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NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:07:34 EDT:
After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Cosmic rays threaten future deep-space astronaut missions
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:50:14 EDT:
Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky, concludes a new article.
Big black holes can block new stars
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:07:58 EDT:
Massive black holes spewing out radio-frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found.
POLARBEAR detects B-modes in the cosmic microwave background: Mapping cosmic structure, finding neutrino masses
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:11:42 EDT:
The POLARBEAR experiment has made the most sensitive and precise measurements yet of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background and found telling twists called B-modes in the patterns, signs that this cosmic backlight has been warped by intervening structures in the universe.
NASA Rover Opportunity views comet near Mars
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:35:40 EDT:
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured images of a comet passing much closer to Mars than any previous known comet flyby of Earth or Mars. The images of comet Siding Spring were taken against a backdrop of the pre-dawn Martian sky on Sunday (Oct. 19).
Mars Orbiter image shows comet nucleus is small
on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:33:44 EDT:
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured views of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring while that visitor sped past Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19), yielding information about its nucleus.
Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery
on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:39:12 EDT:
Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds: a first order mystery about the planet that researchers may be a little closer to solving because of a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old spacecraft data. Venus's surface can't be seen from orbit in visible light because of the planet's hot, dense, cloudy atmosphere. Instead, radar has been used by spacecraft to penetrate the clouds and map out the surface – both by reflecting radar off the surface to measure elevation and by looking at the radio emissions of the hot surface. The last spacecraft to map Venus in this way was Magellan, two decades ago.
NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter watches comet fly near
on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:28:26 EDT:
The longest-lived robot ever sent to Mars came through its latest challenge in good health, reporting home on schedule after sheltering behind Mars from possible comet dust.
NASA's MAVEN studies passing comet and its effects
on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:26:34 EDT:
NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars Oct. 19 and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter studies comet flyby
on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:21:55 EDT:
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has sent home more data about Mars than all other missions combined, is also now providing data about a comet that buzzed The Red Planet Oct. 19.
Explosion first evidence of a hydrogen-deficient supernova progenitor
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:28:28 EDT:
A new model is the first characterization of the progenitor for a hydrogen-deficient supernova. The model predicts that a bright hot star, which is the binary companion to an exploding object, remains after the explosion.Their findings have important implications for the evolution of massive stars.
NASA spacecraft provides new information about sun's atmosphere
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:54:07 EDT:
NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun's atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun's constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.
Tiny 'nanoflares' might heat the Sun's corona
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:06:10 EDT:
Why is the Sun's million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the Sun's surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. Today, a team led by Paola Testa is presenting new clues to the mystery of coronal heating. The team finds that miniature solar flares called 'nanoflares' -- and the speedy electrons they produce -- might partly be the source of that heat, at least in some of the hottest parts of the Sun's corona.
Journey to the center of the Earth: Geochemist uses helium and lead isotopes to gain insight into makeup of planet’s deep interior
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:40:07 EDT:
A geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet's early formation still trapped inside Earth. Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.
Cosmic jets of young stars formed by magnetic fields
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:37:02 EDT:
Astrophysical jets are counted among our universe's most spectacular phenomena: From the centers of black holes, quasars, or protostars, these rays of matter sometimes protrude several light years into space. Now, for the first time ever, an international team of researchers has successfully tested a new model that explains how magnetic fields form these emissions in young stars.
Wobbling of a Saturn moon hints at what lies beneath
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:36:56 EDT:
Using instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft to measure the wobbles of Mimas, the closest of Saturn's regular moons, an astronomer has inferred that this small moon's icy surface cloaks either a rugby ball-shaped rocky core or a sloshing sub-surface ocean.
Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:08:51 EDT:
Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the lensing power of giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744, astronomers may have made the most reliable distance measurement yet of an object that existed in the very early universe. The galaxy, estimated to be over 13 billion light-years away, is one of the farthest, faintest, and smallest galaxies ever seen.
Inexplicable signal from unseen universe provides tantalizing clue about one of astronomy's greatest secrets -- dark matter
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:54:10 EDT:
The first potential indication of direct detection of dark matter -- something that has been a mystery in physics for over 30 years -- has been attained. Astronomers found what appears to be a signature of 'axions', predicted 'dark matter' particle candidates.
Making measurements when a comet passes close to Mars
on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:54:02 EDT:
On Sunday 19 October at 20:29 CET, a comet will pass close to the planet Mars. At the same time the Swedish instrument ASPERA-3 is on board the European satellite Mars Express orbiting Mars and ready to make measurements.
Getting to know super-Earths: Using Hubble to study mysterious exoplanet
on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:25:54 EDT:
Results from NASA's Kepler mission have indicated that the most common planets in the galaxy are super-Earths -- those that are bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. We have no examples of these planets in our own solar system, so astronomers are using space telescopes to try to find out more about these worlds. Most recently they used Hubble to study the planet HD 97658b, in the constellation Leo.
Milky Way ransacks nearby dwarf galaxies
on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:25:52 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered that our nearest galactic neighbors, the dwarf spheroidal galaxies, are devoid of star-forming gas, and that our Milky Way Galaxy is to blame.
Potential Kuiper belt targets for new horizons Pluto mission
on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:28:37 EDT:
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects that the agency's New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it flies by Pluto in July 2015.
Astronomers spot faraway Uranus-like planet: First 'ice giant' planet found in another solar system
on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:13:37 EDT:
Our view of other solar systems just got a little more familiar, with the discovery of a planet 25,000 light-years away that resembles our own Uranus. Astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets around the Milky Way, including rocky planets similar to Earth and gas planets similar to Jupiter. But there is a third type of planet in our solar system -- part gas, part ice -- and this is the first time anyone has spotted a twin for our so-called "ice giant" planets, Uranus and Neptune.
Construction secrets of a galactic metropolis: APEX reveals hidden star formation in protocluster
on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:22:41 EDT:
Astronomers have used the APEX telescope to probe a huge galaxy cluster that is forming in the early Universe and revealed that much of the star formation taking place is not only hidden by dust, but also occurring in unexpected places. This is the first time that a full census of the star formation in such an object has been possible.
Technical feasibility of proposed 'Mars One' mission assessed
on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 17:08:35 EDT:
In 2012, the "Mars One" project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement. It's a bold vision -- particularly since Mars One claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already exist.
Rediscovering Venus to find faraway Earths: Measuring gravitational pull of a planet should speed search
on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:25:42 EDT:
As the search for Earth-like planets wages on, a team of researchers may have found a way to speed up the process. The team is developing a new laser-based technology known as the green astro-comb to obtain information about the mass of a distant planet. Using this information, astronomers will be able to determine whether distant exoplanets are rocky worlds like Earth or less dense gas giants like Jupiter.
NASA mission provides its first look at Martian upper atmosphere
on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:03:02 EDT:
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars, produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, and yielded a comprehensive map of highly variable ozone in the atmosphere underlying the coronas.
Meteorite fragments discovered 20 years after bolide event in Czech Republic
on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:27:36 EDT:
Scientists have discovered meteorite fragments 20 years after the corresponding bolide was seen in the skies of the Czech Republic. This discovery was made possible by reanalyzing the trajectory, which moved the impact line by 330 meters. Interestingly, the meteorites found on the ground are of different types, pointing to a parent asteroid of heterogeneous composition.
Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it?
on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:47:52 EDT:
Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it? No one knows for sure, but astrophysicists are searching for an answer.
NASA prepares its science fleet for Oct. 19 Mars comet encounter
on Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:07:24 EDT:
NASA's extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, have front row seats to image and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on Sunday, Oct. 19. Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet -- less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.
Preparing for Mars-grazing Comet Siding Spring
on Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:16:52 EDT:
Up to and during Comet Siding Spring’s flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, NASA’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars will attempt to capture data about the comet that are unobtainable from Earth.
Leaky, star-forming galaxies leads to better understand the universe
on Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:08:19 EDT:
Focusing on large, star-forming galaxies, researchers were able to measure radiation leaks in an effort to better understand how the universe evolved as the first stars were formed.
Temperature and water vapor on an exoplanet mapped
on Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:14:50 EDT:
A team of scientists has made the most detailed map yet of the temperature of an exoplanet’s atmosphere and traced the amount of water it contains. The planet targeted for both of the investigations was the hot-Jupiter exoplanet WASP-43b.
Milky Way has half the amount of dark matter as previously thought, new measurements reveal
on Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:16:00 EDT:
A new measurement of dark matter in the Milky Way has revealed there is half as much of the mysterious substance as previously thought. Australian astronomers used a method developed almost 100 years ago to discover that the weight of dark matter in our own galaxy is 800,000,000,000 times the mass of the Sun. They probed the edge of the Milky Way, looking closely, for the first time, at the fringes of the galaxy about 5 million billion kilometres from Earth.
Astronomers see right into heart of exploding star
on Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:11:16 EDT:
Astronomers have been able to see into the heart of an exploding star, by combining data from telescopes that are hundreds or even thousands of kilometers apart. 
Impossibly bright dead star: X-ray source in the Cigar Galaxy is the first ultraluminous pulsar ever detected
on Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:34:07 EDT:
Astronomers working with NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) have found a pulsating dead star beaming with the energy of about 10 million suns. The object, previously thought to be a black hole because it is so powerful, is in fact a pulsar -- the incredibly dense rotating remains of a star.
Hungry black hole eats faster than thought possible
on Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:13:40 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a black hole that is consuming gas from a nearby star 10 times faster than previously thought possible. The black hole -- known as P13 -- lies on the outskirts of the galaxy NGC7793 about 12 million light years from Earth and is ingesting a weight equivalent to 100 billion billion hot dogs every minute.
A warm dark matter search using XMASS
on Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:24:55 EDT:
The XMASS collaboration has reported its latest results on the search for warm dark matter. Their results rule out the possibility that super-weakly interacting massive bosonic particles constitute all dark matter in the universe.
Observing the Birkeland currents
on Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:34:22 EDT:
When the supersonic solar wind hits the Earth's magnetic field, a powerful electrical connection occurs with Earth's field, generating millions of amperes of current that drive the dazzling auroras. These so-called Birkeland currents connect the ionosphere to the magnetosphere and channel solar wind energy to Earth's uppermost atmosphere. Solar storms release torrential blasts of solar wind that cause much stronger currents and can overload power grids and disrupt communications and navigation.
NASA's SDO watches giant filament on the sun
on Fri, 03 Oct 2014 21:43:57 EDT:
A snaking, extended filament of solar material currently lies on the front of the sun -- some 1 million miles across from end to end. Filaments are clouds of solar material suspended above the sun by powerful magnetic forces. Though notoriously unstable, filaments can last for days or even weeks.
New method for detecting water on Mars
on Fri, 03 Oct 2014 06:45:24 EDT:
An undergraduate student has helped develop a new method for detecting water on Mars. Water is a key indicator for the potential of microbial life on the red planet. While reseachers didn't see evidence of it from two sites they studied, their method could look for water elsewhere.
Physicist turns smartphones into pocket cosmic ray detectors
on Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:26:57 EDT:
A new smartphone app can essentially turn Android phones into pocket cosmic ray detectors. The app, DECO, uses the phone's camera to capture energetic subatomic light particles and log data.
Exotic matter: A closer look at the perfect fluid sheds light on what happened microseconds after the Big Bang
on Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:18:58 EDT:
By combining data from two high-energy accelerators, nuclear scientists have refined the measurement of a remarkable property of exotic matter known as quark-gluon plasma. The findings reveal new aspects of the ultra-hot, 'perfect fluid' that give clues to the state of the young universe just microseconds after the Big Bang.
Swirling cloud at Titan's pole is cold and toxic
on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:00:01 EDT:
Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have discovered that a giant, toxic cloud is hovering over the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, after the atmosphere there cooled dramatically. The scientists found that this giant polar vortex contains frozen particles of the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide, or HCN.
Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive
on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:31:23 EDT:
Scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called sterile neutrino, a possible new type of neutrino beyond the three known neutrino 'flavors,' or types. The existence of this elusive particle, if proven, would have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, and could impact the design of future neutrino experiments.
Solving the mystery of the 'Man in the Moon': Volcanic plume, not an asteroid, likely created the moon's largest basin
on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:30:22 EDT:
New data obtained by NASA's GRAIL mission reveals that the Procellarum region on the near side of the moon -- a giant basin often referred to as the "man in the moon" -- likely arose not from a massive asteroid strike, but from a large plume of magma deep within the moon's interior.
Astronomy: Wild ducks take flight in open cluster
on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:02:40 EDT:
The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known -- Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.
Students astonished by stuttering star
on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:00:57 EDT:
Secondary school students in Australia have helped reveal weird, jittery behavior in a pulsar called PSR J1717-4054. Pulsars are super-dense, highly magnetized balls of ‘neutron matter’ the size of a small city. They form when stars with more than 10 times the mass of our Sun explode as supernovae, leaving behind a compact remnant made of material far denser than ordinary matter. The name pulsar is given to these objects because they spin and emit pulses of radio waves.
U.S., India to collaborate on Mars exploration, Earth-observing mission
on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:49:41 EDT:
In a meeting Sept. 30, 2014 in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed two documents to launch a NASA-ISRO satellite mission to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions to explore Mars.
Rosetta to deploy lander on November 12
on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:47:02 EDT:
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 12. Philae's landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet's two "lobes," with a backup site on the larger lobe.
NASA's Swift mission observes mega flares from nearby red dwarf star
on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:15:48 EDT:
On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.
Space debris expert warns of increasing small satellite collision risk
on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:04:47 EDT:
The increasing number of small 'CubeSat' satellites being launched combined with a relaxed attitude to debris mitigation could lead to hazards for all space users unless preventative measures are taken, warns a leading space debris expert.
Astronomers find 'cousin' planets around twin stars
on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:04:39 EDT:
Astronomers have found two new Jupiter-sized extra-solar planets, each orbiting one star of a binary-star system.  Most known extra-solar planets orbit stars that are alone, like our Sun. Yet many stars are part of binary systems, twin stars formed from the same gas cloud. Now, for the first time, two stars of a binary system are both found to host a "hot Jupiter'' exoplanet.
Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun
on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:45:39 EDT:
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.
Glaciers in the Grand Canyon of Mars?
on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:42:48 EDT:
For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, researchers have identified features that might have been carved by past glaciers as they flowed through the canyons; however, these observations have remained highly controversial and contested.
Cassini watches mysterious feature evolve in hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan
on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:32:51 EDT:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) in Ligeia Mare, one of the largest seas on Titan. It has now been observed twice by Cassini's radar experiment, but its appearance changed between the two apparitions.
Simulations reveal an unusual death for ancient stars
on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:05:59 EDT:
Certain primordial stars -- between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar masses -- may have died unusually. In death, these objects -- among the universe's first generation of stars -- would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.
New molecule found in space connotes life origins
on Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:36:34 EDT:
Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.
'Milky Way explorer' tours the solar system
on Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:04:14 EDT:
Imagine seeing the Sun, planets, and a myriad other objects in our Solar System as you have never seen them before -- in invisible radio light! The National Radio Astronomy Observatory released a new Solar System installment of its Milky Way Explorer.
NASA rover drill pulls first taste from Mars mountain
on Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:15:52 EDT:
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has collected its first taste of the layered mountain whose scientific allure drew the mission to choose this part of Mars as a landing site.