The Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule stand ready for launch prior to the detection of a helium leak in one of the engines forcing a scrub of the launch attempt on April 14. 2014 - now reset to April 18, 2014.  Credit: nasatech.net

The Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule stand ready for launch prior to the detection of a helium leak in one of the engines forcing a scrub of the launch attempt on April 14. 2014 – now reset to April 18, 2014. Credit: nasatech.net

NASA and SpaceX are marching forward towards a Friday, April 18 liftoff attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket sending a commercial Dragon cargo craft on the company’s third resupply mission to the International Space Station following the scrubbed launch attempt on Monday, April 14 – forced by the discovery of a Helium gas leak inside the rocket during the latter stages of the countdown.

An on time blastoff of the upgraded Falcon 9 sets the stage for an Easter Sunday rendezvous and berthing of the Dragon resupply spacecraft at the massive orbiting outpost packed with almost 5000 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the six person crew.

However the weather prognosis is rather [click to continue…]

Artist's rendering of Kepler-186f (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of the Earth-sized Kepler-186f (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/Caltech)

It’s truly a “eureka” moment for Kepler scientists: the first rocky Earth-sized world has been found in a star’s habitable “Goldilocks” zone, the narrow belt where liquid water could readily exist on a planet’s surface without freezing solid or boiling away. And while it’s much too soon to tell if this really is a “twin Earth,” we can now be fairly confident that they do in fact exist.

The newly-confirmed extrasolar planet has been dubbed Kepler-186f. It is the fifth and outermost planet discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186, located 490 light-years away. Kepler-186f completes one orbit around its star every 130 days, just within the outer edge of the system’s habitable zone.

The findings were made public today, April 17, during a teleconference hosted by NASA.

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This map shows the paths of Ceres and Vesta in Virgo through late June at five-day intervals. Vesta is currently magnitude +5.8 and Ceres 7.0. Both are easily visible in binoculars from suburban and rural skies. A wide view map below will help you navigate from nearby bright Mars to Zeta Virginis. From Zeta, star hop to either asteroid. Stars are shown to about magnitude +8.5. Click to enlarge. Created with Chris Marriott's SkyMap software

This map shows the paths of Ceres and Vesta in Virgo through late June at five-day intervals. Vesta is currently magnitude +5.8 and Ceres at + 7.0. Both are easily visible in binoculars from suburban and rural skies. The wide view map below will help you navigate from nearby Mars to Zeta Virginis. From Zeta, star hop to Vesta. Stars are shown to about magnitude +8.5. Click to enlarge. Created with Chris Marriott’s SkyMap software

Don’t let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they’ll easily fit in the same binocular field of view. [click to continue…]

This 14-hour exposure from the Hubble Space Telescope zooms in on a galaxy cluster and shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye. Credit: NASA/ESA.

This 14-hour exposure from the Hubble Space Telescope zooms in on a galaxy cluster and shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye. Credit: NASA/ESA.

While this image isn’t as deep as the Hubble Deep Field, this 14-hour exposure by the Hubble Space Telescope shows objects around a billion times fainter than what can be seen with the human eyes alone. Astronomers say this image also offers a remarkable depth of field that lets us see more than halfway to the edge of the observable Universe.

As well, this image also provides an extraordinary cross-section of the Universe in both distance and age, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history, and ranges from some of our nearest neighbors to objects seen in the early years of the Universe.
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NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, left, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana announce that NASA just signed a lease agreement with SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., for use and operation of NASA’s KSC Launch Complex 39A. Credit: Nicole Solomon

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, left, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana announce that NASA just signed a lease agreement with SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., for use and operation of NASA’s KSC Launch Complex 39A. Credit: Nicole Solomon

The keys to NASA’s historic launch Pad 39A that propelled humanity’s first man to walk on the Moon – Neil Armstrong – during the history making flight of Apollo 11, have been handed over to new owners, namely the private aerospace firm SpaceX for a new purpose – serving as a commercial launch facility.

NASA and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., have just signed an agreement giving SpaceX rights to occupy and operate seaside Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

SpaceX was founded by [click to continue…]