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Topic: Exoplanets

NASA’s Starshade technology to aid observations of far off Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the feat of staying highly synchronized while airborne can be appreciated by anyone who’s ever seen aircraft engaged in formation flying. In work sponsored by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are taking formation flying to a new extreme.

Their work marks an important milestone within a larger program to test the feasibility of a technology called a starshade. Although starshades have never flown in space, they hold the potential to enable groundbreaking observations of planets beyond our solar system, including pictures of planets as small as Earth.

This artist's concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientist may have discovered way to detect Life Friendly Climates on Other Worlds

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says scientists may have found a way to tell if alien worlds have a climate that is suitable for life by analyzing the light from these worlds for special signatures that are characteristic of a life-friendly environment.

This technique could reveal the inner edge of a star’s habitable zone, the region around a star where liquid water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet.

“Habitable planets by definition have water on their surfaces,” said Eric Wolf of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “However, water can come in the forms of ocean, ice, snow, vapor, or cloud. Each of these forms of water have very different effects on climate. ”

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers Third Planet in Kepler-47 System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Astronomers have discovered a third planet in the Kepler-47 system, securing the system’s title as the most interesting of the binary-star worlds. Using data from the NASA Kepler space telescope, a team of researchers, led by astronomers at San Diego State University, detected the new Neptune-to-Saturn-size planet orbiting between two previously known planets.

With its three planets orbiting two suns, Kepler-47 is the only known multi-planet circumbinary system. Circumbinary planets are those that orbit two stars.

An illustration of the Kepler-47 circumbinary planet system. (NASA/JPL Caltech/T. Pyle)

An illustration of the Kepler-47 circumbinary planet system. (NASA/JPL Caltech/T. Pyle)

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NASA Researchers are creating Alien Atmospheres on Earth

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth. In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava.

The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”

This artist's concept shows planet KELT-9b, an example of a "hot Jupiter," or a gas giant planet orbiting very close to its parent star. KELT-9b is an extreme example of a hot Jupiter, with dayside temperatures reaching 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,300 Celcius). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows planet KELT-9b, an example of a “hot Jupiter,” or a gas giant planet orbiting very close to its parent star. KELT-9b is an extreme example of a hot Jupiter, with dayside temperatures reaching 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,300 Celcius). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s TESS Satellite discovers its first Exoplanets

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, in its first three months of observations.

The mission’s sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes — most of them likely stellar outbursts — in the same region of the sky. They include six supernova explosions whose brightening light was recorded by TESS even before the outbursts were discovered by ground-based telescopes.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets in the data from the space telescope’s four cameras. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets in the data from the space telescope’s four cameras. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

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NASA begins “On a Mission” podcast series that follows Insight Lander’s flight to Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has a new mission to Mars, and it’s taking podcast listeners along for the ride.

Launched Monday, October 29th, 2018 the eight-episode series “On a Mission” follows the InSight lander as it travels hundreds of millions of miles and attempts to land on Mars on November 26th.

“On a Mission” will be the first JPL podcast to track a mission during flight, through interviews with the InSight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

'On a Mission' is a new eight-episode podcast series from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that follows the InSight mission as the robotic explorer journeys to Mars for a November 26th landing. The first two episodes are available on October 29th for download. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

‘On a Mission’ is a new eight-episode podcast series from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that follows the InSight mission as the robotic explorer journeys to Mars for a November 26th landing. The first two episodes are available on October 29th for download. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble, Kepler Space Telescopes discover possible Moon outside our Solar System

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, astronomers have uncovered tantalizing evidence of what could be the first discovery of a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system.

This moon candidate, which is 8,000 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, orbits a gas-giant planet that, in turn, orbits a star called Kepler-1625. Researchers caution that the moon hypothesis is tentative and must be confirmed by follow-up Hubble observations.

NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes have uncovered what could be the first moon outside our solar system ever found. More observations are needed to confirm this discovery. (NASA/ESA/L. Hustak)

NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes have uncovered what could be the first moon outside our solar system ever found. More observations are needed to confirm this discovery. (NASA/ESA/L. Hustak)

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NASA to start searching Universe for signs of Technological Life

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Since the beginning of civilization, humanity has wondered whether we are alone in the universe. As NASA has explored our solar system and beyond, it has developed increasingly sophisticated tools to address this fundamental question.

Within our solar system, NASA’s missions have searched for signs of both ancient and current life, especially on Mars and soon, Jupiter’s moon Europa. Beyond our solar system, missions, such as Kepler and TESS, are revealing thousands of planets orbiting other stars. 

A zoom into the Hubble Space Telescope photograph of an enormous, balloon-like bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. Astronomers trained the iconic telescope on this colorful feature, called the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, and L. Frattare (Viz 3D Team, STScI))

A zoom into the Hubble Space Telescope photograph of an enormous, balloon-like bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. Astronomers trained the iconic telescope on this colorful feature, called the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, and L. Frattare (Viz 3D Team, STScI))

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NASA believes collision caused Uranus to rotate on it’s side

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Scientists have always wondered how Uranus got tilted so much that it spins on its side, and now research on the planet’s early formation gives us new insight. Four billion years ago, scientists believe a young proto-planet of rock and ice collided with Uranus, causing its extreme tilt. Instead of rotating like a top spinning nearly upright, as Earth does, the planet “rolls” on its side as it circles the sun.

The research team, led by Durham University, UK, in collaboration with scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, used advanced computing techniques to create the most detailed simulation to date of the suspected impact.

Uranus tilts so much that it spins on its side. (NASA)

Uranus tilts so much that it spins on its side. (NASA)

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft begins Campaign 18 observing Clusters of Stars

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft began the 18th observing campaign of its extended mission, K2, on May 12th, 2018. For the next 82 days, Kepler will stare at clusters of stars, faraway galaxies, and a handful of solar system objects, including comets, objects beyond Neptune, and an asteroid. The Kepler spacecraft is expected to run out of fuel within several months.

Campaign 18 is a familiar patch of space, as it’s approximately the same region of sky that Kepler observed during Campaign 5 in 2015. One of the advantages of observing a field over again is that planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, may be found orbiting farther from their stars. Astronomers hope to not only discover new exoplanets during this campaign, but also to confirm candidates that were previously identified.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

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