7
Oct 12

Swift Satellite Discovers A New Black Hole In Our Galaxy

Source: NASA/SWIFT

Video Source: YouTube

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4
Oct 12

Spitzer Space Telescope measures expansion of Universe

Source: NASA Spitzer


Artist's impression of the cosmic distance ladder.
Image credits:NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have announced the most precise measurement yet of the Hubble constant, or the rate at which our universe is stretching apart.

The Hubble constant is named after the astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who astonished the world in the 1920s by confirming our universe has been expanding since it exploded into being 13.7 billion years ago. In the late 1990s, astronomers discovered the expansion is accelerating, or speeding up over time. Determining the expansion rate is critical for understanding the age and size of the universe.

Unlike NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which views the cosmos in visible light, Spitzer took advantage of  long-wavelength infrared light to make its new measurement. It improves by a factor of 3 on a similar, seminal study from the Hubble telescope and brings the uncertainty down to 3 percent, a giant leap in accuracy for cosmological measurements. The newly refined value for the Hubble constant is 74.3 ± 2.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec. A megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years. (read more)

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26
Sep 12

Weird Planets

Source: NASA Science Casts
 
 

Once, astronomers thought planets couldn't form around binary stars. Now Kepler has found a whole system of planets orbiting a double star. This finding shows that planetary systems are weirder and more abundant than previously thought.

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24
Sep 12

Curiosity Rover targets unusual rock en route to first destination

Source: NASA


he drive by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity during the mission's 43rd Martian day,or sol,
(Sept. 19, 2012) ended with this rock about 8 feet (2.5 meters) in front of the rover.
Image credits: NASA/JPL - Caltech.

Curiosity is about 8 feet (2.5 meters) from the rock. It lies about halfway from Curiosity's landing site, Bradbury Landing, to a location called Glenelg. In coming days, the team plans to touch the rock with a spectrometer to determine its elemental composition and use an arm-mounted camera to take close-up photographs.

Both the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and the mast-mounted, laser-zapping Chemistry and Camera Instrument will be used for identifying elements in the rock. This will allow cross-checking of the two instruments.

The rock has been named "Jake Matijevic." Jacob Matijevic (mah-TEE-uh-vik) was the surface operations systems chief engineer for Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and the project's Curiosity rover. He passed away Aug. 20, at age 64.  Matijevic also was a leading engineer for all of the previous NASA Mars rovers: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity.

Curiosity now has driven six days in a row. Daily distances range from 72 feet to 121 feet (22 meters to 37 meters). (read more)

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7
Sep 12

A Family Portrait of Galaxies

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1213


Hubble image of Arp 11.
Image credits: NASA/ESA

Two very different galaxies feature in this family portrait taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, together forming a peculiar galaxy pair called Arp 116. The image shows the dramatic differences in size, structure and colour between spiral and elliptical galaxies.(read more)

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6
Sep 12

Curiosity on the Move!

Source: Universe Today

The beginning of Curiosity’s journeys.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Yes, the Curiosity rover is on the move, evidenced by the rover tracks seen from above by the outstanding HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. If you look closely, visible are the rover’s wheels and even the camera mast. While this image’s color has been enhanced to show the surface details better, this is still an amazing view of Curiosity’s activities, displaying the incredible resolving power of the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment.

“These are great pictures that help us see context,” said Curiosity mission manager Mike Watkins at a press conference today. “Plus they’re just amazing photos.”

The two “blue” marks (blue is, of course, false color) seen near the site where the rover landed were formed when reddish surface dust was blown away by the rover’s descent stage, revealing darker basaltic sands underneath. Similarly, the tracks appear darker where the rover’s wheels disturbed the top layer of dust.

Below is another great view showing Curiosity’s parachute and backshell in color, highlighting the color variations in the parachute, along with a map of where Curiosity has been and will be going.

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2
Sep 12

Sweet Result from ALMA — Building blocks of life found around young star

Source: ESO Science Release eso1234


Artist's impression of sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star.
Image credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Calçada (ESO) & NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team.

A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.(read more)

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10
Aug 12

The Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

 

The Perseid meteor shower is underway. There's more to see than meteors, however, when the shower peaks on August 11th through 13th. The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the middle of the display.

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9
Aug 12

Curiosity raises Mast and snaps 1st Self Portrait and 1st 360 Panorama

Source: NASA Science News


Rover’s Self Portrait. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The rover Curiosity continues her marathon run of milestone achievements – snapping her 1st self portrait and 1st 360 degree panorama since touchdown inside Gale Crater barely over 2 sols, or Martian days ago.

To take all these new images, Curiosity used a new camera, the just-activated higher resolution navigation cameras (Navcam) positioned on the mast. Several of the new images provide the best taste yet of the stupendous vistas coming soon.

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9
Aug 12

'Meteor Smoke' Linked to Noctilucent Clouds

Source: NASA Science Casts

A key ingredient of Earth's strangest clouds does not come from Earth. New data from NASA's AIM spacecraft shows that "meteor smoke" is essential to the formation of noctilucent clouds.

 

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7
Aug 12

Amazing Image of Curiosity Parachuting to Mars

Source: NASA Science News


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona .

With split-second timing, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured an amazing snapshot of Curiosity parachuting to the surface of Mars.(read more)

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6
Aug 12

NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain

Source: NASA Science News

The most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation. (read more)

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1
Aug 12

Curiosity's Sky Crane

Source: NASA Science Casts

How do you deposit a massive SUV-sized nuclear-powered rover to the surface of an alien planet without making an SUV-sized crater? NASA's solution for Curiosity will be attempted for the first time on August 5/6 when they gently lower the rover to the red sands of Mars using a Sky Crane.

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25
Jul 12

NASA Mars Orbiter Repositioned to Phone Home Mars Landing

Source: NASA Mars


Artist's impression of NASA's Mars Odyssey over Mars' south pole.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars' atmosphere. Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft's perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process.(read more)

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21
Jul 12

Sharpest images of Sun's corona ever

Source: NASA


Hi-C will image the Sun at a 5x higher resolution
(0.1 arcsec/pixel image) than any previously done.
Image credits: NASA

A telescope launched July 11 aboard a NASA sounding rocket has captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the sun's million-degree atmosphere called the corona. The clarity of the images can help scientists better understand the behavior of the solar atmosphere and its impacts on Earth's space environment.

"These revolutionary images of the sun demonstrate the key aspects of NASA's sounding rocket program, namely the training of the next generation of principal investigators, the development of new space technologies, and scientific advancements," said Barbara Giles, director for NASA's Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the 58-foot-tall sounding rocket carried NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) telescope. Weighing 464 pounds, the 10-foot-long payload took 165 images during its brief 620-second flight. The telescope focused on a large active region on the sun with some images revealing the dynamic structure of the solar atmosphere in fine detail. These images were taken in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength. This higher energy wavelength of light is optimal for viewing the hot solar corona.

"We have an exceptional instrument and launched at the right time," said Jonathan Cirtain, senior heliophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "Because of the intense solar activity we're seeing right now, we were able to clearly focus on a sizeable, active sunspot and achieve our imaging goals."

The telescope acquired data at a rate of roughly one image every 5 seconds. Its resolution is approximately five times more detailed than the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument flying aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). For comparison, AIA can see structures on the sun's surface with the clarity of approximately 675 miles and observes the sun in 10 wavelengths of light. Hi-C can resolve features down to roughly 135 miles, but observed the sun in just one wavelength of light.

The high-resolution images were made possible because of a set of innovations on Hi-C's optics array. Hi-C's mirrors are approximately 9 1/2 inches across, roughly the same size as the SDO instrument's. The telescope includes some of the finest mirrors ever made for space-based instrumentation. The increase in resolution of the images captured by Hi-C is similar to making the transition in television viewing from a cathode ray tube TV to high definition TV.

Initially developed at Marshall, the final mirror configuration was completed with inputs from partners at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Mass., and a new manufacturing technique developed in coordination with L-3Com/Tinsley Laboratories of Richmond, Calif.

The high-quality optics were aligned to determine the spacing between the optics and the tilt of the mirror with extreme accuracy. Scientists and engineers from Marshall, SAO, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville worked to complete alignment of the mirrors, maintaining optic spacing to within a few ten-thousandths of an inch.

NASA's suborbital sounding rockets provide low-cost means to conduct space science and studies of Earth's upper atmosphere. In addition, they have proven to be a valuable test bed for new technologies for future satellites or probes to other planets.

Launched in February 2010, SDO is an advanced spacecraft studying the sun and its dynamic behavior. The spacecraft provides images with clarity 10 times better than high definition television and provides more comprehensive science data faster than any solar observing spacecraft in history.

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13
Jul 12

Hubble Discovers New Pluto Moon

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1212


A team of astronomers using the HST has discovered a fifth moon orbiting Pluto.
Image credits: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

A team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a fifth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. (read more)

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8
Jul 12

Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble

Source: NASA Hubble Space Telescope


Image credit: ESA/NASA.

 Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As it begins to run low on fuel, it is becoming unstable. Every few thousand years, it coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star’s latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.(read more)

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5
Jul 12

A geyser of hot gas flowing from a star

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1210


Hubble image of Herbig-Haro object HH 11.
Image credits: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage team (STScI/AURA).

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of Herbig-Haro 110, a geyser of hot gas flowing from a newborn star.(read more)

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28
Jun 12

Stellar Flare Blasts Exoplanet

Source: NASA Science News


Artist's impression of the evaporation of HD 189733b's atmosphere.
Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Working in tandem, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Swift satellite have caught a distant star blasting one of its own planets with a powerful stellar flare. The eruption stripped thousands of tons of material from the planet's atmosphere. (read more)

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27
Jun 12

A new didactical tool by NASA

Source: NASA

NASA has released a new online game called "Build it Yourself:" Satellite!". With this interactive tool  anyone can be an engineer or astronomer and build a satellite. Thjis is a unique oportunity to to discover planets orbiting distant stars, searche for  black holes  or try to observe the faint glow of the early Universe.

 
The website's layout

This Flash-based game, is magnificente learning tool for students and adults and  is just a click away at http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/build.html.

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