Hubble Catches a Dusty Spiral in Virgo

This magnificent new image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 4206, located about 70 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Virgo. Captured here are vast streaks of dust, some of which are obscuring the central bulge, which can just be made out in the center of the galaxy. Towards the edges of the galaxy, the scattered clumps, which appear blue in this image, mark areas where stars are being born. The bulge, on the other hand, is composed mostly of much older, redder stars, and very little star formation takes … Continue reading

Second Lunar Eclipse of 2014

The second lunar eclipse of 2014 is also total and is best seen from the Pacific Ocean and bordering regions. The eclipse occurs at the Moon’s descending node in southern Pisces, two days after perigee (October 06 at 09:41 UT). This means that the Moon will appear 5.3% larger than it did during the April 15 eclipse (32.7 vs. 31.3 arc-minutes). At the instant of greatest eclipse (10:54:36 UT) the Moon lies near the zenith from a location in the Pacific Ocean about 2000 km southwest of Hawaii. At this time, the umbral magnitude peaks at 1.1659 as the Moon’s … Continue reading

New Observatory Project Revealed

Executive Summary: The Center for Planetary Science will be a privately-funded space science research facility and observatory. The primary purpose of the center is to: – Develop, facilitate, and provide free space science outreach programs to underprivileged students of all ages who aspire careers or higher education in astronomy, planetary science, and astrophysics. – Collaborate with the astronomical community, including universities, colleges, and amateur astronomy clubs on scientific projects of mutual interest. – Assist national-level observatories in measuring and studying radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources. – Develop theories based on observations or on observations and theories … Continue reading

Delta IV Booster Update

Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the first test flight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft, in December. The three primary core elements of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket recently were integrated, forming the first stage of the launch vehicle that will send Orion far from Earth to allow NASA to evaluate the spacecraft’s performance in space. The three Delta IV Common Booster Cores were attached in ULA’s Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF), at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The HIF building is located at Space Launch Complex 37 where the mission will lift … Continue reading

Space X Launch Successful

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. An eruption of fire and smoke sent a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft skyward laden with 5,000 pounds of scientific equipment and supplies destined for use by the crew of the International Space Station. “This launch kicks off a very busy time for the space station,” said NASA’s Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station, noting upcoming launches of a Soyuz carrying the next crew of the station and launches of cargo spacecraft within a month. Lifting off at 1:52:03 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 21, from Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., … Continue reading

WASP-18b: A ‘Hot Jupiter’

A new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has shown that a planet is making the star that it orbits act much older than it actually is, as explained in our latest press release. The artist’s illustration featured in the main part of this graphic depicts the star, WASP-18, and its planet, WASP-18b. WASP-18b is a “hot Jupiter,” a giant exoplanet that orbits very close to its star, located about 330 light years from Earth. Specifically, the mass of WASP-18b is estimated to be about ten times that of Jupiter, yet it orbits its star about once every 23 hours. By comparison, it takes Jupiter about 12 years to complete one trip around the sun … Continue reading

Station Trio Preps for Departure as Expedition 40 Nears End

As the Expedition 40 crew members head into their final weekend together aboard the International Space Station, the six astronauts and cosmonauts spent Friday preparing for the arrival of a cargo craft and Wednesday’s departure of three crewmates after nearly six months in space. Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev got an early start on the day, waking up a half hour before the crew’s usual 2 a.m. EDT reveille to conduct a test of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft’s motion control system. Soyuz Commander Skvortsov, Artemyev and Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson will undock their Soyuz from the Poisk … Continue reading

Memory Reformat Planned for Opportunity Mars Rover

An increasing frequency of computer resets on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has prompted the rover team to make plans to reformat the rover’s flash memory. The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two. Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses. Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while … Continue reading

NASA Captures Images of a Late Summer Flare

On Aug. 24, 2014, the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:16 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government’s official source for … Continue reading

Mars Rover Team Chooses Not to Drill ‘Bonanza King’

Evaluation of a pale, flat Martian rock as the potential next drilling target for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover determined that the rock was not stable enough for safe drilling. The rock, called “Bonanza King,” moved slightly during the mini-drill activity on Wednesday, at an early stage of this test, when the percussion drill impacted the rock a few times to make an indentation. Instead of drilling that or any similar rock nearby, the team has decided that Curiosity will resume driving toward its long-term destination on the slopes of a layered mountain. It will take a route skirting the north … Continue reading