At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida, preparations are underway to erect the first stage of the Atlas V rocket that will carry the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, into orbit.
TDRS-K is the first of three next-generation communications satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA. The seven TDRS spacecraft currently in orbit provide tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. TDRS-K has a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet growing S-band communications requirements.
Image Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
At 11:12 UT (6:12 a.m. EST), the world didn’t end (as far as I can tell), but it was a significant time none-the-less … The ever-watchful NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured the time of solstice from orbit. Although the SDO is always imaging the sun through a multitude of filters, this is a great excuse to showcase the fantastic beauty of our nearest star, while putting all the doomsday nonsense behind us.
Saturn’s B ring is spread out in all its glory in this image from Cassini. Scientists are trying to better understand the origin and nature of the various structures seen in the B ring.
Saturn’s B ring is the densest and most massive of all the rings. The C ring is also visible inside the B ring and the A ring puts on an appearance beyond the Cassini Division near the top and bottom of the image.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 7 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 22, 2012.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 201,000 miles (324,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 134 degrees. Image scale is 10 miles (16 kilometers) per pixel.
Double-Star Systems Can Be Dangerous for Exoplanets | Space.com
Alien planets born in widely separated two-star systems face a grave danger of being booted into interstellar space, a new study suggests.
Exoplanets circling a star with a far-flung stellar companion — worlds that are part of “wide binary” systems — are susceptible to violent and dramatic orbital disruptions, including outright ejection, the study found.
Such effects are generally limited to sprawling planetary systems with at least one distantly orbiting world, while more compact systems are relatively immune. This finding, which observational evidence supports, should help astronomers better understand the structure and evolution of alien solar systems across the galaxy, researchers said.
Astronomers have spotted seven galaxies that existed just a few hundred million years after the universe’s birth, including one that may be the oldest found to date.
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
The potential record-holding galaxy, known as UDFj-39546284, likely existed when the universe was just 380 million years old, researchers said, and may be the farthest galaxy ever seen. The other six distant galaxies all formed within 600 million years of the Big Bang, which created our universe 13.7 billion years ago.
UDFj-39546284 was detected previously, and researchers had thought it formed just 500 million years or so after the Big Bang. The new observations, made using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, push its probable formation time back even further.
The seven galaxies constitute the first reliable census of the epoch from 400 million to 600 million years after the universe’s birth, researchers said. This census detects a steady increase in galaxies over this period, suggesting that the formation of the first stars and galaxies — the so-called “cosmic dawn” — happened gradually rather than suddenly.
“The cosmic dawn was probably not a single, dramatic event,” study lead author Richard Ellis, of Caltech in Pasadena, told reporters today (Dec. 12).
Ellis and his team pointed Hubble at a small patch of sky known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, which the telescope observed for many hours to build up enough light to spot extremely faint, distant objects. The researchers used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to study the deep field in near-infrared wavelengths during August and September 2012.
The astronomers used special filters to measure the galaxies’ redshifts — how much their light has been stretched by the expansion of space. From the redshifts, the researchers were able to calculate the distance to each galaxy, revealing their ages.
The results “represent our cosmic roots,” said Harvard astronomer Abraham Loeb, who was not involved in the study. The new Hubble data “comes from the biggest archaeological dig that we have of the universe.”
A planetary nebula results when a star like the sun becomes a red giant and sheds its outer layers.
This gallery of four planetary nebulas shows Chandra X-ray data in purple and optical Hubble Space Telescope data in red, green and blue.
The diffuse X-ray emission seen with Chandra is caused by shock waves as a wind from the hot remnant of the star collides with the ejected atmosphere.
The four planetary nebulas are all located less than 5000 light years from Earth. [Read more] | image: Chandra X-ray/NASA
Willie Nelson and Frank Sinatra both love NASA and would like to tell you that supporting our space program helps develop technology that can benefit society at large, like medical imaging.
I can scarcely believe that this is a thing, that happened.
Wired has a collection of these 80’s gems, featuring everyone from Ray Charles to Charlton Heston. Or you can watch them all (plus some newer ones) on the NASA Spinoff YouTube channel. So how about that NASA science, WIllie?
“It’s led to a lot of things that have helped all of us, city dudes and country cousins alike.”
Right on, man. Right on.