Video of Green Comet 45P Puts You Close To The Action This animation of comet 45P/H-M-P is composed of thirteen delay-Doppler images made during 2 hours of observation using the Arecibo Observatory on Feb. 12. Credit: USRA Comets hide their central engines well. From Earth, we see a bright, fuzzy coma and a tail or two. But the nucleus, the source of all the hubbub, remains deeply camouflaged by dust, at best appearing like a blurry star. To see one up close, you need to send a spacecraft right into the comet’s coma and risk getting. Or you can do the job much more cheaply by bouncingRead More →

India Sets Record With 104 Satellites In Single Launch India’s national space agency – the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) – has come a long way in recent years. In 2008, the agency launched its first lunar explorer, Chandrayaan-1, which also deployed a lander (the Moon Impact Probe) to the surface. And then there was the Mangalayaan mission – aka. the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – which made history on Sept. 24th, 2014, when it became the first probe to enter orbit around Mars on the first try. In their latest feat, the ISRO established a new record for the number of satellites launched inRead More →

Dream Chaser Spacecraft May Be Used For Hubble Repair Mission The final servicing mission to the venerable Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was in 2009. The shuttle Atlantis completed that mission (STS-125,) and several components were repaired and replaced, including the installation of improved batteries. The HST is expected to function until 2030 – 2040. With the retiring of the shuttle program in 2011, it looked like the Hubble mission was destined to play itself out. But now there’s talk of another servicing mission to the Hubble, to be performed by the Dream Chaser Space System. A view of the Hubble Space Telescope from inside spaceRead More →

Chance Discovery Of A Three Hour Old Supernova Supernovae are extremely energetic and dynamic events in the universe. The brightest one we’ve ever observed was discovered in 2015 and was as bright as 570 billion Suns. Their luminosity signifies their significance in the cosmos. They produce the heavy elements that make up people and planets, and their shockwaves trigger the formation of the next generation of stars. There are about 3 supernovae every 100 hundred years in the Milky Way galaxy. Throughout human history, only a handful of supernovae have been observed. The earliest recorded supernova was observed by Chinese astronomers in 185 AD. TheRead More →

Distance & Speed Of Sun’s Orbit Around Galactic Centre Measured In 2013, the European Space Agency deployed the long-awaited Gaia space observatory. As one of a handful of next-generation space observatories that will be going up before the end of the decade, this mission has spent the past few years cataloging over a billion astronomical objects. Using this data, astronomers and astrophysicists hope to create the largest and most precise 3D map of the Milky Way to date. Though it is almost to the end of its mission, much of its earliest information is still bearing fruit. For example, using the mission’s initial data release,Read More →

Through The Nuclear Looking Glass: The Moon & The Bomb For centuries, scientists have been attempting to explain how the Moon formed. Whereas some have argued that it formed from material lost by Earth due to centrifugal force, others asserted that a performed Moon was captured by Earth’s gravity. In recent decades, the most widely-accepted theory has been the Giant-impact hypothesis, which states that the Moon formed after the Earth was struck by a Mars-sized object (named Theia) 4.5 billion years ago. According to a new study by an international team of researchers, the key to proving which theory is correct may come from theRead More →

Carnival of Space #496 It’s that time again! This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Pamela Hoffman at the Everyday Spacer blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #496. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to carnivalofspace@gmail.com, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want toRead More →

SpaceX Falcon 9 Breaths First Fire at KSC Pad 39A – Successful Static Fire Test Paves Path to Feb. 18 ISS Launch First SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket atop Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center comes to life with successful static hot fire test at 430 p.m. on 12 Feb 2017 as seen from Space View Park, Titusville, Fl. This is the first rocket to stand on pad 39A since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in July 2011. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – For the first time in more than half a decade, a rocket came to lifeRead More →

Asteroid 2017 BQ6 Looks Like A Brick   This composite of 25 images of asteroid 2017 BQ6 was generated with radar data collected using NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California’s Mojave Desert. It sped by Earth on Feb. 7 at a speed of around  25,560 mph (7.1 km/s) relative to the planet. The images have resolutions as fine as 12 feet (3.75 meters) per pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR To radar imager Lance Benner at JPL in Pasadena, asteroid 2017 BQ6 resembles the polygonal dice used in Dungeons and Dragons. But my eyes see something closer to a stepping stone or paver you’d use to build a walkway.Read More →

91 Astronomers Combine 1000 Images Into One Amazing Journey to Jupiter A renewed era of space exploration is underway. Compared to the Space Race of the 20th century, which was characterized by two superpowers locked in a game of “getting there first”, the new era is defined predominantly by cooperation and open participation. One way in which this is evident is the role played by “citizen scientists” and amateur astronomers in exploration missions. Consider the recently-released short film titled “A Journey to Jupiter” by Peter Rosen – a photographer and digital artist in Stockholm, Sweden. Using over 1000 images taken by amateur planetary photographers fromRead More →

First SpaceX Falcon 9 Erected at Historic Launch Pad 39A for Feb. 18 Blastoff First SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands erect atop Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center on 10 Feb 2017 as seen from Playalinda Beach, Fl. This is the first rocket to stand on pad 39A since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in July 2011. Liftoff to the ISS is slated for 18 Feb 2017 on the CRS-10 resupply mission for NASA. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The first SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ever to grace historic launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in FloridaRead More →

What is the Surface Area of the Earth? Whoever coined the phrase “it’s a small world” obviously never tried to travel around it! In truth, the planet’s dimensions are quite impressive, and determining just how big it is took many thousands of years. From astronomers determining that Earth was in fact round (and not a flat disc, cube or ziggurat), to the first successful attempts at circumnavigation, our estimates have changed over time. And in the era of modern astronomy, improvements in instrumentation, methodology, and the ability to see Earth from space have certainly helped. According to modern estimates, the surface area of the EarthRead More →

The Centaurus Constellation Welcome back to Constellation Friday! Today, in honor of the late and great Tammy Plotner, we will be dealing with the “Centaur”, the Centaurus constellation! In the 2nd century CE, Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus (aka. Ptolemy) compiled a list of all the then-known 48 constellations. This treatise, known as the Almagest, would used by medieval European and Islamic scholars for over a thousand years to come, effectively becoming astrological and astronomical canon until the early Modern Age. One of these is the famous Centaur of classical antiquity, otherwise known as the constellation Centaurus. As one of the 48 constellation included in theRead More →

Time To Build A Venus Rover Venus is often described as being hell itself, because of its crushing pressure, acidic atmosphere, and extremely high temperatures. Dealing with any one of these is a significant challenge when it comes to exploring Venus. Dealing with all three is extremely daunting, as the Soviet Union discovered with their Venera landers. Actually, dealing with the sulphuric rain is not too difficult, but the heat and the pressure on the surface of Venus are huge hurdles to exploring the planet. NASA has been working on the Venus problem, trying to develop electronics that can survive long enough to do usefulRead More →

Watch the Curiosity Rover Roll Across Mars’ Surface We all love the ‘selfies’ the Curiosity rover takes of itself sitting on Mars. We love them because it’s so amazing to see a human-made object on another world, and these images give us hope that one day we might have pictures of ourselves standing on the surface of the Red Planet. But wouldn’t it be great if we see Curiosity ‘in action’ on Mars, and be like a fly on a rock, watching the rover roll past us? Thanks to graphic artist Seán Doran, we can do just that. Take a look at this absolutely amazingRead More →

Weekly Space Hangout – February 10, 2017: Weekend Eclipse, Occultation and Comet 45P! Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Guests: Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter) Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg) Dave Dickinson (www.astroguyz.com / @astroguyz) Their stories this week: Comet 45P Flies Past Earth A new “kind” of black hole A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse The Moon Occults Regulus Mars didn’t have enough CO2 to sustain liquid water ISS is getting a commercial airlock We use a tool called Trello to submit and vote on stories we would like to see covered each week, and then Fraser will be selecting the stories from there. Here is theRead More →

This Is The Highest Resolution Image Of Europa We Have … For Now This is the highest resolution image taken by Galileo at Europa — Jupiter’s 4th largest moon — until our next mission to the planet. It was obtained at an original image scale of 19 feet (6 meters) per pixel. The gray line down the middle resulted from missing data that was not transmitted by Galileo. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the sequel to Stanley’s Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, black Monoliths multiply, converge and transform Jupiter into a new star. We next hear astronaut David Bowman’s disembodiedRead More →

NASA Approves First Commercial Airlock for Space Station Science and SmallSat Deployment Artists concept of first commercially funded airlock on the space station being developed by NanoRacks that will launch on a commercial resupply mission in 2019. It will be installed on the station’s Tranquility module. Credits: NanoRacks In a significant move towards further expansion of the International Space Station’s (ISS) burgeoning research and commercial space economy capabilities, NASA has approved the development of the first privately developed airlock and is targeting blastoff to the orbiting lab complex in two years. Plans call for the commercial airlock to be launched on a commercial cargo vesselRead More →

Can We Launch Nuclear Waste Into the Sun? When I look at the Sun, I don’t see a warm life-giving orb, nourishing all living creatures here on Earth. No, I see that fiery ball as a cosmic garbage compactor. A place I can dump all my household garbage, to make room for new impulse purchases. I mean, the Sun is right there, not doing anything right? It’s hotter than any garbage incinerator, and it’s the gravitational well at the heart of the Solar System. Get me a rocket, let’s blast that waste into oblivion. Okay, I suspect it’s going to get expensive, so let’s justRead More →

Watch the Moon Make a Pass at Earth’s Shadow, Then Kiss Regulus This Valentine’s Weekend The Moon occults Regulus of January 15th, 2017. Image credit and copyright: Lucca Ruggiero In the southern hemisphere this weekend in the ‘Land of Oz?’ Are you missing out on the passage of Comet 45/P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, and the penumbral lunar eclipse? Fear not, there’s an astronomical event designed just for you, as the Moon occults (passes in front of) the bright star Regulus on the evening of Saturday, January 11th. The entire event is custom made for the continent of Australia and New Zealand, occurring under dark skies. Now for theRead More →