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At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency's Orion spacecraft pauses in front of the spaceport's iconic Vehicle Assembly Building as it is transported to Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After arrival at the launch pad, United Launch Alliance engineers and technicians will lift Orion and mount it atop its Delta IV Heavy rocket. Credit:   NASA/Frankie Martin

At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency’s Orion spacecraft pauses in front of the spaceport’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building as it is transported to Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After arrival at the launch pad, United Launch Alliance engineers and technicians will lift Orion and mount it atop its Delta IV Heavy rocket.
Credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

After a decade of hard work, numerous twists and turns, and ups and downs, NASA’s new Orion deep space crew vehicle is finally, and officially, marching towards its maiden blastoff in less than two week’s time.

The Orion spacecraft cleared one of the final hurdles to its first launch when [click to continue…]

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NASA’s “Remastered” View of Europa is the Best Yet

Europa.  CThe cracked, icy surface of Europa. The smoothness of the surface has led many scientists to conclude that oceans exist beneath it. Credit: NASA/JPLredit: NASA

The cracked, icy surface of Europa. The smoothness of the surface has led many scientists to conclude that oceans exist beneath it. Credit: NASA/JPLredit: NASA

Europa, Jupiter’s sixth-closest moon, has long been a source of fascination and wonder for astronomers. Not only is it unique amongst its Jovian peers for having a smooth, ice-covered surface, but it is believed that warm, ocean waters exist beneath that crust – which also makes it a strong candidate for extra-terrestrial life.

And now, combining a mosaic of color images with modern image processing techniques, NASA has produced a new version of what is perhaps the best view of Europa yet. And it is quite simply the closest approximation to what the human eye would see, and the next best thing to seeing it up close. [click to continue…]

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Earth’s Orbit Around The Sun

Diagram of the Earths orbit around the Sun. Credit: NASA/H. Zell

Diagram of the Earths orbit around the Sun. Credit: NASA/H. Zell

Ever since the 16th century when Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth revolved around in the Sun, scientists have worked tirelessly to understand the relationship in mathematical terms. If this bright celestial body – upon which depends the seasons, the diurnal cycle, and all life on Earth – does not revolve around us, then what exactly is the nature of our orbit around it?

For several centuries, astronomers have applied the scientific method to answer this question, and have determined that the Earth’s orbit around the Sun has many fascinating characteristics. [click to continue…]

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)

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The Allen Telescope Array is the first radio telescope designed specifically for SETI Photo by Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill

The Allen Telescope Array is the first radio telescope designed specifically for SETI Photo by Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill

Since it was founded in 1984, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, has been a principal American venue for scientific efforts to discover evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations. In mid-November, the institute sponsored a conference, “Communicating across the Cosmos”, on the problems of devising and understanding messages from other worlds. The conference drew 17 speakers from numerous disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archeology, mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, radio astronomy, and art.

This is the second of four installments of a report on the conference. Today, we’ll look at the SETI Institute’s current efforts to find an extraterrestrial message, and some of their future plans. If they find something, just how much information can we expect to receive? How much can we send?
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