In 2013, the Kepler telescope had to stop planet hunting due to the failure of two reaction wheels. But that doesn’t mean the telescope is completely out of commission. In fact, using a new technique that takes advantage of the solar wind, the Kepler telescope just discovered its first planet, a planet that could be similar to Earth but over twice the size.
Finding water on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes as no surprise. Comets have been known to carry large patches of ice on them. What does come as a surprise, however, is the general makeup of this water. It is a finding that turns previously held beliefs on their head.
Every December the Geminid meteor shower brings out sky watchers to admire the spectacle which can produce up to 120 sightings per hour. Named because it appears to originate from the Gemini constellation, the Geminid meteor shower show runs from Dec. 7 through the 17th, peaking between the 13th through the 14th. Though the moonlight will block out most of the meteor sightings, you can still catch more of the prominent ones that appear to race across the night sky.
Two years ago, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in an area called the Gale Crater. They choose this location because it was deemed to be the best area to have once been able to support microbial life. In a teleconference this afternoon, NASA has announced that new scientific evidence supports the long-standing hypothesis that Gale Crater once held a large body of water, and quite possibly for millions of years.
Due to technical issues, the launch of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft has been postponed until Friday, December 5.
Join us tomorrow in the planetarium to learn more about Orion, create your own spacecraft, and watch video of Orion’s liftoff and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere before each planetarium program.
Orion is NASA’s version of a next generation spacecraft that is designed to eventually take astronauts to asteroids, Mars, and beyond!
Scientists have confirmed contact with the Philae lander after its release. You can now watch the footage as it unfolds now:
Tomorrow, Nov. 12, may mark the first time humans have soft-landed on a comet. If this is successful it will be courtesy of The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft which is currently orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it speeds through space. Rosetta will release a lander, called Philae, down to the comet’s surface tomorrow while three different space-focused organizations host Rosetta webcasts for all to watch.
The Gaia Satellite was launched on December 19 of last year. It’s mission: to chart a 3D map of the Milky Way Galaxy by surveying more than 1 billion stars. Even though that’s just 1 percent of the stars in the galaxy, its goal is to make the largest, most precise map of where Earth dwells by observing the position of these stars 70 times over five years. Among other things, this could result in the discovery of up to 70,000 additional alien planets.
Today, Oct. 23rd, most of the United States and Canada will be able to view the partial solar eclipse that will start at about 6pm EST. An eclipse, of course, is when an astronomical body is obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or having another body pass between it and the viewer . To mark the occasion I thought it would be interesting if we looked at some other moons in our solar system. So here are ten quick facts about all those moons that orbit the planets.
For the first time, scientists have discovered water on a planet that is smaller than Jupiter. This is an important discovery because, previous to this find, scientists were unable to see through the cloud layer of smaller, warm planets. With this recent discovery, scientists now have a better chance of discovering an Earth 2.0