Saturday, December 29, 2012

What is Azimuth?

Question of the Day (29 December 2012 (Week 52))

Q160:What is Azimuth?

Answer to Question 159

A159: An astrolabe is an instrument that was used to determine the altitude of objects (like the sun) in the sky. It was first used around 200 B.C. by astronomers in Greece. The astrolabe was replaced by the sextant.

Jupiter and Moon Dominate January Night Sky | Video

apan Launching Ambitious Asteroid-Sampling Mission in 2014


The new Japanese asteroid mission, called Hayabusa2, is scheduled for launch in 2014 and aimed at the asteroid 1999 JU3, a large space rock about 3,018 feet (920 meters) in length. It is due to arrive at the asteroid in mid-2018, loiter at the space rock and carry out a slew of challenging firsts before departing the scene at the end of 2019.
If all goes well, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft will return to Earth with samples of asteroid 1999 JU3 at the end of 2020. The probe's name is Japanese for "Falcon2."
Source:Space.com

Earth's Moon Phases, Monthly Lunar Cycles (Infographic)

Source Space.com

Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Full Moon of 2012


Asteroid No Threat to Earth in 2040

Asteroid 2011 AG5, measuring 460 feet (140 meters) wide, will not hit Earth in the year 2040, scientists have confirmed.
CREDIT: Gemini Observatory .

A huge asteroid that will creep near Earth in 28 years will pass harmlessly by, a new study confirms.
New observations of the asteroid 2011 AG5 now give astronomers complete confidence that the 460–foot-wide (140 meters) space rock won't hit Earth in the year 2040. When it was discovered last year, scientists said that 2011 AG5 had a 1-in-500 chance of impact with our planet.
Astronomers solidified the asteroid's harmless status during an observation campaign in October using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii. The finding added more support to a NASA study that came to a similar conclusion in June based on months of observations of asteroid 2011 AG5.
Orbit and current location of asteroid 2011 AG5 as of June 15, 2012, CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

But now, judging by the path of the two-football-field-sized asteroid, it shouldn't get any closer than 550,000 miles (890,000 kilometers) — about twice the distance between the Earth and the moon — when it zips by our planet "These were extremely difficult observations of a very faint object," Richard Wainscoat, a member of the team of researchers that monitored 2011 AG5 said in a statement. "We were surprised by how easily the Gemini telescope was able to recover such a faint asteroid so low in the sky."Just because it is a large asteroid, doesn't mean it is easy to see, scientists said. Researchers used the Gemini North to photograph the asteroid three times in October.
NASA astronomers and other scientists regularly monitor the sky for asteroids that could pose a potential impact threat to Earth. About 9,000 such near-Earth asteroids have been discovered to date, though up to a million or more could actually exist, NASA scientists have said.
Nearly 95 percent of the largest near-Earth asteroids, those larger than one kilometer in size, have been identified, NASA scientists have said. The space agency's Asteroid Watch program to monitor nearby space rocks is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
SPACE.com

Last Full Moon of 2012 Rises Friday

The last full moon of 2012 will rise into the night sky this week in a year-ending lunar treat.

The full moon is actually an instantaneous event when the moon is exactly opposite the sun in the Earth's sky, and this month that occurs on Friday morning, Dec. 28, at 5:21 a.m. EST (1021 GMT). But, to the naked eye, the moon "looks" full for a couple of days on either side of that time, so the exact date doesn't matter.

Many owners of new telescopes are disappointed when they look at the planets. At its largest, the planet Venus is just barely one arc minute in diameter, about 1/30th of the diameter of the sun or the moon, and all the other planets appear smaller than that.

Telescope owners complain that the planets don't look any larger with a telescope than they do with the naked eye. That isn't true of course, because any telescope will magnify everything dozens or hundreds of times. But when something is as small as a planet, even a lot of magnification won't make it look very big.

SPACE.com

Question 159: 28 December 2012 (Week 52)

Q159:What is aastrolabe?

Answer to Question 158

A158: Atmospheric scintillation is the twinkling of stars (fluctuation of intensity) seen through a planet's atmosphere. Scintillation in caused when the star's light is distorted by the Earth's atmosphere. Scintillation is greater for bright stars that are low on the horizon. It is also known as stellar scintillation.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Question 158: 24 December 2012 (Week 52)

Q158: What is Atmospheric Scintillation?

Answer to Question 157

A157: Anorthosite is a type of rock found on the moon, on lunar highlands. Anorthosite is composed of aluminum and calcium silicates.

Curiosity Traverse Map, Sol 130


This map traces where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove between landing at a site subsequently named "Bradbury Landing," and the position reached during the mission's 130th Martian day, or sol, (Dec. 17, 2012). The inset shows the most recent legs of the traverse in greater detail. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Question 157: 22 December 2012 (Week 51)

A157: What is Anorthosite and where it is found?

Answer to Question 156

A156:(in Christian belief) The day of the Last Judgment.

Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks Saturday


This year, the peak of this meteor display is due during the morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 22.The Ursids are so named because they appear to fan out from the vicinity of the bright orange star Kochab, in the constellation of Ursa Minor, the Little Bear. Kochab is the brighter of the two outer stars in the bowl of the Little Dipper (the other being Pherkad), that seem to march in a circle like sentries around Polaris, the North Star.

New Free e-Books Available about 2 Famous NASA Space Telescopes

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been providing amazing images of the universe since April 1990 and has led to remarkable discoveries. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation telescope that will peer even deeper into space and unveil even more mysteries. Both of these extraordinary telescopes are now the topics of two free e-Books available from the Apple iBookstore.

Hubble Eyes the Needle Galaxy


Like finding a silver needle in the haystack of space, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced this beautiful image of the spiral galaxy IC 2233, one of the flattest galaxies known.

PhoneSat: Smart, Small and Sassy


PhoneSat 1.0 during high-altitude balloon test. Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

The fast-paced proliferation and popularity of mobile devices here on Earth, like smartphones loaded with powerful operating systems, will find a new niche market– this time in space, thanks to NASA’s trailblazing PhoneSat project.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Question 156: 21 December 2012 (Week 51)

Q156: What is Doomsday?

Answer to Question 155

A155.:Retrograde rotation means rotating in the opposite direction. All the planets in or Solar System rotate in the same direction except for VenusPluto, and Uranus which rotate in the opposite direction (they have retrograde rotation).

Why the World Won't End in 2012 - FAQ


Dec. 21, 2012, won't be the end of the world as we know, however, it will be another winter solstice.


Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline.

Below, NASA Scientists answer several questions that are frequently asked regarding 2012.





Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.

 Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Majestic Saturn, in the Infrared

This false-color composite image, constructed from data obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, shows Saturn's rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008. The observations were each six minutes long. 

NASA'S Future Spacesuit, the Z-1

Learn about how NASA is developing a new spacesuit for exploring the moon and Mars, in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com

Thursday, December 20, 2012

DMR'S ASTRONOMY CLUB IN 2012



Massive Star Makes Waves


The giant star Zeta Ophiuchi is having a "shocking" effect on the surrounding dust clouds in this infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Stellar winds flowing out from this fast-moving star are making ripples in the dust as it approaches, creating a bow shock seen as glowing gossamer threads, which, for this star, are only seen in infrared light. 

Looking Back at Entry Into 'Yellowknife Bay'


The NASA Mars rover Curiosity used its left Navigation Camera to record this view of the step down into a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay." It took the image on the 125th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Dec. 12, 2012), just after finishing that sol's drive. The Sol 125 drive entered Yellowknife Bay and covered about 86 feet (26.1 meters). The descent into the basin crossed a step about 2 feet (half a meter) high, visible in the upper half of this image.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Question 155: 19 December 2012 (Week 51)

Q155: What is Retrograde Rotation?

Answer to Question 154

A154: The "radio bubble" is a sphere centered on Earth that is expanding at the speed of light (the speed of radio transmissions). The leading edges of the bubble correspond with the first artificial radio signals that escaped the Earth's atmosphere. The radio bubble now extends beyond Alpha Centauri.

Nearest Stars to Earth

Learn about the nearest stars, their distances in light-years, spectral types and known planets, in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

A Cosmic Holiday Ornament, Hubble-Style

This is the season for holiday decorating and tree-trimming. Not to be left out, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a festive-looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189. The intricate structure of this bright gaseous nebula resembles a glass-blown holiday ornament with a glowing ribbon entwined.

NASA's GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride


NASA has named the site where twin agency spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America's first woman in space and a member of the probes' mission team.

GRAIL Spacecraft Over the Moon

An artist’s depiction of the twin spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) that comprise NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.

Station Crew Does Maintenance as Soyuz Rolls to Launch Pad

Final launch preparations are under way at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as three Expedition 34 flight engineers get ready for their launch to round out the standard six-person crew on the International Space Station. 

Saturn - A Splendor Seldom Seen


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has delivered a glorious view of Saturn, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn's shadow. The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. (The sun is behind the planet, which is shielding the cameras from direct sunlight.) In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Question 154: 18 December 2012 (Week 51)

Q154: What is a Radio Bubble?

Answer to Question 153

A153: A planetesimal is a small object that orbits the Sun. Planetesimals are thought to have formed when the Solar System itself formed, and they were perhaps the building blocks from which the planets were built.

400+ Gemind Meteors Rain Over Ohio | Video

John Chumack (galacticimages.com) captured a stunning array of meteors from December 11th to the 14th, 2012. Scientists believe none of these survived to impact the ground.
Source:Space.com

Station Crew Does Maintenance as Soyuz Rolls to Launch Pad


The Soyuz rocket is erected into position after being rolled out to the launch pad by train on Dec. 17, 2012, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for Dec. 19 and will send Expedition 34 Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency on a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Final launch preparations are under way at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as three Expedition 34 flight engineers get ready for their launch to round out the standard six-person crew on the International Space Station. 

NASA Crashes Twin Spacecraft Into Moon | Video

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission came to an end on December 17th, 2012 with a guided descent of its spacecrafts (Ebb and Flow) into a mountain on the Moon. GRAIL mission control guides you through last seconds of the decent.

Source:SPACE.com

GRAIL Spacecraft Over the Moon


An artist’s depiction of the twin spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) that comprise NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Question 153: 17 December 2012 (Week 51)

Q153:What is Planetesimal?

Answer to Question 152

A152: The Pistol star is the largest-known star; it is the most massive and the brightest star. It is 10 million times brighter than our Sun and 100 times more massive. This star is at the center of the Pistol Nebula and created it by expelling tremendous amounts of gas in violent eruptions.

Last Flight for GRAIL's Twin Spacecraft

This animation shows the final flight path for NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission spacecraft, which will impact the moon on Dec. 17, 2012, around 2:28 p.m. PST. Their successful prime and extended science missions now completed, the twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow are being sent purposefully into the moon because their low orbit and fuel state precludes further scientific operations.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Question 152: 15 December 2012 (Week 50)

Q152: What is Pistol Star?

Answer to Question 151

A151: A gravastar is an extremely dense, cold, dark, thick-shelled object that contains springy, oddly-behaving space inside it. A gravistar is the remnant of a dying star that has imploded; it has many similarities to a black hole, but emits far brighter X-rays than a black hole. The existence of gravistars is not universally accepted.

Layered Martian Outcrop 'Shaler' in 'Glenelg' Area


The NASA Mars rover Curiosity used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the mission's 120th Martian day, or sol (Dec. 7, 2012), to record this view of a rock outcrop informally named "Shaler."

Spectacular Geminid Fireball!

Flaring brighter than the full moon, this spectacular Geminid lit up the sky above Cartersville, Ga., at 2:29 a.m. EST on the morning of Dec. 14. This is one of the brightest fireballs observed by the NASA network of meteor cameras in over 4 years of operation. (NASA/MSFC/MEO)

NASA Radar Images Asteroid Toutatis




This 64-frame movie of asteroid Toutatis was generated from data by Goldstone's Solar System Radar on Dec. 12 and 13, 2012. In the movie clips, the rotation of the asteroid appears faster than it occurs in nature.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Question 151: 14 December 2012 (Week 50)

Q151: What is gravistar?

Answer to Question 150

A150: Gravitational collapse is when an object in space (like an interstellar cloud of dust) collapses under its own weight.

World Will Not End On 12.21.12... Really, NASA Says | Video

 

Delving deep into Mayan history, NASA scientist reveals that, much like an odometer, the Mayan calendar will simply roll-over when it reaches its end. Asteroid, phantom world (Nibiuru) and Sun threats are debunked.Credit: NASA

Study Reveals a Remarkable Symmetry in Black Hole Jets


Astronomers examining the properties of black hole jets compared 54 gamma-ray bursts with 234 active galaxies classified as blazars and quasars. Surprisingly, the power and brightness of the jets share striking similarities despite a wide range of black hole mass, age and environment. Regardless of these differences, the jets produce light by tapping into similar percentages of the kinetic energy of particles moving along the jet, suggesting a common underlying physical cause. 
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

GRAIL's Final Resting Spot

These maps of Earth's moon highlight the region where the twin spacecraft of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission will impact on Dec. 17, marking the end of its successful endeavor to map the moon's gravity. The two washing-machine-sized spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, will impact at an unnamed mountain near the moon's North Pole.

These maps are from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC

Last Flight for GRAIL's Twin Spacecraft

This animation shows the final flight path for NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission spacecraft, which will impact the moon on Dec. 17, 2012, around 2:28 p.m. PST. Their successful prime and extended science missions now completed, the twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow are being sent purposefully into the moon because their low orbit and fuel state precludes further scientific operations

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Question 150: 13 December 2012 (Week 50)

Q150: What is Gravitational Collapse?

Answer to Question 149

A149: The Galilean moons are the four largest moons of Jupiter. These moons, Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa, were discovered by Galileo in 1610; Galileo was using his 20-power telescope. These satellites were the first bodies known to orbit another planet.

Titan's Nile-Like River Valley

This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a vast river system on Saturn's moon Titan. It is the first time images from space have revealed a river system so vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth. The image was acquired on Sept. 26, 2012, on Cassini's 87th close flyby of Titan. The river valley crosses Titan's north polar region and runs into Ligeia Mare, one of the three great seas in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. It stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers). 

Earth's Highest Mountain Photographed From Space Station


Mount Everest was photographed from orbit by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko last week, showing the peak of Earth's highest mountain.CREDIT: Malenchenko/Russian Federal Space Agency 

America's First 'First' in Space




On Dec. 14, 1962, NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft flew by Venus, making the United States the first country to complete a successful mission to another planet.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA'S Hubble Provides First Census of Galaxies Near Cosmic Dawn

This new image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) 2012 campaign reveals a previously unseen population of seven faraway galaxies, which are observed as they appeared in a period 350 million to 600 million years after the big bang. Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Ellis (Caltech), and the UDF 2012 Team

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Question 149: 12 December 2012 (Week 50)

Q149:What are the Galilean Moons?

Answer to Question 148

A148: A semidiurnal tide tide is a tide having a period of about 12 hours; it has two high waters and two low waters during a tidal day.

Hubble's Glitter galaxy: The ESO 318-13 galaxy


The brilliant cascade of stars through the middle of this image is the galaxy ESO 318-13 as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Despite being located millions of light-years from Earth, the stars captured in this image are so bright and clear you could almost attempt to count them.

Newfound Asteroid Buzzes Earth Inside Moon's Orbit


A newfound asteroid gave Earth a close shave early today, zipping between our planet and the moon just two days after astronomers first spotted it.

Orion's Rainbow of Infrared Light


This view of the Orion nebula highlights fledgling stars hidden in the gas and clouds. It shows infrared observations taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Herschel mission, in which NASA plays an important role. A star forms as a clump of this gas and dust collapses, creating a warm glob of material fed by an encircling disk. These dusty envelopes glow brightest at longer wavelengths, appearing as red dots in this image. In several hundred thousand years, some of the forming stars will accrete enough material to trigger nuclear fusion at their cores and then blaze into stardom.

Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/IRAM

3-Mile-Long Asteroid Seen By SLOOH Space Camera | Video

 
 The irregularly-shaped space rock named 4179 Toutatis was captured by the SLOOH team on December 11th, 2012. Its closest approach to Earth will be nearly 4.4 million miles away on December 12th

Monday, December 10, 2012

Atmospheric Loss on Mars


This plot shows the first-ever look at the deuterium to hydrogen ratio measured from the surface of Mars, as detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM, on NASA's Curiosity rover. Deuterium is a heavier version of the hydrogen atom. Scientists look at the deuterium to hydrogen ratios on Mars (or D/H levels) along with isotopes of other elements to study how its atmosphere has changed over time. Mars, which has less gravity than Earth and lacks a strong enough magnetic field to shield its atmosphere from the sun, is slowly losing its atmosphere. As this process occurs, the lighter hydrogen atoms are preferentially lost compared to the heavier deuterium ones. 

Curiosity Rover's Traverse, August through November 2012


This map shows where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has driven since landing at a site subsequently named "Bradbury Landing," and traveling to an overlook position near beside "Point Lake," in drives totaling 1,703 feet (519 meters). The rover landed on Aug. 5 Pacific Time (Aug. 6, Universal Time). It was at the easternmost waypoint on this map on Nov. 30, 2012. It worked on scoops of soil for a few weeks at the drift of windblown sand called "Rocknest." The place called "Glenelg" is where three types of terrain meet. The depression called "Yellowknife Bay" is a potential location for selecting the first target rock for Curiosity's hammering drill. 

Chlorinated Compounds at 'Rocknest'


The first examinations of Martian soil by the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover show no definitive detection of Martian organic molecules at this point. Organic molecules are carbon-containing compounds essential for life on Earth. The soil grains were acquired from a wind drift named "Rocknest."

Question 148: 10 December 2012 (Week 50)

Q148: What is SEMIDIURNAL TIDE?

Answer to Question 147

A147: The Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis) is a large plain on the moon. The first moon landing, Apollo 11, in 1969, was to this sea.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Question 147: 08 December 2012 (Week 49)

Q147: What is known as sea of tranquility?

Answer to Question 146

A146: The saros is the roughly 18-year periodic cycle of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. Every 6,585 days, the Earth, Moon and Sun are in exactly the same position. When there is a lunar eclipse, there will also be one exactly 6,585 days later.

A satellite imagery of India on Diwali night released by NASA


Sinuous Gullies, Close-up


This image shows a close-up of long, narrow, sinuous gullies that scientists on NASA's Dawn mission have found on the giant asteroid Vesta. The crater shown here is called Cornelia. The gullies in Cornelia – called "Type-B" gullies – are different from straighter, wider, shorter gullies that scientists have called "Type-A" gullies. Scientists think these two varieties of gullies have different formation mechanisms.

WISE Finds a Galactic Metropolis


A galaxy cluster 7.7 billion light-years away has been discovered using infrared data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The discovery image is shown in the main panel. The inset shows a deeper, or more sensitive, optical and near-infrared composite constructed using data from the WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona and Japan's Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The red galaxies in the inset image are part of the cluster, while the circles highlight the galaxies seen by WISE that were used to detect the cluster. 

Moon, Planet and Star Meet in Night Sky This Weekend


On three consecutive mornings, starting Sunday (Dec. 9), the moon will perform a bit of "celestial hopscotch" and pass near three bright celestial bodies: a bright star and two planets.  Here we'll talk briefly about the first two encounters early on Sunday and Monday (Dec. 10) mornings.

Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored


An Apollo 14 astronaut deploys the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package's power source (foreground) and "Central Station" (background), where the Lunar Dust Detector was mounted. Credit: NASA/JSC

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Question 146: 06 December 2012 (Week 49)

Q146: What is SAROS?

Answer to Question 145

A145: An eclipsing binary is two close stars that appear to be a single star varying in brightness. The variation in brightness is due to the stars periodically obscuring or enhancing one another. This binary star system is tilted (with respect ot us) so that its orbital plane is viewed from its edge.

Possibly Habitable Super-Earths - Catalog To Date | Video

The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) had compiled a Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC). Currently, the possible Earth-like exoplanets are Gliese 581d, HD 85512b, Kepler 22b, Gliese 667Cc, Gliese 581g, Gliese 163c, and HD 40307g.
Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo, HPCf @ UPR, and ESO/S, Mash Mix: SPACE.com

Space Rocks Vesta and Ceres Visible in Night Sky This Week

On the morning of Sunday December 9, The brightest asteroid Vesta will be in opposition to the Sun, close to the bright planet Jupiter. CREDIT: Starry Night Software 

On Sunday (Dec. 2), the giant planet Jupiter reached opposition with the sun, lining up directly opposite the sun in the sky. That means it's a great target for stargazers, who can see it shine brightly all night long this week.

The Black Marble

This new global view and animation of Earth's city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth's land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

Impact Scars from MSL Cruise Stage and Two Balance Weights

These images from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show several impact scars on Mars made by pieces of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft that the spacecraft shed just before entering the Martian atmosphere. 

Why Are We Seeing So Many Sungrazing Comets?

People have been hunting for sungrazing comets for hundreds of years, but as of 1979, we only knew of 9. Today we have seen 3,000 thanks to better observation tools. Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visual Studio

GRAIL's Gravity Tour of the Moon

This movie shows the variations in the lunar gravity field as measured by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) during the primary mapping mission from March to May 2012. Very precise microwave measurements between two spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, were used to map gravity with high precision and high spatial resolution. The field shown resolves blocks on the surface of about 12 miles (20 kilometers) and measurements are three to five times improved over previous data.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Question 145: 05 December 2012 (Week 49)

Q145:What is eclipsing binary?

Answer to Question 144

A144:A lenticular galaxy is a lens-shaped galaxy. These enormous groupings of older stars have a smooth, even distribution and very little internal structure. 
Some lenticular galaxies (abbreviated SO galaxies) include M84 (in Virgo), M85 (in Virgo), M86 (in Virgo), NGC 5866 (the Spindle Galaxy), and perhaps M102.

NASA Opportunity Rover Does Walkabout of Crater Rim


The latest work assignment for NASA's long-lived Mars rover Opportunity is a further examination of an area where the robot just completed a walkabout.

ESA/NASA’s SOHO Spacecraft


This combined image from Nov. 8-9, 2012, shows the sun's innermost atmosphere as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) inside a larger image provided by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). A coronal mass ejection or CME can be seen traveling away from the sun in the upper right corner. Scientists can compare the images to correlate what's happening close to the sun with what happens further away.
Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/SDO/GSFC

Windblown Sand from the 'Rocknest' Drift

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired close-up views of sands in the "Rocknest" wind drift to document the nature of the material that the rover scooped, sieved and delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy Experiment (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) in October and November 2012.

NASA Announces Robust Multi-Year Mars Program


Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. This announcement affirms the agency's commitment to a bold exploration program that meets our nation's scientific and human exploration objectives. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chinese astronauts may grow veg on Moon

BEIJING, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extraterrestrial bases in the future, an official said after a just-concluded lab experiment in Beijing.

Question 144: 04 December 2012 (Week 49)

Q144: What is a Lenticular Galaxies?

Answer to Question 143

A143: A constellation is a group of stars that, when seen from Earth, form a pattern. The stars in the sky are divided into 88 constellations.


The brightest constellation is Crux (the Southern Cross). The constellation with the greatest number of visible stars in it is Centaurus (the Centaur - with 101 stars). The largest constellation is Hydra (The Water Snake) which extends over 3.158% of the sky.

There are also asterisms, smaller apparent star patterns within a constellation, like the Big Dipper (in Ursa Major), the Little Dipper (in Ursa Minor), Keystone (in Hercules), and the Pleiades (in Taurus).

Curiosity Shakes, Bakes, and Tastes Mars with SAM

NASA's Curiosity rover analyzed its first solid sample of Mars with a variety of instruments, including the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. Developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., SAM is a portable chemistry lab tucked inside the Curiosity rover. SAM examines the chemistry of samples it ingests, checking particularly for chemistry relevant to whether an environment can support or could have supported life.

Voyager 1 Spacecraft Enters New Realm at Solar System's Edge

This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn't known was there, researchers announced today (Dec. 3).

Outer boundary of the Heliosphere


This artist's concept shows how NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. This phenomenon creates a layer just inside the outer boundary of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of solar ions surrounding the sun. Image released Nov. 29, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sample Analysis at Mar

How samples are delivered and then tested in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite on the Mars Curiosity rover.

Variety of Martian Soils


This collage shows the variety of soils found at landing sites on Mars. The elemental composition of the typical, reddish soils were investigated by NASA's Viking, Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover missions, and now with the Curiosity rover, using X-ray spectroscopy. The investigations found similar soil at all landing sites. In addition, the soil was usually unchanged over the traverse across the Martian terrain made by both Mars Exploration Rovers. 

Scoop Marks in the Sand at 'Rocknest'


This is a view of the third (left) and fourth (right) trenches made by the 1.6-inch-wide (4-centimeter-wide) scoop on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity in October 2012. The image was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 84 (Oct. 31, 2012) and shows some of the details regarding the properties of the "Rocknest" wind drift sand. The upper surface of the drift is covered by coarse sand grains approximately 0.02 to 0.06 inches (0.5 to 1.5 millimeters) in size. These coarse grains are mantled with fine dust, giving the drift surface a light brownish red color. The coarse sand is somewhat cemented to form a thin crust about 0.2 inches (0.5 centimeters) thick. Evidence for the crusting is seen by the presence of angular clods in and around the troughs and in the sharp, jagged indentations and overhangs on one wall of each trench (the walls closest to the top of this figure).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Question 143: 03 December 2012 (Week 49)

Q143: What is CONSTELLATION?

Answer to Question 142

A142: Our solar system is located in the outer reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is a spiral galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy contains roughly 200 billion stars. Most of these stars are not visible from Earth. Almost everything that we can see in the sky belongs to the Milky Way Galaxy. The sun is about 26,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is about 80,000 to 120,000 light-years across (and less than 7,000 light-years thick). We are located on on one of its spiral arms, out towards the edge. It takes the sun (and our solar system) roughly 200-250 million years to orbit once around the Milky Way. In this orbit, we (and the rest of the Solar System) are traveling at a velocity of about 155 miles/sec (250 km/sec).

A Vast Disk of Comets

This artist's impression shows the orbits of planets and comets around the star 61 Vir, superimposed on a view from the Herschel Space Telescope.

Helix Nebula - Unraveling at the Seams

A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. 

Jupiter Shines at Its Best Tonight


On the evening of Sunday December 2, Jupiter will be in opposition to the sun, well placed for observation all night long, surrounded by the brilliant stars of winter. 
CREDIT: Starry Night Software . SPACE.com