Topic: washington d.c.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.
Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “knife” will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they’re almost motionless. This suite of instruments is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), and was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. CAL is in the final stages of assembly at JPL, ahead of a ride to space this August on SpaceX CRS-12.
Its instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s more than 100 million times colder than the depths of space.
Written by Laura Betz
Greenbelt, MD – With the discovery of seven earth-sized planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star 40 light years away, astronomers are looking to the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to help us find out if any of these planets could possibly support life.
“If these planets have atmospheres, the James Webb Space Telescope will be the key to unlocking their secrets,” said Doug Hudgins, Exoplanet Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “In the meantime, NASA’s missions like Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler are following up on these planets.”
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – There’s a new record holder for brightest pulsar ever found — and astronomers are still trying to figure out how it can shine so brightly. It’s now part of a small group of mysterious bright pulsars that are challenging astronomers to rethink how pulsars accumulate, or accrete, material.
A pulsar is a spinning, magnetized neutron star that sweeps regular pulses of radiation in two symmetrical beams across the cosmos. If aligned well enough with Earth, these beams act like a lighthouse beacon — appearing to flash on and off as the pulsar rotates. Pulsars were previously massive stars that exploded in powerful supernovae, leaving behind these small, dense stellar corpses.
Washington, D.C. – The Internal Revenue Service continued rolling out its 2017 “Dirty Dozen” tax scams list by warning taxpayers against using frivolous tax arguments to avoid paying taxes.
Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish legal claims to avoid paying their taxes. Time and again these arguments have been thrown out of court.
“Taxpayers should steer clear of tax-avoidance arguments and the unscrupulous promoters of such schemes,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers tangled up in these scams end up paying back taxes and often stiff penalties as well.”
Written by Cheryl Warner
Washington, D.C. – NASA is assessing the feasibility of adding a crew to the first integrated flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). NASA is building new deep space capabilities to take humans farther into the solar system than we have ever traveled, and ultimately to Mars.
Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced February 15th that he had asked William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, to conduct the study, and it is now underway. NASA expects it to be completed in early spring.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – A bumper crop of Earth-size planets huddled around an ultra-cool, red dwarf star could be little more than chunks of rock blasted by radiation, or cloud-covered worlds as broiling hot as Venus.
Or they could harbor exotic lifeforms, thriving under skies of ruddy twilight.
Scientists are pondering the possibilities after this week’s announcement: the discovery of seven worlds orbiting a small, cool star some 40 light-years away, all of them in the ballpark of our home planet in terms of their heft (mass) and size (diameter). Three of the planets reside in the “habitable zone” around their star, TRAPPIST-1, where calculations suggest that conditions might be right for liquid water to exist on their surfaces—though follow-up observations are needed to be sure.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.
Tampa, FL – National gas prices have increased fractions of a penny to reach today’s average price for regular unleaded gasoline, which is $2.28 per gallon. Today’s average is the same as one week ago, five cents less compared to one month ago and 56 cents more than the same date last year.
Prices continue to remain flat due to lower driving demand and an oversupplied market as a result of increased U.S. production. As refinery maintenance season begins and driving demand increases, we could expect to see some of the gasoline supply in the U.S. soaked up.
Washington, D.C. – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating software providers.
The scam email comes with the subject line, “Access Locked.” It tells recipients that access to their tax prep software accounts has been “suspended due to errors in your security details.” The scam email asks the tax professional to address the issue by using an “unlock” link provided in the email.
Written by Felicia Chou / Sean Potter
Washington, D.C. – NASA will hold a news conference at 10:00am PST (12:00pm CST) Wednesday, February 22nd, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Details of these findings are embargoed by the journal Nature until 10:00am PST (12:00pm CST).
Media and the public also may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.
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