NASA Announces Missions to Explore Early Solar System It’s a New Year, with new challenges and new opportunities! And NASA, looking to kick things off, has announced the two new missions that will be launching in the coming decade. These robotic missions, named Lucy and Psyche, are intended to help us understand the history of the early Solar System, and will deploy starting in 2021 and 2023, respectively. While Lucy’s mission is to explore one of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, Psyche will explore a metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche. And between the two of them, it is hoped that they will answer some enduring questions aboutRead More →

Source of Mysterious ‘Fast’ Radio Signals Pinpointed, But What Is It? For about 10 years, radio astronomers have been detecting mysterious milliseconds-long blasts of radio waves, called “fast radio bursts” (FRB). While only 18 of these events have been detected so far, one FRB has been particularly intriguing as the signal has been sporadically repeating. First detected in November 2012, astronomers didn’t know if FRB 121102 originated from within the Milky Way galaxy or from across the Universe. A concentrated search by multiple observatories around the world has now determined that the signals are coming from a dim dwarf galaxy about 2.5 billion light yearsRead More →

Hidden Secrets of Orion’s Clouds This spectacular new image is one of the largest near-infrared high-resolution mosaics of the Orion A molecular cloud, the nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years from Earth. It was taken using the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile and reveals many young stars and other objects normally buried deep inside the dusty clouds. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →

ESOcast 90 Light – Orion’s Cloudy Secrets 4K UHD This video takes a quick look at a new image of one of the coolest bits of the night sky — the Orion Nebula. By observing in infrared light the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile can see through the dust and this allowed astronomers to catalogue nearly 800 000 objects in this region, young stars, strange outflows and very distant galaxies. Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →

What is the Closest Galaxy to the Milky Way? Scientists have known for some time that the Milky Way Galaxy is not alone in the Universe. In addition to our galaxy being part of the Local Group – a collection of 54 galaxies and dwarf galaxies – we are also part of the larger formation known as the Virgo Supercluster. So you could say the Milky Way has a lot of neighbors. Of these, most people consider the Andromeda Galaxy to be our closest galactic cohabitant. But in truth, Andromeda is the closest spiral galaxy, and not the closest galaxy by a long shot. ThisRead More →

What is an Ice Age? Scientists have known for some time that the Earth goes through cycles of climatic change. Owing to changes in Earth’s orbit, geological factors, and/or changes in Solar output, Earth occasionally experiences significant reductions in its surface and atmospheric temperatures. This results in long-term periods of glaciation, or what is more colloquially known as an “ice age”. These periods are characterized by the growth and expansion of ice sheets across the Earth’s surface, which occurs every few million years. By definition we are still in the last great ice age – which began during the late Pliocene epoch (ca. 2.58 millionRead More →

SpaceX Finds Failure Cause, Announces Sunday Jan. 8 as Target for Falcon 9 Flight Resumption Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 blasts off with Thaicom-8 communications satellite on May 27, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. 1st stage booster landed safely at sea minutes later. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com After an intensive four month investigation into why a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded without warning on the launch pad last September, the company today announced the failures likely cause as well as plans of a rapid resumption of flights as soon as next Sunday, Jan. 8, from their California launch complexRead More →

Messier 30 – The NGC 7099 Globular Cluster Welcome back to Messier Monday! In our ongoing tribute to the great Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the globular cluster known as Messier 30. Enjoy! During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. Having originally mistaken them for comets, he began compiling a list of them so that others would not make the same mistake he did. In time, this list (known as the Messier Catalog) would come to include 100 of the most fabulous objects in the night sky. One of theseRead More →

Start the Year With Spark: See the Quadrantid Meteor Shower The Quadrantid meteor shower, named for the obsolete constellation Quadran Muralis, will appear to stream from a point in the sky called the radiant (yellow star), located below the end of the Big Dipper’s handle and across from the bright, orange-red star Arcturus. The map shows the sky around 4 a.m. local time Tuesday, Jan. 3. The shower will be best between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., the start of dawn. Map: Bob King, Source: Stellarium If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time under the stars in 2017, you’ll have motivationRead More →

Our Free Book: 101 Astronomical Events in 2017 101 Astronomical Events in 2017 Let’s forget all about 2016, and instead look forward to the amazing 2017 we all know we’re going to have. And to help you celebrate this amazing year in space, we’re pleased to publish an entire book on what you can observe in the upcoming year: 101 Astronomical Events in 2017. This totally free ebook was written by our own David Dickinson and contains all the predictable events coming up: the occultations, the eclipses, the meteor showers, the equinoxes, the super-moons and mini-moons. Every significant event coming up in 2017. In addition,Read More →

NASA’s Favorite Photos of 2016 There are a group of unsung heroes at NASA, the people who travel the world to capture key events in our exploration of space. They share their images with all of us, but most of the time, it’s not just the pictures of launches, landings, and crucial mission events that they capture. They also show us behind-the-scenes events that otherwise might go unnoticed, and they also capture the true personalities of the people behind the missions and events. From exciting beginnings of rocket launches and rocket tests to the sad losses of space exploration icons, these photographers are there takeRead More →

How Do Wind Turbines Work? Perhaps you’ve seen them while driving through the countryside. Or maybe you saw them just off the coast, looming large on the horizon with their spinning blades. Then again, you may have seen them on someone’s roof, or as part of a small-scale urban operation. Regardless of the location, wind turbines and wind power are becoming an increasingly common feature in the modern world. Much of this has to do with the threat of Climate Change, air pollution, and the desire to wean humanity off its dependence on fossil fuels. And when it comes to alternative and renewable energy, windRead More →

Iridium Satellites Fueled and Tucked In For SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Blastoff The first ten IridiumNEXT satellites are stacked and encapsulated in the Falcon 9 fairing for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca., in early 2017. Credit: Iridium Technicians have fueled, stacked and tucked the first ten advanced IridiumNEXT mobile voice and data relay satellites inside the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket designated as SpaceX’s ‘Return to Flight’ launcher – potentially as early as next week – from their west coast launch pad on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. “Milestone Alert: The first ten #IridiumNEXT satellites are stacked andRead More →

NASA’s NEOWISE Missions Spots New Comets NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) accomplished much during its first mission, which ran from December of 2009 to September of 2010. During the many months that it was active, the orbital telescope conducted an all-sky astronomical survey in the infrared band and discovered thousands of minor planets and numerous star clusters. The extension of its mission, NEOWISE, has brought new life to the telescope as a comet and asteroid hunter. And since its re-activation in December of 2013, the orbiting telescope has spotted hundreds of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and thousands of Main Belt asteroids. Most recently, itRead More →

Weekly Space Hangout – December 30, 2016: Nancy Atkinson’s “Incredible Stories from Space” Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: This week’s guest is Nancy Atkinson, an editor and writer for Universe Today, and is the author of a book about NASA’s robotic space missions, “Incredible Stories From Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She was the editor in chief for Space Lifestyle Magazine and also has had articles published on Wired.com, Space.com, NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine, Space Times magazine, and several newspapers in the Midwest. She has been involved with several space-related podcasts, including Astronomy Cast, 365 Days ofRead More →

Opportunity Celebrates Christmas/New Year on Mars Marching to Ancient Water Carved Gully NASA’s Opportunity rover scans around and across to vast Endeavour crater on Dec. 19, 2016, as she climbs steep slopes on the way to reach a water carved gully along the eroded craters western rim. Note rover wheel tracks at center. This navcam camera photo mosaic was assembled from raw images taken on Sol 4587 (19 Dec. 2016) and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo On the brink of 4600 Sols of a profoundly impactful life, NASA’s long lived Opportunity rover celebrates the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season on Mars marching relentlessly towards anRead More →