What a nice piece of tail!, CGCG254-021

Wow, so that's an approximately 250k light year tail on CGCG254-021. So beautiful! I could get lost looking at images of far away galaxies, stars, you name it. Maybe some day, in my life, we will get a distributed optical telescope in space that allows us to image extrasolar planets! How exciting would that be?!

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Bonn/G. Schellenberger et al; Optical: INT

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Bonn/G. Schellenberger et al; Optical: INT

This week in space: special post, Curiosity rover

First let me apologize for not having done a This week in space in sometime, I've just been lazy.


November 26th, 2011 Mars Science Laboratory left the confines of Earth and began it's journey to Mars. The Mars Science Laboratory successfully landed Curiosity, a Mars rover, in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012 at 05:14:39 UTC.

In the above photo The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area react after learning the the Curiosity rove has landed safely on Mars and images start coming in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Early Monday morning, August 5th EDT, first image taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, it was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on one of the rover's front left Hazard-Avoidance cameras at one-quarter of full resolution. The clear dust cover on the camera is still on in this view, and dust can be seen around its edge, along with three cover fasteners. The rover's shadow is visible in the foreground.

Interestingly NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover.


Check out the official mission project here and follow it on Twitter here. In the days to come color images should begin being taken as well as scientific data being reported as instrumentation turns on and gets to work. I've been awaiting Curiosity's landing on Mars since learning of it's proposal in late 2004. I slept very little last night too excited and worried that there would be some error causing the mission to fail. Now to be patient and await images and information in the coming months and even years.

This week in space

Six coronal mass ejections in 24 hours

If these head our way, expect some 'fun' interference on communications.

The sun let loose with at least six coronal mass ejections (CMEs) -- solar phenomena that can send solar particles into space and affect electronic systems in satellites -- from 7 PM ET on September 18, 2011 until 1 PM on September 19.

Read more about it HERE


Young clays on Mars could have been habitable regions for life

Let's just hurry up and get a manned mission to Barsoom so we can see evidence of life, instead of finding evidence to suggest it may be possible for life to be there.

Two small depressions on Mars found to be rich in minerals that formed by water could have been places for life relatively recently in the planet’s history, according to a new paper in the journal Geology.

See more about it HERE


From the comfort of home, Web users may have found new planets

All I have to say, is... AWESOME!

Since the online citizen science project Planet Hunters launched last December, 40,000 web users from around the world have been helping professional astronomers analyze the light from 150,000 stars in the hopes of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting around them.

See more about it HERE


WISE mission captures black hole's wildly flaring jet

Even black holes experience flatulence. True story.

Astronomers using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have captured rare data of a flaring black hole, revealing new details about these powerful objects and their blazing jets.

See more about it HERE


Saturn's moon Enceladus spreads its influence

Old Faithful... IN SPACE!

Chalk up one more feat for Saturn's intriguing moon Enceladus. The small, dynamic moon spews out dramatic plumes of water vapor and ice -- first seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2005. It possesses simple organic particles and may house liquid water beneath its surface. Its geyser-like jets create a gigantic halo of ice, dust and gas around Enceladus that helps feed Saturn's E ring. Now, thanks again to those icy jets, Enceladus is the only moon in our solar system known to influence substantially the chemical composition of its parent planet.

See more about it HERE


The secret lives of solar flares

People were about crazy leaders nuking humans to death... I worry about solar flares hurling us into the middle ages, because it's a very very likely possibility.

One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares.

See more about it HERE


The mission to find the missing lunar module

Aliens took it, for a museum, duh.

Where is the Apollo 10 Lunar lander module? It’s somewhere out there — orbiting the Sun — and there’s a new initiative to try and find it!

See more about it HERE

This week in space

US satellite may crash back to Earth Sept 23: NASA

More space junk, coming home. I've heard your chances of getting hit by a piece of this range from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 depending on who you listen to.

A 20-year-old satellite that measured the ozone layer is expected to crash back to Earth late next week, but NASA said it still does not know where it will fall.

Read more about it HERE


Rocky planets could have been born as gas giants

So planets can be formed many ways (at least we think so), this means planets could be far more common, and we are already seeing this is true as we are spotting extrasolar planets left and right now.

When NASA announced the discovery of over 1,200 new potential planets spotted by the Kepler Space Telescope, almost a quarter of them were thought to be Super-Earths. Now, new research suggests that these massive rocky planets may be the result of the failed creation of Jupiter-sized gas giants.

Read more about it HERE


Help! My stars are leaking!

All I've got to say is, this makes for some awesome astrophotography.

Star clusters are wonderful test beds for theories of stellar formation and evolution. One of the key roles they play is to help astronomers understand the distribution of stellar masses as stars form (in other words, how many high mass stars versus intermediate and low mass stars), known as the Initial Mass Function (IMF). One of the problems is that this is constantly evolving away from the initial distribution as stars die or are ejected from the cluster. As such, understanding these mechanisms is essential for astronomers looking to backtrack from the current population to the IMF.

Read more about it HERE


Small distant galaxies host supermassive black holes

I'm starting to think black holes are just an important part of things working, in fact I almost wonder if they aren't even necessary for a galaxy to form.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the distant universe, astronomers have found supermassive black holes growing in surprisingly small galaxies. The findings suggest that central black holes formed at an early stage in galaxy evolution.

Read more about it HERE


Neutron star blows away models for thermonuclear explosions

See, everytime we think we understand something... something out there confuses us.

Amsterdam astronomers have discovered a neutron star that confounds existing models for thermonuclear explosions in such extreme objects. In the case of the accreting pulsar IGR J17480-2446, it seems to be a strong magnetic field that causes some parts of the star to burn more brightly than the rest. The results of the study, by Yuri Cavecchi et al. (2011), are to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Read more about it HERE


Dark matter packs a punch: Milky Way's spiral arms formed by intergalactic collision

Thank the gods these things happen on such a long time scale (to us anyway) that we'd never have to worry about this happening again (until a time where we develop immortality... which might not be far off if we can figure out  away to download consciousness and store it electronically).

The signature spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy were likely formed by an epic collision between the Milky Way and the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, according to a University of Pittsburgh researcher and his collaborators, published today in the prestigious British journal Nature.

Read more about it HERE


NASA's Dawn collects a bounty of beauty from Vesta

I just love the images we are getting of this thing, almost feels like something out of a video game.

A new video from NASA's Dawn spacecraft takes us on a flyover journey above the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta.

Read more about it HERE

Today in Space

Planet found with double suns (just like in Star Wars)

Awesome, further proof George Lucas knows more than he's letting on... because Saturn's Moon Iaepetus is the deathstar. First the Iaepetus/Deathstar photo, then on with Kepler-16b.

(go read about Iapetus over at Enterprise Mission)

Star Wars fans will appreciate this bit of news from NASA: The double sunset observed by Luke Skywalker on the fictional planet Tatooine is a reality on a planet about 200 light years away from Earth.

The planet, called Kepler-16b, is cold and gaseous — in other words, Luke isn’t there. But it orbits two stars, making it the first circumbinary planet ever officially confirmed by astronomers.

Read more about this Star Wars-like planet HERE


Senate saves the James Webb Space Telescope

Yay! I can't wait till this thing gets finished and launched, it's going to give us lots of awesome stuff!

The 2012 fiscal year appropriation bill, marked up today by the Senate, allows for continued funding of the James Webb Space Telescope and support up to a launch in 2018! Yes, it looks like this bird is going to fly.

Read more about it HERE


Soyuz lands safely in Kazakhstan, rattles nerves

Hopefully this gives some confidence back to the use of the Russian equipment.

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three returning astronauts from the International Space Station touched down safely Friday in the central steppes of Kazakhstan, but not without rattling nerves after a breakdown in communications.

Read more about it HERE


How single stars lost their companions

Not all stars are loners. In our home galaxy, the Milky Way, about half of all stars have a companion and travel through space in a binary system. But explaining why some stars are in double or even triple systems while others are single has been something of a mystery. Now a team of astronomers from Bonn University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio astronomy (also in Bonn) think they have the answer – different stellar birth environments decide whether a star holds on to its companion. The scientists publish their results in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Read more about it HERE


NASA Mars research helps find buried water on Earth

A NASA-led team has used radar sounding technology developed to explore the subsurface of Mars to create high-resolution maps of freshwater aquifers buried deep beneath an Earth desert, in the first use of airborne sounding radar for aquifer mapping.

Read more about it HERE

Today in Space

Future NASA rocket to be most powerful ever built

Yeah, well lets see if it actually happens. I have a very strong feeling the U.S. government is hell bent on ending manned space flight.

Even the smallest early prototype of the rocket will have 10 percent more thrust than the Saturn V that propelled Apollo astronauts to the moon. When it is built to its fuller size, it will be 20 percent more powerful, Gerstenmaier said.

Read more about it HERE and HERE


Students building rocket for moon vehicle

Stuff like this just gets me excited, we need more people involved in space exploration\

Purdue University students are designing and building a rocket engine that might be used in a vehicle to land on the moon.

Read more about it HERE

Today in Space

Wind delays NASA launch of twin moon spacecraft

I hope this thing launch happens tomorrow, this mission should give us more awesome data of the moon.

High wind forced NASA on Thursday to delay the launch of twin spacecraft destined for the moon, the first mission dedicated to measuring lunar gravity.

See the rest HERE


Kepler spacecraft discovers 'invisible world'

Kepler has been hard at work finding cool stuff, this is yet another cool find... let's just hope it's another planet that made it 'late' and not something more sinister

Usually, running five minutes late is a bad thing since you might lose your dinner reservation or miss out on tickets to the latest show. But when a planet runs five minutes late, astronomers get excited because it suggests that another world is nearby.

Read more about it HERE


Space image: The Moon's North pole


I love it, it's kinda trippy, I want to print it on a disc and spin it haha

The Earth's moon has been an endless source of fascination for humanity for thousands of years. When at last Apollo 11 landed on the moon's surface in 1969, the crew found a desolate, lifeless orb, but one which still fascinates scientist and non-scientist alike.

Read more about it HERE

NASA Satellite Re-Entry

Well, there is a little less space junk that will be in orbit!

Heads up! That's the word from NASA today (Sept. 7) given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth's atmosphere.

The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said.

The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry.

Read more about it HERE


This week in space


NASA launching twin moon probes to measure gravity

Four decades after landing men on the moon, NASA is returning to Earth's orbiting companion, this time with a set of robotic twins that will measure lunar gravity while chasing one another in circles.

Read more about it HERE


NASA's smaller programs could be at risk

The cost of NASA's two flagship programs - a new space telescope and its next rocket - is poised to devour much of the agency's shrinking budget in coming years, putting at risk everything from efforts to develop futuristic spacecraft to returning rocks from Mars, scientists and congressional insiders warn.

Read more about it HERE


Cosmic coincidence

Cosmologists tend not to get all that excited about the universe being 74% dark energy and 26% conventional energy and matter (albeit most of the matter is dark and mysterious as well). Instead they get excited about the fact that the density of dark energy is of the same order of magnitude as that more conventional remainder.

Read more about it HERE


Dwarf planet mysteries beckon to New Horizons

At this very moment one of the fastest spacecraft ever launched -- NASA's New Horizons -- is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and still has four more years of travel to go.

Read more about it HERE


Czech-ing out the view from 31 kilometers

The team at czANZO, the Czech Amateur Near-Space Object group, sent up one of the best high-altitude balloons we’ve ever seen last weekend and the resulting video is remarkable.

The team’s build blog (Google Translate link for everyone without Chrome) goes through the design and construction of their payload. Like every other balloon build we’ve seen, a styrofoam cooler is used for the enclosure, but there’s a lot of really neat additions that make this build special.

Read more about it HERE