In a little more than two weeks, NASA will have an expensive hunk of metal slam into the Moon... the resulting plume will be closely observed in hopes to learn more about the possibility of the existence of water ice (read more and learn about how you can participate
). As the LCROSS
vessel makes it way toward its impact site, NASA needs assistance with tracking due to its steep orbit; they only have brief and infrequent time frames to monitor the trajectory using their Deep Space Network
of radio antennas.
Planck, a European-US collaborative mission launched by ESA, has provided its first pictures. Planck
is a followup to WMAP, and looks at the cosmic microwave background. But it has a host of other detectors and purposes, too. Stealing blatently from Wikipedia
, Planck will do:
- High resolution detections of both the total intensity and polarization of the primordial CMB anisotropies
- Creation of a catalogue of galaxy clusters through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
- Observations of the gravitational lensing of the CMB, as well as the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect
Black holes are invading stars, according to a new hyposthesis for the origin of the bright flashes in the universe that are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy today.
Those flashes, known as gamma ray bursts
, are beams of high energy radiation produced by jets of plasma from massive dying stars. The current model for these cosmic 'jet engines' involves plasma being heated by neutrinos in a disk of matter that forms around a black hole, which is created when a star collapses.
Meteorites discovered with known orbits are incredibly rare but researchers using cameras which capture fireballs streaking across the night sky have managed to find not only a tiny meteorite on the vast Nullarbor Plain, but also mathematically determine its orbit and the asteroid it came from.
The ability to track meteorites back to their asteroid home also means it is an incredibly cheap way of sampling that asteroid, rather than conducting an expensive space mission.
To find the meteorite, the team deployed three 'all sky cameras' on the Nullarbor Plain to form a fireball camera network. The cameras take a single time lapse picture of the sky throughout the entire night to record any fireballs over the Plain.
There is new evidence that the solar wind has stripped away significant quantities of water from Venus.
The SPICAV and VIRTIS instruments carried by the Venus Express spacecraft have been used to measure concentrations of water vapor in the Venusian atmosphere at altitudes ranging from the lowest 10 km up to 110 km, high above the cloud tops.
Studies led by scientists from Belgium and Russia have found that the ratio of heavy water, which contains the isotope deuterium instead of hydrogen, to normal water is nearly twice as high above the clouds compared to its value in the lower atmosphere.
Take two students from MIT; now, take two students from MIT with only $150 in their pockets and a notion to use a little science to make a little art, and what do you get? ... Eight gigabytes of near-space photographs and an experience to share to the rest of the world of citizen scientists!
NASA's Swift satellite has acquired a new high-resolution view of a neighboring spiral galaxy; M31 in the constellation Andromeda, the largest and closest spiral galaxy to our own.
M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy, is more than 220,000 light-years across and lies 2.5 million light-years away. On a clear, dark night, the galaxy is faintly visible as a misty patch to the naked eye.
Between May 25 and July 26, 2008, Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) acquired 330 images of M31 at wavelengths of 192.8, 224.6, and 260 nanometers. The images represent a total exposure time of 24 hours.
Last year, we featured on DPR AmSci, NASA's LCROSS Mission to the moon (read
), which is an important study to see if water ice exists on the moon. A successful find would amount to a critical discovery that will lead the way for sending humans back to the big rock in the sky.
What do engineer Burt Rutan, hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, and game programmer John Carmack have in common? Answer: they've built the first private earth-to-space rocket, space station, and lunar lander in the current new space race.
Most people are familiar with Scaled Composite's X-Prize $10 million victory with SpaceShipOne
, the first private reusable multi-flight manned spacecraft to succeed. But note 'first'-- they were not the only competitor. Just the first tick on the space race radar.