QuoteThe glitch occurred just minutes after the $273.4 million spacecraft blasted off at 4:55 a.m. EST (0955 GMT) atop a Taurus XL rocket that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. "Our whole team at a very personal level is disappointed in the events of this morning," said John Brunschwyler, the Taurus project manager for the Dulles, Va.-based rocket manufacturer Orbital Sciences, in a somber post-launch briefing. "It's very hard."
QuoteThe controversial observation could be explained by the mission's previous discovery of perchlorate salts in the soil, since the salts can keep water liquid at sub-zero temperatures. Researchers say this antifreeze effect makes it possible for liquid water to be widespread just below the surface of Mars, but point out that even if it is there, it may be too salty to support life as we know it.
A few days after Phoenix landed on 25 May 2008, it sent back an image showing mysterious splotches of material attached to one of its legs. Strangely, the splotches grew in size over the next few weeks, and Phoenix scientists have been debating the origin of the objects ever since.
QuoteBathed in martian sunlight for four days, the white substance sublimated--i.e., it transformed from solid to gas without passing through the liquid state. This is how water behaves on Mars. Atmospheric pressure on the Red Planet is so low (1% that of Earth), it rarely allows H2O to exist in liquid form on the planet's surface; solid and gas are the only options. Some readers have asked, how do we know the white substance is not frozen CO2 (dry ice) instead of frozen water? Answer: Phoenix's landing site is too warm for dry ice. The average daily temperature is about -70 F while dry ice requires temperatures lower than about -109 F.
QuoteWith Soho, the researchers were only able to take images in the upper section of the corona - the outer part of the Sun’s atmosphere. Stereo's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI) instruments monitor the Sun at four wavelengths, which allowed astronomers to see how the wave moved through the different layers of the solar atmosphere. "We were able to show for the first time that this wave actually propagates almost all the way from the surface of the Sun to high up in the Sun's atmosphere," said Dr Gallagher.
QuoteThe group, led by Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, found the 100,000-year-old fetal planet about 520 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. "The new object, designated HL Tau b, is the youngest planetary object ever seen," said Anita Richards, an astronomer at the U.K. Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Richards, who worked with Greaves' team to describe the infant planet, said it's just 1 percent as old as the young planet found in orbit around the star TW Hydrae last year. "We see a distinct orbiting ball of gas and dust, which is exactly how a very young protoplanet should look," Greaves said, noting the far-younger planet should take on a Jupiter-like essence in millions of years.
Quote"Our observations suggest that between 20% and 60% of Sun-like stars have evidence for the formation of rocky planets not unlike the processes we think led to planet Earth," he said. "That is very exciting." Mr Meyer's team used the US space agency's Spitzer space telescope to look at groups of stars with masses similar to the Sun. They detected discs of cosmic dust around stars in some of the youngest groups surveyed. The dust is believed to be a by-product of rocky debris colliding and merging to form planets. Nasa's Kepler mission to search for Earth-sized and smaller planets, due to be launched next year, is expected to reveal more clues about these distant undiscovered worlds.
QuoteAstronomers Mark Swain and Gautam Vasisht of Caltech in Pasadena, US, and Giovanna Tinetti of University College London, UK, used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the giant planet HD 189733b, which is slightly more massive than Jupiter and lies 63 light years from Earth. Because the planet crosses the face of its parent star as seen from Earth, some starlight is periodically filtered through the planet's atmosphere, where different chemicals absorb particular wavelengths. The observations confirm an earlier tentative detection of water vapour and reveal the presence of methane gas.
QuoteThis composite image shows the jet from a black hole at the center of a galaxy striking the edge of another galaxy, the first time such an interaction has been found. In the image, data from several wavelengths have been combined. X-rays from Chandra (colored purple), optical and ultraviolet (UV) data from Hubble (red and orange), and radio emission from the Very Large Array (VLA) and MERLIN (blue) show how the jet from the main galaxy on the lower left is striking its companion galaxy to the upper right. The jet impacts the companion galaxy at its edge and is then disrupted and deflected, much like how a stream of water from a hose will splay out after hitting a wall at an angle.
QuoteU.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, a Republican whose Florida district includes the Kennedy Space Center, proposed extending the shuttles' lifetime to close the gap until their replacement ships, called Orion, are ready for their first manned flights in 2015. His proposal, which would cost about $10 billion, would have the shuttles make six or seven additional flights between 2010 and 2013 and speed up development of the Orion ships to be ready by then. A second proposal would keep the shuttles flying until 2015 and leave Orion's schedule alone. "This is an issue of priorities," said Weldon, who announced his plan at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center on Monday.
QuoteNASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft has found that our solar system is not round but is "dented" by the local interstellar magnetic field of deep space, space experts said on Monday. The data was gathered by the craft on its 30-year journey into the edge of the solar system when it crossed into a sweeping region called the termination shock, they said. It showed that the southern hemisphere of the solar system's heliosphere is being pushed in or "dented."
QuoteThe cold spot in question is an unexplained anomaly in the map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) created by NASA’s WMAP satellite. The photons of the CMB coming from a region of the sky in the direction of the constellation Eridanus are colder than expected. Rudnick’s team started looking for radio sources such as radio galaxies and quasars in the direction of the cold spot. "Radio sources track the distribution of mass in the universe," says Rudnick. "They are the signposts for galaxies, clusters of galaxies and dark matter."
QuoteRussia had originally sought to join a U.S. plan to establish a moon base in 2024. But Perminov said earlier this year the U.S. rebuffed the offer to jointly explore the moon. On Friday, Perminov said Russia plans to complete its section of the International Space Station by 2015 and will begin working on a modernization of the Soyuz spacecraft used to transport cosmonauts and equipment to the station.
QuoteChurning motions inside the Sun produce various kinds of waves, including sound waves called p-modes and another type of wave called g-modes. G-modes arise when pockets of material rising up from deep within the Sun get pulled downwards again by gravity, leading to a wave motion similar to the rise and fall of waves on the surface of the ocean. Both types of waves vibrate very slowly. The p-modes vibrate with periods of a few minutes, while the periods of g-modes are even longer, lasting tens of minutes or even several hours.
QuoteIf the storm shifted toward Houston, NASA would evacuate the space centre, which oversees the shuttle during flight, and set up an emergency command post at KSC in Florida. Endeavor is scheduled to touch down in Florida at 1232 EDT (1632 GMT) on Tuesday, but the back-up landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California will be available if needed, Shannon said.
QuoteShuttle astronauts used a robot arm to scan the damage with a laser that provided a three-dimensional view showing that the 8-centimetre (3-inch) gash penetrated all the way through the thin tiles that protect the shuttle from heat as it flies through the atmosphere before landing. Mission management team chairman John Shannon said NASA needed to do more tests before making a decision to repair the damage, caused by a chunk of foam that fell off the shuttle's fuel tank about a minute after lift-off on Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US.
Quote"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. "Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky - like our Earth - or fully covered with oceans," he adds.
QuoteSpace shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew landed safely on Friday at Florida's Kennedy Space Center after worries about weather had scotched an earlier landing time. The landing concluded a successful 13-day mission to continue construction of the International Space Station (ISS) in four space walks, including one added at the last moment to fix a stuck solar array.
QuoteThe base would be built in incremental steps, starting with four-person crews making several seven-day visits. The first mission would begin by 2020, with the base growing over time, beefed up with more power, mobility rovers and living quarters. The Moon base would eventually support 180-day lunar stays, a stretch of time seen as the best avenue to establish a permanent presence there, as well as prepare for future human exploration of Mars.
Quote"We are at the dawning of a new age of solar observations," Russ Howard of the US Naval Research Laboratory said at a NASA news conference on Tuesday. "We're going to be viewing things in a new dimension for us." Howard said STEREO would have an unprecedented "broadside" view of the entire relationship between the Sun and the Earth. Scientists hope the mission will glean insight into solar activities such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the most violent explosions in the solar system.
QuoteManagers suspected the switch did actually move as planned but that a piece of fibre or dust was in the way, blocking the electrical contact in the circuit. So on Monday at 1755 EDT (2155 GMT), they flipped the switch back and forth to try to dislodge the debris. They received confirmation that the fix had worked at 0540 EDT (0940 GMT) on Tuesday, when the ACS's full voltage was detected and the HRC channel in particular showed vital signs again.
QuoteJust as we near the end of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, winds whirl and clouds churn 2 billion miles away in the atmosphere of Uranus, forming a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States. Astronomers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to take the first definitive images of a dark spot on Uranus. The elongated feature measures 1,100 miles by 1,900 miles (1,700 kilometers by 3,000 kilometers). This three-wavelength composite image was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys on August 23, 2006. The research team found the dark spot again on August 24. The inset image shows a magnified view of the spot with enhanced contrast. Uranus's north pole is near the 3 o'clock position in this image. The bright band in the southern hemisphere is at 45 degrees south.
Quote"With this complement of instruments, hopefully we'll be able to tie the physics down so that we understand how magnetic fields and high-temperature plasmas interact," says John Davis of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, US. Mission scientists hope that Solar-B will also help crack the mystery of how the outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere, or corona, gets heated to millions of degrees Celsius. That is far hotter than the Sun's visible surface, or photosphere, which makes up the lowest layer of its atmosphere and reaches only a few thousand degrees.
QuoteThe astronauts will enter the station for the first time about 0755 EDT (1155 GMT), where they will be greeted by its crew. The welcome ceremony with the station's three astronauts will not last long, however. The two crews will quickly begin preparations for the first spacewalk - Tuesday's installation of a 16-tonne truss that will support new solar panels. The crews will use the shuttle's robotic arm to hand the truss to the station's arm. NASA says the 11-day mission to boost the power-generating capacity of the ISS entails the most complex work ever undertaken at the nearly eight-year-old orbiting laboratory.
QuoteAnd unlike GPS, it would also work beyond Earth orbit, Pines says: "This would be for anywhere in the solar system: low-Earth orbit, highly elliptical orbits, interplanetary, or even beyond our solar system." For interplanetary space probes, X-ray navigation would be at least an order of magnitude more accurate than current techniques which rely on tracking from Earth, he says. Tests of prototype sensors are in progress at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Goldsten says. The results will be presented for review in September, when DARPA will decide whether to continue the development of XNAV. The second phase of the project could begin as early as November 2006 and would see an X-ray sensor built for testing in 2009 aboard the International Space Station.
QuoteFour new satellite galaxies of the Milky Way have been discovered, bringing the total known to about 20. The pace of new discoveries suggests that many more such satellites remain unknown, which would present a serious challenge to models of dark matter as "warm", fast-moving particles. The satellites are dwarf galaxies a few hundred to a few thousand light years across. The tiny galaxies are thought to be the building blocks of large galaxies, such as our own Milky Way - which is about 100,000 light years wide.
QuoteTerminology is still controversial. Objects that do not quite qualify as planets - because they are big enough to be round but not big enough to dominate their neighbourhoods - might become "dwarf-planets" or planetoids. These would include Pluto and Ceres, the largest asteroid. And the small fry of the solar system, such as asteroids, might be called small solar system bodies, or retain their current designation as minor planets.
QuoteTwo technicians managed to swap the short bolts with longer versions late on Saturday and early on Sunday. The replacement will not delay the launch, which is set for 1630 EDT (2030 GMT) on 27 August. "Everything looks good," says Tracy Young, a spokesperson at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. "We're on schedule."
QuoteIn addition to the Chandra observation, the Hubble Space Telescope, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and the Magellan optical telescopes were used to determine the location of the mass in the clusters. This was done by measuring the effect of gravitational lensing, where gravity from the clusters distorts light from background galaxies as predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. The hot gas in this collision was slowed by a drag force, similar to air resistance. In contrast, the dark matter was not slowed by the impact, because it does not interact directly with itself or the gas except through gravity. This produced the separation of the dark and normal matter seen in the data. If hot gas was the most massive component in the clusters, as proposed by alternative gravity theories, such a separation would not have been seen. Instead, dark matter is required.
QuoteThe decision to confirm the launch date was made after a two-day flight readiness review. The launch window lasts until 7 September. During the review, NASA also discussed an issue regarding bolts on the shuttle that could potentially come loose. Recently, engineers discovered that two of four bolts that hold a communications antenna to Atlantis' payload bay are too short.