010, HRSC Orbit 7915. This image has additionally been enhanced photometrically for better bringing features in the less illuminated part. Resolution: about 4.4 meters per pixel - Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

In 2011 Russia will send a mission called Phobos–Grunt (meaning Phobos Soil) to land on the martian moon, collect a soil sample and return it to Earth for analysis.

For operational and landing safety reasons, the proposed landing sites were selected on the far side of Phobos. This region was imaged by the HRSC high-resolution camera of Mars Express during the July-August 2008 flybys of Phobos. But new HRSC images showing the vicinity of the landing area under different conditions, such as better illumination from the Sun, remain highly valuable for mission planners.

Phobos Grunt landing areas

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard the ESA spacecraft Mars Express took this image of the Phobos Grunt landing area using the HRSC nadir channel on 7 March 2010, HRSC Orbit 7915. The image resolution is 4.4m per pixel and the insert marks the proposed landing region and sites for Phobos-Grunt - Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Source: ESA

Mars Express heading for closest flyby of Phobos

March 1, 2010 15:39 by scibuff

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, currently executing a series of 12 flybys of Mars’ largest moon Phobos, will pass the moon’s surface at an altitude of 67km on March 3 at 20:55 GMT. The close approach will enable scientists to gain valuable data an learn more about the mysterious moon.

Mars’ moon Phobos

This image was obtained by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express on 28 July 2008 (orbit 5870), at a distance of 351 km from the moon’s centre - Credit: ESA/ DLR/ FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

As the spacecraft approaches Phobos, it will be pulled slightly off of its orbit (by a few millimeters per second). Scientists on Earth will turn off all data signals from the spacecraft ensuring the only thing affecting the signal is gravitational tug by Phobos. Although incredible tiny (only one part in a trillion, that is 1 followed by 12 zeros), the changes will be revealed via the Doppler effect.

Animation revealing the graviational influance of Phobos on the orbit or Mars Express - Credit: MaRS team/Observatoire Royal de Belgique

This animation shows how the orbit of Mars Express has been influenced by the gravitational influence of Phobos during the spacecrafts fly-bys of the moon in Summer 2008. Since the orbital deviation strictly depends on the mass and shape of the moon, scientists could use this very deviation to determine the mass of Phobos with unprecedented accuracy (to about one billionth the mass of the Earth).