Iran To Put Monkey Into Orbit

Iran Explorer-4 Rocket.

Iran plans to launch a monkey into space in mid-September, the ISNA news agency said on 20th April , citing Iranian Space Agency head Hamid Fazeli, quoted by RIA Novosti. 


Voyager Set to Enter Interstellar Space

Interstellar travel. Credit : Nasa/JPL

More than 30 years after they left Earth, NASA's twin Voyager probes are now at the edge of the solar system. Not only that, they're still working. And with each passing day they are beaming back a message that, to scientists, is both unsettling and thrilling.

The message is, "Expect the unexpected."

"It's uncanny," says Ed Stone of Caltech, Voyager Project Scientist since 1972. "Voyager 1 and 2 have a knack for making discoveries."

Another asteroid crash!

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab

Close-up views from spacecraft show asteroids to be pockmarked with impact craters. But until recently, astronomers never expected they'd see the recent aftermath of a collision. Now, thanks to Hubble and Swift, they have.

RadioAstron, Space Telescope to Stretch Limits of Human Knowledge

see update here
Credit: Astro Space Center

An ambitious telescope project called RadioAstron, which will allow the universe to be observed with an extraordinarily high angular resolution, is going to be launched into the Earth’s orbit in less than a month.


Don Quijote is going to fight Asteroids

ESA is preparing a future mission to test whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Our planet. The mission, Don Quijote, is named after the fictional Spanish knight from Miguel de Cervantes renowned novel, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, who charged against a windmill, thinking it to be a giant. But this time will be an asteroid and a real giant.

credit: Sérgio Sousa

ESA's Don Quijote is an asteroid deflection precursor mission concept, designed to assess and validate the technology that one day could be used to deflect an asteroid threatening the Earth.

Where No Spacecraft Has Gone Before

Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here are five facts about NASA's twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, the longest continuously-operating spacecraft in deep space. The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft.

Two space rocks in the neighbourhood today

Today two small asteroids are passing close to our planet 2011 GJ3 ( size 25m ) at a distance of 7.7 LD and 2008 UC202 (size 10 m) at a distance
of 8.9 LD. No risk of impact.

LD-Lunar Distance


Alien Infection

As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world?

Bacteria can endure the cold, dry vacuum of space, so a long journey may not be sufficient to ensure spacecraft sterilization.

When diseases like SARS, Mad Cow Disease and Monkeypox cross the species barrier and infect humans, they dominate news headlines. Just imagine, then, the reaction if potentially infectious pathogens were found in rock samples from Mars.

As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could alien pathogens cross the "planet" barrier and wreak havoc on our world?

Keeping an eye on Rocks above: Asteroid 2004 RQ252 will hit us?

Some people are worried about asteroid 2004 RQ252. They fear that can impact Earth on his next approach.

Bellow its NEO JPL table where it figures Asteroid 2004 RQ252 and data on its fly-by on April 13Th, 2013, and where it can be confirmed that it wont hit our planet.

The Asteroid 2004 RQ252 has a size between 90m to 210 meters.

Miss Distance (LD,AU) : The most likely (Nominal) and minimum possible (Minimum) miss distances are given in LD (Lunar Distance) and AU ( Astronomical Distance)
(LD)  Lunar Distance: 1.0 LD is about 3.84x10^5 km or 0.00257 AU (the average distance between the Earth and the Moon).

Click to large image

Looking for objects on the Kuiper Belt

In this artist's concept created by Dan Durda of SwRI, New Horizons flies by a Kuiper Belt object.

The New Horizons team, working with astronomers using some of the largest telescopes on Earth, will begin searching this month for distant Kuiper Belt objects that the New Horizons spacecraft hopes to reconnoiter after completing its observations of the Pluto system in mid-2015.


Chicken Fat Fuel Emissions Look Cleaner

NASA recently performed emissions testing on alternative, renewable fuels for a greener and less petroleum-dependent future. The search for alternative fuels is driven by environmental concerns as well as a desire for reduced reliance on foreign sources.

"Renewable" means that the fuel source isn't some form of fossil fuel. The source could be algae, a plant such as jatropha, or even rendered animal fat. In late March and early April 2011, a team at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California tested renewable biofuel made from chicken and beef tallow in one of the four engines of a DC-8 airplane.

Keeping an eye on the Rocks above

Asteroid close approach table for the following days

1 AU = ~150 million kilometers
1 LD = Lunar Distance = ~384,000 kilometers 

(2011 DV)  2011-Apr-25 0.0999 38.9 200 m - 440 m 20.7 6.62
(2011 GR59)  2011-Apr-26 0.0352 13.7 52 m - 120 m 23.5 5.49
(2010 TU5)  2011-Apr-27 0.0904 35.2 430 m - 970 m 18.9 18.72
(2011 GJ3)  2011-Apr-27 0.0199 7.7 15 m - 34 m 26.2 5.50
(2008 UC202)  2011-Apr-27 0.0228 8.9 6.0 m - 13 m 28.2 4.00
(2011 HJ)  2011-Apr-28 0.0137 5.3 18 m - 39 m 25.9 6.66
(2003 FU3)  2011-Apr-30 0.1465 57.0 180 m - 400 m 20.9 15.34
(2011 DS9)  2011-May-01 0.0857 33.4 240 m - 550 m 20.2 10.70
(2009 UK20)  2011-May-02 0.0220 8.6 14 m - 32 m 26.4 5.31
274138 (2008 FU6)  2011-May-05 0.1939 75.5 720 m - 1.6 km 17.8 14.36
(2011 GO65)  2011-May-05 0.1519 59.1 69 m - 150 m 22.9 5.81

Glory to the Soviet people – the pioneer of space!

Dailycosmicnews will publishe every week space posters from the past so you can colect them.

The First is a poster from former Soviet Union a classic for propaganda purposes.

Translation: Glory to the Soviet people – the pioneer of space! Click to Enlarge


Galaxy Evolution Explorer is helping to solve a mystery

Image credit: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Astronomers using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer may be closer to knowing why some of the most massive stellar explosions ever observed occur in the tiniest of galaxies.
"It's like finding a sumo wrestler in a little 'Smart Car,'" said Don Neill, a member of NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and lead author of a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal.


Join Zoouniverse and Make Incredible Discoveries

Citizen Scientists Making Incredible Discoveries

And now you can be the one to find it, thanks to Zooniverse, a unique citizen science website. Zooniverse volunteers, who call themselves "Zooites," are working on a project called Galaxy Zoo, classifying distant galaxies imaged by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

"Not only are people better than computers at detecting the subtleties that differentiate galaxies, they can do things computers can't do, like spot things that just look interesting," explains Zooniverse director Chris Lintott, an astronomer at the University of Oxford.
Zooite Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch schoolteacher, discovered this strange green object floating in her cosmic soup:

Zooniverse (object, 550px)
In this image, the Voorwerp floats near a spiral galaxy. Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

NASA’s STEREO Spacecraft Discovers New Eclipsing Binary Stars

Researchers have discovered 122 new eclipsing binary stars and observed hundreds more variable stars in an innovative survey using NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, or STEREO.

A STEREO Heliospheric Imager (HI-1A) image taken on March 7, 2010 (left) with two variable stars highlighted in the image. The varying brightness of the two stars, V837 Tau and V1129 Tau are shown (right top and bottom, respectively). Credit: NASA/STEREO/D. Bewsher . Click to enlarge.

"It's inspiring to learn that STEREO, which was designed to teach us more about the Sun's influence on our solar system, is able to detect other solar systems," said STEREO project scientist Joseph Gurman at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA Orbiter Reveals Big Changes in Mars' Atmosphere

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered the total amount of atmosphere on Mars changes dramatically as the tilt of the planet's axis varies. This process can affect the stability of liquid water, if it exists on the Martian surface, and increase the frequency and severity of Martian dust storms.

A newly found, buried deposit of frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice -- near the south pole of Mars contains about 30 times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated to be frozen near the pole. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Sapienza University of Rome/Southwest Research Institute

Researchers using the orbiter's ground-penetrating radar identified a large, buried deposit of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, at the Red Planet's south pole. The scientists suspect that much of this carbon dioxide enters the planet's atmosphere and swells the atmosphere's mass when Mars' tilt increases. The findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Science.


Rotating sunspots spin up a super solar flare

The largest solar flare recorded in nearly five years was triggered by interactions between five rotating sunspots. Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire studied observations of the flaring region of the Sun taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory over a period of five days.

"Sunspots are features where magnetic field generated in the Sun’s interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere," said  Dr Daniel Brown, Researcher at the University of Central Lancashire

Revelations about Galileo, Bruno, and Aliens

The Catholic Church and scientists have a history of clashing, but according to Vatican astronomers, some of the stories of Church persecution are distortions of the truth – more gossip than Gospel.

 One of the most famous examples of the clash between religion and science is the trial of Galileo Galilei. Galileo supported Copernicus’ view that the Earth orbited the Sun, a “heliocentric” theory which the Church declared contrary to Scripture. Galileo was warned to abandon his support for this theory and instead embrace the traditional “geocentric” notion that the Earth was an unmovable point around which the universe revolved.

Instead, in 1632 Galileo published “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” The book was structured as a conversation between Salviati, a heliocentric philosopher, Simplicio, a geocentric philosopher, and Sagredo, a neutral layman. Pope Urban VIII had actually given Galileo permission to write the book so long as he didn’t promote one viewpoint over the other. However, Salviati forcefully argued Galileo’s beliefs, while Simplicio was often ridiculed as a fool.

Extraterrestrial DJs: spinning tunes for the stars

Summary: Would extraterrestrials like to listen to our music? A new collaboration between science and music has created musical messages that might one day be sent to alien worlds.
Would extraterrestrials like to listen to our music? Probably not, if we remember the 1996 movie Mars Attacks!, in which the malicious aliens are destroyed by the yodeling in Slim Whitman's version of "Indian Love Call."

But even if intelligent beings on other planets can't enjoy the sounds we create, they still might be curious to know what pleases our aural appendages. Doug Vakoch of the SETI Institute believes music might identify us – on physical as well as cultural grounds – for aliens that don't know us from Luke Skywalker and a Tatooine Cantina Band.

On the chance that someone is out there, NASA approved the placement of a phonograph record on each of the Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Vakoch has collaborated with music composer Andrew Kaiser of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to create musical messages that might one day be sent to distant worlds. Their work is in harmony with other cosmic communication efforts, like the Voyager Golden Record and "The First Theremin Concert for Aliens," that have already been lofted into space.

 listen here


NASA's Hubble Celebrates 21st Anniversary with 'Rose' of Galaxies

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's deployment into space, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., pointed Hubble's eye at an especially photogenic pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.  Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's deployment into space, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., pointed Hubble's eye at an especially photogenic pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.

"For 21 years, Hubble has profoundly changed our view of the universe, allowing us to see deep into the past while opening our eyes to the majesty and wonders around us," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said."I was privileged to pilot space shuttle Discovery as it deployed Hubble. After all this time, new Hubble images still inspire awe and are a testament to the extraordinary work of the many people behind the world's most famous observatory."

New theory of evolution for spiral galaxy arms

Spiral Galaxy M51. credit: Nazaret Observatory, Lanzarote.

A study of spiral patterns found in galaxies like our Milky Way could overturn the theory of how the spiral arm features form and evolve. The results are being presented by postgraduate student, Robert Grand, at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales this week.

Funny case of Asteroid 2011 CG11

Asteroid 2011 CQ1 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on February 4 and made a record close Earth approach 14 hours later on February 4 at 19:39 UT (14:39 EST). It passed to within 0.85 Earth radii (5480 km) of the Earth's surface over a region in the mid-Pacific.
This object, only about one meter in diameter, is the closest non-impacting object in our asteroid catalog to date.

Earth changed its flight path

Prior to the Earth close approach, this object was in a so-called Apollo-class orbit that was mostly outside the Earth's orbit. Following the close approach, the Earth's gravitational attraction modified the object's orbit to an Aten-class orbit where the asteroid spends almost all of its time inside the Earth's orbit. 

Credit: NASA/JPL

As is evident from the diagram, the close Earth approach changed the asteroid's flight path by about 60 degrees. Because of their small size, object's of this size are difficult to discover but there is likely to be nearly a billion objects of this size and larger in near-Earth space and one would expect one to strike Earth's atmosphere every few weeks on average.

Upon striking the atmosphere, small objects of this size create visually impressive fireball events but only rarely do even a few small fragments reach the ground.


Nemesis, Still unsettled

Brown dwarf in relation to Earth, Jupiter, a low-mass star and the sun.

A dark object may be lurking near our solar system, occasionally kicking comets in our direction.

Nicknamed “Nemesis” or “The Death Star,” this undetected object could be a red or brown dwarf star, or an even darker presence several times the mass of Jupiter.

Why do scientists think something could be hidden beyond the edge of our solar system? Originally, Nemesis was suggested as a way to explain a cycle of mass extinctions on Earth.

The paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski claim that, over the last 250 million years, life on Earth has faced extinction in a 26-million-year cycle. Astronomers proposed comet impacts as a possible cause for these catastrophes.

Astronomers find ‘smoking gun’ of compact galaxy formation

Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Gallagher (The University of Western Ontario), and J. English (University of Manitoba)
A team at Bristol University have found irrevocable evidence that explains how an unusual type of galaxy, so-called compact ellipticals (cEs), are formed and have discovered two examples in which they see the process of formation in action. Team leader Dr Avon Huxor will present their work on Wednesday 20 April at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.


Pluto has carbon monoxide in its atmosphere

Artist's impression of Pluto's huge atmosphere of carbon monoxide. The source of this gas is erratic evaporation from the mottled icy surface of the dwarf planet. The Sun appears at the top, as seen in the ultra-violet radiation that is thought to force some of the dramatic atmospheric changes. Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is seen to the lower right. Credit: P.A.S. Cruickshank

A British-based team of astronomers has discovered carbon monoxide gas in the atmosphere of Pluto, after a worldwide search lasting for nearly two decades. Team leader Dr Jane Greaves of the University of St Andrews will present the new discovery in her talk on Wednesday 20 April at the National Astronomy Meeting in Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 and then considered as the Sun's smallest and most distant planet. Since 2006 it has been regarded by astronomers as a 'dwarf planet', one of a handful of such bodies with sizes of hundreds of kilometres that orbit in the distant reaches of the Solar System, out beyond Neptune. Pluto is the only dwarf planet known to have an atmosphere, found in 1988 when it dimmed the light of a distant star before Pluto passed in front of it.

Retrieving Energy from the Moon

Image: Shimizu
Plains of solar panels may soon appear on the Moon. They will accumulate  solar energy and send it to the Earth. This is a joint project of Russian scientists from the Siberian Institute of Semiconductor Physics and Houston University in the USA.

Alternative energy sources have become real rivals to traditional ones. Last year the USA began the construction of the largest complex of solar power plants in the world, which will allow doubling the volume of all currently produced “clean” energy. Russia is also aware that oil and gas deposits are limited. Apart from that, harnessing energy from oil and gas creates products that pollute the atmosphere. On the contrary, solar energy does not give rise to any of these problems. Solar batteries do not need any fuel and can work off internal resources. 

European Space Agency hacked

A hacker has claimed to have breached the European Space Agency, gaining access to and publishing online what appears to be 200 usernames, passwords and email addresses related to the organisation, along with details on root servers and databases.

In his blog, hacker TinKode listed email addresses allegedly linked to the prestigious CERN science institute, defence giant BAE systems and a string of others tied to the space agency.


Studying the possibility of life on Mars looking at Earth deserts

Northern Ice Cap of Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Because the surface of Mars today is bone-dry and frozen all year round, it’s difficult to find any place on Earth that is truly Mars-like. But two locations, Antarctica’s Upper Dry Valleys and the hyper-arid core of Chile’s Atacama Desert, come close. They have become magnets for scientists who want to understand the limits of life on Earth and the prospects for life on Mars.

Jocelyne DiRuggiero, an associate professor of biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, studies samples from both locations. She’s interested in the similarities and the differences between the microbial communities that live in these two extreme desert regions. In both places, very little liquid water is present. In the core of the Atacama, years can go by between one rainfall and the next, but it is warm, so when there is precipitation, a significant amount of liquid water is available for a very short time. In University Valley, one of Antarctica’s Upper Dry Valleys, the availability of liquid water is limited in a different way. University Valley receives more regular precipitation than the Atacama, but it’s so cold there that any precipitation falls in the form of snow and remains frozen.

Video simulations of earthquakes made available to world

A Princeton University-led research team has developed the capability to produce realistic movies of earthquakes based on complex computer simulations that can be made available worldwide within hours of a disastrous upheaval.


The videos show waves of ground motion spreading out from an epicentre. In making them widely available, the team of computational seismologists and computer scientists aims to aid researchers working to improve understanding of earthquakes and develop better maps of the Earth's interior.

The shocking environment of hot Jupiters

Artists impression of the WASP-12 system. Credit: © ESA/C Carreau

Summary: Astronomers have found that Jupiter-like worlds around other stars push shock waves ahead of them. Like Earth's magnetic 'bow-shock', these planetary 'shocks' can protect the atmospheres of giant planets from their star's damaging emissions.

Jupiter-like worlds around other stars push shock waves ahead of them, according to a team of UK astronomers. Just as the Earth's magnetic "bow-shock" protects us from the high-energy solar wind, these planetary shocks protect their atmospheres from their star's damaging emissions.

In 2008, observations of WASP-12 detected a periodic dip in light as a large planet (catalogued as WASP-12b) passed in front of its host star. Planet hunting with transit instruments like SuperWASP allows astronomers to obtain a wealth of information about exoplanetary systems including their composition and size.
WASP-12b turns out to be one of the largest exoplanets found to date and completes each orbit around its parent star in just 26 hours. The planet is more than 250,000 km across, with its atmosphere swollen by the intense heat it receives from the star, making it a so-called ‘hot Jupiter’.


NASA’s Kepler helps astronomers update census of sun-like stars

NASA's Kepler mission has spotted 500 Sun-like stars that show changes in brightness. The data is helping astronomers understand the mass, radius, age and internal structure of stars. The information will ultimately help astrobiologists search for habitable planets beyond our solar system. Image: DailyCosmicNews

NASA's Kepler Mission has detected changes in brightness in 500 sun-like stars, giving astronomers a much better idea about the nature and evolution of the stars.
Prior to Kepler's launch in March 2009, astronomers had identified the changes in brightness, or oscillations, of about 25 stars similar to our sun in size, age, composition and location within the Milky Way galaxy.

The discoveries are reported in a paper, "Ensemble Asteroseismology of Solar-Type Stars with the NASA Kepler Mission," in the April 8 issue of the journal Science. The lead author of the paper is Bill Chaplin of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

The paper says Kepler is a big boost to asteroseismology, the study of stars by observations of their natural oscillations. Those oscillations provide clues about star basics such as mass, radius and age as well as clues about the internal structure of stars.

Using Sun to Asteroid Deflection

So you think global warming is a big problem? What could happen if a 25-million-ton chunk of rock slammed into Earth? When something similar happened 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs and other forms of life were wiped out.

“A collision with an object of this size traveling at an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 mile per hour would be catastrophic,” according to NASA researcher and New York City College of Technology (City Tech) Associate Professor of Physics Gregory L. Matloff. His recommendation? “Either destroy the object or alter its trajectory.”

Asteroid could be diverted by heating its surface to create a jet stream. Credit: DailyCosmicNews

Dr. Matloff, whose research includes the best means to avert such a disaster, believes that diverting such objects is the wisest course of action. In 2029 and 2036, the asteroid Apophis (named after the Egyptian god of darkness and the void), at least 1,100 feet in diameter, 90 stories tall, and weighing an estimated 25 million tons, will make two close passes by Earth at a distance of about 22,600 miles.

Pioneer Anomaly Solved By 1970s Computer Graphics Technique

A new computer model of the way heat is emitted by various parts of the Pioneer spacecraft, and reflected off others, finally solves one of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics 

Artist rendition of the Pioneer F spacecraft shown in orbit around Jupiter. Credit: NASA

During the last decade or so, the Pioneer Anomaly has become one of the great unsolved puzzles in astrophysics.
The problem is this. The Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft were launched towards Jupiter and Saturn in the early 1970s. After their respective flybys, they continued on escape trajectories out of the Solar System, both decelerating under the force of the Sun's gravity. But careful measuremenrs show that the spacecraft are slowing faster than they ought to, as if being pulled by an extra unseen force towards the Sun.

This deceleration is tiny: just (8.74±1.33)×10^−10 ms^−2. The big question is where does it come from.

Spacecraft engineers' first thought was that heat emitted by the spacecraft could cause exactly this kind of deceleration. But when they examined the way heat was produced on the craft, by on board plutonium, and how this must have been emitted, they were unable to make the numbers add up. At most, thermal effects could account for only 67 per cent of the deceleration, they said.
That led to a host of other ideas some of which I've covered in this blog. For example, last year we looked at work ruling out the possibility that gravity could be stronger at these distances, since we ought to be able to see a similar effect on the orbit of other distant objects such as Pluto.
Now Frederico Francisco at the Instituto de Plasmas e Fusao Nuclear in Lisbon Portugal, and a few pals, say they've worked out where the thermal calculations went wrong.

Keeping an eye on the Rocks above

Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:

                           date      distance      mag        size  
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.


Bombardments of 'micro-meteorites' four billion years ago may have caused planets' climates to cool dramatically, according to new study

Bombardments of 'micro-meteorites' on Earth and Mars four billion years ago may have caused the planets' climates to cool dramatically, hampering their ability to support life, according to research published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.


Scientists from Imperial College London studied the effects of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), a period of time in the early Solar System when meteorite showers lasting around 100 million years barraged Earth and Mars. This bombardment discharged sulphur dioxide into the upper atmospheres of both planets and the researchers' analysis suggests that this may have had a catastrophic impact on their environments.
Micro-meteorites come from the rocky asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.


Comet Elenin, again!

update: 20 April 2011

Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) is a long-period comet discovered by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin on December 10, 2010. Much has been writen about this particular comet in the internet , on how  it will hit earth  later this year.

Well, it wont hit us. Fortunately we will have to watch Hollywood sci-fi movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact to see a event like this on our planet.

One day, for sure, our planet will be hit by an object like an Asteroid or a Comet, that is a well known fact, the question is when.  Even then we hope to have time and the technology to deflect an asteroid or a comet.

According to NASA , and other agencies no impact is expected during the next 100 years.  There are some bodies that rise some concern, like asteroid Apophis, but still , is very unlikely that Apophis or any other object (comet or asteroid) with capability to cause major destruction, will hit Earth in the near future (please see http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov) or here.

Newly-discovered asteroid 2011 GP59 is flying past Earth today

Newly-discovered asteroid 2011 GP59 is flying past Earth today, April 15th, not far beyond the orbit of the Moon (1.4 LD). The 50-meter space rock is remarkable: It is elongated and spinning once every 7.5 minutes. This causes the asteroid to flash like a strobe light.

2011 GP59 orbit. Credit: Nasa/JPL
The 2011 GP59 was discovered the night of April 8/9 by astronomers with the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca in Andalusia, Spain. It will make its closest approach to Earth on April 15 at 19:09 UTC (12:09 p.m. PDT) at a distance just beyond the moon's orbit - about 533,000 kilometers (331,000 miles).

"Although newly discovered, the near-term orbital location of asteroid 2011 GP59 can be accurately plotted," said Yeomans. "There is no possibility of the small space rock entering Earth's atmosphere during this pass or for the foreseeable future."

A video taken by Joe Pollock of Appalachian State University on April 11th shows the effect nicely. Experienced amateur astronomers using mid-sized telescopes can watch 2011 GP59 strobe through the constellations Virgo and Hydra tonight with a peak brightness near 13th magnitude.

source: spaceweather

National Reconnaissance Office Launches new satellite

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Team Vandenberg launched an Atlas V from Space Launch Complex-3 here April 14 at 9:24 p.m. PDT. It was the fourth Atlas V processed at Vandenberg and the 605th overall Atlas mission in U.S. history. (Photo courtesy of the United Launch Alliance)
Team Vandenberg launched an Atlas V from Space Launch Complex-3 here April 14 at 9:24 p.m. PDT.

It was the fourth Atlas V processed at Vandenberg and the 605th overall Atlas mission in U.S. history.

"The wind cooperated with us this evening enabling us to launch without compromising public safety," said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander. "Without a doubt, every launch is a major feat, and I'm extremely proud of Team Vandenberg for yet another job well done."

The rocket carried a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, on, what is a classified mission.

Vandenberg's next launch is a Delta II scheduled for June 9. 

credit: USAF, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs


WISE, Another door to the universe opens

Astronomers across the globe can now sift through hundreds of millions of galaxies, stars and asteroids collected in the first bundle of data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.
A busy star-forming complex called Rho Ophiuchi. WISE captured this picturesque image of the region, which is one of the closest star-forming complexes to Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
"Starting today thousands of new eyes will be looking at WISE data, and I expect many surprises," said Edward (Ned) Wright of UCLA, the mission's principal investigator.

WISE launched into space on Dec. 14, 2009 on a mission to map the entire sky in infrared light with greatly improved sensitivity and resolution over its predecessors. From its polar orbit, it scanned the skies about one-and-a-half times while collecting images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light. It took more than 2.7 million images over the course of its mission, capturing objects ranging from faraway galaxies to asteroids relatively close to Earth.

Like other infrared telescopes, WISE required coolant to chill its heat-sensitive detectors. When this frozen hydrogen coolant ran out, as expected, in early October, 2010, two of its four infrared channels were still operational. The survey was then extended for four more months, with the goal of finishing its sweep for asteroids and comets in the main asteroid belt of our solar system.

Solar Activity Warming Up

If you've ever stood in front of a hot stove, watching a pot of water and waiting impatiently for it to boil, you know what it feels like to be a solar physicist.

Solar Activity Heats Up (xflare, 200px)
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this X1.5-class solar flare on March 9, 2011. (Movie)

Back in 2008, the solar cycle plunged into the deepest minimum in nearly a century. Sunspots all but vanished, solar flares subsided, and the sun was eerily quiet.

"Ever since, we've been waiting for solar activity to pick up," says Richard Fisher, head of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. "It's been three long years."

Quiet spells on the sun are nothing new. They come along every 11 years or so—it's a natural part of the solar cycle. This particular solar minimum, however, was lasting longer than usual, prompting some researchers to wonder if it would ever end.

News flash: The pot is starting to boil. "Finally," says Fisher, "we are beginning to see some action."
As 2011 unfolds, sunspots have returned and they are crackling with activity. On February 15th and again on March 9th, Earth orbiting satellites detected a pair of "X-class" solar flares-the most powerful kind of x-ray flare. The last such eruption occurred back in December 2006.

Make your own Planet

The "Extreme Planet Makeover" on the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest site lets you roll up your sleeves and create your very own planet.

Balance five factors to create an Earth-like habitable world, or get wild and make your own extreme exoplanet. Use the Image Gallery feature to compare your creation with those of other Earthlings. Once you've finished creating the exoplanet of your dreams, download a picture of your custom world for posterity.

The interactive feature is online at http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/planetMakeover/planetMakeover.html . Extreme Planet Makeover was developed in conjunction with NASA's Virtual Planetary Laboratory.

An Image from 13.5 Billion years ago

The giant cluster of elliptical galaxies in the center of this image contains so much dark matter mass that its gravity bends light. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CRAL, LAM, STScI

Astronomers have uncovered one of the youngest galaxies in the distant universe, with stars that formed 13.5 billion years ago, a mere 200 million years after the Big Bang. The finding addresses questions about when the first galaxies arose, and how the early universe evolved.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was the first to spot the newfound galaxy. Detailed observations from the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii revealed the observed light dates to when the universe was only 950 million years old; the universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago.
Infrared data from both Hubble and the post-coolant, or "warm," phase of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope mission revealed the galaxy's stars are quite mature, which means they must have formed when the universe was just a toddler.


Dark Asteroids, Possible Threat to Earth

Comet Lunin Credit : Gustavo Muler /Observatory Nazaret


NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, had the mission to  search for "dark" objects in space like brown dwarf stars, vast dust clouds, and Earth-approaching asteroids. 

WISE scanned the entire celestial sky in infrared light about 1.5 times. It captured more than 2.7 million images of objects in space, ranging from faraway galaxies to asteroids and comets close to Earth. 

Most of the asteroids WISE found were in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but a fraction of them are different—they're the kind of Earth-approaching asteroids that can cause regional or global damage.


Can WISE Find the Hypothetical Planet 'Tyche'?

WISE. Artist rendering. Credit:NASA
In November 2010, the scientific journal Icarus published a paper by astrophysicists John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, who proposed the existence of a binary companion to our sun, larger than Jupiter, in the long-hypothesized "Oort cloud" -- a faraway repository of small icy bodies at the edge of our solar system. The researchers use the name "Tyche" for the hypothetical planet.

Their paper argues that evidence for the planet would have been recorded by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

WISE is a NASA mission, launched in December 2009, which scanned the entire celestial sky at four infrared wavelengths about 1.5 times. It captured more than 2.7 million images of objects in space, ranging from faraway galaxies to asteroids and comets relatively close to Earth.

Also today, 30 years of Space Shuttle flight

STS-1 Patch
It was also today , 12th April, that the first Space Shuttle was launched.
The ill fated space shuttle Columbia,named after the first American ocean vessel to circle the globe and the command module for the Apollo 11 Moon landing, made its first on 12th April 1981, thus ushering in the era of the space shuttle, NASA's longest-running manned spaceflight program. Now, NASA is preparing to close out the shuttle era
(only 2 flights remain).

The first flight of Columbia (STS-1) was commanded by John Young, a Gemini and Apollo veteran who was the ninth person to walk on the Moon in 1972, and piloted by Robert Crippen, a rookie astronaut originally selected to fly on the military's Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) spacecraft, but transferred to NASA after its cancellation, and served as a support crew member for the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz missions.

Arctic Changes and an Ancient Extinction

Summary: Scientists are studying an exceptional episode of ancient global warming that occurred around 56 million years ago. During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, global sea surface temperatures increased by about 5°C. Studying this period could help scientists understand how modern climate change could effect life on Earth.

Fieldwork in Spitsbergen. Credit: National Oceanography Centre

Scientists are unravelling the environmental changes that took place around the Arctic during an exceptional episode of ancient global warming.

Newly published results from a high-resolution study of sediments collected on Spitsbergen represent a significant contribution to this endeavour. The study was led by Ian Harding and John Marshall of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES), based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom.

Happy Birthday Mankind!

To all the humans out there, happy birthday! for the 50th anniversary of the first man flight to Space! 50 years ago, on the 12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin took-off to space our last frontier , the heavens became the infinity to discover.

more see our page on 50 years of Space



Two Dying Stars Reborn as One

White dwarfs are dead stars that pack a Sun’s-worth of matter into an Earth-size ball. Astronomers have just discovered an amazing pair of white dwarfs whirling around each other once every 39 minutes. This is the shortest-period pair of white dwarfs now known. Moreover, in a few million years they will collide and merge to create a single star.

“These stars have already lived a full life. When they merge, they’ll essentially be ‘reborn’ and enjoy a second life,” said Smithsonian astronomer Mukremin Kilic (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), lead author on the paper announcing the discovery.

Next asteroid approach

On the 15th of April we will have a visitor that will pass very close to us, the recente discovered asteroid 2011 GP59. 
It will pass1.4 LD (lunar distances from us , this asteroid is around 60m diameter, no risck exist of collision with Earth.

Orbit Diagram credit: NASA/JPL


Russia wants bigger role in space

Proton Rocket
Russia will boost its efforts to explore the solar system and seek a bigger share of the market for space launches in the next decade, Prime Minister Vladmir Putin said on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering space flight, Putin said Russia's plans go beyond transporting crews to the International Space Station.
“Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferryman. We need to increase our presence on the global space market,” Putin told space and other government officials at his residence outside Moscow.
Energy-rich Russia's space budget for 2010-2011 is 200 billion roubles ($7.09 billion), which Putin said made it the world's fourth-largest spender on space after US space agency Nasa, the European Space Agency and France.

“Such resources enable us to set serious goals,” Putin said.
Putin said Russia currently provides about 40 percent of all space launches and wants to increase its share of what he said was a $200 billion market to as much as 50 percent in the near future.
Russia, which has used the Baikonur Cosmodrome in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan for all manned launches since Gagarin's, would begin sending humans into space from a new facility it is building in Vostochny in eastern Siberia starting in 2018.

Juno, Almost Ready

Juno spacecraft. Credit Nasa/JPL

NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch this summer. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. this week.
The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
"The Juno spacecraft and the team have come a long way since this project was first conceived in 2003," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, based at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We're only a few months away from a mission of discovery that could very well rewrite the books on not only how Jupiter was born, but how our solar system came into being."


Wind and wave energies are not renewable after all

Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels and we could do as much damage to the climate as greenhouse global warming

WITNESS a howling gale or an ocean storm, and it's hard to believe that humans could make a dent in the awesome natural forces that created them. Yet that is the provocative suggestion of one physicist who has done the sums.
He concludes that it is a mistake to assume that energy sources like wind and waves are truly renewable. Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels, he says, and we could seriously deplete the energy available in the atmosphere, with consequences as dire as severe climate change.

( note from DailycosmicNews: this article follow the copyrights of New Scientist to full extent, except in the article tittle, we remain with the first title used , as for New Scientist they were forced to change due complains. )
read more at New Scientist

Space,The Final Frontier

This month mankind will make 50 years of space flight. On April 12th, 1961 a man called Yuri Gagarine, went to space making all human race cross that last border, the other side, the universe awaiting to be discovered and explored.

But where are we know? How far have we gone?

Since that day we went far, far as the endings of our solar system. As you read this lines, Voyager 1  is more than 10,843,294,886 miles or about 0.00183 of a light-year from the Sun. We went to Mars and visit its plains, we watched fascinated Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Voyegars photos of the giant solar planets of our solar system, Venus and its acid rains, recently we discovered that Saturn moon Titan has components essencial to live appear.

We visit all the planets of our solar system, and we have other missions ready to go and visit some again. Juno will go to Jupiter, with the primary goal to significantly improve our understanding of the formation and structure of Jupiter. Its currently planned to be launched in August 2011 and will travel towards Jupiter after an Earth fly-by in October 2013 to provide a gravity assist.

We went far , but what are the next steps?

Its difficult to say, without international cooperation, and the present economical and financial situation around the world, going for Mars or even going  back to the moon seems difficult , and not any time soon.


A Storm is coming

Researchers announced that a storm is coming

The most intense solar maximum in fifty years is coming. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one," she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.

The sun emitted its first X-class flare in more than four years on February 14 at 8:56 p.m. EST.
Active region 1158 let loose with an X2.2 flare late on February 15, the largest flare since Dec. 2006
That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn't tell that a solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn't exist. Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones, GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies.
But today a similar solar maximum would cause major problems in our technological addicted societies

April 8, Asteroid passing close to our home planet

Orbit Diagram of 2011GZ2 credit: NASA/JPL

A small Asteroid designated 2011GZ2 make a close approach to our world today.
The +/-25 meter rock will come close as 2.7 LD.  If it entered our atmosphere it would break apart and small parts would reach surface.

LD-Lunar Distance

Also see probabilities go worng and a meteorite hits you

by: dailycosmicnews