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NASA identifies ice cloud above cruising altitude on Titan
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:05:54 EDT:
NASA scientists have identified an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud on Saturn's moon Titan that is similar to exotic clouds found far above Earth's poles.
NASA's Fermi satellite finds hints of starquakes in magnetar 'storm'
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:02:49 EDT:
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a rapid-fire "storm" of high-energy blasts from a highly magnetized neutron star, also called a magnetar, on Jan. 22, 2009. Now astronomers analyzing this data have discovered underlying signals related to seismic waves rippling throughout the magnetar.
Illusions in the cosmic clouds: New image of spinning neutron star
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:59:37 EDT:
Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.
MAVEN ultraviolet image of comet Siding Spring's hydrogen coma
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:57:10 EDT:
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft obtained this ultraviolet image of hydrogen surrounding comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring on Oct. 17, 2014, two days before the comet's closest approach to Mars. The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument imaged the comet at a distance of 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers).
Mars Orbiter's spectrometer shows Oort comet's coma
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:54:11 EDT:
The Compact Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) observed comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as the comet sped close to Mars on Oct. 19. CRISM recorded imaging data in 107 different wavelengths, showing the inner part of the cloud of dust, called the coma, surrounding the comet's nucleus.
Galactic wheel of life shines in infrared
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:51:58 EDT:
It might look like a spoked wheel or even a "Chakram" weapon wielded by warriors like "Xena," from the fictional TV show, but this ringed galaxy is actually a vast place of stellar life. A newly released image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1291. Though the galaxy is quite old, roughly 12 billion years, it is marked by an unusual ring where newborn stars are igniting.
NASA ultra-black nano-coating to be applied to 3-D new solar coronagraph
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:34:37 EDT:
An emerging super-black nanotechnology that is to be tested for the first time this fall on the International Space Station will be applied to a complex, 3-D component critical for suppressing stray light in a new, smaller, less-expensive solar coronagraph designed to ultimately fly on the orbiting outpost or as a hosted payload on a commercial satellite.
Mass gaging system will measure fuel transfer in zero gravity
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:27:10 EDT:
Transfer of super-cooled or cryogenic fuel from one tank to another in the zero gravity of space may one day be a reality. But the challenges of measuring fuels and fuel levels in the weightlessness of space must be solved first. A newly developed sensor technology that will be tested on the early suborbital flights of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo in 2015.
NASA creating a virtual telescope with two small spacecraft
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:25:07 EDT:
Although scientists have flown two spacecraft in formation, no one ever has aligned the spacecraft with a specific astronomical target and then held that configuration to make a scientific observation -- creating, in effect, a single or "virtual" telescope with two distinctly different satellites.
NASA's SDO observes largest sunspot of the solar cycle
on Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:10:20 EDT:
On Oct. 18, 2014, a sunspot rotated over the left side of the sun, and soon grew to be the largest active region seen in the current solar cycle, which began in 2008. Currently, the sunspot is almost 80,000 miles across -- ten Earth's could be laid across its diameter.
In orbit or on Earth, implantable device will be commanded to release therapeutic drugs remotely
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:33:57 EDT:
Scientists are developing an implantable device that delivers therapeutic drugs at a rate guided by remote control. The device's effectiveness will be tested aboard the International Space Station and on Earth's surface.
3-D map of the adolescent universe
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:41:11 EDT:
Using extremely faint light from galaxies 10.8-billion light years away, scientists have created one of the most complete, three-dimensional maps of a slice of the adolescent universe. The map shows a web of hydrogen gas that varies from low to high density at a time when the universe was made of a fraction of the dark matter we see.
Understanding and predicting solar flares
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:16:11 EDT:
Scientists have identified a key phenomenon in the triggering of solar flares. Using satellite data and models, the scientists were able to monitor the evolution of the solar magnetic field in a region with eruptive behavior. Their calculations reveal the formation of a magnetic rope1 that emerges from the interior of the Sun and is associated with the appearance of a sunspot. They show that this structure plays an important role in triggering the flare.
Lucky star escapes black hole with minor damage: Closest near-miss event to be spotted near the Milky Way
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:08:47 EDT:
Astronomers have gotten the closest look yet at what happens when a black hole takes a bite out of a star—and the star lives to tell the tale.
Acousto-optic tunable filter technology for balloon-borne platforms
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:07:33 EDT:
A balloon-borne acousto-optic tunable filter hyperspectral imager is ideally suited to address numerous outstanding questions in planetary science. Their spectral agility, narrowband wavelength selection, tolerance to the near-space environment, and spectral coverage would enable investigations not feasible from the ground. Example use cases include synoptic observations of clouds on Venus and the giant planets, studies of molecular emissions from cometary comae, the mapping of surface ices on small bodies, and polarimetry.
Intelligent materials that work in space
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:06:19 EDT:
Scientists will be testing technology developed in the International Space Station. The technology is based on intelligent materials that allow objects to be sent into orbit without the use of explosives.
Recent space debris threat warded off
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:20:37 EDT:
Space debris, also known as 'space junk,' is an ongoing real-life concern for teams managing satellites orbiting Earth, including NOAA-NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. It is not unusual for satellites that have the capability of maneuvering to be repositioned to avoid debris or to maintain the proper orbit.
New experiment provides route to macroscopic high-mass superpositions
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:18:21 EDT:
Scientists have designed a new experiment to test the foundations of quantum mechanics at the large scale. Standard quantum theory places no limit on particle size and current experiments use larger and larger particles, which exhibit wave-like behavior. However, at these masses experiments begin to probe extensions to standard quantum mechanics, which describe the apparent quantum-to-classical transition. Now researchers have designed a new type of experiment which will advance the current state-of-the-art experiments by a factor of 100, from 10,000 atomic mass units (amu), roughly equal to the mass of a single proton, to one million amu.
The perfume of the comet
on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:18:05 EDT:
How does a comet smell? Since early August the Rosetta Orbiter Sensor for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) is sniffing the fumes of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko with its two mass spectrometers. The detected chemistry in the coma of the comet is surprisingly rich already at more than 400 million kilometers from the Sun. 
Titan glowing at dusk and dawn
on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:01:15 EDT:
New maps of Saturn's moon Titan reveal large patches of trace gases shining brightly near the north and south poles. These regions are curiously shifted off the poles, to the east or west, so that dawn is breaking over the southern region while dusk is falling over the northern one.
Two families of comets found around nearby star: Biggest census ever of exocomets around Beta Pictoris
on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:06:01 EDT:
The HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has been used to make the most complete census of comets around another star ever created. Astronomers have studied nearly 500 individual comets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris and has discovered that they belong to two distinct families of exocomets: old exocomets that have made multiple passages near the star, and younger exocomets that probably came from the recent breakup of one or more larger objects.
New window on the early Universe
on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:43:31 EDT:
Scientists see good times approaching for astrophysicists after hatching a new observational strategy to distill detailed information from  galaxies at the edge of the Universe. Using two world-class supercomputers, the researchers were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach by simulating the formation of a massive galaxy at the dawn of cosmic time. The ALMA radio telescope – which stands at an elevation of 5,000 meters in the Atacama Desert of Chile, one of the driest places on earth – was then used to forge observations of the galaxy, showing how their method improves upon previous efforts.
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.