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Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions
on Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:22:31 EDT:
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.
The origin of Uranus and Neptune elucidated
on Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:15:38 EDT:
Astronomers have just proposed a solution to the problematic chemical composition of Uranus and Neptune, thus providing clues for understanding their formation. The researchers focused on the positioning of these two outermost planets of the Solar System, and propose a new model explaining how and where they formed.
Infant solar system shows signs of windy weather
on Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:29:12 EDT:
Astronomers have observed what may be the first-ever signs of windy weather around a T Tauri star, an infant analog of our own Sun. This may help explain why some T Tauri stars have disks that glow weirdly in infrared light while others shine in a more expected fashion.
Finding hints of gravitational waves in the stars
on Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:12:50 EDT:
Scientists have shown how gravitational waves -- invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe -- might be 'seen' by looking at the stars. The new model proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein's 1916 theory of general relativity. The study contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.
NASA's Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit around Red Planet
on Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:11:11 EDT:
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars' orbit at 7:24 p.m. PDT (10:24 p.m. EDT) Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.
SpaceX Dragon spacecraft lifts off with scientific cargo for International Space Station
on Sun, 21 Sep 2014 11:11:11 EDT:
An eruption of fire and smoke sent a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft skyward laden with 5,000 pounds of scientific equipment and supplies destined for use by the crew of the International Space Station.
Breezy science, plant studies and more head to space station on SpaceX-4
on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:11:11 EDT:
Imagine a dragon flying through the heavens on mighty, outstretched wings. The majestic beast knows the currents of winds and how to harness their power as it soars above the clouds. SpaceX's real Dragon -- the company's spacecraft that transports supplies and science to the International Space Station (ISS) -- will deliver, and later return, new technology, biology and biotechnology and Earth and space science research to the orbiting outpost.
An anomaly in satellites' flybys confounds scientists
on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:05:26 EDT:
When space probes, such as Rosetta and Cassini, fly over certain planets and moons, in order to gain momentum and travel long distances, their speed changes slightly for an unknown reason. A researcher has now analyzed whether or not a hypothetical gravitomagnetic field could have an influence. However, other factors such as solar radiation, tides, or even relativistic effects or dark matter could be behind this mystery.
Shrink-wrapping spacesuits: Spacesuits of the future may resemble a streamlined second skin
on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:48:33 EDT:
For future astronauts, the process of suiting up may go something like this: Instead of climbing into a conventional, bulky, gas-pressurized suit, an astronaut may don a lightweight, stretchy garment, lined with tiny, musclelike coils. She would then plug in to a spacecraft's power supply, triggering the coils to contract and essentially shrink-wrap the garment around her body.
Latest measurements from the AMS experiment unveil new territories in the flux of cosmic rays
on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:38:57 EDT:
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer collaboration has just presented its latest results. These are based on the analysis of 41 billion particles detected with the space-based AMS detector aboard the International Space Station. The results provide new insights into the nature of the mysterious excess of positrons observed in the flux of cosmic rays.
Monster galaxies gain weight by eating smaller neighbors
on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:38:47 EDT:
Massive galaxies in the universe have stopped making their own stars and are instead snacking on nearby galaxies. Astronomers looked at more than 22,000 galaxies and found that while smaller galaxies are very efficient at creating stars from gas, the most massive galaxies are much less efficient at star formation, producing hardly any new stars themselves, and instead grow by 'eating' other galaxies.
Miranda: An icy moon deformed by tidal heating
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:22:22 EDT:
Miranda, a small, icy moon of Uranus, is one of the most visually striking and enigmatic bodies in the solar system. Despite its relatively small size, Miranda appears to have experienced an episode of intense resurfacing that resulted in the formation of at least three remarkable and unique surface features -- polygonal-shaped regions called coronae.
CASIS research set for launch aboard SpaceX mission to space station
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:05:41 EDT:
This fall marks another commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station. In September, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to blast off to the orbital laboratory carrying supplies and investigations as part of the company's fourth contracted mission to the complex.
NASA Ames to launch science experiments to space station on SpaceX rocket
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:28:45 EDT:
NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will launch four life science experiments to the International Space Station aboard NASA's next commercial cargo resupply flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The research missions include a microbiology study of yeast, a fruit fly study designed and built by students, a plant biology investigation and the maiden voyage of NASA's new rodent research system.
Everything in moderation: Micro-8 to study regulating pathogens in space
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:26:02 EDT:
Candida albicans, an opportunistic yeast pathogen and model organism for research, is common and usually doesn't damage our healthy personal ecosystem. However, when our immune system is stressed on Earth or in space, such as during long-duration space travel, C. albicans can grow out of control and potentially cause infections. Scientists want to address controlling these outbreaks with the next round of cellular growth experiments on the International Space Station -- Micro-8.
Dawn spacecraft operating normally after safe mode triggered
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:24:12 EDT:
The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned communication with NASA's Deep Space Network that morning. The spacecraft was not performing any special activities at the time.
NASA Mars spacecraft ready for Sept. 21 orbit insertion
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:22:34 EDT:
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).
Pulse of a dead star powers intense gamma rays
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:08:48 EDT:
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is helping to untangle the mystery of what powers high-energy gamma rays emanating from supernova. The observatory's high-energy X-ray eyes were able to peer into a particular site of powerful gamma rays and confirm the source: A spinning, dead star called a pulsar.
NASA's wind-watching ISS-RapidScat ready for launch
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:04:05 EDT:
The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 20, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station's partners and managers.
Comet landing mission: 'J' marks the spot for Rosetta's lander
on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:00:49 EDT:
The European Space Agency's Rosetta's lander, Philae, will target Site J, an intriguing region on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk to the lander compared to the other candidate sites. The 220-pound (100-kilogram) lander is scheduled to reach the surface on November 11, where it will perform in-depth measurements to characterize the nucleus. Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.
NASA releases IRIS footage of X-class flare
on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:32:41 EDT:
On Sept. 10, 2014, NASA's newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, joined other telescopes to witness an X-class flare -- an example of one of the strongest solar flares -- on the sun.
Space: The final frontier ... open to the public
on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:32:39 EDT:
Historically, spaceflight has been reserved for the very healthy. Astronauts are selected for their ability to meet the highest physical standards to prepare them for any unknown challenges. However, with the advent of commercial spaceflight, average people can now fly. The aerospace medicine community has had little information about what medical conditions should be considered particularly risky in the spaceflight environment, as most medical conditions have never been studied for risk in space -- until now.
Smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole
on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:16:25 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered that an ultracompact dwarf galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole – the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive light-sucking object. The finding suggests huge black holes may be more common than previously believed.
NASA chooses American companies to transport U.S. astronauts to International Space Station
on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:46:48 EDT:
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia in 2017.
Violent origins of disc galaxies: Why Milky Way-like galaxies are so common in the universe
on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:31:14 EDT:
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.
219 million stars: Astronomers release most detailed catalog ever made of the visible Milky Way
on Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:48:19 EDT:
A new catalog of the visible part of the northern part of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. From dark sky sites on Earth, the Milky Way appears as a glowing band stretching across the sky. To astronomers, it is the disk of our own galaxy, a system stretching across 100,000 light-years, seen edge-on from our vantage point orbiting the Sun. The disk contains the majority of the stars in the galaxy, including the Sun, and the densest concentrations of dust and gas.
Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars
on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 08:37:46 EDT:
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding are of a 'cell-like' structure, which investigators now know once held water.
Clues to how giant elliptical galaxies move
on Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:53:14 EDT:
New clues to how giant elliptical galaxies move have been discovered by an international team of astronomers. Elliptical galaxies have long been considered as essentially being made up of old stars that move randomly within them, like a swarm of bees. This has been challenged in many instances in the past ten-twenty years, but giant elliptical galaxies are still considered as a nearly round and non-rotating group of old stars by astronomers.
NASA identifying candidate asteroids for redirect mission
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:53:09 EDT:
NASA is on the hunt to add potential candidate target asteroids for the agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The robotic mission will identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon. In the 2020s, astronauts will explore the asteroid and return to Earth with samples. This will test and advance new technologies and spaceflight experience needed to take humans to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover arrives at Martian mountain
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:30:05 EDT:
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission's long-term prime destination.
First map of Rosetta's comet
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:27:41 EDT:
Scientists have found that the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko -- the target of study for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission -- can be divided into several regions, each characterized by different classes of features. High-resolution images of the comet reveal a unique, multifaceted world.
Unraveling mysteries of the Venusian atmosphere
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:07:54 EDT:
Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought -- which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.
Alien life search: Spotting atmospheric chemistry of alien worlds devoid of life
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:07:35 EDT:
Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien worlds for gases that might be produced by life can't rely on the detection of just one type, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, because in some cases these gases can be produced non-biologically, according to extensive simulations. Researchers have carefully simulated the atmospheric chemistry of alien worlds devoid of life thousands of times over a period of more than four years, varying the atmospheric compositions and star types.
Astrophysicists to probe how early universe made chemical elements
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:39:41 EDT:
In the beginning, all was hydrogen -- and helium, plus a bit of lithium. Three elements in all. Today's universe, however, has nearly a hundred naturally occurring elements, with thousands of variants (isotopes), and more likely to come. Figuring out how the universe got from its starting batch of three elements to the menagerie found today is the focus of a new research project.
'Hot Jupiters' provoke their own host suns to wobble
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:54:48 EDT:
Blame the 'hot Jupiters.' These large, gaseous exoplanets can make their suns wobble when they wend their way through their own solar systems to snuggle up against their suns, according to new research.
Lurking bright blue star caught: The last piece of a supernova puzzle
on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 09:47:13 EDT:
Astronomers have found evidence of a hot binary companion star to a yellow supergiant star, which had become a bright supernova. Its existence had been predicted by the team. This finding provides the last link in a chain of observations that have so far supported the team's theoretical picture for this supernova.
Astronomers pinpoint 'Venus Zone' around stars
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:41:45 EDT:
Astronomers have defined the 'Venus Zone,' the area around a star in which a planet is likely to exhibit the unlivable conditions found on the planet Venus. The research will aid Kepler astronomers searching for exoplanets, helping them determine which are likely to be similar to Earth and which are more likely to resemble Venus.
Mysterious quasar sequence explained
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:25:20 EDT:
Quasars are supermassive black holes that live at the center of distant massive galaxies. They shine as the most luminous beacons in the sky by rapidly accelerating matter into their gravitationally inescapable centers. New work solves a quasar mystery that astronomers have been puzzling over for decades. It shows that most observed quasar phenomena can be unified with two simple quantities: how efficiently the hole is being fed, and the viewing orientation of the astronomer.
New observing capabilities for ALMA
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:24:20 EDT:
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has reached a major milestone by extending its vision fully into the realm of the submillimeter, the wavelengths of cosmic light that hold intriguing information about the cold, dark, and distant Universe.
Where to grab space debris: Algorithm analyzes the rotation of objects in space
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:06:43 EDT:
Objects in space tend to spin -- and spin in a way that's totally different from the way they spin on earth. Understanding how objects are spinning, where their centers of mass are, and how their mass is distributed is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.
Bright clumps in Saturn ring now mysteriously scarce
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:20:40 EDT:
Compared to the age of the solar system -- about four-and-a-half billion years -- a couple of decades are next to nothing. Some planetary locales change little over many millions of years, so for scientists who study the planets, any object that evolves on such a short interval makes for a tempting target for study. And so it is with the ever-changing rings of Saturn.
Geomagnetic storm mystery solved: How magnetic energy turns into particle energy
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:38:34 EDT:
Magnetic reconnection can trigger geomagnetic storms that disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and black out power grids. But how reconnection, in which the magnetic field lines in plasma snap apart and violently reconnect, transforms magnetic energy into explosive particle energy remains a major unsolved problem in plasma astrophysics.
This star cluster is not what it seems: Messier 54 shows lithium problem also applies outside our galaxy
on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:33:25 EDT:
A new image from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile shows a vast collection of stars, the globular cluster Messier 54. This cluster looks very similar to many others but it has a secret. Messier 54 doesn’t belong to the Milky Way, but is part of a small satellite galaxy, the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. This unusual parentage has now allowed astronomers to use the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to test whether there are also unexpectedly low levels of the element lithium in stars outside the Milky Way.
Companion star hidden for 21 years in a supernova's glare
on Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:07:54 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare class of supernova, known as a Type IIb. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion.
First evidence for water ice clouds found outside our solar system
on Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:07:54 EDT:
A team of scientists has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune -- but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now.
Interactive dark matter could explain Milky Way's missing satellite galaxies
on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 20:46:03 EDT:
Scientists believe they have found a way to explain why there are not as many galaxies orbiting the Milky Way as expected. Computer simulations of the formation of our galaxy suggest that there should be many more small galaxies around the Milky Way than are observed through telescopes. This has thrown doubt on the generally accepted theory of cold dark matter, an invisible and mysterious substance that scientists predict should allow for more galaxy formation around the Milky Way than is seen. Now cosmologists think they have found a potential solution to the problem.
NASA's RapidScat: Some assembly required -- in space
on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:56:25 EDT:
NASA's ISS-RapidScat wind-watching scatterometer, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than Sept. 19, will be the first science payload to be robotically assembled in space since the space station itself. This image shows the instrument assembly on the left, shrouded in white. On the right is Rapid-Scat's nadir adapter, a very sophisticated bracket that points the scatterometer toward Earth so that it can record the direction and speed of ocean winds. The two pieces are stowed in the unpressurized trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Evidence of 'diving' tectonic plates on Jupiter's moon Europa
on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:22:44 EDT:
Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa. This indicates the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth. "Europa may be more Earth-like than we imagined, if it has a global plate tectonic system," said one of the researchers.
Planet forming around star about 335 light years from Earth
on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:15:11 EDT:
Scientists have discovered what they believe is evidence of a planet forming around a star about 335 light years from Earth. Astronomers set out to study the protoplanetary disk around a star known as HD 100546, and as sometimes happens in scientific inquiry, it was by "chance" that they stumbled upon the formation of the planet orbiting this star.
Rosetta-Alice spectrograph obtains first far ultraviolet spectra of a cometary surface
on Thu, 04 Sep 2014 15:38:03 EDT:
NASA's Alice ultraviolet spectrograph aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet orbiter has delivered its first scientific discoveries. Rosetta, in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is the first spacecraft to study a comet up close.
A new model for a cosmological enigma -- dark matter: Solving long-standing and troublesome puzzles
on Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:12:41 EDT:
Astrophysicists believe that about 80 percent of the substance of our universe is made up of mysterious "dark matter" that can't be perceived by human senses or scientific instruments.
Keeping upright: How much gravity is enough?
on Wed, 03 Sep 2014 16:35:38 EDT:
Keeping upright in a low-gravity environment is not easy, and NASA documents abound with examples of astronauts falling on the lunar surface. Now, a new study suggests that the reason for all these moon mishaps might be because its gravity isn't sufficient to provide astronauts with unambiguous information on which way is 'up'.
Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way
on Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:33:19 EDT:
Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope -- among other telescopes -- have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous supercluster of galaxies, which they have dubbed 'Laniakea,' which means 'immense heaven' in Hawaiian.
'Brightpoints': New clues to determining the solar cycle
on Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:47:43 EDT:
Approximately every 11 years, the sun undergoes a complete personality change from quiet and calm to violently active. However, the timing of the solar cycle is far from precise. Now, researchers have discovered a new marker to track the course of the solar cycle -- brightpoints, little bright spots in the solar atmosphere that allow us to observe the constant roiling of material inside the sun.
Cosmic forecast: Dark clouds will give way to sunshine
on Wed, 03 Sep 2014 09:17:20 EDT:
Lupus 4, a spider-shaped blob of gas and dust, blots out background stars like a dark cloud on a moonless night in this intriguing new image. Although gloomy for now, dense pockets of material within clouds such as Lupus 4 are where new stars form and where they will later burst into radiant life.
Scientists' work may lead to mission to find out what's inside asteroids
on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:51:43 EDT:
Future asteroid mining operations and how we deal with an impending strike could be influenced by research on a potential NASA mission.
Magnetic substorms may sometimes be driven by different process than generally thought
on Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:47:21 EDT:
Magnetic substorms, the disruptions in geomagnetic activity that cause brightening of aurora, may sometimes be driven by a different process than generally thought, a new study shows.
Why sibling stars look alike: Early, fast mixing in star-birth clouds
on Sun, 31 Aug 2014 15:03:33 EDT:
Early, fast, turbulent mixing of gas within giant molecular clouds -- the birthplaces of stars -- means all stars formed from a single cloud bear the same unique chemical 'tag' or 'DNA fingerprint,' write astrophysicists. Could such chemical tags help astronomers identify our own Sun's long-lost sibling stars?
Giant balloon may soon rise over the desert, carrying aloft cutting-edge telescope
on Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:53:47 EDT:
In a few days, a balloon-borne telescope sensitive to the polarization of high-energy “hard” X rays will ascend to the edge of the atmosphere above Fort Sumner, N.M., to stare fixedly at black holes and other exotic astronomical objects. It will be carried aloft by a stratospheric balloon that will expand to a sphere large enough to hold a 747 jetliner the float height of 120,000 feet, three times the height at which commercial aircraft fly and on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Launching the balloon is not child’s play.
Intense exercise during long space flights helps astronauts protect aerobic capacity
on Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:56:07 EDT:
Many astronauts experience a dip in aerobic capacity during long space flights, which can impair their ability to perform complex and demanding routine tasks. In a new article, NASA researchers find that regular, intense in-flight exercise helps preserve cardiovascular stamina.