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Sunlight is Ionizing Titan’s Atmosphere

NASA JPL November 06, 2013 A detailed analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has directly linked the density of the ionosphere – a region in the upper atmosphere that is dominated by electrically charged particles – at Saturn’s moon Titan to the 11-year boom-and-bust cycle of activity at our sun. The confirmation was possible because of Cassini’s long-term stay ... Read More »

New Findings Show Most Stars in the Galaxy Have Planets

NASA November 04, 2013 Scientists from around the world are gathered this week at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., for the second Kepler Science Conference, where they will discuss the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data. Included in these findings is the discovery of 833 new candidate planets, which will be announced ... Read More »

ATV Albert Einstein Burns Up in the Atmosphere

ESA November 2, 2013 ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Albert Einstein, completed its five-month mission to the International Space Station by reentering the atmosphere today and burning up safely over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean. Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) are the most complex space vehicles ever developed in Europe and are the largest and most ... Read More »

Moon Mission Beams First Transmission By Laser

ESA November 1, 2013 ESA’s ground station on the island of Tenerife has received laser signals over a distance of 400 000 km from NASA’s latest Moon orbiter. The data were delivered many times faster than possible with traditional radio waves, marking a significant breakthrough in space communications. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, was launched on ... Read More »

First Earth-Sized Rocky Planet Discovered

NASA JPL October 30, 2013 Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet outside the solar system that has a rocky composition like that of Earth. Kepler-78b whizzes around its host star every 8.5 hours, making it a blazing inferno and not suitable for life as we know it. The results are published in two papers in the journal Nature. “The ... Read More »

Saturn in True Color From Above the Ring Plane

NASA JPL Cassini October 25, 2013 It’s a view as good as gold. A loop high above Saturn by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed this stately view of the golden-hued planet and its main rings. The observation and resulting image mosaic were planned as one of three images for Cassini’s 2013 Scientist for a Day essay contest. The contest challenges students ... Read More »

Carbon Rich Worlds May Be Water Poor

NASA JPL October 25, 2013 Planets rich in carbon, including so-called diamond planets, may lack oceans, according to NASA-funded theoretical research. Our sun is a carbon-poor star, and as result, our planet Earth is made up largely of silicates, not carbon. Stars with much more carbon than the sun, on the other hand, are predicted to make planets chock full ... Read More »

Great Observatories to Begin Deepest Probe Ever of the Universe

NASA JPL October 24, 2013 PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes are teaming up to look deeper into the universe than ever before. With a boost from natural “zoom lenses” found in space, they should be able to uncover galaxies that are as much as 100 times fainter than what these three great observatories typically can ... Read More »

Planck Space Telescope Given Shutdown Command

ESA October 23, 2013 ESA’s Planck space telescope has been turned off after nearly 4.5 years soaking up the relic radiation from the Big Bang and studying the evolution of stars and galaxies throughout the Universe’s history. Project scientist Jan Tauber sent the final command to the Planck satellite this afternoon at 12:10:27 UT, marking the end of operations for ... Read More »

Opportunity Rover on a Big Uphill Climb

NASA JPL October 23, 2013 PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover has begun climbing “Solander Point,” the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission’s nearly 10 Earth years on Mars. Guided by mineral mapping from orbit, the rover is exploring outcrops on the northwestern slopes of Solander Point, making its way up the hill ... Read More »

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