Aerospace

 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.


Propylene, a chemical used to make food-storage containers, car bumpers and other consumer products, has been detected on Saturn's moon Titan, the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet besides ours.

The propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), which measures the infrared light emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire.

CIRS can identify a particular gas glowing in the lower layers of the atmosphere from its unique thermal fingerprint. The challenge is to isolate this one signature from the signals of all other gases around it.


The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA's Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight. 


The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is going to show that two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, broadening the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data.

In the future, this could allow for 3-D High Definition video transmissions from deep space missions back to Earth.


Hot off of revolutionizing ground-based transportation with the electric car company Tesla and proposing to revolutionize slightly-above-the-ground-based transportation with the Jetsons-esque Hyperloop, eccentric billionaire genius Elon Musk (of PayPal fame) appears to believe he has risen above the law.  

Or rather, he believes his Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Grasshopper rocket has risen above the law.


Astronomers have assembled images from more than 13 years of superheated gas - 5,000 light-years long - as it is ejected from a supermassive black hole.

Even in such a cosmically short time frame, it gives us a better understanding of how black holes shape galaxy evolution.