Aerospace

This idea dates back to the Russians in the 1970s. The surface of Venus is far too hot, and the atmosphere too dense, for Earth life. However, our air is a lifting gas on Venus with about half the lifting power of helium on Eath. A habitat filled with normal air will float high in the dense Venus atmosphere, The atmospheric pressure there is the same as Earth sea level (1 bar). Temperatures are perfect for Earth life too, just over 0°C.

Hubble's Frontier Fields observing program is using the magnifying power of enormous galaxy clusters to peer deep into the distant Universe and Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster,  is  the first image.

Astronomers previously observed Abell 2744 with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope back in 2011 and determined it had a very violent history, having formed from a cosmic pile-up of multiple galaxy clusters. They found that at least four galaxy clusters had crashed into one another to form Abell 2744, causing some weird and wonderful effects. 


An international team has published a major list of celestial X-ray sources in the Astrophysical Journal - over 150,000 high-energy stars and galaxies.

Using the X-ray telescope on board the US/UK/Italian Swift satellite, the team analyzed eight years' worth of data to make the first Swift X-ray Point Source catalogue. In addition to providing the positions of almost a hundred thousand previously unknown X-ray sources, the team have also analyzed the X-ray variability and X-ray colors of the sources in order to help to understand the origin of their emission, and to help in the classification of rare and exotic objects.

All of the data, including light curves and spectra are available online.


Australian astronomers have derived a catchy way to prevent catastrophic, multi-billion dollar space junk collisions -  by listening in to the radio signals generated by stations like the popular youth network Triple J. 

The project spearheaded by Curtin University in Western Australia uses the newly operational Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), one of three precursor telescopes for the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array project, to detect radio waves reflecting off thousands of objects orbiting the earth. The study has already tracked radio waves from FM transmitters located near Perth and Geraldton bouncing off the International Space Station as it passed over Western Australia, approximately 500 kilometres above the Earth's surface.   


C/2012 S1, Comet ISON, is intriguing because it has never approached the sun before and that is scientifically terrific. 

Comet ISON began in the Oort cloud almost a light year away and has traveled for over a million years. Unlike more famous comets, Halley's as an example, it has never come this way before - and that means it is still made of pristine matter from the earliest days of the solar system's formation. Its top layers haven't been lost by a trip near the sun.

To study it as it approached Sol, a vast fleet of solar observation experiments have been watching. Would it break up or slingshot? 


 C/2012 S1, Comet ISON, began in the Oort cloud, almost a light year away and has traveled for over a million years.

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013, Comet ISON will sling shot around the sun - but what happens next is a mystery. Either it will break up due to the intense heat and gravity of the sun or it will speed back away, destination unknown, but certainly never to return.


Los Alamos' RAPTOR
(RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response)
telescopes in New Mexico and Hawaii received a very bright cosmic birth announcement for a black hole on April 27th. 

The RAPTOR (RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response) system is a network of small robotic observatories that scan the skies for optical anomalies such as flashes emanating from a star in its death throes as it collapses and becomes a black hole - an object so dense that not even light can escape its gravity field. 

This birth announcement arrived from the constellation Leo in the form of an exceptionally bright flash of visible light that accompanied a powerful burst of cosmic gamma-ray emissions.


When we imagine the sun, we imagine fire, but that isn't really accurate. The sun is plasma; particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields. 

In late September, a 200,000 mile long magnetic filament of solar material erupted on the sun and it ripped through the sun's atmosphere, the corona, leaving behind what looks like a canyon of fire. The glowing canyon traces the channel where magnetic fields held the filament aloft before the explosion. Visualizers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. combined two days of satellite data to create the short movie below of this gigantic event on the sun.

The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) was developed to help scientists learn more about the complex nature of celestial objects in the universe and began searching the skies for certain types of stars and related phenomena in February.


Where is 'sea level' and how far above sea level is a particular place located? 

Quite a lot of things may go wrong in bridge building and the inhabitants of the German and the Swiss parts of Laufenburg were looking forward to a new bridge over the Rhine, the High Rhine Bridge, when they were taken aback by an embarrassing error: The heights of the two bridge parts growing towards each other differed by 54 centimeters.