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Topic: Sun

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope sees Pulsar Transformation

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed.

The pulsar’s radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

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APSU 9th Street parking lot gets Solar Canopy

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – On sunny afternoons, the electric meter attached to the Austin Peay State University Hemlock Semiconductor Building won’t be breaking any speed records.

That’s because, in addition to the solar panels on the building’s roof, a new solar parking canopy in the neighboring 9th Street parking lot will feed even more of the sun’s energy into the electrical system, keeping utility costs down.

New Solar Canopy at Austin Peay's 9th Street parking lot. (Linnea Rainey/APSU)

New Solar Canopy at Austin Peay’s 9th Street parking lot. (Linnea Rainey/APSU)

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NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft senses Tsunami Waves from our Sun in Interstellar Space

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new “tsunami wave” from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun’s bubble, entering a new frontier.

“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” said Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, the mission’s project scientist since 1972. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”

The Space Between: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Space Between: This artist’s concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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NASA reports discovery of Icy Planet in Binary Star System

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A newly discovered planet in a binary, or twin, star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers’ notions of where Earth-like — and even potentially habitable — planets can form, and how to find them.

At twice the mass of Earth, the planet orbits one of the stars in the binary system at almost exactly the same distance at which Earth orbits the sun. However, because the planet’s host star is much dimmer than the sun, the planet is much colder than Earth — a little colder, in fact, than Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

This artist's rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers' notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

This artist’s rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers’ notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft detects water vapor coming from target Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on June 6th, 2014.

The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11th).

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

This artist’s impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA’s Johnson Space Center has Astronauts Test Tools Underwater for Asteroid Mission

 

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – NASA is planning to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s, and preparations are already being made.

Stan Love and Steve Bowen have between them spent more than 62 hours in the vacuum of space on nine shuttle mission spacewalks, and they’re putting that experience to use here on Earth by helping engineers determine what astronauts will need on NASA’s next step toward Deep Space.

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft speeding toward target Comet

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Less than half the distance between Earth and moon separates Rosetta from its destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) spacecraft will become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus. It is beginning observations and sending science data back to Earth.

Recent images from Rosetta’s Onboard Scientific Imaging System (OSIRIS) indicate that the comet is currently at rest — no longer showing signs of an extended dust coma surrounding its nucleus.

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by the Onboard Scientific Imaging System (OSIRIS) on the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on June 4, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by the Onboard Scientific Imaging System (OSIRIS) on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on June 4, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

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NASA says Herschel Space Observatory has discovered Giant Weird Ring Structure along with growing Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The Herschel Space Observatory has uncovered a weird ring of dusty material while obtaining one of the sharpest scans to date of a huge cloud of gas and dust, called NGC 7538.

The observations have revealed numerous clumps of material, a baker’s dozen of which may evolve into the most powerful kinds of stars in the universe. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

The Herschel Space Observatory has uncovered a weird ring of dusty material while obtaining one of the sharpest scans to date of a huge cloud of gas and dust, called NGC 7538. (ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Whitman College)

The Herschel Space Observatory has uncovered a weird ring of dusty material while obtaining one of the sharpest scans to date of a huge cloud of gas and dust, called NGC 7538. (ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Whitman College)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover captures images of the planet Mercury passing in front of the Sun

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has imaged the planet Mercury passing in front of the sun, visible as a faint darkening that moves across the face of the sun.

This is the first transit of the sun by a planet observed from any planet other than Earth, and also the first imaging of Mercury from Mars.

Mercury fills only about one-sixth of one pixel as seen from such great distance, so the darkening does not have a distinct shape, but its position follows Mercury’s expected path based on orbital calculations.

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