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NASA to Air discussion on Searching for Life Beyond Earth by Leading Space Experts Monday, July 14th

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA Television will air a panel discussion of leading science and engineering experts on Monday, July 14th, from 11:00am to 12:30pm PDT (3:00pm to 4:30pm CDT), who will describe the scientific and technological roadmap that will lead to the discovery of potentially habitable worlds among the stars.

The event will take place at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone-a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface. (NASA)

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone-a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. (NASA)

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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 observes Fireworks created by Black Hole in Nearby Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Celebrants this Fourth of July will enjoy the dazzling lights and booming shock waves from the explosions of fireworks. A similarly styled event is taking place in the galaxy Messier 106, as seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Herschel Space Observatory. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Energetic jets, which blast from Messier 106′s central black hole, are heating up material in the galaxy and thus making it glow, like the ingredients in a firework. The jets also power shock waves that are driving gases out of the galaxy’s interior.

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope finds Asteroid candidate for Redirect Mission

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have measured the size of an asteroid candidate for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a proposed spacecraft concept to capture either a small asteroid, or a boulder from an asteroid.

The near-Earth asteroid, called 2011 MD, was found to be roughly 20 feet (6 meters) in size, and its structure appears to contain a lot of empty space, perhaps resembling a pile of rubble. Spitzer’s infrared vision was key to sizing up the asteroid.

The Spitzer Space Telescope whizzes in front of a brilliant, infrared view of the Milky Way galaxy's plane in this artistic depiction. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Spitzer Space Telescope whizzes in front of a brilliant, infrared view of the Milky Way galaxy’s plane in this artistic depiction. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 newly found Asteroid will Safely Pass Earth

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A newfound asteroid will safely pass Earth on June 8th from a distance of about 777,000 miles (1.25 million kilometers), more than three times farther away than our moon.

Designated 2014 HQ124, the asteroid was discovered April 23rd, 2014, by NASA’s NEOWISE mission, a space telescope adapted for scouting the skies for asteroids and comets. The telescope sees infrared light, which allows it to pick up the infrared glow of asteroids and obtain better estimates of their true sizes. The NEOWISE data estimate asteroid 2014 HQ124 to be between 800 and 1,300 feet (250 and 400 meters).

This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2014 HQ124, and its location relative to Earth on June 8th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2014 HQ124, and its location relative to Earth on June 8th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveals triggering events behind some Supernova Explosions

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Supernovas are often thought of as the tremendous explosions that mark the ends of massive stars’ lives. While this is true, not all supernovas occur in this fashion. A common supernova class, called Type Ia, involves the detonation of white dwarfs — small, dense stars that are already dead.

New results from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed a rare example of Type Ia explosion, in which a dead star “fed” off an aging star like a cosmic zombie, triggering a blast. The results help researchers piece together how these powerful and diverse events occur.

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows N103B -- all that remains from a supernova that exploded a millennium ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy 160,000 light-years away from our own Milky Way. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Goddard)

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows N103B — all that remains from a supernova that exploded a millennium ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy 160,000 light-years away from our own Milky Way. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Goddard)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers Rocky Planet that baffles Astronomers

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

An artist's conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

An artist’s conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

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