Thursday, April 24, 2014 The waning crescent Moon is less than 20 degrees to the upper right of Venus. Look ESE in the dawn sky.
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President Obama Hears From Astronauts on Space Station

President Obama Hears From Astronauts on Space Station

President Barack Obama and astronaut Soichi Noguchi hear a message from  International Space Station astronauts Steve Swanson, Koichi Wakata and Rick Mastracchio at Miraikan, national museum for emerging science and innovation on April 24, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. President Obama is on an Asian tour where he is due to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines. Image Credit: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

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Astronomy News
Astronomical Forensics Uncover Planetary Disks in Hubble Archive
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Nearly 2,000 planets have been confirmed to be orbiting other stars in our galaxy. But the details of planet birth and formation are sparse. The conventional wisdom, dating back to a hypothesis by philosopher Immanuel Kant the Marquis de Laplace in the late 1700s, considered the orbit of the planets in our solar system to be the skeleton of disks of dust and gas that swirled around the newborn sun. The dust particles clumped together to build planets from the ground up.



Hubble Stretches Stellar Tape Measure 10 Times Farther into Space
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Astronomers continue refining the precision of distance measurement techniques to better understand the dimensions of the universe. Calculating the age of the universe, its expansion rate, and the nature of dark energy all depend on the precise distance measurements to stars and galaxies. If the astronomical yardsticks are off, the astronomical interpretation may be flawed. The most reliable method for making astronomical distance measurements is to use straightforward geometry where the 186-million-mile diameter of Earth's orbit is used to construct a baseline of a triangle, much as a land surveyor would use. If a target star is close enough, it will appear to zigzag on the sky during the year as a reflection of Earth's orbit about the Sun. This technique is called parallax. The stars are so far away that the angle of this parallax shift is incredibly tiny. An innovative new observing technique has extended Hubble's yardstick 10 times farther into our galaxy, out to a distance of 7,500 light-years from Earth.



Beauty from chaos - Read more >
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0200


Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.




Hubble Finds That Monster 'El Gordo' Galaxy Cluster Is Bigger Than Thought
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

If someone told you there was an object in space called "El Gordo" (Spanish for "the fat one") you might imagine some kind of planet-eating monster straight out of a science fiction movie. The nickname refers to a monstrous cluster of galaxies that is being viewed at a time when the universe was just half of its current age of 13.8 billion years. This is an object of superlatives. It contains several hundred galaxies swarming around under a collective gravitational pull. The total mass of the cluster, and refined in new Hubble measurements, is estimated to be as much as 3 million billion stars like our Sun (about 3,000 times more massive than our own Milky Way galaxy) though most of the mass is hidden away as dark matter. The cluster may be so huge because it is the result of a titanic collision and merger between two separate galaxy clusters. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy grew up in an uncluttered backwater region of the universe.



Icy moon Enceladus has underground sea - Read more >
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0200


Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus has an underground sea of liquid water, according to the international Cassini spacecraft.




NASA and STScI Select 17 Hubble Fellows for 2014
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) have announced the selection of 17 new Hubble Fellows. STScI in Baltimore, Md., administers the Hubble Fellowship Program for NASA. The Hubble Fellowship Program includes all research relevant to present and future missions in NASA's Cosmic Origins theme. These missions currently include the Herschel Space Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The new Hubble Fellows will begin their programs in the fall of 2014.



ESA and CERN sign cooperation agreement - Read more >
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0100


ESA, the European Space Agency, and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, signed a cooperation agreement on 28 March to foster future collaborations on research themes of common interest.




Hubble Sees Mars-Bound Comet Sprout Multiple Jets
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Comet Siding Spring is plunging toward the Sun along a roughly 1-million-year orbit. The comet, discovered in 2013, was within the radius of Jupiter's orbit when the Hubble Space Telescope photographed it on March 11, 2014. Hubble resolves two jets of dust coming from the solid icy nucleus. These persistent jets were first seen in Hubble pictures taken on Oct. 29, 2013. The feature should allow astronomers to measure the direction of the nucleus's pole, and hence, rotation axis. The comet will make its closest approach to our Sun on Oct. 25, 2014, at a distance of 130 million miles, well outside Earth's orbit. On its inbound leg, Comet Siding Spring will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014, which is less than half the Moon's distance from Earth. The comet is not expected to become bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.



Mars yard ready for Red Planet rover - Read more >
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0100


A state-of-the-art ‘Mars yard’ is now ready to put the ExoMars rover through its paces before the vehicle is launched to the Red Planet in 2018.




Rosetta sets sights on destination comet - Read more >
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on 20 January.




Herschel completes largest survey of cosmic dust in local Universe - Read more >
Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0100


The largest census of dust in local galaxies has been completed using data from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, providing a huge legacy to the scientific community.




Hubble Celebrates Its 24th Anniversary with an Infrared Look at a Nearby Star Factory
Mon, 17 Mar 2014 05:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

This colorful Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas. The cloud is sculpted by ultraviolet light eating into the cool hydrogen gas. As the interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths, as captured by Hubble. The space photo superficially resembles the "The Great Wave" print by 19th century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.



Venus glory - Read more >
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0100


A rainbow-like feature known as a ‘glory’ has been seen by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter in the atmosphere of our nearest neighbour – the first time one has been fully imaged on another planet.




Hubble Witnesses an Asteroid Mysteriously Disintegrating
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Though fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the Sun, nothing like the slow breakup of an asteroid has ever before been observed in the asteroid belt. A series of Hubble Space Telescope images shows that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely one mile per hour. This makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating because of a collision with another asteroid. A plausible explanation is that the asteroid is crumbling due to a subtle effect of sunlight. This causes the rotation rate to slowly increase until centrifugal force pulls the asteroid apart. The asteroid's remnant debris, weighing in at 200,000 tons, will in the future provide a rich source of meteoroids.



Lava floods the ancient plains of Mars - Read more >
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 11:00:00 +0100


Two distinct volcanic eruptions have flooded this area of Daedalia Planum with lava, flowing around an elevated fragment of ancient terrain.




Life Is Too Fast, Too Furious for This Runaway Galaxy
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Our spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy lives in a comparatively quiet backwater region of the universe. This is not the case for galaxies crammed together inside huge clusters. As they zip around within a cluster, gas can be pulled from their disks due to a process called ram pressure stripping. Galaxy ESO 137-001 is one example. The star-city looks like it is "leaking" as it plunges through the Norma galaxy cluster.



Hubble Monitors Supernova in Nearby Galaxy M82
Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

This is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a supernova explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82, at a distance of approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers using a ground-based telescope discovered the explosion on January 21, 2014. This Hubble photograph was taken on January 31, as the supernova approached its peak brightness.



ESA selects planet-hunting PLATO mission - Read more >
Wed, 19 Feb 2014 08:17:00 +0100


A space-based observatory to search for planets orbiting alien stars has been selected today as ESA’s third medium-class science mission. It is planned for launch by 2024.




Hubble Watches Stars' Clockwork Motion in Nearby Galaxy
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Using the sharp-eyed NASA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have for the first time precisely measured the rotation rate of a galaxy based on the clock-like movement of its stars.



Gaia comes into focus - Read more >
Thu, 06 Feb 2014 14:00:00 +0100


ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.




ExoMars orbiter core module completed - Read more >
Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:00:00 +0100


The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held in Bremen, Germany, today.




The competition winners who helped us wake up Rosetta - Read more >
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:34:00 +0100


We asked you to help us wake up Rosetta from 31 months of deep-space hibernation in a fun video shout-out contest. With over 200 entries and 75 000 votes, you certainly succeeded!




Rosetta wide awake as check-up continues - Read more >
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0100


Following last week’s wake-up of the Rosetta comet-chaser, ESA’s flight controllers have conducted the first in a series of health checks aimed at assessing how well it came through 31 months of hibernation.




Herschel discovers water vapour around dwarf planet Ceres - Read more >
Wed, 22 Jan 2014 16:36:00 +0100


ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered water vapour around Ceres, the first unambiguous detection of water vapour around an object in the asteroid belt.




ESA’s ‘sleeping beauty’ wakes up from deep space hibernation - Read more >
Mon, 20 Jan 2014 18:30:00 +0100


It was a fairy-tale ending to a tense chapter in the story of the Rosetta space mission this evening as ESA heard from its distant spacecraft for the first time in 31 months.




The most important alarm clock in the Solar System - Read more >
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:00:00 +0100


At 10:00 GMT on Monday, the most important alarm clock in the Solar System will wake up ESA’s sleeping Rosetta spacecraft.




Call for Media: Rosetta wake up event - Read more >
Mon, 13 Jan 2014 09:52:00 +0100


On 20 January 2014, ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft is set to wake up from 957 days in deep-space hibernation. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.




Journey to a billion suns – world premiere of planetarium show - Read more >
Wed, 08 Jan 2014 14:00:00 +0100


A new planetarium show, Journey to a billion Suns, premieres today in Hamburg, Germany, to tell the fascinating story of mapping the Milky Way, from ancient times to ESA’s recently launched Gaia mission.



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