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 (2455541)

December 10, 2010 13:55 by scibuff

Top Stories

Preview of the 2010 Geminids – In the contest for best meteor shower of the year two showers are perennial candidates, the Perseids of August and next week’s Geminids. It’s usually a toss up as to which is better though over the past few years the Geminids have been better more times than not. If the sky is clear where you live, this Tuesday morning will provide one of the few nights of the year when it’s almost guaranteed that you will be able to observe a meteor after about 10-20 minutes of observing. –Carl Hergenrother

The SpaceX Business Plan: Help Build a Spacefaring Civilization – Elon Musk conceded that the space business world is an extraordinarily difficult place to make money. But that isn’t his main priority anyway. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Venus Has a Moon? – Astronomers have been busy trying to determine the spin period and composition of Venus’ moon. December 8, 2010, results were announced by JPL/Caltech scientists, led by Michael Hicks. -Mike Simonsen / Universe Today

Technicians Set Up Tank for Test Next Week – At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians at Launch Pad 39A have installed an environmental enclosure on space shuttle Discovery’s external fuel tank for a tanking test planned for no earlier than Wednesday, Dec. 15. –NASA

Odyssey Orbiter Nears Martian Longevity Record – By the middle of next week, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter will have worked longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history. –NASA/JPL

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Videos

Paranal telescopes with Laser Guide star (Unique 360º night time lapse)

  

Photos

Venus by Akatsuki

Venus by Akatsuki

Small Magellanic Cloud

Small Magellanic Cloud

NGC 6334 - Cat's Paw Nebula

NGC 6334 - Cat's Paw Nebula

The hidden arms of M94

The hidden arms of M94

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Snow Storm across the U.S. Midwest

Snow Storm across the U.S. Midwest - The blast of snow and cold air that moved across the Midwestern United States in early December 2010 is visible in this true-color image. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired the image at 11:00 a.m. Central time on December 7, two days after the weekend snow storm. - Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

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 Extended Edition (2455540)

December 9, 2010 12:05 by scibuff

Videos

On December 8, 2010 at 15:43 GMT a Falcon 9 launch vehicle took to the sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL as it transported a Dragon Capsule into orbit. Space X's Dragon capsule will demonstrate several objects on this flight, which will include space down and recovery.

This is the Webcast for the Falcon 9 Flight 2 from Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX. The second Falcon 9 rocket launched for SLC-40 in Flordia carrying the first Dragon COTS demo unit

  

Top Stories

Spectacular meteor ‘fireball’ explosion over Britain leaves stargazers buzzing ahead of Geminid space shower – The “very bright” meteor lit up the skies from Somerset to Aberdeen, leaving the astronomy world abuzz. Despite lasting just five seconds, witnesses thought they were watching a rare meteor shower because it was such a dazzling display. -Andrew Hough / The Telegraph

How to Settle, Once and for All, the Whole “What’s a Planet?” Debate – When I was a kid, I knew exactly what a planet was: It was something big and round, and it orbited the sun. There were nine such beasts in the celestial menagerie. We knew Pluto was a misfit—smallish, distant, and orbiting on a weird elliptical path—but we had no doubt it was part of the family. The other planets certainly fit my description, and all was well. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

Keck Observatory Pictures Show Fourth Planet in Giant Solar System – Astronomers announced the discovery of a fourth giant planet joining three others orbiting a nearby star with information that challenges our current understanding of planet formation. The dusty young star named HR8799, located 129 light years away, was first recognized in 2008 when the research team presented the first-ever images of a planetary system orbiting a star other than our sun. –Keck Observatory

Stunning ISS View of Volcanos on Earth – What a view! This photograph taken by one of the astronauts on the International Space Station shows several snow-covered volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

NASA’s Plan to Save Astrophysics From Space Telescope’s Budget Overruns – The $1.5 billion in cost overruns needed to complete the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope had NASA astrophysicists fearing for the future of other projects. But it appears NASA won’t suck funds from other astrophysics research to pay for the telescope. –Wired

WASP-12b: A Carbon Rich Exoplanet – Since its discovery in 2008, WASP-12b has been an unusual planet. This 1.4 Jovian mass, gas giant lies so close to its parent star that gas is being stripped from its atmosphere. But being stripped away isn’t the only odd property of this planet’s atmosphere. A new study has shown that it’s full of carbon. -Jon Voisey / Universe Today

What would happen if the sun went dark – Perhaps you caught the moon last night in the southwestern sky – a thin crescent lit by sunlight. If your timing was right, with the sky not too bright and moon not too low, you may have also seen the entire outline of the moon. –Astrobob

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Photos

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

M81 and M82

M81 and M82

  
Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Dragon spacecraft

Dragon spacecraft splashdown

Sunspots at Sunrise

Sunspots at Sunrise

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:43 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. In orbit, the Dragon capsule went through several maneuvers before it re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles west of the coast of Mexico. This is first demonstration flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which will provide cargo flights to the International Space Station in the future. - Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O'Connell

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 (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.

Another milestone for private spaceflight – SpaceX successfully launched Falcon 1 into Orbit

July 14, 2009 12:52 by scibuff

Early morning on Tuesday, July 14  at 03:35 UTC SpaceX started a new and exciting chapter in spaceflight history by successfully launching Falcon 1, the first ever privately developed rocket, into a stable Earth’s orbit from the SpaceX’s launch pad on Omelek Island, at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Falcon 1 carries Malaysia’s satellite RazakSAT with a high-resolution camera on board. SpaceX has set another milestone after the success story of the SpaceShipOne which completed the first ever privately funded (sub-orbital) human spaceflight on June 21, 2004.

Founded in 2002, the SpaceX team has now over 700 members who work on developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecrafts intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination.

Starting in 2010, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth–to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the space station. One of the Detailed Test Objectives (DTO) of the STS-127 mission, delayed for the fifth time due to weather, is the investigation of “DragonEye” – a pulsed laser navigation senser that SpaceX’s Dragon vehilce will use to approach the ISS.