Archive for the ‘NASA & Space’ Category

NASA’s Dawn Closes in on Dwarf Planet Ceres.

By   January 19th 2015.               Find Article Here:-

PHOTO: This processed image, taken on Jan. 13, 2015, shows the dwarf planet Ceres as seen from the Dawn spacecraft. The image hints at craters on the surface of Ceres. Dawns framing camera took this image at 238,000 miles from Ceres.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is closing in on the dwarf planet Ceres and the space agency today released new photos showing what the gigantic cosmic mass looks like up close.

Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has an average diameter of 590 miles. The images released today are relatively grainy compared to the power of the Hubble Telescope, however they will be used to help guide Dawn closer to the dwarf planet.

The photos, which were taken on Jan. 13 but released today, show Dawn’s view of Ceres from a distance of 238,000 miles, according to NASA.

The space agency said the images will continue to get better as Dawn gets closer to Ceres, with the eventual goal of placing the satellite in orbit on March 6. It will be the first time the spacecraft has visited a dwarf planet.

The mission is expected to continue for 16 months as researchers analyze data about Ceres, which is thought to be icy and possibly contain an ocean. Researchers said the current images already show what appear to be craters — something they’re eager to get a closer look at as Dawn edges toward its destination.

PHOTO: This processed image, taken on Jan. 13, 2015, shows the dwarf planet Ceres as seen from the Dawn spacecraft. The image hints at craters on the surface of Ceres. Dawn’s framing camera took this image at 238,000 miles from Ceres.
Categories: NASA & Space Tags: ,

NASA’s ‘Largest Picture Ever’ Taken.

By Mike Barrett  22nd January 2015.               Find Article & Video Here:-

With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to relish in the beauties of not only planet Earth, but the universe. We have always  been able to look up at the stars and have even had a telescope for some time that enabled us to focus in on the literal outer-beauty of where we are – and what’s out there is truly amazing. Complimenting this even further, NASA has released what is deemed the largest picture ever taken – and it will blow you away.

The image above takes you through over 100 million stars and travels more than 40,000 light years. It provides a startling glimpse at the sheer scale of our nearest galactic neighbor.

On January 5th 2015, NASA revealed an image of the closest galaxy to us – known as the Andromeda galaxy. Captured using the NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope, NASA took 411 images, only to merge them into what is deemed the largest image ever created. Coming in at a whopping 1.5 billion pixels and requiring approximately 4.3 gigabytes of disk space on a PC, the picture is sure to remind you of how amazing and vast things can be.

Where are we? Where do things begin? And where does it stop? You don’t have to answer these questions. It is enough to simply ask.

Check out these other amazing NASA photos.


The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has snapped the best ever image of the Antennae Galaxies. Hubble has released images of these stunning galaxies twice before, once using observations from its Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) in 1997, and again in 2006 from the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).


This new Hubble image, captured and released to celebrate the telescope’s 23rd year in orbit, shows part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Rising like a giant seahorse from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33.


At Least Two More Planets May Exist Beyond Pluto.

  16th January 2015.        Find Article and Video Here:-

A new study suggests that at least two more planets are circling the sun far beyond Pluto’s orbit.

The analysis is based on calculations of bodies located well past Neptune, regions of space that include the Kuiper Belt, the scattered disk and the Oort cloud.

ANALYSIS: Kuiper Belt Was a ‘War Zone’ — A Detective Story

Instead of randomly flying through space, 12 of these so-called “extreme trans-Neptunian objects” (ETNO) show some unexpected symmetry.

“This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of the ETNO,” Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, with the Complutense University of Madrid, said in a press release.

“We consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto,” he said.

ANALYSIS: Strange Object Boosts Kuiper Belt Mystery

The study was based on calculations of the gravitational influences a  large object would have on smaller, distant bodies.

“If it is confirmed, our results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy,” de la Fuente Marcos said.

The research is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Categories: NASA & Space Tags: ,

Beagle 2 Mars lander’s remains may have been spotted on red planet.

By    12th January 2015.                Find Full Article Here:-

Artist's impression of Beagle 2 on the surface of Mars
An artist’s impression of the Beagle 2 probe on Mars – as it would have appeared if it had landed successfully.

A British Mars lander that was lost on its way to the red planet more than a decade ago may have been spotted by an orbiting spacecraft.

The Beagle 2 lander was supposed to touch down on Christmas day in 2003, but after it was released from its mothership, Mars Express, the dustbin-lid-sized craft was never heard from again.

But Beagle 2’s final resting place may finally have been discovered. Scientists operating the HiRise camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will take part in a press conference this Friday to announce “an update” on the ill-fated mission.

The HiRise camera is the only camera in Mars orbit that can image the surface in high enough detail to spot missing spacecraft. The HiRise team has already found the twin Viking landers which touched down on Mars in the 1970s and photographed Nasa’s Phoenix, Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. They have been actively hunting for Beagle 2 for several years.

An artist's impression of the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.

An artist’s impression of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. 

“HiRise is the only camera at Mars that can see former spacecraft like Beagle 2. It’s definitely pretty close to its intended landing spot, no matter what. It entered the atmosphere at the right time and place,” said Shane Byrne, a scientist on the HiRise team at the University of Arizona. He said the team has been asked to keep more details of the announcement under wraps.

Built on a shoestring budget, Beagle 2 was meant to announce its arrival on Mars by playing a musical call sign written by the Britpop band Blur. But despite astronomers listening for the lander’s signature tune with some of the most sophisticated receivers on Earth, all they heard was silence.

Led by the late planetary scientist, Colin Pillinger at the Open University, Beagle 2 was designed to look for signs of life on Mars and carried a drilling instrument to poke beneath the surface. Its release from the European Space Agency’s orbiter, Mars Express, went smoothly, placing Beagle 2 on course for a landing site at Isidis Planitia, a huge plain near the Martian equator.

Rosetta discovers water on comet 67p like nothing on Earth.

December 11, 2014 1 comment

Findings from Rosetta spacecraft’s Rosina instrument appear to suggest previously held theory is simplistic.

Comet 67p
The makeup of water on comet 67p has wrongfooted researchers. Photograph: AP

The Rosetta spacecraft has detected water coming off comet 67P, the rubber duck-shaped lump of ice and dust that it placed the Philae robotic lander on last month.

The presence of water is not a surprise, but what has wrong-footed researchers is the makeup of the water, which is nothing like that seen on Earth.

Measurements from Rosetta’s Rosina instrument found that water on comet 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko contains about three times more deuterium – a heavy form of hydrogen – than water on Earth.

The discovery seems to overturn the theory that Earth got its water, and so its ability to harbour life, from water-bearing comets that slammed into the planet during its early history.

Comet 67P is thought to have come from what is called the Kuiper belt, a broad band of frozen bodies that begins beyond the orbit of Neptune. The main asteroid belt contains more rocky objects that circle the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Kathrin Altwegg at the University of Bern said that rather than comets ferrying water to Earth, it may have arrived onboard asteroids instead. Details of the discovery are reported in the journal, Science.

“Today asteroids have very limited water, that’s clear. But that was probably not always the case, said Altwegg. In the earliest period of the solar system, 3.8bn years ago, asteroids are thought to have crashed into Earth regularly in what is called the late heavy bombardment. “At that time, asteroids could well have had much more water than they have today,” Altwegg said.

The Rosina instrument measured water coming off the comet as it flew around the body. Scientists plan to take more measurements as the comet nears the sun and its begins to spew more water vapour and dust out into space.

Measurements from other comets have found water with similar deuterium contents to that on Earth. But the strange composition of comet 67P’s water suggests that the picture of comets bringing water to Earth is too simplistic. “In the end, Earth’s oceans are probably a mix of many things,” Altwegg told New Scientist magazine.

Matt Taylor, Rosetta project scientist, said that teams at the European Space Agency were still looking for the Philae lander, which ran out of battery power soon after it bounced down onto the comet’s surface.

“Once we get the identification of where the lander is, it will give us a better fix on what we believe the illumination conditions are and a better idea of when we would expect the lander to have sufficient illumination to be able to start charging its batteries and come back online,” he said.

If the Philae lander can summon enough power from the feeble sunlight to come out of hibernation, a British instrument called Ptolemy could help to verify whether the water measurements from Rosetta are accurate. But another option is for Rosetta to fly through the jets of debris that will grow as the comet closes in on the sun.

“Part of our future plan is to do this,” said Taylor. “We’re focusing on what is known as an activity campaign to try and fly directly through a jet and we aim to do that hopefully around summertime next year.”

Sunspot Takes Aim: X-Class Flare Thought To Be Responsible For Widespread Power Outages and Internet Problems.

October 25, 2014 1 comment

By Mac Slavo  October 23rd, 2014.     Find Full Article & Video Here:-


A massive sunspot dubbed ‘Active Region 2192′ has rotated into an earth-facing position. NASA says the Jupiter-sized magnetic anomaly on the sun is crackling with energy and several days ago it fired off an X-class flare right in earth’s direction. Then, yesterday, it launched another flare that was measured to be five times more powerful than the first.

Though the classification of both flares was fairly low and rated in the 1.0 to 2.0 X-class range, the earth’s power and internet infrastructure has experienced some unusual effects over the last 48 hours.

As of this morning, numerous power outages have been reported by internet providers, electrical utility companies, cable companies and even large inter-networks like and Amazon. The outages are being reported by users on Twitter all over the northern hemisphere, including from Canada all the way down to Boston. Many of the companies involved have suggested that the outages were planned or the result of wind storms, but what is curious is that at the very same time all of these outages were being reported on earth, the National Weather Service’s National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) announced that their space-based satellite systems stopped reporting data.

Coincidence? Perhaps.

But an alternate theory is that the solar flares emitted by AR 2192 have something to do with it. How else can we explain widespread outages for literally hundreds of thousands of people occurring almost simultaneously at key utility and internet nodes across thousands of miles on earth, and happening in tandem with a breakdown in communications from the NCEP’s weather monitoring satellite?

An X-class solar flare designated in the 1.0 to 2.0 range doesn’t usually take down power grids and communications infrastructure, though they have been known to temporarily knock out satellites and cause problems with Global Positioning Systems and radio communications.

The outages being reported by users are more than likely temporary without any permanent damage to the physical equipment involved in carrying the signals from point-to-point.

However, historical examples of large-scale outages resulting from solar flares have been well documented. In 1859 a massive solar flare known as the “Carrington Event” left newly developed Telegraph systems inoperable and reportedly even led them to explode and set stations on fire. In 1989 a geo-magnetic storm caused the collapse of Quebec’s hydro electric power station. The flare that took only 90 seconds to bring the electric company to its knees was a fairly powerful x15-Class discharge.

Given these examples, it’s not out of the question to suggest that a solar flare directly targeting Earth could potentially take out many modern day systems hooked into the grid.

In fact, 18 months ago the sun emitted what researchers called a “Carrington Class” solar flare. It just slightly missed earth, but had the sunspot been earth facing at the time it could have been the Kill Shot that took the majority of the planet back to the stone age.

‘The world escaped an EMP catastrophe,’ Henry Cooper, who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defence, told Washington Secrets.

‘There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us,’ added Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission.

Major Ed Dames, who has long proposed that a massive solar event known as the Kill Shot will eventually hit earth, says that when it happens, expect widespread global outages. Unlike what we experience with lower classification X-flares, however a Kill Shot will be a long-term event:

Yeah, if any particular grid goes, they’re not all going to go down at once and some will never go down. The ones that are stretched out over long wide spaces, they will. They will under the right circumstances and the right circumstances are happening real soon, watch the solar flares from (sunspot) 2192 as a harbinger of what’s coming real fast.

When the grids go down, we’re looking at easily no less than 6 months, but probably 2 years. A lot can happen in terms of Mad Max scenarios.

(Full Interview and Transcript From Holly Deyo)
(Also see: Kill Shot, the documentary)

It’s a sentiment that has been expressed by many, including members of Congress, who say that that the threat of a massive solar flare is a clear and present danger to the United States and the world.

NASA finds lost Soviet lunar rover after 40 years.

By   June 10th, 2010.      Find Article Here:-

The Lunokhod 1 lunar rover (Photo: Lavochkin Association)

The Lunokhod 1 lunar rover (Photo: Lavochkin Association)

On November 17, 1970, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 17 delivered the lunar rover Lunokhod 1 onto the surface of the moon. For 11 months after, controlled in real-time by a human team in Moscow, it explored seven miles of the lunar surface. Sending back reams of data, it was considered to be one of the biggest successes of the little-known Soviet lunar exploration program. And then, it disappeared. It wasn’t abducted or anything, it just ceased transmitting, as space probes have a tendency to do. This spring, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spied it on the moon’s surface. The really neat thing: it can still reflect laser beams back to Earth as if it were brand new.

NASA has previously attempted to locate Lunokhod 1, but it wasn’t until this recent sighting that they were able to pinpoint its coordinates. Once its location was established, pulses of laser light were sent to it from the 3.5 meter telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Amazingly, the rover’s retroreflector sent the pulses back to the observatory bright and clear.

Lunokhod 1 was followed by a second rover, Lunokhod 2, in 1973. Its location has long been known, and its retroreflector has routinely been used for Earth-based scientific studies. Interestingly, however, the older rover sends back a much stronger signal. “The best signal we’ve seen from Lunokhod 2 in several years of effort is 750 return photons, but we got about 2,000 photons from Lunokhod 1 on our first try,” said UC San Diego’s Tom Murphy, who is leading the research team. “It’s got a lot to say after almost 40 years of silence.”

It isn’t known why Lunokhod 1’s reflection is so much better, but NASA believes it could yield clues as to why other reflectors placed on the moon have weakened after a decade spent on the lunar surface.

Now that it has been located, Lunokhod 1 will become part of an ongoing laser ranging study. By measuring the time it takes for laser pulses to reach various locations on the moon and reflect back, over time scientists can map its orbit with millimeter precision.

Via NASA Science News.

Categories: NASA & Space