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.

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 (2455471)

October 1, 2010 12:48 by scibuff

Top Stories

Additional Shuttle Mission Almost Guaranteed – For some time now there have been rumors and speculation that there will be an additional flight added to the two currently remaining on the shuttle manifest. With the passage of the Senate 2010 NASA Authorization Act (S. 3729) the mission which would be STS-135 – is now all but a certainty. -Jason Rhian / Universe Today

China’s 2nd lunar probe Chang’e-2 blasts off – China launched its second unmanned lunar probe, Chang’e-2 on Friday, inaugurating the second phase of a three-step moon mission, which will culminate in a soft-landing on the moon. -xinhuanet

Astronomers Confirm a New Type of Supernova – When our sun comes to its ending in five billion years or so, it will fade into a quiescent white dwarf. Bigger stars go out with a bang—those with more than 10 times the mass of our sun collapse with enough vigor to spark a supernova, one of the most energetic events in the universe. -Michael Moyer / Scientific American

Virgin Galactic Will Be Ready For Space Travel Within 18 Months – Virgin Galactic was said to be ready for space tourism in about 2 years. Usually, shit happens and those deadlines get pushed way down the line. However, according to Virgin Galactic, everything is on track. (So far, that is.) -timehuman blog

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Videos

The STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft watched as an eruptive prominence near the back of the Sun arched up but then headed back to the Sun's surface over a few hours (Sept. 19, 2010) - Credit: Courtesy of SOHO/STEREO consortium. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

  

Photos

The Antennae galaxies

The Antennae galaxies

Comet 103P/Hartley 2

Comet 103P/Hartley 2

ISS transit

ISS transit

Chang'e II Lift-off

Chang'e II Lift-off

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Paris from the ISS

Paris from the International Space Station

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery. The photo was taken by Douglas H. Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels), a member of the Expedition 24/25 crew, and the first US Army astronaut to command the International Space Station.

STEREO sees a very unstable solar prominence

January 17, 2010 02:56 by scibuff

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI), one of the five cameras of the Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) on the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) Behind, captured this very unstable solar prominence visible for almost three days before it disappeared on January 8.  EUVI’s 304 Angstrom bandpass is ideal for capturing solar prominence because it is sensitive to the He II singly ionized state of helium at a characteristic temperature of about 80,000 K – the temperature of prominence material.

Solar prominence captured by the STEREO (behind) spacecraft between January 6 and January 8, 2010 - Credit: NASA/STEREO

A solar prominence is an often loop-shaped bright feature originating from the photosphere extending outwards to Sun’s corona. It contains relatively cool plasma, or ionized gas, which is similar in composition to a thin layer of atmosphere just above the Sun’s surface, know as the chromosphere. Although this material can have a temperature of the order of tens of thousands of degrees (several times hotter than the Sun’s surface), it is bone-chilling cold compared to million degrees of the extremely hot plasma that makes up the solar corona. The mass contained within a prominence is typically of the order of 100 billion tonnes.

In the video above, the cloud of gases seems to swirl and twist in rolling motions, though at times the material can be seen flowing directionally along magnetic field lines back into the Sun. Although prominences occur fairly often, this one exhibited more dynamic motion than most.

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission will employ two nearly identical space-based observatories – one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind – to provide the first-ever stereoscopic measurements to study the Sun and the nature of its coronal mass ejections, or CMEs