Dream Chaser commercial crew vehicle built by Sierra Nevada Corp docks at ISS

Dream Chaser commercial crew vehicle built by Sierra Nevada Corp docks at ISS

The winged Dream Chaser mini-shuttle under development by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) has successfully completed a series of risk reduction milestone tests on key flight hardware systems thereby moving the private reusable spacecraft closer to its critical design review (CDR) and first flight under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aimed at restoring America’s indigenous human spaceflight access to low Earth orbit and the space station.

SNC announced that it passed NASA’s Milestones 9 and 9a involving numerous Risk Reduction and Technology Readiness Level (TRL) advancement tests of critical Dream Chaser® systems under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with the agency. [click to continue…]

Ultra-Deep Astrophoto: 75 Hours of the Antenna Galaxies

by Nancy Atkinson on July 23, 2014

75 hours of observing time allows for this 'amateur' view of the Antennae galaxies in the constellation Corvus. Look closely to see the myriad of distant background galaxies that show up in the image, as well.  Credit and copyright:  Rolf Wahl Olsen.

75 hours of observing time allows for this ‘amateur’ view of the Antennae galaxies in the constellation Corvus. Look closely to see the myriad of distant background galaxies that show up in the image, as well. Credit and copyright: Rolf Wahl Olsen.

You might think the image above of the famous Antenna Galaxies was taken by a large ground-based or even a space telescope. Think again. Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen from New Zealand compiled a total of 75 hours of observing time to create this ultra-deep view.

“To obtain a unique deep view of the faint tidal streams and numerous distant background galaxies I gathered 75 hours on this target during 38 nights from January to June 2014,” Rolf said via email. “At times it was rather frustrating because clouds kept interrupting my sessions.”

But he persisted, and the results are stunning.

He used his new 12.5″ f/4 Serrurier Truss Newtonian telescope, which he said gathers approximately 156% the amount of light over his old 10″ f/5 telescope.

Rolf even has put together comparison shots from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope of the same field of view:
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Split-Personality Pulsar Switches From Radio To Gamma-Rays

by Elizabeth Howell on July 23, 2014

Another snapshot of our strange universe: astronomers recently caught a pulsar — a particular kind of dense star — switch off its radio beacon while powerful gamma rays brightened fivefold.

“It’s almost as if someone flipped a switch, morphing the system from a lower-energy state to a higher-energy one,” stated lead researcher Benjamin Stappers, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, England.

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Video: A Dizzying, Whirly View Of The Earth From Space!

by Elizabeth Howell on July 23, 2014

We’ve got vertigo watching this video, but in a good way! This is a sped-up view of Earth from the International Space Station from the Cupola, a wraparound window that is usually used for cargo ship berthings and Earth observations.

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‘Weak’ New Meteor Shower Due To Fragile Comet Dust

by Elizabeth Howell on July 23, 2014

A Camelopardalid seen frame-by-frame in a recording taken May 24, 2014 at 1:58:08 a.m. UT (9:58:08 p.m. ET). Credit:  Original recording by Peter C. Slansky; compilation by Jim Albers and Peter Jenniskens.

A Camelopardalid seen frame-by-frame in a recording taken May 24, 2014 at 1:58:08 a.m. UT (9:58:08 p.m. ET). Credit:
Original recording by Peter C. Slansky; compilation by Jim Albers and Peter Jenniskens.

While the Camelopardalid shower only produced a few meteors, the lack of flashy disintegrations showed astronomers something new, a new study reveals: the dust from its parent comet (Comet 209P/Linear) was much more fragile than the usual. The reasons are still being investigated, but one theory is that after a century in space, there wasn’t much left to run into.

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