Topic: SETI Institute
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – Compared to the age of the solar system — about four-and-a-half billion years — a couple of decades are next to nothing. Some planetary locales change little over many millions of years, so for scientists who study the planets, any object that evolves on such a short interval makes for a tempting target for study. And so it is with the ever-changing rings of Saturn.
Case in point: Saturn’s narrow, chaotic and clumpy F ring. A recent NASA-funded study compared the F ring’s appearance in six years of observations by the Cassini mission to its appearance during the Saturn flybys of NASA’s Voyager mission, 30 years earlier.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers first Earth size planet orbiting another Star in the “Habitable Zone”
Written by Tony Phillip
Washington, 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.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.
Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.
Washington, D.C. – A new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet Neptune has been discovered NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It is the 14th known to be circling the giant planet.
The moon, designated S/2004 N 1, is estimated to be no more than 12 miles across, making it the smallest known moon in the Neptunian system. It is so small and dim that it is roughly 100 million times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun’s “habitable zone,” the region in the planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.
Based on observations conducted from May 2009 to March 2011, the findings show a steady increase in the number of smaller-size planet candidates and the number of stars with more than one candidate.
Written by Karen Jenvey
Moffett Field, CA – Scientists found treasure when they studied a meteorite that was recovered April 22nd, 2012 at Sutter’s Mill, the gold discovery site that led to the 1849 California Gold Rush. Detection of the falling meteorites by Doppler weather radar allowed for rapid recovery so that scientists could study for the first time a primitive meteorite with little exposure to the elements, providing the most pristine look yet at the surface of primitive asteroids.
An international team of 70 researchers reported in an issue of “Science” that this meteorite was classified as a Carbonaceous-Mighei or CM-type carbonaceous chondrite and that they were able to identify for the first time the source region of these meteorites.
Written by Michele Johnson
Moffett Field, CA – Astronomers may have detected evidence of a possible planet disintegrating under the searing heat of its host star located 1,500 light-years from Earth. Similar to a debris-trailing comet, the super Mercury-size planet candidate is theorized to fashion a dusty tail. But the tail won’t last for long.
Scientists calculate that, at the current rate of evaporation, the dusty world could be completely vaporized within 200 million years.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA’s Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet — a planet orbiting two stars — 200 light-years from Earth.
Unlike Star Wars’ Tatooine, the planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it.
Washington, D.C. – Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite — temporarily designated P4 — was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet.
The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km).
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