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Topic: Exoplanet

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers it’s 1,000th Exoplanet

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study — the 1,000th of which was recently verified.

Using Kepler data, scientists reached this millenary milestone after validating that eight more candidates spotted by the planet-hunting telescope are, in fact, planets. The Kepler team also has added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun.

Of the more than 1,000 verified planets found by NASA's Kepler, eight are less than twice Earth-size and in their stars' habitable zone. All eight orbit stars cooler and smaller than our sun. The search continues for Earth-size habitable zone worlds around sun-like stars. (NASA Ames/W Stenzel)

Of the more than 1,000 verified planets found by NASA’s Kepler, eight are less than twice Earth-size and in their stars’ habitable zone. All eight orbit stars cooler and smaller than our sun. The search continues for Earth-size habitable zone worlds around sun-like stars. (NASA Ames/W Stenzel)

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft discovers it’s first Exoplanet during new mission

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft makes a comeback with the discovery of the first exoplanet found using its new mission — K2.

The discovery was made when astronomers and engineers devised an ingenious way to repurpose Kepler for the K2 mission and continue its search of the cosmos for other worlds.

“Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”

The artistic concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

The artistic concept shows NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

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NASA research shows Jupiter’s moon Ganymede may have layers of ice and oceans

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The largest moon in our solar system, a companion to Jupiter named Ganymede, might have ice and oceans stacked up in several layers like a club sandwich, according to new NASA-funded research that models the moon’s makeup.

Previously, the moon was thought to harbor a thick ocean sandwiched between just two layers of ice, one on top and one on bottom.

This artist's concept of Jupiter's moon Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, illustrates the "club sandwich" model of its interior oceans. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, illustrates the “club sandwich” model of its interior oceans. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler space telescope provides data on distant planets

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – More than three-quarters of the planet candidates discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft have sizes ranging from that of Earth to that of Neptune, which is nearly four times as big as Earth.

Such planets dominate the galactic census but are not represented in our own solar system. Astronomers don’t know how they form or if they are made of rock, water or gas.

Artist's concept of NASA's Kepler space telescope. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope Celebrates 10 Years of Operation

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ten years after a Delta II rocket launched NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, lighting up the night sky over Cape Canaveral, FL, the fourth of the agency’s four Great Observatories continues to illuminate the dark side of the cosmos with its infrared eyes.

The telescope studied comets and asteroids, counted stars, scrutinized planets and galaxies, and discovered soccer-ball-shaped carbon spheres in space called buckyballs. Moving into its second decade of scientific scouting from an Earth-trailing orbit, Spitzer continues to explore the cosmos near and far.

A montage of images taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope over the years. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A montage of images taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope over the years. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory for the first time sees Eclipsing Planet in X-rays

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationCambridge, MA – For the first time since exoplanets, or planets around stars other than the sun, were discovered almost 20 years ago, X-ray observations have detected an exoplanet passing in front of its parent star.

An advantageous alignment of a planet and its parent star in the system HD 189733, which is 63 light-years from Earth, enabled NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM Newton Observatory to observe a dip in X-ray intensity as the planet transited the star.

This graphic depicts HD 189733b, the first exoplanet caught passing in front of its parent star in X-rays. (Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K.Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA)

This graphic depicts HD 189733b, the first exoplanet caught passing in front of its parent star in X-rays. (Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K.Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope helps Astronomers discover Cobalt Blue Planet

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away has been deduced by Astronomers working with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

The planet is HD 189733b, one of the closest exoplanets that can be seen crossing the face of its star, and its color is cobalt blue. If seen directly, this planet would look like a deep blue dot, reminiscent of Earth’s color as seen from space.

This artist's concept shows exoplanet HD 189733b orbiting its yellow-orange star, HD 189733. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope measured the actual visible-light color of the planet, which is deep blue. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

This artist’s concept shows exoplanet HD 189733b orbiting its yellow-orange star, HD 189733. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope measured the actual visible-light color of the planet, which is deep blue. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observes Big Weather on distant Hot Jupiters

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Among the hundreds of new planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft are a class of exotic worlds known as “hot Jupiters.”  Unlike the giant planets of our own solar system, which remain at a safe distance from the sun, these worlds are reckless visitors to their parent stars.

They speed around in orbits a fraction the size of Mercury’s, blasted on just one-side by starlight hundreds of times more intense than the gentle heating experienced by Jupiter here at home.”

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope finds Planet near the size of Earth orbiting in the Habitable Zone of another Star

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the “habitable zone,” the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.

The Kepler-62 system has five planets: 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f. The Kepler-69 system has two planets: 69b and 69c. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-sized planets.

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. (Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. (Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to take first images of Saturn’s Transit of Venus from deep space

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Last June, astronomers urged sky watchers to observe the transit of Venus. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, they said. The black disk of the second planet wouldn’t crawl across the face of the sun again for more than 100 years.

In fact, it’s happening again this week–not on Earth, but Saturn.

“On Friday, December 21st, there will be a transit of Venus visible from Saturn, and we will be watching it using  the Cassini spacecraft,” says Phil Nicholson, a Cassini science team member from Cornell University. “This will be the first time a transit of Venus has been observed from deep space.”

A transit of Venus seen from Earth on June 6th, 2012. (Photo credit: Bum-Suk Yeom of Daejeon, South Korea)

A transit of Venus seen from Earth on June 6th, 2012. (Photo credit: Bum-Suk Yeom of Daejeon, South Korea)

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