Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Astronomers have long known that some comets like it hot. Several of the greatest comets in history have flown close to the sun, puffing themselves up with solar heat, before they became naked-eye wonders in the night sky.
Some comets like it hot, but Comet ISON was not one of them.
The much-anticipated flyby of the sun by Comet ISON on Thanksgiving Day 2013 is over, and instead of becoming a Great Comet….
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – Just when scientists thought they had a tidy theory for how the giant asteroid Vesta formed, a new paper from NASA’s Dawn mission suggests the history is more complicated.
If Vesta’s formation had followed the script for the formation of rocky planets like our own, heat from the interior would have created distinct, separated layers of rock (generally, a core, mantle and crust). In that story, the mineral olivine should concentrate in the mantle.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Newly discovered asteroid 2013 TV135 made a close approach to Earth on September 16th, when it came within about 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers).
The asteroid is initially estimated to be about 1,300 feet (400 meters) in size and its orbit carries it as far out as about three quarters of the distance to Jupiter’s orbit and as close to the sun as Earth’s orbit.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Examination of the Martian atmosphere by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover confirms that some meteorites that have dropped to Earth really are from the Red Planet.
A key new measurement of the inert gas argon in Mars’ atmosphere by Curiosity’s laboratory provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origin of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origin of other meteorites.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system, a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b.
The planet is marked by high clouds in the west and clear skies in the east. Previous studies from Spitzer have resulted in temperature maps of planets orbiting other stars, but this is the first look at cloud structures on a distant world.
Pasadena, CA – By analyzing the distinctive cracks lining the icy face of Europa, NASA scientists found evidence that this moon of Jupiter likely spun around a tilted axis at some point.
Europa’s tilt could influence calculations of how much of the moon’s history is recorded in its frozen shell, how much heat is generated by tides in its ocean, and even how long the ocean has been liquid.
Pasadena, CA – For 30 years, a large near-Earth asteroid wandered its lone, intrepid path, passing before the scrutinizing eyes of scientists armed with telescopes while keeping something to itself. The object, known as Don Quixote, whose journey stretches to the orbit of Jupiter, now appears to be a comet.
The discovery resulted from an ongoing project coordinated by researchers at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Through a lot of focused attention and a little luck, they found evidence of comet activity, which had evaded detection for three decades.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.
New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident.
A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.
Pasadena, CA – In 2011, astronomers on the hunt for the coldest star-like celestial bodies discovered a new class of such objects using NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope.
But until now, no one knew exactly how cool the bodies’ surfaces really are. In fact, some evidence suggested they could be at room temperature.
Pasadena, CA – A monster storm that erupted on Saturn in late 2010 – as large as any storm ever observed on the ringed planet — has already impressed researchers with its intensity and long-lived turbulence.
A new paper in the journal Icarus reveals another facet of the storm’s explosive power: its ability to churn up water ice from great depths. This finding, derived from near-infrared measurements by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, is the first detection at Saturn of water ice. The water originates from deep in Saturn’s atmosphere.
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