Russia's future space plans

First let me apologize... I haven't done a This Week in Space for a bit... I'll do one soon, probably.

Leaked documents from the Russian space agency Roscosmos reveal what the country has planned for the next 18 years of its space program. The ambitious list includes multiple permanent research stations on Mars, probes exploring Venus and Jupiter, and a manned Moon landing.

Russia plans to send probes to Jupiter and Venus, land a network of unmanned stations on Mars and ferry Russian cosmonauts to the surface of the Moon — all by 2030.

Read more HERE

This week in space

New super-earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby star

Too bad it's 22 light years away and not say 3 or 4. Project Orion could get us there well within an acceptable amount of time if it was 3-4, but nooo no one wants to do it.

An international team of scientists has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. With an orbital period of about 28 days and a minimum mass 4.5 times that of the Earth, the planet orbits within the star’s “habitable zone,” where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface. The researchers found evidence of at least one and possibly two or three additional planets orbiting the star, which is about 22 light-years from Earth.

Read more HERE


Russia sets its sights on the moon for 2020

Good, now lets start a cold war with them again so we go back too! I swear, war is the only way we will achieve more space exploration via governments, fortunately private space industry is growing ever day.

Looks like Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich might have some competition if he wants to be the first to build a base on the Moon. Last week, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos announced plans to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade with a lunar base as its next step.  

Read more HERE


Classic portrait of a barred spiral galaxy

Here is your beautiful photo for the week.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has taken a picture of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1073, which is found in the constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster). Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is a similar barred spiral, and the study of galaxies such as NGC 1073 helps astronomers learn more about our celestial home.

Read more HERE

This week in space

Discovery of two types of neutron stars points to two different classes of supernovae

See I love when stuff like this happens as it just proves we know very little about how things work. The great thing is when we do discover new things it betters are understanding and makes the universe a more interesting place.

Astronomers at the universities of Southampton and Oxford have found evidence that neutron stars, which are produced when massive stars explode as supernovae, actually come in two distinct varieties. Their finding also suggests that each variety is produced by a different kind of supernova event.

Read more HERE


Stellar extremophiles

Not only is it curious that these stars exist where they do, but the composite image is quite beautiful.

Back in the 1970s, biologists were amazed to discover a form of life they never expected.  Tiny microorganisms with ancient DNA were living in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park.  Instead of dissolving in the boiling waters, the microbes were thriving, ringing the springs with vibrant color.

Read more HERE


Forget exoplanets. Let's talk exomoons

While the current technology isn't even able to detect Ganymede in our own solar system via the methods proposed, future missions could do it. In fact, I remember not too long ago when we weren't even sure of exoplanets and last I looked (November 7th, 2011) we've discovered 697 extrasolar planets in 573 systems and 81 multiple-planet systems so in the next 50 years we could easily have discovered that many exomoons!

It wasn’t that long ago that astronomers began discovering the first planets around other stars. But as the field of exoplanetary astronomy explodes, astronomers have begun looking to the future and considering the possibility of detecting moons around these planets. Surprisingly, the potential for doing so may not be that far off.

Read more HERE


NASA ready for November launch of car-size Mars rover

This mars rover really had me excited a while ago when it was supposed to be carrying a 3-D camera provided for and funded by James Cameron, until NASA nixed the camera... which they had no real reason to do other than to cover up something.

NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is in final preparations for a launch from Florida's Space Coast at 10:25 a.m. EST (7:25 a.m. PST) on Nov. 25.

Read more HERE


Does the Pluto system pose a threat to New Horizons?

It would suck if this thing gets all the way out there, then smashes into some body around Pluto's orbit. Lousy thing is, it's quite possible.

With nearly two-thirds of its journey complete, the New Horizons spacecraft is still alive and well. It recently experienced a “hibernation wakeup” which started on November 5th and will last until November 15th… and it will sleep again until a month-long call in January. However, the real “wakeup call” may be when it reaches the complicated Pluto system. Watch out for that rock!

Read more HERE


Russia's attempts to save Mars probe unsuccessful

Alright, so after NASA cancelled Curiosity's 3D camera provided by Cameron I was suspicious they were trying to hide something. Now this Russian mission to Mars is stuck in EARTH orbit... what are the powers that be trying to hide that they had to sabotage this Russian craft? What are they hiding from the Russians? What are they hiding from the general population?

As Russia's space agency struggled Thursday to fix a probe bound for a moon of Mars that instead got stuck in Earth's orbit, some experts said the chances of saving the $170 million craft looked slim.

Read more HERE


This week in space

New ‘super-Earth’ is 36 light-years distant, might hold water, astronomers say

This is awesome, I love-love-LOVE that the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and other groups keep finding these extrasolar planets!

Astronomers on Monday announced the discovery of 50 new planets circling stars beyond the sun, including one “super-Earth” that is the right distance from its star to possibly have water.

The planet, dubbed HD85512b, circles an orange star somewhat smaller and cooler than our sun about 36 light-years away. The star, HD85512, is visible in the southern sky in the constellation Vela.The newly found planet circles this star every 59 days, putting it at the edge of the “habitable zone” where water could exist if atmospheric conditions were right.

The newly found planet circles this star every 59 days, putting it at the edge of the “habitable zone” where water could exist if atmospheric conditions were right.

Read more about it HERE and HERE


50 new exoplanets discovered by HARPS

Again like I said above 'I love-love-LOVE that the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and other groups keep finding these extrasolar planets!' in this case HARPS at ESO’s La Silla Observatory.

Astronomers using ESO's world-leading exoplanet hunter HARPS have today announced a rich haul of more than 50 new exoplanets, including 16 super-Earths, one of which orbits at the edge of the habitable zone of its star. By studying the properties of all the HARPS planets found so far, the team has found that about 40% of stars similar to the Sun have at least one planet lighter than Saturn.

Read more about it HERE


Russia sets space crew's return after crash

This upstes me, we are basically abandoning the International Space Station.

Russia said Monday it would return three of the six international crew members on board the International Space Station to Earth later this week despite no immediate plans to send up their replacement.

Read more about it HERE


Astronomers find extreme weather on an alien world

I wonder why it has to be a storm, and perhaps not molten surface or even some sort of dyson sphere around it?

A University of Toronto-led team of astronomers has observed extreme brightness changes on a nearby brown dwarf that may indicate a storm grander than any seen yet on a planet. Because old brown dwarfs and giant planets have similar atmospheres, this finding could shed new light on weather phenomena of extra-solar planets.

Read more about it HERE


Deep space capsule comes alive with first weld

Is this a sign of hope of continued manned space flight and exploration?

Construction began this week on the first new NASA spacecraft built to take humans to orbit since space shuttle Endeavour left the factory in 1991, and marked a significant milestone in carrying out the ambitious exploration vision President Obama and Congress have laid out for the nation.

Read more about it HERE

Today in Space

Exotic galaxy reveals tantalizing tale

A galaxy with a combination of characteristics never seen before is giving astronomers a tantalizing peek at processes they believe played key roles in the growth of galaxies and clusters of galaxies early in the history of the Universe.

Read about it HERE


A planet made of diamond

A once-massive star that's been transformed into a small planet made of diamond: that is what University of Manchester astronomers think they've found in the Milky Way.

Read about it HERE


'Instant cosmic classic' supernova discovered

A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth—approximately 21 million light-years away—than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible with a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools.

Read about it HERE


Report: NASA made proper pick for retired shuttles

NASA acted properly when it picked new homes for the retired space shuttles, the space agency's watchdog said Thursday.

Read about it HERE


Russia's Soyuz: historic symbol of space reliability

Russia's Soyuz rocket, which failed to put a Russian supply ship into orbit, is descended from launch vehicles of the early days of the space race but until now has been a byword for reliability.

Read about it HERE


Sunspot breakthrough

Imagine forecasting a hurricane in Miami weeks before the storm was even a swirl of clouds off the coast of Africa—or predicting a tornado in Kansas from the flutter of a butterfly's wing in Texas. These are the kind of forecasts meteorologists can only dream about.

Read about it HERE


40 year old Mariner 5 solar wind problem finds answer - turbulence doesn't go with the flow

Research led by astrophysicists at the University of Warwick has resolved a 40 year old problem with observations of turbulence in the solar wind first made by the probe Mariner Five. The research resolves an issue with what is by far the largest and most interesting natural turbulence lab accessible to researchers today.

Read about it HERE



This week in space

Two more planets confirmed by Kepler

Hot on the heels of confirming one Kepler planet, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope announces the confirmation of another planet. Another observatory, the Nordic Optical Telescope, confirms its first Kepler planet as well, this one as part of a binary system and providing new insights that may force astronomers to revisit and revise estimations on properties of other extrasolar planets.

Read more on the two planets HERE

Coming to a solar system near you… super-Earth!

t is our general understanding of solar system composition that planets fall into two categories: gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus… and rocky bodies that support some type of atmosphere like Earth, Mars and Venus. However, as we reach further into space we’re beginning to realize the Solar System is pretty unique because it doesn’t have a planetary structure which meets in the middle. But just because we don’t have one doesn’t mean they don’t exist. As a matter of fact, astronomers have found more than 30 of them and they call this new class of planet a “Super-Earth.”

Read more on super-Earth's HERE


Two different satellites fail while being launched... A Chinese and a Russian satellite, a bit... interesting.

Russia was attempting to locate its major new telecommunications satellite on Thursday just hours after launch in what could be another serious mishap for its space industry.

Russian satellite article HERE

An "experimental" satellite launched by China failed to reach its designated orbit after its rocket malfunctioned, according to state media.

Chinese satellite article HERE


Alien world is blacker than coal

Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet - a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant known as TrES-2b. Their measurements show that TrES-2b reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any planet or moon in our solar system.

Read about the planet that reflects less than one percent of the light that falls on it HERE

Has graphene been detected in space?

A team of astronomers, using the Spitzer Space Telescope, have reported the first extragalactic detection of the C70 fullerene molecule, and the possible detection of planar C24 ("a piece of graphene") in space. Letizia Stanghellini and Richard Shaw, members of the team at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona describe how collisional shocks powered by the winds from old stars in planetary nebulae could be responsible for the formation of fullerenes (C60 and C70) and graphene (planar C24). The team is led by Domingo Anibal Garcia-Hernandez of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain and includes international astronomers and biochemists.

Read about the graphenes (C24) and fullerenes found in a Planetary Nebula HERE

SETI's telescopes to go back online, resuming hunt for alien life

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute announced that it had raised more than $200,000 from a crowd-sourced fundraising effort that launched earlier this spring. The money, which came from just over 2,000 people who want to keep the search for alien life alive, will help the institute put its Allen Telescope Array back online.

Read about SETI's successful funding HERE