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Send Your Name to An Asteroid

NASA January 15, 2014 NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016. The “Messages to Bennu!” microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the agency’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft. The robotic mission will spend more than ... Read More »

Now Playing: Musical Space-Weather From the Moon

NASA January 09, 2014 The latest tool for checking space weather is an internet radio station fed by data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The radio station essentially operates in real time, receiving measurements of how much radiation the spacecraft is experiencing and converting those into a constant stream of music. The radiation levels determine which instrument is ... Read More »

Powerful New Instrument Directly Images Planets

Gemini Observatory January 08, 2014 After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the world’s most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds. The instrument, called the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), was designed, built, and optimized for imaging faint planets next to bright stars and probing ... Read More »

New Year’s Day Asteroid Update: Reentry Over Atlantic Ocean

NASA JPL UPDATE January 03, 2014 Several sources confirm that the first discovered asteroid in 2014, designated 2014 AA, entered Earth’s atmosphere late Jan. 1 (Jan. 2 Universal time) over the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Catalina Sky Survey operating near Tucson, Ariz. discovered this very small asteroid — 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size — early on ... Read More »

New “Sticky-Foot” Robots Can Crawl Up Walls

ESA January 02, 2014 Climbing robots that mimic the stickiness of gecko lizard feet could work in space as well as on Earth, ESA has shown, raising the prospect of hull-crawling automatons tending future spacecraft. Robots crawling across spacecraft surfaces are a common sight in science fiction films from Silent Running to Wall-E. But, in reality, how might they stick ... Read More »

Hubble Sees Clouds on Two Super-Worlds

NASA December 31, 2013 Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have characterized the atmospheres of two of the most common type of planets in the Milky Way galaxy and found both may be blanketed with clouds. The planets are GJ 436b, located 36 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo, and GJ 1214b, 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. ... Read More »

Prime Asteroid Hunting Spacecraft is Ready for New Mission

NASA JPL December 19, 2013 NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a spacecraft that made the most comprehensive survey to date of asteroids and comets, has returned its first set of test images in preparation for a renewed mission. NEOWISE discovered more than 34,000 asteroids and characterized 158,000 throughout the solar system during its prime mission in 2010 ... Read More »

Billion Star-Mapping Satellite, Gaia – Lifts Off

ESA December 19, 2013 ESA’s Gaia mission blasted off this morning on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on its exciting mission to study a billion suns. Gaia is destined to create the most accurate map yet of the Milky Way. By making accurate measurements of the positions and motions of 1% of the total population ... Read More »

Chinese Rover Lands on the Moon

Coconut Science Lab December 14, 2013 On Saturday, December 14, 2013, Chinese state television reported that Chang’e-3, an unmanned spacecraft carrying a lunar rover, successfully landed on the moon. With this success, China has become only the third country to have ever soft-landed on the moon, along with the United States and the former Soviet Union. China’s lunar rover, known ... Read More »

Strange Compound Discovered in Crab Nebula

ESA December 12, 2013 Using ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, a team of astronomers has found first evidence of a noble-gas based molecule in space. A compound of argon, the molecule was detected in the gaseous filaments of the Crab Nebula, one of the most famous supernova remnants in our Galaxy. While argon is a product of supernova explosions, the formation ... Read More »

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