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 Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – If you have a smartphone, take it out and run your fingers along the glass surface. It’s cool to the touch, incredibly thin and strong, and almost impervious to scratching. You’re now in contact with a “smart material.”
Smart materials don’t occur naturally. Instead, they are designed by human engineers working at the molecular level to produce substances made-to-order for futuristic applications.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Comet ISON is now inside the orbit of Earth as it plunges headlong toward the sun for a fiery close encounter on November 28th.
The comet is putting on a good show for observatories around the solar system, especially after an outburst on November 13th-14th that boosted the comet’s brightness 10-fold. NASA spacecraft and amateur astronomers alike are snapping crisp pictures of the comet’s gossamer green atmosphere and suddenly riotous tail.
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – It’s a view as good as gold. A loop high above Saturn by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed this stately view of the golden-hued planet and its main rings. The observation and resulting image mosaic were planned as one of three images for Cassini’s 2013 Scientist for a Day essay contest.
The contest challenges students to study three possible targets and write about which one they think will yield the best science. Today is the last day for U.S. submissions and the Cassini mission has already started working on picking the best essays.
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 Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Now approaching its 10th anniversary, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has evolved into a premier observatory for an endeavor not envisioned in its original design: the study of worlds around other stars, called exoplanets.
While the engineers and scientists who built Spitzer did not have this goal in mind, their visionary work made this unexpected capability possible. Thanks to the extraordinary stability of its design and a series of subsequent engineering reworks, the space telescope now has observational powers far beyond its original limits and expectations.
Pasadena, CA – Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers because previous data reported by U.S. and international scientists indicated positive detections.
The roving laboratory performed extensive tests to search for traces of Martian methane. Whether the Martian atmosphere contains traces of the gas has been a question of high interest for years because methane could be a potential sign of life, although it also can be produced without biology.
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.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is giving the wider astronomical community a first look at its unique X-ray images of the cosmos.
The first batch of data from the black-hole hunting telescope is publicly available today, August 29th, via NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center, or HEASARC.
Pasadena, CA – Images taken with a telephoto-lens camera on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity catch the larger of Mars’ two moons, Phobos, passing directly in front of the sun — the sharpest images of a solar eclipse ever taken at Mars.
Phobos does not fully cover the sun, as seen from the surface of Mars, so the solar eclipse is what’s called a ring, or annular, type. A set of three frames from Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam), taken three seconds apart as Phobos eclipsed the sun here .
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