This dramatic view looks across the region of Enceladus' geyser basin and down on the ends of the Baghdad and Damascus fractures that face Saturn. The image, which looks approximately in the direction of Saturn, was taken from a more elevated viewpoint than other Cassini survey images of this area of the moon's south pole.   Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

This dramatic view looks across the region of Enceladus’ geyser basin and down on the ends of the Baghdad and Damascus fractures that face Saturn. The image, which looks approximately in the direction of Saturn, was taken from a more elevated viewpoint than other Cassini survey images of this area of the moon’s south pole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Scientists analyzing the reams of data from NASA’s Cassini orbiter at Saturn have discovered 101 geysers erupting from the intriguing icy moon Enceladus and that the spewing material of liquid water likely originates from an underground sea located beneath the tiny moons ice shell, according to newly published research.

The geysers are composed of tiny icy particles, water vapor and trace amounts of simple organic molecules. They were first sighted in Cassini imagery snapped during flyby’s of the 310-mile-wide (500 kilometers wide) moon back in 2005 and immediately thrust Enceladus forward as a potential abode for alien life beyond Earth and prime scientific inquisition. [click to continue…]

In astronomy we throw around the term “light-year” seemingly as fast as light itself travels. And yet actually measuring this distance is incredibly tricky. A star’s parallax — its tiny apparent shift once a year caused by our moving viewpoint on Earth — tells its distance more truly than any other method.

Accurate parallaxes of nearby stars form the base of the entire cosmic distance ladder out to the farthest galaxies. It’s a crucial science that’s about to take a giant leap forward. The European Space Agency’s long-awaited Gaia observatory — launched on Dec. 19, 2013 — is now ready to begin its science mission. [click to continue…]

Channelling all U2 fans: this stunning timelapse above Joshua Tree National Park is a walking tourism brochure for astrophotographers. The pictures were taken in September and November 2012 (the latter during the Leonid meteor shower) and just put up on Vimeo a few days ago.

Can you spot any famous astronomical objects? Read below to see some of what was featured in these video clips.

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Anyone want to take bets on what this astronaut was listening to? This is a short silent video of Thomas Pesquet, a European astronaut, doing a dance in the kitchen during NEEMO 18 — the latest NASA underwater mission to test asteroid technologies.

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An artist's conception of the hot local bubble. Image Credit: NASA

An artist’s conception of the hot local bubble. Image Credit: NASA

I spent this past weekend backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park, where although the snow-swept peaks and the dangerously close wildlife were staggering, the night sky stood in triumph. Without a fire, the stars, a few planets, and the surprisingly bright Milky Way provided the only light to guide our way.

But the night sky as seen by the human eye is relatively dark. Little visible light stretching across the cosmos from stars, nebulae, and galaxies actually reaches Earth. The entire night sky as seen by an X-ray detector, however, glows faintly.

The origins of the soft X-ray glow permeating the sky have been highly debated for the past 50 years. But new findings show that it comes from both inside and outside the Solar System. [click to continue…]