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A shadowed cliff on comet 67P/C-G imaged by Rosetta in Oct. 2014 (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

A shadowed cliff on comet 67P/C-G imaged by Rosetta in Oct. 2014 (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff separating two regions on 67P, the high, smooth plateaus of Babi and the boulder-strewn, slumped valley of Aten. Both are located on the larger lobe of the comet, while parts of the Ma’at region on the smaller “head” lobe can be seen in the distance at upper left. (You can see a regional map of comet 67P here.)

The image scale is about 75 cm (2.4 feet) per pixel and the entire image spans 770 meters across – about half a mile. Based on that, the cliff is easily over 190 meters (630 feet) high!

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest:Dr. Rhys Taylor, Former Arecibo Post Doc; Current research involves looking for galaxies in the 21cm waveband.

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
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What Are Extrasolar Planets?

An exoplanet about ten times Jupiter's mass located some 330 light years from Earth. X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/I.Pillitteri et al; Optical: DSS; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Artist’s illustration of WASP-18b, an exoplanet about ten times Jupiter’s mass located some 330 light years from Earth, along with optical and x-ray data in the lower right. Credit:  NASA/Chandra

For countless generations, human beings have looked out at the night sky and wondered if they were alone in the universe. With the discovery of other planets in our Solar System, the true extent of the Milky Way galaxy, and other galaxies beyond our own, this question has only deepened and become more profound.
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Latest image released by NASA of the spatter of white spots in the 57-mile-wide crater on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scientists with the Dawn mission believe they're highly reflective material, likely ice. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Latest image released by NASA of the white spots in the 57-mile-wide crater on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scientists with the Dawn mission believe they’re highly reflective material, likely ice. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The latest views of Ceres’ enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it’s obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we’ll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of white dots. Still, there are hints of interesting things going on here. [click to continue…]

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Release of SpaceX-6 Dragon on May 21, 2015 from the International Space Station for Pacific Ocean splashdown later in the day. Credit: NASA/Terry Virts

Release of SpaceX-6 Dragon on May 21, 2015 from the International Space Station for Pacific Ocean splashdown later in the day. Credit: NASA/Terry Virts

SpaceX Dragons seem to be flying nearly everywhere these days, coming and going at a record pace to the delight and relief of NASA, researchers and the space faring crews serving aboard the International Space Station (ISS). As one Dragon returned to Earth from space today, May 21, another Dragon prepares to soar to space soon.

The commercial SpaceX-6 cargo Dragon successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m. EDT (1642 GMT) today, Thursday, about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, some five hours after it was released from the grip of the stations robotic arm this morning at 7:04 a.m. EDT by the Expedition 43 crew as [click to continue…]

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How Bad Can Solar Storms Get?


Our Sun regularly pelts the Earth with all kinds of radiation and charged particles. How bad can these solar storms get?
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Moon Myths: Looking at Lunar Tall Tales

A waxing crescent Moon+Earthshine setting over southwest London. Image credit and copyright: Roger Hutchinson

A waxing crescent Moon+Earthshine setting over southwest London. Image credit and copyright: Roger Hutchinson

Turns out it’s all a big cosmic blame game.

Over the centuries, humans have attempted to link the phases of the Moon—especially the onset of the Full Moon—with terrestrial affairs. Heck, terms such as lunacy have even entered into the common lexicon, citing a supposed connection between insanity brought on by the Moon. And we’ve long heard anecdotal tales from police and late shift delivery room workers, who swear that everything, from crime rates to delivery room admissions increase around a Full Moon. [click to continue…]

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Blastoff of the X-37B spaceplane on United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with the OTV-4 AFSPC-5 satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 11:05 a.m. EDT, May 20, 2015 from Space Launch Complex-41. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Blastoff of the X-37B spaceplane on United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with the OTV-4 AFSPC-5 satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 11:05 a.m. EDT, May 20, 2015 from Space Launch Complex-41. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Story updated with additional details and photos

The X-37B, a reusable Air Force space plane launched today, May 20, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its fourth mission steeped in mystery as to its true goals for the U.S . military and was accompanied by ten tiny cubesat experiments for NASA and the NRO, including a solar sailing demonstration test for The Planetary Society.

The military space plan successfully blasted off for low Earth orbit atop a 20 story United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on the clandestine Air Force Space Command 5 (AFSPC-5) satellite mission for the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) today, May 20, from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. [click to continue…]

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Watch Jupiter Get Blasted by an Iridium Flare

Cue the “Space Invaders” sound effects! We’ve shared previously how astrophotographer Thierry Legault will travel anywhere to get a unique shot. He took this impressive but fun video of an Iridium 72 satellite flaring and passing in front of Jupiter, traveling to Oostende Beach at the North Sea in Belgium to capture this transit. He took both a wide angle view as well as the telescopic close-up view of Jupiter, and from the vantage point of Earth, it appears as though Jupiter gets blasted by the flare. In the zoomed-in view, even Jupiter’s moons are part of the scene.

You can almost hear the “pew-pew.”
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Hunting LightSail in Orbit

Image credit:

An artist’s conception of LightSail in low Earth orbit. Image credit: The Planetary Society

The hunt is on in the satellite tracking community, as the U.S. Air Force’s super-secret X-37B space plane rocketed into orbit today atop an Atlas V rocket out of Cape Canaveral.  This marks the start of OTV-4, the X-37B’s fourth trip into low Earth orbit. And though NORAD won’t be publishing the orbital elements for the mission, it is sure to provide an interesting hunt for backyard satellite sleuths on the ground. [click to continue…]

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