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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • How 'Electric Microbes' Could Generate Power (And More) for Space Missions

    07/18/2018 10:31:48 AM PDT · by ETL · 8 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 18, 2018 | Meghan Bartels, Space.com Senior Writer
    One of the experiments astronauts are tending to on the International Space Station could electrify space exploration. The experiment centers on a batch of microbes called Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, which arrived at the station in early July. Here on Earth, Shewanella has an unusual skill: It can produce electricity. The experiment is the first step to determining whether the microbes can do so in space as well — and whether humans can harness that ability to make space exploration easier. The bacterium belongs to a group called exoelectrogens, which can create electricity all by themselves, as NASA explains in a...
  • Dwarf Planet Ceres' Bizarre Bright Spots Shine in Stunning Up-Close View

    07/17/2018 2:04:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 17, 2018 02:49pm ET | Mike Wall,
    "The new images of Occator Crater and the surrounding areas have exceeded expectations, revealing beautiful, alien landscapes," Dawn principal investigator Carol Raymond, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement yesterday (July 16).  The $467 million Dawn mission launched in September 2007 with a bold goal: to orbit and study the two largest bodies in the asteroid belt: Vesta and Ceres. Both objects are considered leftovers from the solar system's planet-formation period (hence the mission's name).  Dawn reached Vesta in July 2011 and eyed the object up close for more than a year, finally leaving...
  • Researchers Discover 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

    07/17/2018 10:10:37 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 18 replies
    In March 2017, Jupiter was in the perfect location to be observed using the Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, which has the Dark Energy Camera and can survey the sky for faint objects. Astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and his team were using the telescope to search the edge of the solar system for signs of Planet Nine. They realized they could observe Jupiter at the same time. They would be able to tell the difference between Jupiter and the objects around it versus the distant solar system objects because any...
  • Universe's Expansion Rate Is Different Depending on Where You Look

    07/17/2018 7:33:25 AM PDT · by ETL · 42 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 13, 2018 | Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
    Our universe's rate of expansion keeps getting stranger. New data continues to show a discrepancy in how fast the universe expands in nearby realms and more distant locations.  The study's researchers said this "tension" could mean we need to revise our understanding of the physics structuring the universe, which could include exotic elements such as dark matter and dark energy. New measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gaia space telescope together showed that the rate of expansion nearby is 45.6 miles per second per megaparsec. This means that for every 3.3 million light-years a galaxy is farther away from...
  • BREAKING NEWS: Three U.S. Military Personnel Under Investigation for Collaborating with the Russians

    07/17/2018 4:51:06 AM PDT · by Alberta's Child · 40 replies
    Self ^ | 7/17/2018 | Alberta's Child
    In a bombshell story that dates back to September 2017, three current and former U.S. military personnel are under investigation by a myriad of U.S. government agencies and Congressional offices, the Office of the Special Counsel (Robert Mueller), and various media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News. Details of the story have been breaking overnight in the U.S. The three men are accused of traveling to a former Soviet republic in Asia over a period from September to December of 2017, collaborating with Russian military officials at a secret military installation, and assisting the Russians in a mission...
  • Venus Meets A Crescent Moon (2018)

    07/15/2018 9:28:51 PM PDT · by CaliforniaCraftBeer · 24 replies
    Me ^ | July 15, 2018 | CaliforniaCraftBeer
    Can anyone else go outside and take shoot some decent local photos of tonight's Venus-Moon event with your DSLR? Please NO Interweb photos, ONLY originals from your local view, thanks!
  • Mining Moon Ice: Prospecting Plans Starting to Take Shape

    07/15/2018 7:36:12 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 106 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 13, 2018 04:04pm ET | Leonard David,
    A diverse range of scientists, engineers and mining technologists have begun blueprinting what hardware and missions are required to explore and establish a prospecting campaign for water ice at the poles of Earth's moon.  Why have they warmed up to ultra-cold lunar ice? Water ice can be converted to oxygen, liquid water and rocket fuel. Exploiting the stores of this resource — which is thought to be abundant within permanently shadowed polar craters on the moon — could help pioneers survive and thrive on the moon, and help entrepreneurs turn a profit.  For example, United Launch Alliance is maintaining its...
  • Scientists capture mysterious 'ghost particle' in a giant ice cube...changes how we see the universe

    07/13/2018 12:09:03 PM PDT · by ETL · 38 replies
    The Sun ^ | July 13, 2018 | Sean Keach, Digital Technology and Science Editor
    It will let researchers study distant energy sources across the universe in "a completely new way" SCIENTISTS have captured a ghost-like subatomic particle on Earth, helping to solve a mystery baffling scientists for 100 years. The so-called "ghost particle" was trapped by researchers in a giant ice cube at the South Pole. It's actually a high-energy neutrino, and is the first of its type ever detected by scientists. Importantly, researchers believe they've tracked its likely source: a supermassive black hole that emits light and cosmic rays. The black hole is roughly four billion light years away, at the centre of...
  • Cosmic Double Take: Rare Binary Asteroid Discovered Near Earth

    07/12/2018 7:32:34 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 33 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 12, 2018 03:52pm ET | Meghan Bartels,
    The bouncing-baby asteroids were revealed by three radar telescopes, which shoot a beam of radio waves at nearby asteroids and wait for the reflection to return to Earth. Astronomers can use those received signals to paint a picture of the shape of an asteroid. In this case, that meant discovering that what looked like two lobes of one rock are actually two separate rocks, circling each other every 20 to 24 hours. It's a particularly exciting surprise because the two pieces of 2017 YE5 are almost the same size, each about 3,000 feet (900 meters) across. So far, scientists have...
  • Two Asteroids Slipped Past Earth Undetected Last Weekend

    07/12/2018 11:26:22 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 35 replies
    newsweek ^ | 7/12/18 at 6:00 AM | Katherine Hignett On
    Two tiny asteroids sneaked safely past Earth last weekend, only to be discovered hours after they'd buzzed our planet. Asteroids 2018 NX and 2018 NW zipped past our blue-green orb at distances of just 72,000 miles and 76,000 miles, respectively. That's about one-third of the distance from the Earth to the moon. Scientists think the asteroids both stretched between about 16 feet and 50 feet in diameter. That's relatively small for near-Earth asteroids.  Astronomers at an observatory on the Palomar Mountain range in California spotted both space rocks on Sunday, according to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. Although they passed our planet in quick...
  • Israel plans to launch moon mission on SpaceX rocket this year

    07/10/2018 8:29:18 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    CNET ^ | July 10, 2018 11:05 AM PDT | Amanda Kooser
    Three countries have landed missions on the moon: the US, Russia and China. Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The unmanned mission is a joint effort between private company Israel Aerospace Industries and nonprofit organization SpaceIL. SpaceIL participated in the Google Lunar XPrize competition, which wrapped up earlier this year with no ultimate winner. The people at SpaceIL aren't letting that stop them from completing the lunar journey. On Tuesday, the team announced its goal of a Feb. 13, 2019, moon landing, but it has yet to...
  • DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane Project Hits Major Engine Milestone

    07/10/2018 11:14:51 PM PDT · by iowamark · 19 replies
    National Defense Magazine ^ | 7/10/2018 | Yasmin Tadjdeh
    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, working alongside Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne, has demonstrated that it can successfully fire the AR-22 booster rocket engine 10 times over 240 hours. The test outcome marked a major step in the development of DARPA’s Phantom Express experimental spaceplane, officials said July 10. “We needed to show that main propulsion system, the AR-22, … could in fact support rapid turn operations,” said Scott Wierzbanowski, DARPA’s program manager for the spaceplane. “We were extremely successful. We completely destroyed previously held records of how … you deal with a liquid-hydrogen, liquid-oxygen-type engine.” The agency also proved...
  • Israel to launch its first spacecraft to the moon

    07/10/2018 4:24:56 PM PDT · by ETL · 15 replies
    FoxNews.com/Science ^ | July 10, 2018 | Yonat Friling
    Israel announced Tuesday that it will launch its first lunar mission in December 2018, hoping to become the fourth country to land on the moon, following the U.S., Russia and China. SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries presented the new spacecraft, which took eight years of collaborative efforts, and $95 million to build the smallest aircraft to date. It is measured to be four-feet high, and 6 ½-feet in diameter, and it will be able to reach a maximum speed of 22,370 miles per hour. South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, who has donated $27 million to...
  • Israel plans its first moon launch in December

    07/10/2018 3:12:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 44 replies
    Phys dot org ^ | July 10, 2018 | Jonah Mandel
    The unmanned spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) at launch, will land on the moon on February 13, 2019 if all goes according to plan, organisers SpaceIL told a news conference in Yehud, central Israel. The vessel will be launched via a rocket from American entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX firm and its mission will include research on the moon's magnetic field. Its first task, however, will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, organisers said. The project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, which in 2010 offered $30 million (25...
  • China Reveals Details for Super-Heavy-Lift Long March 9 and Reusable Long March 8 Rockets

    07/09/2018 8:34:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 7 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 8, 2018 08:58am ET | Andrew Jones
    Long March 9 will be capable of lifting 140 metric tons to low Earth orbit, 50 tons to Earth-Moon transfer orbit, and 44 tons to Earth-Mars transfer orbit. The 93-meter-high Long March 9 is expected to have a launch mass of over 4,000 metric tons, producing close to 6,000 tons of thrust. The core stage will have a diameter of 10 meters while four boosters will each have a diameter of up to 5 meters. This would make the boosters comparable to the Long March 5, China's largest rocket so far, which debuted in 2016 and last July suffered a first...
  • We Just Found The Brightest Object in The Early Universe - 13 Billion Light-Years Away

    07/09/2018 8:28:08 PM PDT · by Simon Green · 48 replies
    Science Alert ^ | 07/09/18 | MICHELLE STARR
    Astronomers have found the brightest object ever discovered in the early Universe, 13 billion light-years away - a quasar from a time when our Universe was just seven percent of its current age. A quasar is a galaxy that orbits a supermassive black hole actively feeding on material. The light and radio emissions we see are caused by material around the black hole, called an accretion disk. This disk contains dust and gas swirling at tremendous speeds like water going down a drain, generating immense friction as it's pulled by the massive gravitational force of the black hole in the...
  • NASA Spacecraft Refines Course Toward Big Asteroid Bennu

    07/07/2018 3:18:41 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 6, 2018 07:40am ET | Mike Wall,
    The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aced its second major deep-space maneuver last Thursday (June 28), firing its engines to change its velocity by 37 mph (60 km/h), mission team members have confirmed. "The thruster burn put the spacecraft on course for a series of asteroid-approach maneuvers to be executed this fall that will culminate with the spacecraft's scheduled arrival at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3," NASA officials wrote in a statement Tuesday (July 3). ... This material will make it to Earth in a special return capsule in September 2023. Scientists in labs around the world can then study the sample in...
  • Aphelion Day 2018: Earth Is Farthest from the Sun Today

    07/06/2018 5:41:01 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 22 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 6, 2018 07:24am ET | Hanneke Weitering,
    The exact moment of aphelion happens at 12:46 p.m. EDT (1646 GMT), when Earth will be 94,507,803 miles (152,095,566 kilometers) away from the sun. That's more than 1.5 million miles (2.5 million km) farther than the planet's average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km) — and twice as far away as perihelion, or the shortest distance from the sun, which happened on Jan. 3.  In the cosmic scheme of things, these annual changes in Earth's distance from the sun are tiny. Earth's distance at aphelion and perihelion differ from the average distance between Earth and the sun...
  • Our Milky Way Had a Cosmic Cataclysm With a 'Sausage Galaxy' Billions of Years Ago

    07/06/2018 3:35:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 47 replies
    ScienceAlert ^ | Mike McRae | Thursday, July 5, 2018
    It turns out that our galaxy looks the way it does today thanks to a run-in with something called the 'Gaia Sausage'. As greasy as space is, we're not talking cosmic processed foods here. Rather, astronomers have found signs that a small galaxy smashed into the Milky Way billions of years ago, leaving behind a mess of stars with some rather unusual orbits. So, what makes this cosmic object a 'sausage'? Cambridge University astronomer Wyn Evans says it all came down to the paths of the stars following the impact... Collisions between galaxies aren't all that unusual, and the Milky...
  • Asteroid Warning: Fragments which could wipe out Nations 'hidden in Taurids meteor shower'

    07/06/2018 2:42:45 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 44 replies
    Express UK ^ | Tuesday, June 6, 2017 | Sean Martin
    The startling finding means that experts may not be able to spot the massive space rock hidden in the annual Taurids meteor shower until it is too late. According to a group of researchers, one of the fragments could hit Earth in 2022, 2025, 2032 or 2039 during the annual meteor shower. The Taurids is a spectacular meteor shower that lights up the night skies every November. The meteor shower is the trail of debris left by the comet Encke. But the debris could be obscuring two asteroid chunks known as 2015 TX24 and 2005 UR that are potentially Earth-bound....