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Space News Reports

Unearthly Zodiacal Light --A Fossil Clue to the Origin of Our Solar System
    This panorama photo, taken by ESO's Yuri Beletsky, shows the view of the starry sky from the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in Chile during the total lunar eclipse of
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Cassini Spacecraft Tracks Mystery Object in a Titan Sea
        NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square
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Did Our Solar System Originate in a Distant Star Cluster?
Planets orbiting stars outside the Solar System are now known to be very common. These exoplanets have been found orbiting stars of widely varied ages and chemical compositions and are scattered across the sky. But,
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NASA’s Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit around Red Planet
[image-36] NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as
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NASA Telescopes Find Clear Skies and Water Vapor on Exo-Neptune
Get larger image formats The weather forecast for a planet 120 light-years from Earth is clear skies and steamy water vapor. Finding clear skies on a gaseous world the size of Neptune is a good sign that even smaller,
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NASA Air Campaigns Focus on Arctic Climate Impacts
Flights are underway from Fairbanks, Alaska, with NASA's C-130 Hercules aircraft to study the connection between retreating Arctic sea ice and climate change. Image Credit: NASA/Patrick Lynch › Larger image
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NASA Launches RapidScat Wind Watcher to Space Station
Sept. 21, 2014 -- At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40, the nine rocket engines roar to life on the Falcon launch vehicle. Image credit: NASA › Larger image September 20, 2014 A new
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NASA's ISS-RapidScat is Headed Into Space! 20 September 2014, 19.54 Space
NASA's ISS-RapidScat is Headed Into Space!
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The rocket is carrying the ISS-RapidScat instrument to the International Space Station as part of a resupply
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Five Things About NASA's ISS-RapidScat 20 September 2014, 19.54 Space
Five Things About NASA's ISS-RapidScat
ISS-RapidScat will have a close-up view of ocean winds from its perch on the International Space Station, as this 2010 astronaut photo of Hurricane Earl illustrates. Image credit: NASA › Larger image
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Dawn Operating Normally After Safe Mode Triggered 20 September 2014, 19.54 Space
Dawn Operating Normally After Safe Mode Triggered
Flights are underway from Fairbanks, Alaska, with NASA's C-130 Hercules aircraft to study the connection between retreating Arctic sea ice and climate change. Image Credit: NASA/Patrick Lynch › Larger image
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Space Station Extension May Cost More Than NASA Expects: Report
The International Space Station. Credit: NASA NASA’s anticipated $3 billion to $4 billion annual budget for the International Space Station is “overly optimistic”, a new report from NASA’s Inspector General
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Lazy Giant Galaxies Gain Mass By Ingesting Smaller Neighbors
Some of the many thousands of merging galaxies identified within the GAMA survey. Credit: Professor Simon Driver and Dr Aaron Robotham, ICRAR. The Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales has been watching how lazy
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How NASA’s Next Mars Spacecraft Will Greet The Red Planet On Sunday
An artist concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center). NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter is oh-so-close to its destination after a 10-month journey.
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Spectacular Nighttime Blastoff Boosts SpaceX Cargo Ship Loaded with Science and  Critical Supplies for Space Station
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule packed with science experiments and station supplies blasts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, at 1:52 a.m. EDT on Sept.
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SpaceX Commercial Resupply Dragon Set for Sept. 21 Blastoff to Station – Watch Live
SpaceX Falcon 9 awaits launch on Sept 20, 2014 on the CRS-4 mission. Credit: NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX is on the cusp of launching the company’s fourth commercial resupply Dragon spacecraft mission to the
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Weekly Space Hangout – Sept. 19, 2014: Private Spaceflight!
by Fraser Cain on September 19, 2014 Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Guests:Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)Ramin Skibba This Week’s Stories:Updates on private
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Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy Containing a Supermassive Black Hole
[image-36]Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place -- a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever
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NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion
[image-36] NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles. Flight
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Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy with a Supermassive Black Hole
Get larger image formats Astronomers have found an unlikely object in an improbable place: a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies known. The dwarf galaxy containing the black hole is the densest
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'J' Marks the Spot for Rosetta's Lander 15 September 2014, 21.19 Space
'J' Marks the Spot for Rosetta's Lander
Image depicts the primary landing site on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko chosen for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA › Larger
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NASA's Wind-Watching ISS-RapidScat Ready for Launch
Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which will launch to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including
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NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Arrives at Martian Mountain
September 11, 2014 NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission's long-term prime destination. "Curiosity now
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First Map of Rosetta's Comet 15 September 2014, 21.19 Space
First Map of Rosetta's Comet
This view of the "belly" and part of the "head" of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko indicates several morphologically different regions. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA ›
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NASA to hold Sept. 17 Briefing on MAVEN Mars Orbit Insertion, Events Coverage
[image-36] NASA will host a televised media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Sept. 17, to outline activities around the Sunday, Sept. 21 orbital insertion at Mars of the agency’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution
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New NASA Team Spots Massive Galaxies at the Very Edge of the Visible Universe
"If you think of our survey as fishing for galaxies in the cosmic sea, then we are finding many more big fish in deep waters than previously expected," said Charles Steinhardt of NASA's Infrared Processing and
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"Ghostly Organic Atmospheres of Comets Fueled the Emergence of Life" --Goddard Center for Astrobiology
An international team of scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has made incredible 3D images of the ghostly atmospheres surrounding comets ISON and Lemmon (image at top of page and
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A Mystery of the Early Universe --"The Missing Element"
      The Milky Way galaxy is orbited by more than 150 globular star clusters, which are balls of hundreds of thousands of old stars dating back to the formation of the galaxy. One of these,
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Elemental Mystery: Lithium Is Also Rare Outside Of The Milky Way
Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter An image of globular cluster M54 taken by the Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in
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Philae Snaps a Spacetastic Selfie 10 September 2014, 18.53 Space
Philae Snaps a Spacetastic Selfie
Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter Image of Rosetta’s solar panel and comet 67P/C-G taken by Philae’s CIVA instrument on Sept. 7, 2014 (ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA) Spacecraft
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Carnival of Space #370 10 September 2014, 18.53 Space
Carnival of Space #370
by Susie Murph on September 10, 2014 Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major. This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Gadi Eidelheit at
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Assembly Complete for NASA’s First Orion Crew Module Blasting off Dec. 2014
Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter NASA’s first completed Orion crew module sits atop its service module at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space
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Bumper Car Moonlets Crash and Crumble in Saturn’s F Ring
Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter A map of Saturn’s F ring from 2006 shows one of the few bright, extended clumps (inside green box) seen during six years of observation by
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Tales (Tails?) Of Three Comets 10 September 2014, 18.53 Space
Tales (Tails?) Of Three Comets
Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter A 40 minute exposure of Comet E2 Jacques taken from Payson, Arizona. Credit: Chris Schur. As the Chinese proverb says, “May you live in
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Scientists Find Evidence of 'Diving' Tectonic Plates on Europa
Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa's
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JPL to Host 'NASA Social' Highlighting Comets 10 September 2014, 18.53 Space
JPL to Host 'NASA Social' Highlighting Comets
Artist's concept of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars, just 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers) from the planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL › Larger image
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Future News Reports

Obama's War Against US Energy Independence:  Give Away Oil Rich Alaskan Islands to Russia!
  By Joe Miller The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab
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OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials 08 April 2012, 02.33 Administrator Energy
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials Visit http://www.osbitpower.com for further information OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore
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North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost 12 January 2012, 02.01 Administrator Energy
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost
        North America’s EV charging infrastructure may soon see significant improvements, thanks to a recent agreement between Eaton Corporation and Coulomb Technologies. Under the deal, Eaton’s Level II and
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Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source? 28 May 2011, 01.34 Administrator Energy
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source?
      Have scientists already unknowingly discovered the source for all atomic energy reactions, and could the discovery of the gravitomagnetic field be the ultimate energy source?  What if our understandings on how
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Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation 25 September 2011, 16.27 Administrator Energy
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet Physicist Antonio Ereditato poses before presenting the result of an experiment, which found a subatomic particle, the neutrino, seemed to move faster than the speed of
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STEORN ORBO  FREE ENERGY:  What's Next a Self Charging Unit for your Electric Car?
Steorn's Free Energy Orbo -- From Permanent Magnets to Solid State Systems   My associate, Hank Mills composed this for PESN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:17 Steorn is a small company based in Dublin, Ireland. For
Read More 5147 Hits 1 Rating
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field 16 January 2011, 09.17 Administrator Energy
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy  from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field
Cold Fusion "In Bologna we did it" By Ilaria VENTURI, La Republica News, Bolona, Italy For the first time in Italy, in front of experts, the process was carried out using nickel and hydrogen. It 's the way to achieve
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Abu Dhabi Media Zone to generate renewable energy through its façade
Eco Factor: Sustainable development to generate renewable solar energy. Bernard Tschumi Architects have re-imagined their master plan for the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone, by incorporating several environmentally-friendly
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NASA Telecon to Discuss Mars Curiosity Science Plans PDF Print E-mail

Mars Rover Curiosity in Artist's Concept, Close-up This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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September 09, 2014

NASA will host a telecon at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) Thursday, Sept. 11, to discuss mission status and the future science campaign for the Mars rover Curiosity mission.

Participants in the teleconference will be:

-- Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington

-- John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

-- Kathryn Stack, Curiosity Rover mission scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. California

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Visuals for this telecon will be posted at the start of the event at:

http://go.nasa.gov/curiositytelecon

The telecon, with visuals, will also be streamed live at:

http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl

For information about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
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Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
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Spitzer's SPLASH Project Dives Deep for Galaxies PDF Print E-mail

Scientists Scientists "fish" for galaxies in this playful, digitally altered photo. The researchers are part of a program called SPLASH, which is using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to dive deep into the cosmic sea and find some of the most remote galaxies known. Early results are turning up surprisingly big "fish" -- massive galaxies -- in the darkest reaches of the universe, dating back to a time when our universe was less than one billion years old. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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September 09, 2014

A new survey of galaxies by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is taking a plunge into the deep and uncharted waters of our cosmos. In one of the longest surveys the telescope will have ever performed, astronomers have begun a three-month expedition trawling for faint galaxies billions of light-years away.

The results are already yielding surprises.

"If you think of our survey as fishing for galaxies in the cosmic sea, then we are finding many more big fish in deep waters than previously expected," said Charles Steinhardt of NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Steinhardt is lead author of a new study appearing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

These early results from the SPLASH project, an international effort officially called the Spitzer Large Area Survey with Hyper-Suprime-Cam, build on previous evidence from Spitzer and other telescopes showing that the universe's earliest galaxies are more massive than expected. The project is turning up hundreds of hefty galaxies 100 times the mass of our own Milky Way, dating back to a time when our universe was less than one billion years old. (Our universe is 13.8 billion years old.)

The findings cast doubt on current models of galaxy formation, which struggle to explain how these remote and young galaxies grew so big so fast.

"Galaxies were being assembled faster than we thought, and we can only see this by finding large numbers of them with a survey like SPLASH," said Peter Capak, also of IPAC, and principal investigator of SPLASH.

While astronomers have seen such massive galaxies before, SPLASH is unique in finding large numbers of them. Now that Spitzer is in the "warm" phase of its mission, it dedicates more time to long-term projects such as this one. The telescope ran out of the coolant needed to chill some of its instruments in 2009, but two of its infrared channels work at the slightly warmer temperature. With fewer instruments, the telescope spends more time surveying large patches of sky.

By the end of the SPLASH survey, Spitzer will have spent 2,475 hours staring at two sky fields known as the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) and Subaru/XMM-Newton deep field (SXDS), equivalent in size to about eight full moons. These are two of the darkest patches of sky, away from the plane of our Milky Way galaxy's flat spiral disk and its bright starlight. Many telescopes have studied these regions extensively at multiple wavelengths of light, spying the faint glow of millions of galaxies beyond our own. Spitzer's infrared vision helps weigh the galaxies, revealing their masses.

Astronomers are surprised by the early SPLASH results and its catch of "big fish." Current theories of star formation hold that the very first galaxies collided and merged, bulking up in size. In these models, the stars formed in bursts as these smaller galaxies smashed into each other. But this process takes time. Spitzer's finding of massive galaxies in an era between 800 and 1,600 million years after the birth of our universe barely leaves enough time for the galaxies' roughly one hundred billion stars to have formed.

"It's really hard to form something so massive so quickly," said Josh Speagle, co-author of the study from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "So it's entirely possible that these galaxies have been forming stars continuously since the moment they were born."

Another explanation is that the first-ever galaxies got their foothold in the universe sooner than thought. Astronomers think the first galaxies formed around 500 million years after the Big Bang. If galaxies started forming earlier than this, by about 400 million years after the Big Bang, then they might have had the time needed to merge with other galaxies and ultimately grow into the behemoths found by Spitzer.

Follow-up observations with a host of telescopes are now being planned to figure out exactly how these galaxies got so big. Japan's Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii will collect deep optical images of the galaxies over the course of several years.

The technical Astrophysical Journal Letters paper is online at

http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/791/2/L25/

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit:

http://spitzer.caltech.edu

http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-4673
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NASA Launches New Era of Earth Science from Space Station PDF Print E-mail

ISS International Space Station Image Credit: NASA
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September 08, 2014

The launch of a NASA ocean winds sensor to the International Space Station (ISS) this month inaugurates a new era of Earth observation that will leverage the space station's unique vantage point in space. Before the end of the decade, six NASA Earth science instruments will be mounted to the station to help scientists study our changing planet.

The first NASA Earth-observing instrument to be mounted on the exterior of the space station will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on the next SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services flight, currently targeted for no earlier than Sept. 19. ISS-RapidScat will monitor ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions and hurricane monitoring from the space station.

The second instrument is the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), a laser instrument that will measure clouds and the location and distribution of airborne particles such as pollution, mineral dust, smoke, and other particulates in the atmosphere. CATS will follow ISS-RapidScat on the fifth SpaceX space station resupply flight, targeted for December.

"We're seeing the space station come into its own as an Earth-observing platform," said Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the International Space Station Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It has a different orbit than other Earth remote sensing platforms. It's closer to Earth, and it sees Earth at different times of day with a different schedule. That offers opportunities that complement other Earth-sensing instruments in orbit today."

The space station-based instruments join a fleet of 17 NASA Earth-observing missions currently providing data on the dynamic and complex Earth system. ISS-RapidScat and CATS follow the February launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the July launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, making 2014 one of the busiest periods for new NASA Earth science missions in more than a decade.

Most of the agency's free-flying, Earth-observing satellites orbit the planet over the poles at altitudes higher than 400 miles in order to gather data from all parts of the planet. Although the space station does not pass over Earth's polar regions, its 240-mile-high orbit does offer logistical and scientific advantages.

"With the space station we don't have to build a spacecraft to gather new data -- it's already there," said Stephen Volz, associate director of flight programs in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The orbit enables rare, cross-disciplinary observations when the station flies under another sensor on a satellite. Designing instruments for the space station also gives us a chance to do high-risk, high-return instruments in a relatively economical way."

The data provided by ISS-RapidScat will support weather and marine forecasting, including tracking storms and hurricanes. The station's orbit will allow the instrument to make repeated, regular observations over the same locations at different times of day, providing the first near-global measurements of how winds change throughout the day. ISS-RapidScat was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

CATS is a laser remote-sensing instrument, or lidar, that measures clouds and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. These atmospheric components play a critical part in understanding how human activities such as pollution and fossil fuel burning contribute to climate change. CATS was built by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Two additional NASA Earth science instruments are scheduled to launch to the station in 2016. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III (SAGE III), will measure aerosols, ozone, water vapor and other gases in the upper atmosphere to help scientists assess how the ozone layer is recovering and better understand global climate change. SAGE III was developed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and built by Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado.

The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) will detect and locate lightning over tropical and mid-latitude regions of the globe. The first LIS was launched in 1997 as part of NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. The sensor will monitor lightning for Earth science studies and provide cross-sensor calibration and validation with other space-borne instruments and ground-based lightning networks. LIS was developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

In July, NASA selected proposals for two new instruments that will observe changes in global vegetation from the space station, giving scientists new ways to observe how forests and ecosystems are affected by changes in climate and land use change. Both sensors will be completed before the end of the decade.

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will use a laser-based system to study forest canopy structure in a range of ecosystems, from the tropics to the high northern latitudes. The observations will help scientists better understand the changes in carbon storage within forests from both human activities and natural climate variations. GEDI is managed by scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) is a high-resolution multiple wavelength thermal imaging spectrometer that will study water use and water stress in vegetation. Measurements of the loss of water from growing leaves and evaporation from the soil will help reveal how ecosystems change with climate and provide a critical link between the water cycle and plant health in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. ECOSTRESS is managed by JPL.

The space station provides several capabilities useful to both instruments. The space station orbit provides more observation time of forests and vegetation over temperate land masses than possible with the polar orbit commonly used for other types of Earth observations. The GEDI laser requires significant power resources, which the space station can provide.

For more information on Earth science activities aboard the space station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/issearthscience

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities in 2014, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow

Steve Cole / Joshua Buck NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918 / 202-358-1100
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Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474
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2014-301

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Hubble Finds Companion Star Hidden for 21 Years in a Supernova's Glare PDF Print E-mail


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For over two decades astronomers have been patiently monitoring the fading glow of a supernova in a nearby galaxy. They've been looking for a suspected companion star that pulled off almost all of the hydrogen from the doomed star that exploded. At last Hubble's ultraviolet-light sensitivity pulled out the blue glow of the star from the cluttered starlight in the disk of the galaxy. This observation confirms the theory that the supernova originated in a double-star system where one star fueled the mass-loss from the aging primary star. The surviving star's brightness and estimated mass provide insight into the conditions that preceded the 1993 explosion.

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MAVEN Mars Orbiter Ideally Poised to Uniquely Map Comet Siding Spring Composition – Exclusive Interview with Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky PDF Print E-mail

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MAVEN is NASA’s next Mars Orbiter and will investigate how the planet lost most of its atmosphere and water over time. Credit: NASA

MAVEN to conduct up close observations of Comet Siding Spring during Oct. 2014
MAVEN is NASA’s next Mars Orbiter and will investigate how the planet lost most of its atmosphere and water over time. Credit: NASA

NASA’s MAVEN Mars Orbiter is “ideally” instrumented to uniquely “map the composition of Comet Siding Spring” in great detail when it streaks past the Red Planet during an extremely close flyby on Oct. 19, 2014 – thereby providing a totally “unexpected science opportunity … and a before and after look at Mars atmosphere,” Prof. Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN’s Principal Investigator of CU-Boulder, CO, told Universe Today in an exclusive interview.

The probes state-of-the-art ultraviolet spectrograph will be the key instrument making the one-of-a-kind compositional observations of this Oort cloud comet making its first passage through the inner solar system on its millions year orbital journey.

“MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) is the ideal way to observe the comet coma and tail,” Jakosky explained.

“The IUVS can do spectroscopy that will allow derivation of compositional information.”

“It will do imaging of the entire coma and tail, allowing mapping of composition.”

Hubble-Siding-Spring

Moreover the UV spectrometer is the only one of its kind amongst NASA’s trio of Martian orbiters making its investigations completely unique.

“IUVS is the only ultraviolet spectrometer that will be observing the comet close up, and that gives the detailed compositional information,” Jakosky elaborated

And MAVEN, or the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, is arriving just in the nick of time to fortuitously capture this fantastic rich data set of a pristine remnant from the solar system’s formation.

The spacecraft reaches Mars in less than 15 days. It will rendezvous with the Red Planet on Sept. 21 after a 10 month interplanetary journey from Earth.

Furthermore, since MAVEN’s purpose is the first ever detailed study of Mars upper atmosphere, it will get a before and after look at atmospheric changes.

“We’ll take advantage of this unexpected science opportunity to make observations both of the comet and of the Mars upper atmosphere before and after the comet passage – to look for any changes,” Jakosky stated.

How do MAVEN’s observations compare to NASA’s orther orbiters Mars Odyssey (MO) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), I asked?

“The data from the other orbiters will be complementary to the data from IUVS.”

“Visible light imaging from the other orbiters provides data on the structure of dust in the coma and tail. And infrared imaging provides information on the dust size distribution.”

How long will MAVEN make observations of Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring?

“We’ll be using IUVS to look at the comet itself, about 2 days before comet nucleus closest approach.”

“In addition, for about two days before and two days after nucleus closest approach, we’ll be using one of our “canned” sequences to observe the upper atmosphere and solar-wind interactions. “

“This will give us a detailed look at the upper atmosphere both before and after the comet, allowing us to look for differences.”

Describe the risk that Comet Siding Spring poses to MAVEN, and the timing?

“We have the encounter with Comet Siding Spring about 2/3 of the way through the commissioning phase we call transition.”

“We think that the risk to the spacecraft from comet dust is minimal, but we’ll be taking steps to reduce the risk even further so that we can move on toward our science mission.”

“Throughout this entire period, though, spacecraft and instrument health and safety come first.”

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, 2014 the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, 2014 the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

What’s your overall hope and expectation from the comet encounter?

“Together [with the other orbiters], I’m hoping it will all provide quite a data set!

“From Mars, the comet truly will fill the sky!” Jakosky gushed.

What’s the spacecraft status today?

“Everything is on track.”

Maven spacecraft trajectory to Mars. Credit: NASA

Maven spacecraft trajectory to Mars. Credit: NASA

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Tagged as: C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, Comet Siding Spring, Comets, Mars, Mars MAVEN, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), MAVEN, MO, MRO, NASA, Oort cloud, Oort cloud comets, red planet

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Weekly Space Hangout – Sept. 5, 2014 – Summer Story Review! PDF Print E-mail

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
Thad Szabo (@astrothad)
Matthew Francis (CosmoAcademy.org, @DrMRFrancis)
Nicole Gugliucci (cosmoquest.org / @noisyastronomer)

This Week’s Stories:

Universe Today’s Guide to Space wins a Parsec Award
Is the Universe a hologram?
The Universe ain’t a hologram!!
Is the Milky Way part of a big supercluster?
NASA renews all planetary missions; criticizes Curiosity
Rosetta Roundup
Accurate distance to the Pleiades
pp-chain neutrinos observed from Sun
Clusters, or SUPER Clusters
From Pebbles to Planets
DragonCon!

We record the Weekly Space Hangout every Friday at 12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern. You can watch us live on Google+, Universe Today, or the Universe Today YouTube page.

You can join in the discussion between episodes over at our Weekly Space Hangout Crew group in G+.

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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Second Possible Proto-Planet Found In System Pretty Close To Earth PDF Print E-mail

by Elizabeth Howell on September 5, 2014

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

This artist's conception shows a newly formed star surrounded by a swirling protoplanetary disk of dust and gas. Credit: University of Copenhagen/Lars Buchhave

This artist’s conception shows a newly formed star surrounded by a swirling protoplanetary disk of dust and gas. Credit: University of Copenhagen/Lars Buchhave

Astronomers have found what they believe is a second protoplanet around HD100546, a youngster star that may also host a planet under formation that is the size of Jupiter.

This new find is at least times the size of Jupiter and about the equivalent distance of Saturn to our own Sun, which means the planet would not be habitable as far as we can tell. It was spotted using a way of measuring carbon monoxide emission that seems to change its velocity and position in the same way that a planet would be expected to be orbiting the star.

The emission itself could be coming from a disk of gas surrounding the planet, or perhaps from the object’s tidal interactions with the gas and dust enveloping the young star, which is only 335 light-years from Earth.

“This system is very close to Earth relative to other disk systems. We’re able to study it at a level of detail that you can’t do with more distant stars. This is the first system where we’ve been able to do this,” stated Sean Brittain, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Clemson University in South Carolina.

“Once we really understand what’s going on, the tools that we are developing can then be applied to a larger number of systems that are more distant and harder to see.”

The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Source: Clemson University

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Tagged as: HD100546

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Space Station’s Robonaut 2 Is Getting More Astronaut-Like By The Day PDF Print E-mail

by Elizabeth Howell on September 5, 2014

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

NASA’s large space station robot now has legs and a plan to (eventually) head outside to do spacewalks, to replace some of the more routine tasks taken on by asteroids. Robonaut 2 has actually been on the International Space Station since 2011, but only received the extra appendages in the past few days.

The robot is capable of flipping switches, moving covers and with the legs, clamping on to spots around the station. Check out the videos below to see some of the stuff that it is already capable of. It’s both creepy and amazing to watch.

Robonaut 2

An example of some of the tasks Robonaut 2 can perform. Credit: NASA

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Tagged as: Robonaut 2

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New Mosaic Reveals Jets Blasting from Rosetta’s Comet PDF Print E-mail

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

Two jets of gas and dust blast from Comet 67P/C-G in this reassembled and enhanced mosaic made from four photos taken by Rosetta's navigation camera on September 2, Credit: ESA/Rosetta/ Navcam/Bob King

Two jets of gas and dust blast from Comet 67P/C-G in this reassembled and enhanced mosaic made from four photos taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera on September 2, Credit: ESA/Rosetta/ Navcam/Bob King

Hidden among the four new images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko released by ESA this week are a pair of dusty jets shooting from the nucleus of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The photos were taken September 2, 2014 and posted as a mosaic of four separate images. I re-assembled the four, albeit imperfectly, and added some additional contrast to better show the dual geyser of ice crystals mixed with dust venting from the nucleus. 

Four image montage of comet 67P/C-G, using images taken on 2 September. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Original four image montage of comet 67P/C-G, using images taken on September 2. The dark spot at center is imaging artifact. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

An earlier Rosetta photo taken of Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko from a great distance and deliberately overexposed showed jets of dust-laden vapor shooting from the comet, but this is the first image I’m aware of that shows both the comet’s surface and its much fainter exhalations.

Jets or sprays of vaporizing ice are what gives a comet its lively appearance. Dust released with water vapor is ultimately pushed back by the pressure of sunlight to grow 67P/C-G’s dust tail. Ultraviolet light from the sun causes volatiles within the vapor to fluoresce a pale blue, creating a second ion or gas tail. The coma or comet atmosphere is a mix of both.

Rosetta took a long-exposure image with its wide-angle camera on August 2, 2014, to observe jets of dust escaping from the comet. The photo was taken from a distance of 550 kilometers. ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

On August 2, 2014 at distance of 342 miles (550 km), Rosetta took this wide-angle view of the comet and jets of dust and vapor shooting into space.
ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

We can expect the jets to grow stronger and hopefully more numerous as 67P/C-G approaches perihelion in August 2015. Because the spacecraft is maneuvering into orbit between the comet and sun, we don’t get the best view of jetting activity. The comet nucleus, illuminated by sunlight, drowns out the fainter jets. Rosetta will make an excursion to the nightside on September 24. Assuming the jets remain active, we might see them backlit by the sun as bright beams extending from the darkened nucleus into space.

About 

I'm a long-time amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). My observing passions include everything from auroras to Z Cam stars. Every day the universe offers up something both beautiful and thought-provoking. I also write a daily astronomy blog called Astro Bob.

Tagged as: 67P, coma, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, jets, rosetta, tail

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