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Topic: Planet

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers first Earth size planet orbiting another Star in the “Habitable Zone”

 

Written by Tony Phillip
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting in the “habitable zone” of another star. The planet, named “Kepler-186f” orbits an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

The “habitable zone” is defined as the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

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NASA researchers finds signs of Exomoon

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Titan, Europa, Io and Phobos are just a few members of our solar system’s pantheon of moons. Are there other moons out there, orbiting planets beyond our sun?

NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.

Researchers have detected the first "exomoon" candidate -- a moon orbiting a planet that lies outside our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers have detected the first “exomoon” candidate — a moon orbiting a planet that lies outside our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA study shows Amazon Forest consumes more Carbon Dioxide than it creates

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study seven years in the making has confirmed that natural forests in the Amazon remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit, therefore reducing global warming. This finding resolves a long-standing debate about a key component of the overall carbon balance of the Amazon basin.

The Amazon’s carbon balance is a matter of life and death: living trees take carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow, and dead trees put the greenhouse gas back into the air as they decompose.

Old-growth Amazon tree canopy in Tapajós National Forest, Brazil. A new NASA study shows that the living trees in the undisturbed Amazon forest draw more carbon dioxide from the air than the forest's dead trees emit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Old-growth Amazon tree canopy in Tapajós National Forest, Brazil. A new NASA study shows that the living trees in the undisturbed Amazon forest draw more carbon dioxide from the air than the forest’s dead trees emit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA researchers use Fuel Cells to study Origins of Life on Earth

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life’s basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown.

A new study led by Laurie Barge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, demonstrates a unique way to study the origins of life: fuel cells.

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NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) scans the sky for Planet X, but comes up empty

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After searching hundreds of millions of objects across our sky, NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up no evidence of the hypothesized celestial body in our solar system commonly dubbed “Planet X.”

Researchers previously had theorized about the existence of this large, but unseen celestial body, suspected to lie somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto. In addition to “Planet X,” the body had garnered other nicknames, including “Nemesis” and “Tyche.”

Data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as "Planet X." (Penn State University)

Data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as “Planet X.” (Penn State University)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope capture unique view of Saturn’s Auroras

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles.

While NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don’t face Earth.

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NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovers a Planet that Wobbles

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat. That is the situation on a weird, wobbly world found by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

The planet, designated Kepler-413b, precesses, or wobbles, wildly on its spin axis, much like a child’s top. The tilt of the planet’s spin axis can vary by as much as 30 degrees over 11 years, leading to rapid and erratic changes in seasons.

In contrast, Earth’s rotational precession is 23.5 degrees over 26,000 years. Researchers are amazed that this far-off planet is precessing on a human timescale.

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

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

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft nears it’s destination, the planet Pluto

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – One of the fastest spacecraft ever built — NASA’s New Horizons — is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and it is nearing its destination: Pluto.

“The encounter begins next January,” says Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute and the mission’s principal investigator. “We’re less than a year away.”

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft provides view of Earth as it flies by

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on October 9th, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 3.9 kilometers per second), which set it on course for a July 4th, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.

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NASA reports Comet Encke and Comet ISON to Fly the planet Mercury

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – What are the odds? On November 18th and 19th not one but two comets will fly by the planet Mercury.

“This is a unique coincidence,” says Ron Vervack an astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and a member of the science team for NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, “and a golden opportunity to study two comets passing close to the sun.”

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