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


Graphene and Girl Scout Cookies

Delicious Science of the Day: Everyone loves Girl Scout cookies: they are delicious, sugary sweet, and, apparently, can store $15 billion worth of graphene in a single box.

After a team of Graduate students in the Rice University lab of James Tour was able to convert table sugar to graphene, they began to consider the possibilities – what else could yield similar results? At a board meeting following the initial experiment, Tour suggested that he and his team could grow it from any carbon source, and inspiration struck when Girl Scout Cookies were served.

The lab invited Girl Scout Troup 25080 to witness the procedure. The goal was to demonstrate the possibility of producing graphene from anywhere. Although doing so is currently difficult and expensive, the chemists assert that the amount of graphene stored in a box of cookies could span three football fields.


Read more about it HERE