Kepler Finds First Exo-Planet, a “Super Earth”

121814nasa

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.

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Water on Comet 67p Is like Nothing on Earth

Comet 67p water

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.

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Hundreds of Meteors Will Light Up The Sky Tonight

geminid meteor shower

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.

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Curiosity Rover Discovers Evidence of Massive Lake

gale crater

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.

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Celebrate NASA’s Orion Launch

Orion, nasa

NASA’s newest spacecraft, Orion, will be launching into space for the first time this Thursday, December 4th, on a flight that will take it further than any spacecraft built to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years and through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava to put its critical systems to the test.
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Bumpty Bump Bump From Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

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One more first for the Rosetta mission… sounds of Philae landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta probe to land on comet tomorrow

ESA

The SESAME-CASSE instrument sensors on the feet of the Philae lander recorded the sound at the moment of contact with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

 

Instruments-Sesame

ESA/ATG medialab

 

Huge and bright new storms are raging on Uranus

uranusIR

The planet Uranus is usually relatively calm when compared to its other companion gas giants in our solar system.  Up until recently if you aimed a telescope at the distant planet you would have just observed a bland and hazy blue-green looking body without a whole lot going on.  However, lately several extremely bright and large storms have been erupting around the northern hemisphere, and 7 years later than its closest approach to the Sun when astronomers would expect any activity to occur.  Some of theses features are now even bright enough to be visible to amateur astronomers with a telescope, and this unusual activity has now sparked great interest in the unusual planet.  It is now an active topic of research to understand these new phenomena since these wild storms were first discovered by astronomer, Dr. Imke de Pater, of the University of California, Berkeley.

Read more about it here:

http://www.space.com/27770-extreme-uranus-storms-puzzle-astronomers.html?adbid=10152450832696466&adbpl=fb&adbpr=17610706465&cmpid=514630_20141114_35587277

LATEST PHOTOS FROM Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

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European Space Agency – ESA

 

This unusual view takes a side-on look down the smaller lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and onto the smoother terrain of the ‘neck’ region. In the background, cliffs of the comet’s large lobe rise from the shadows, adding to the dramatic feel to this image.

This single-frame NAVCAM image measures 1024 x 1024 pixels. It was captured from a distance of 9.8 km from the centre of the comet (7.8 km from the surface) at 22:04 GMT on 23 October 2014. At this distance, the image resolution is 83.5 cm/pixel and the size of the image is 855 x 855 m.

European Space Agency – ESA

 

To see all of the amazing photos from Philae lander visit  http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/11

 

 

Rosetta Probe to Land on Comet Tomorrow

Rosetta probe to land on comet tomorrow

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.

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