The hypothetical super-Earth Kapteyn-b compared to Earth. Image credit: The Planetary Habitability Laboratory/University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo
Are the ancient planets discovered around Kapteyn’s Star for real?
As the saying goes, all that glitters isn’t gold, and the same could be said in the fast-paced hunt for exoplanets. In 2014, we reported on an exciting new discovery of two new exoplanets orbiting Kapteyn’s Star. The news came out of the American Astronomical Society’s 224th Meeting held in Boston Massachusetts, and immediately grabbed our attention. The current number of exoplanet discoveries as of July 2015 sits at 1,932 and counting. [click to continue…]
Latest color image of Pluto taken on July 3, 2015 shows 4 mysterious dark spots.
Best yet image of Pluto was taken by the LORRI imager on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 3, 2015 at a distance of 7.8 million mi (12.5 million km), just prior to the July 4 anomaly that sent New Horizons into safe mode. Color data taken from the Ralph instrument gathered earlier in the mission. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Despite some hair-raising and unplanned 4th of July fireworks of sorts in deep space which caused NASA’s Pluto bound New Horizons spacecraft to enter “safe mode” due to a computer glitch and temporarily halt all science operations over the weekend, the spacecraft is now fully back on track, “healthy” and working “flawlessly” and set to resume all planned research investigations on Tuesday, July 7, NASA and top mission managers announced at a media briefing held this afternoon, Monday, July 6.
It’s now just exactly one week before the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a fast flyby encounter of the ever intriguing binary planet, And the great news could not come soon enough given the proximity of the flyby. [click to continue…]
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What would it take to transform our moon into a world we could live on?
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Do you feel a little… distant today? The day after the 4th of July weekend brings with it the promise of barbecue leftovers and discount fireworks. It also sees our fair planet at aphelion, or its farthest point from the Sun. In 2015, aphelion (or apoapsis) occurs at 19:40 Universal Time (UT)/3:40 PM EDT today, as we sit 1.01668 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. [click to continue…]
With astronomers discovering new planets and other celestial objects all the time, you may be wondering what the newest planet to be discovered is. Well, that depends on your frame of reference. If we are talking about our Solar System, then the answer used to be Pluto, which was discovered by the American astronomer Clyde William Tombaugh in 1930.
Unfortunately, Pluto lost its status as a planet in 2006 when it was reclassified as a dwarf planet. Since then, another contender has emerged for the title of “newest planet in the Solar System” – a celestial body that goes by the name of Eris – while beyond our Solar System, thousands of new planets are being discovered.
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The ISS Progress M-28M (Progress 60) cargo craft is seen just a few minutes away from successful docking to the International Space Station on July 5, 2015. Credit: Roscosmos
Over three tons of much needed supplies and equipment finally reached the crew living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), when an unmanned and highly anticipated Russian Progress cargo ship successfully docked at the orbiting outpost early this morning, Sunday July 5, at 3:11 a.m. EDT (10:11 MSK, Moscow local time)- to all the partners relief.
This follows two straight international resupply launch failures that significantly crimped the stations stockpiles and abruptly impacted upcoming crew rotations and [click to continue…]
Satellite view of Roden Crater, outside Flagstaff, Arizona. Credit: Public Domain
Imagine a volcano powerful enough to leave a massive crater in the Earth that could be seen from space. Now imagine that to a satellite observing it from above, the crater looked very much like an eyeball. And imagine that this same Wplace was bought by an internationally-renowned artist for the sake of turning it into the largest public art project in history.
This describes the Roden Crater perfectly, the remains of an extinct volcano located near Flagstaff, Arizona, on the edge of the Painted Desert that has since become an art project to James Turell – a man with some pretty unique artistic sensibilities!
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NASA briefly lost touch with the New Horizons spacecraft yesterday. Communications have been reestablished but science data gathering is temporarily on hold. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SRI
For a nail-biting hour and 20 minutes, NASA lost contact yesterday afternoon July 4 with the New Horizons spacecraft just 9 days before its encounter with Pluto. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.
(UPDATE July 6: Great news! The mission will return to normal science operations July 7 – more details below.) [click to continue…]
Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God, by Matejko. Credit: frombork.art.pl
When it comes to understanding our place in the universe, few scientists have had more of an impact than Nicolaus Copernicus. The creator of the Copernican Model of the universe (aka. heliocentrism), his discovery that the Earth and other planets revolved the Sun triggered an intellectual revolution that would have far-reaching consequences.
In addition to playing a major part in the Scientific Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, his ideas changed the way people looked at the heavens, the planets, and would have a profound influence over men like Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton and many others. In short, the “Copernican Revolution” helped to usher in the era of modern science.
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An iconic section of the fuselage recovered from space shuttle Challenger with the American flag (left) and the flight deck windows recovered from space shuttle Columbia (right) are part of a new, permanent memorial, “Forever Remembered,” that opened on June 27, 2015 in the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida – featuring shuttle hardware and personal crew items never before on display for viewing by the public. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
NASA’s two lost Shuttle crews from the searing Challenger and Columbia accidents are now memorialized in the newly opened, permanent and highly emotional “Forever Remembered” tribute display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
The “Forever Remembered” memorial tribute was officially opened by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, both veteran shuttle astronauts, at a very special and moving small private NASA ceremony attended by families of the 14 fallen crew members and invited members of the media including Universe Today on June 27, 2015. [click to continue…]