Tag Archives: NASA

Curiosity’s finding of strange “floating spoon” on Mars

Martian Surface as seen by Mars rover Curiositys Mastcam on sol 1089 (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech)(
Martian Surface as seen by Mars rover Curiositys Mastcam on sol 1089 (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech)(

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has recently sent an interesting image of Mars showing a “floating spoon” type of thing on the planet. This floating spoon looks like hovering above a ridge with a shadow on the surface. Continue reading Curiosity’s finding of strange “floating spoon” on Mars

NASA’s contract with Boeing and SpaceX

NASA, Boeing and SpaceX has joined hands in a commercial crew program (Image: NASA)
NASA, Boeing and SpaceX has joined hands in a commercial crew program (Image: NASA)

NASA will work with two aeronautical firms, Boeing and SpaceX, in a taxi contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years to perform important science research and other related tasks on ISS. NASA is also thinking to use the same technologies to take astronauts to other places in space such as Mars and asteroids in the future.

This contract would reduce the U.S.’s dependence on Russia to take and bring astronauts to and from the space station. At this time, Russian Soyuz takes at least four astronauts of NASA in a year at the price of $71 million per seat. On the other hand, SpaceX noted the cost $20 million per seat in the future after the success of technological contract. Continue reading NASA’s contract with Boeing and SpaceX

Fascinating Rhythm: Light Pulses Illuminate a Rare Black Hole

This image of the galaxy Messier 82 is a composite of data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The intermediate-mass black hole M82 X-1 is the brightest object in the inset, at approximately 2 o’clock near the galaxy’s center. (Credit: NASA/H. Feng et al.)

Main Point:

UMD and NASA astronomers track an intermediate-mass black hole from syncopated flares of light.

Published in:

Nature

Study Further:

The universe has so many black holes that it’s impossible to count them all. There may be 100 million of these intriguing astral objects in our galaxy alone. Nearly all black holes fall into one of two classes: big, and colossal. Astronomers know that black holes ranging from about 10 times to 100 times the mass of our Sun are the remnants of dying stars, and that supermassive black holes, more than a million times the mass of the Sun, inhabit the centers of most galaxies. Continue reading Fascinating Rhythm: Light Pulses Illuminate a Rare Black Hole

First Discovery of an Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone

Main Points:

For the first time, an Earth-sized planet has been found in the habitable zone of its star.  This discovery not only proves the existence of worlds that might be similar to our own, but will undoubtedly shape future investigations of exoplanets that could have terrestrial surface environments.

Study Further:

The new-found body, orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186 and designated Kepler-186f, is the fifth — and outermost — world to be discovered in this system.  The results are described in an article appearing in Science.

“This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star,” says lead author Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA Ames Research Center.  “Finding such planets is a primary goal of the Kepler space telescope.  The star is a main-sequence M-dwarf, a very common type.  More than 70 percent of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy are M-dwarfs.”

Continue reading First Discovery of an Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone

A Cross-Section of the Universe

Hubble’s cross-section of the cosmos (Credit: NASA/ESA)
Hubble’s cross-section of the cosmos (Credit: NASA/ESA)

Main Points:

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range from cosmic near neighbours to objects seen in the early years of the Universe. The 14-hour exposure shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye.

Continue reading A Cross-Section of the Universe

Kepler Astronomers Discover New Rocky Planet that may have Liquid Water

Main Point:

San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane and an international team of researchers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface.

Published in:

Science

Study Further:

The new planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using NASA’s Kepler telescope, launched in March 2009 to search for habitable zone, Earth-sized planets in our corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. A habitable zone planet orbits its star at a distance where any water on the planet’s surface is likely to stay liquid. Since liquid water is critical to life on Earth, many astronomers believe the search for extraterrestrial life should focus on planets where liquid water occurs.

“Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are,” said Kane, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets.”

Continue reading Kepler Astronomers Discover New Rocky Planet that may have Liquid Water

Galactic Serial Killer

The contrasting galaxies NGC 1316 and 1317 (Credit: ESO)
The contrasting galaxies NGC 1316 and 1317 (Credit: ESO)

Main Points:

This new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows two contrasting galaxies: NGC 1316, and its smaller neighbor NGC 1317. These two are quite close to each other in space, but they have very different histories. The small spiral NGC 1317 has led an uneventful life, but NGC 1316 has engulfed several other galaxies in its violent history and shows the battle scars.

Continue reading Galactic Serial Killer

Solar System’s Edge Redefined

Main Point:

The solar system has a new most-distant member, bringing its outer frontier into focus.

Published in:

Nature

Study Further:

New work from Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the solar system. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What’s more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects.

Their findings are published March 27 in Nature.

Continue reading Solar System’s Edge Redefined

Mars Mimicking Chamber Explores Habitability of other Planets

The simulation chamber, named MARTE, is designed to enable study of the behavior of instrumentation and samples of different types and sizes in pressure ranges up to 10-6 mbar controlling the gas composition, with temperature control of samples in the range of 108K to 423K. (Credit: J. Martín-Gago/ICMM)

Main Point:

Researchers in Spain have designed a vacuum chamber capable of mimicking conditions on Mars to test gear for use in future missions.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments

Study Further:

A research team in Spain has the enviable job of testing out new electromechanical gear for potential use in future missions to the “Red Planet.” They do it within their Mars environmental simulation chamber, which is specially designed to mimic conditions on the fourth planet from the Sun — right down to its infamous Martian dust.

Mars is a key target for future space exploration, thanks to indications that the planet may have either been capable of supporting life in the past or is possibly even supporting it right now within its subsurface.

To answer the many questions about the habitability of Mars, it’s critical to first develop new sensors and instruments capable of detecting the planet’s atmospheric and surface characteristics. In the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is produced by AIP Publishing, researchers from Centro de Astrobiología, INTA-CSIC, and Instituto de Ciencias de Materials de Madrid describe their work mimicking conditions on Mars.

Continue reading Mars Mimicking Chamber Explores Habitability of other Planets

Mercury’s contraction much greater than thought

This image shows a long collection of ridges and scarps on the planet Mercury called a fold-and-thrust belt. The belt stretches over 336 miles (540 km). The colors correspond to elevation—yellow-green is high and blue is low. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.)
This image shows a long collection of ridges and scarps on the planet Mercury called a fold-and-thrust belt. The belt stretches over 336 miles (540 km). The colors correspond to elevation—yellow-green is high and blue is low. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.)

Main Points:

New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates. The results are based on a global study of more than 5,900 geological landforms, such as curving cliff-like scarps and wrinkle ridges, that have resulted from the planet’s contraction as Mercury cooled. The findings, published online March 16, 2014, in Nature Geoscience, are key to understanding the planet’s thermal, tectonic, and volcanic history, and the structure of its unusually large metallic core.

Continue reading Mercury’s contraction much greater than thought