SMART-1 swan songRight up to its final orbits, SMART-1 continued delivering valuable data, extending the mission's legacy as a technology and scientific success. Scientists and engineers met today at ESOC to review mission achievements including final AMIE camera images.
At a press event held today at ESA's Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC), SMART-1 engineers, operations experts and scientists are presenting data and preliminary results obtained by the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/4/2006 10:11:41 PM)
Atlantis Launch Set for Sept. 6The six Atlantis crew members flew Saturday morning from their home base in Houston to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will begin final launch preparations for mission STS-115.
The countdown officially begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, at the T-43 hour mark, which includes over 30 hours of built-in hold time previous to a targeted 12:29 p.m. EDT launch on Wednesday. The launch time is the middle point in the launch window that extends........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 9/3/2006 7:02:55 AM)
Low Altitude Flying With Coarse MapsWhat exactly determines the time of the SMART-1 impact? What causes the uncertainty in the impact time?
The SMART-1 spacecraft is currently expected to impact the Moon's surface on 3 September 2006, at 07:41 CEST (05:41 UT). However, it is also possible that the small satellite hits the Moon on the prior orbit at 02:37 CEST (00:37 UT). Why?.
The time of impact has been determined by orbit predictions following the major thruster........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/27/2006 9:17:56 PM)
One-Two Particle Punch Poses Greater RiskIt doesn't just matter how much radiation an astronaut is exposed to, time and the order in which charged particles strike human cells are important factors as well. That's the main finding of a study simulating radiation exposure conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and reported in the September 2006 edition of Radiation Research. In the study, human cells were three times more likely to develop........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/24/2006 10:01:17 PM)
Microscopic passengers to hitch rideWhen space shuttle Atlantis rockets into space later this week, it will take along three kinds of microbes so scientists can study how their genetic responses and their ability to cause disease change.
The 'Microbe' experiment, part of the STS-115 space shuttle mission scheduled for launch Aug. 27, will study three common microorganisms -- Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans -- that have been identified as........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/24/2006 9:50:15 PM)
Pluto is not a planetThe "United Nations" of astronomers has announced a new definition of what a planet is, slightly revising the description preferred by an international panel including an MIT professor that was tasked with the challenge.
Members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted on August 24 to define a planet as an object that is in orbit around the sun, is large enough for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape, and has........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/24/2006 9:10:17 PM)
Antarctic Ozone HoleTwenty years ago this month, government and university scientists ventured to Antarctica to study the cause of a hole in the stratospheric ozone layer over the southernmost continent. Those observations were the first definitive demonstration that humans are capable of affecting the entire global climate system and led to the Montreal Protocol, the first treaty to address the Earth's environment.
Today, Susan Solomon and David Hoffman, who........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 8/23/2006 6:12:00 PM)
SMART-1 on the trail of the Moon's beginningsThe D-CIXS instrument on ESA's Moon mission SMART-1 has produced the first detection from orbit of calcium on the lunar surface. By doing this, the instrument has taken a step towards answering the old question: did the Moon form from part of the Earth?
Scientists responsible for the D-CIXS instrument on SMART-1 are also announcing that they have detected aluminium, magnesium and silicon. "We have good maps of iron across the lunar surface.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/20/2006 9:49:38 PM)
Astronomers proclaim Pluto is a planetYes, Virginia, Pluto is a planet.
And it's about to be joined by several more, thanks to a new definition of the word "planet" announced recently by the world's astronomers through the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
The seven-person international panel that spent two years defining the difference between planets and smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids includes an MIT astronomer.
If the definition is........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/20/2006 2:58:51 PM)
APL-Built Spacecraft Set for Aug 31 LaunchTwo nearly identical spacecraft, destined to capture the first-ever 3-D views of the sun, are scheduled for launch on Aug. 31 aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 3:12 p.m. or 4:20 p.m. EDT. The window extends through Sept. 4 with two launch opportunities daily.
Built and operated for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., the two-year STEREO (Solar........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/19/2006 9:19:22 PM)
Surprising Telescope ObservationsA heavy form of hydrogen created just moments after the Big Bang has been found to exist in larger quantities than expected in the Milky Way, a finding that could radically alter theories about star and galaxy formation, says a new international study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
CU-Boulder astrophysicist Jeffrey Linsky said new data gathered by NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, or FUSE, satellite, shows why........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/14/2006 11:52:16 PM)
Hidden Milky Way deuterium foundResearchers using NASA's Johns Hopkins University-operated Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer satellite have learned that far more "heavy" hydrogen remains in our Milky Way galaxy than expected, a finding that could radically alter theories about star and galaxy formation.
This form of hydrogen, called deuterium, was created a few minutes after the Big.
Bang, but has been slowly destroyed as it is burned in stars and converted to........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/14/2006 9:50:47 PM)
An Oblique Look On The North Lunar Far WestThis image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, provides an 'oblique' view of the lunar surface towards the limb, around the Mezentsev, Niepce and Merrill craters, on the far side of the Moon.
"This cratered terrain is similar in topography to near-side highlands," says SMART-1 Project scientist Bernard Foing, "while the far-side equator bulge can reach heights of 7 km, and the South Pole........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/10/2006 12:00:03 AM)
Electric Dust Storms on MarsDust storms frequently rise from the cold deserts of Mars, sometimes even raging across the entire planet. The storms might also crackle with electricity, which may produce reactive chemicals that build up in the Martian soil, according to a NASA-funded research team. The chemicals, like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), may have caused the contradictory results when NASA's Viking landers tested the Martian soil for signs of life, according to the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/7/2006 7:45:42 AM)
Shockless Future Spacewalkers' AimSpace Station crew members Jeff Williams and Thomas Reiter will work to avoid future shocks during a scheduled 6-hour-plus spacewalk Aug. 3.
They also will have a third station crew member for the first time in more than three years. Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov will coach them through their prebreathe exercise program and help them suit up for their outing.
The station crew was reduced to two members in May 2003 in the wake........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/3/2006 6:48:51 AM)
15 Billion Kms And CountingThe Voyager 1 spacecraft set off from the Earth in 1977 and has clocked up quite a few miles since. On 16th August it is due to reach a whopping 100 AU - 14,959,787,069 km or 9,295,573,000 miles - from the Sun. Although 15 billion kilometres is peanuts by the standards of our local stars, that is well beyond all the planets in our Solar System and is the furthest that any artificial object from the Earth has ever been.
Voyager 1 is now........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/2/2006 6:45:25 AM)
Deeper Into Granicus And Tinjar VallesSee these new images which are taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, show the regions of Granicus Valles and Tinjar Valles. It is believed that these regions may have been formed partly through the action of subsurface water, due to a process known as sapping.
The HRSC was able to obtained these images during orbit 1383 at a ground resolution of approximately 23.7 metres per pixel. These........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/29/2006 8:38:15 PM)
Making Clearer PicturesSoftware makes pictures clearer.
Software helps astronomers see what's hidden in noisy and blurred images of stars and galaxies. Metropolis Data Consultants uses the same techniques to give doctors and the police clearer pictures to work on.
Astronomers use all sorts of telescopes to explore outer space. Some are optical telescopes - bigger and better versions of those you might have at home. Using lenses and mirrors, they make distant........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/28/2006 9:48:21 PM)
Finding Electrical Short Circuits In AirplanesA preemptive spark lasting for nanoseconds that helps find potentially dangerous short circuits hidden in the miles of wiring behind the panels of aging commercial airliners has been patented by Sandia National Laboratories.
The rapid technique may make it financially feasible for airlines to quickly diagnose and repair the hard-to-locate intermittent faults that have plagued the industry and cost millions of dollars in lost revenue due to........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 7/22/2006 11:40:07 PM)
Next-generation High-altitude Airships"Paint-on" antennas, designed to establish new high-altitude communications and surveillance platforms, successfully transmitted voice and data links as well as teleconferencing capabilities during test flights in the Nevada desert June 21 on board an SA-60 spherical airship.
RTI International and its research partners at Unitech, Applied EM, the International Communications Group, and TechSphere Systems International, a wholly owned........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 7/17/2006 8:20:24 PM)
The Eternal Life of StardustA new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is helping astronomers understand how stardust is recycled in galaxies.
The cosmic portrait shows the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby dwarf galaxy named after Ferdinand Magellan, the seafaring explorer who observed the murky object at night during his fleet's historic journey around Earth. Now, nearly 500 years after Magellan's voyage, astronomers are studying Spitzer's view of this galaxy to........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/3/2006 7:07:26 AM)
Lockheed to Build Orion Crew VehicleNASA has selected Lockheed Martin Corp. as the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's spacecraft for a new generation of explorers.
The Orion crew capsule will carry astronauts back to the moon and later to Mars. The first flight with astronauts aboard is planned for no later than 2014. Orion's first flight to the moon is planned for no later than 2020.
Lessons from the past are guiding NASA's next step into the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/3/2006 6:55:09 AM)
Rare high-altitude clouds found on MarsPlanetary researchers have discovered the highest clouds above any planetary surface. They found them above Mars using the SPICAM instrument on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft. The results are a new piece in the puzzle of how the Martian atmosphere works.
Until now, researchers had been aware only of the clouds that hug the Martian surface and lower reaches of the atmosphere. Thanks to data from the SPICAM Ultraviolet and Infrared........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/28/2006 9:57:34 PM)
Why Earth's Aurorae ShineESA's Cluster mission has established that high-speed flows of electrified gas, known as bursty bulk flows, in the Earth's magnetic field are the carriers of decisive amounts of mass, energy and magnetic perturbation towards the Earth during magnetic substorms. When substorms occur, energetic particles strike our atmosphere, causing aurorae to shine.
Such colourful aurorae regularly light the higher latitudes in the northern and southern........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 8/25/2006 4:45:22 AM)
Smackdown in the Lake of ExcellenceThe European Space Agency's Smart-1 mission ends on September 3rd 2006. Appropriately for such a successful mission, its final resting place will be an area of the Moon known as the 'Lake of Excellence'. During its 3-year lifespan, Europe's first mission to the Moon has advanced both lunar science and the technology that underpins it.
UK participation in Smart-1 was funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council with........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/24/2006 9:19:54 PM)
Studying Atoms Linked To Black HolesSuper-hot atoms in space hold the key to an astronomical mystery, and an Ohio State University astronomer is leading an effort to study those atoms here on Earth.
Anil Pradhan, professor of astronomy, and his team have used supercomputers to perform the most precise energy calculations ever made for these atoms and their properties. As a result, astronomers -- in particular, those hunting black holes -- will have a better idea of what they........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/23/2006 9:18:26 PM)
Close-up on Cuvier crater ridgeThis high-resolution image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the young crater 'Cuvier C' on the Moon.
Click for high resolution image
AMIE obtained this sequence on 18 March 2006 from a distance of 591 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 53 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/22/2006 7:00:37 PM)
First Direct Evidence For Dark MatterAstronomers have discovered first direct proof that dark matter exists.
University of Arizona astronomers and their colleagues got side-on views of two merging galaxy clusters in observations made with state-of-the-art optical and X-ray telescopes.
"Nature gave us this fantastic opportunity to see hypothesized dark matter separated from ordinary matter in this merging system," said UA astronomer Douglas Clowe, leader of the study.
........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/22/2006 5:02:40 AM)
Hubble Sees Faintest StarsThe NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered what astronomers are reporting as the dimmest stars ever seen in any globular star cluster.
Globular clusters are spherical concentrations of hundreds of thousands of stars. Seeing the whole range of stars in this area will yield insights into the age, origin, and evolution of the cluster.
These clusters formed early in the 13.7-thousand-million-year-old universe. The cluster observed by........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/20/2006 9:44:30 PM)
Stellar Pinwheels At Our Galaxy's CoreAstronomers have finally learned the identity of a mysterious "Quintuplet Cluster" of stars situated near the supermassive black hole at our galaxy's core: At least two of the objects are not individual stars, but binary pairs that live fast and die young, forming fiery pinwheels as they spin around one another.
A multinational team led by Peter Tuthill of the University of Sydney in Australia, used the extraordinary resolution of the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/19/2006 9:13:35 PM)
Large and small stars in harmonious coexistenceThe latest photo from the Hubble Space Telescope, presented at the 2006 General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Prague this week, shows a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).
This image reveals a large number of low-mass infant stars coexisting with young massive stars.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/14/2006 10:00:41 PM)
Antarctic snowfall hasn't changed in 50 yearsThe most precise record of Antarctic snowfall ever generated shows there has been no real increase in precipitation over the southernmost continent in the past half-century, even though most computer models assessing global climate change call for an increase in Antarctic precipitation as atmospheric temperatures rise.
"The year-to-year and decadal variability of the snowfall is so large that it makes it nearly impossible to distinguish........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/11/2006 6:50:22 AM)
Learning From Near-impossible MissionsProjects for space scientists and astronomers taught LogicaCMG a lot about building mission-critical systems. Customers across the world have benefited from this experience.
"Your mission is almost impossible. If you choose to accept it, you'll have to land a small probe on the surface of Titan, Saturn's giant moon".
"We don't know what it's like there - no one has been before. Your mission is to gather data and get it back to Earth.........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 8/8/2006 9:44:40 PM)
Station Crew to 'Kick It Up a Notch' With ChefThe crew of the International Space Station will indulge next week in the ultimate "take-out" food, a meal delivered by a NASA space shuttle and designed by chef Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network's "Emeril Live." After tasting several of Lagasse's creations, the three-person crew will talk to the chef at 1:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 10 in a special hookup carried live on NASA TV.
Lagasse sent NASA some of his special recipes for potential use in........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/7/2006 7:41:32 AM)
Atlantis Poised at the PadAtlantis' slow, 4.2-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the pad began at 1:05 a.m. Riding atop the mobile launch platform and carried by the crawler transporter, the orbiter is attached to its external tank, flanked by two solid rocket boosters. At the pad, the vehicle will be enclosed by the rotating service structure during its preparation for launch. From there the payload for the mission will be loaded into the cargo bay. The........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/3/2006 6:45:33 AM)
Wen To Research On GravityMIT Professor of Physics Xiao-Gang Wen has received a grant from the Foundational Questions Institute to fund his study of the relationship between quantum mechanics and gravity.
Wen is one of 30 researchers to receive funding in the inaugural round of grants awarded by the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi).
FQXi, a new philanthropically funded agency, awards grants to researchers to investigate questions about the deep nature of........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 8/2/2006 9:21:32 PM)
Insights Into Scientific RevolutionWith the "Genesis of General Relativity", the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) has just published the most comprehensive study to date of the structures of a scientific revolution. As per the study, a scientific revolution is not a simple radical new beginning, but the result of a new organisation of transmitted knowledge. The result of 10 years of research, this four-volume, 2000-page work on the origins of Einstein's........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/29/2006 8:26:51 PM)
Wide Awake on the Sea of TranquillityNeil Armstrong was supposed to be asleep. The moonwalking was done. The moon rocks were stowed away. His ship was ready for departure. In just a few hours, the Eagle's ascent module would blast off the Moon, something no ship had ever done before, and Neil needed his wits about him. He curled up on the Eagle's engine cover and closed his eyes.
But he could not sleep.
Neither could Buzz Aldrin. In the cramped lander, Buzz had the sweet........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/25/2006 8:48:00 PM)
Cluster Hits The Magnetic Bull's-eyeESA's spacecraft constellation Cluster has hit the magnetic bull's-eye. The four spacecraft surrounded a region within which the Earth's magnetic field was spontaneously reconfiguring itself.
This is the first time such an observation has been made and gives astronomers a unique insight into the physical process responsible for the most powerful explosions that can occur in the Solar System: the magnetic reconnection.
When looking at the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/19/2006 11:24:47 PM)
Black Holes At The Center Of Galaxies?Bubbles of dark matter could be masquerading as supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. If so, they could explain the puzzling pattern of X-ray emissions from the heart of the Milky Way.
Cosmologists know that most galaxies host a compact, supermassive object at their centre and they believe these must be black holes. Such a black hole is thought to be responsible for the X-ray flares coming from the middle of our galaxy, which........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 7/19/2006 9:51:48 PM)