Dawn's Spacecraft Views Dark Side of Vesta

NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on July 23, 2011. It was taken from a distance of about 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers) away from the giant asteroid Vesta. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Dawn took this image over Vesta's northern hemisphere after the spacecraft completed its first passage over the dark side of the giant asteroid. It is northern hemisphere winter on Vesta now, so its north pole is in deep shadow.

The Dawn science team is working to determine the significance of the distinct features in this image, which include large grooves or ridges extending for great distances around Vesta.

This image was taken by Dawn's framing camera on July 23, from a distance of 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers).

What lies inside Jupiter?

Jupiter's swirling clouds can be seen through any department store telescope. With no more effort than it takes to bend over an eyepiece, you can witness storm systems bigger than Earth navigating ruddy belts that stretch hundreds of thousands of kilometers around Jupiter's vast equator. It's fascinating.

Juno2 (Juno, 200px)
An artist's concept of Juno at Jupiter.
It's also vexing. According to many researchers, the really interesting things--from the roots of monster storms to stores of exotic matter--are located at depth. The clouds themselves hide the greatest mysteries from view.
NASA's Juno probe, scheduled to launch on August 5th, could change all that. The goal of the mission is to answer the question, What lies inside Jupiter?



NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-class solar flares today. The source would be one of three big sunspots emerging along the sun's northeastern limb. Click on the image to view a 3-day movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

CLICK to see movie

Among the three, the leading sunspot AR1260 is most active. It has produced more than a dozen C-class flares in the past 24 hours, more than doubling the total for the entire month of July so far. New sunspot AR1262, however, could eventually cause more trouble. Magnetograms of the active region reveal a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class eruptions.

A solar flare is an explosion on the Sun that happens when energy stored in twisted magnetic fields (usually above sunspots) is suddenly released. Flares produce a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays and gamma-rays. 

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

source: spaceweather.com


On July 5th, a comet dove into the sun and disintegrated.  New footage just released by NASA shows the final stages of the comet's death plunge.

more: here

Unseen comet's orbit indicates possible crash

Credit: NASA

A stream of dusty fragments from a comet born in the outermost reaches of the solar system has hit the Earth on a path that leads astronomers to conclude the comet itself could be "potentially hazardous" if it crashes into the planet.
The comet's location is unknown, making it difficult to say when it will approach Earth, but "the orbits of the dust trail tells us that the comet is on a path that could eventually hit us," said Peter Jenniskens, an astronomer at the SETI Institute and the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.


China launches 9th Beidou-2 satellite

Yesterday 26th July, China has launched the ninth satellite of its Beidou-2 national orbital navigation system from the Sichuan Province’s spaceport. Efforts to create an alternative to America’s GPS and Russia’s GLONASS constellations began in 2007.

The new system will include a total of 35 satellites providing navigation services across the Asia-Pacific Region from 2012 and then switching to global coverage in 2020.

Sun becoming very active

The Sun popped off no less than five coronal mass ejections over three-days (July 19-22, 2011). While none of them appeared very strong, they do suggest that the level of solar activity is increasing...
Today th 27th July , several CME were detected.

Huge meteorite found in China

A big stony-iron meteorite has been found in Altay prefecture of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China.
The above-earth part of the rock is 2.2-metre long and 1.25-metre tall, with a width of 1.2-metre.
Its weight is estimated at 25 tonnes (25,401kg), at least.

Animation of Mars Science Laboratory Mission

Animation of the Mars Science Laboratory from entry, descent and landing phase to surface operation.

The Mars Science Laboratory is a NASA mission with the aim to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Is scheduled to launch between November 25 and December 18, 2011 and to land on Mars at Gale crater between August 6 and August 20, 2012.


How to Explore an Asteroid

Artist's concept of anchoring to the surface of an asteroid. Image credit: NASA

The next big new mission for NASA may well be going to an Asteroid. To determine how best to explore asteroids in the future, NASA scientists and engineers are taking their experiments underwater in the 15th expedition of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO.

Unique volcanic complex discovered on Moon’s far side

NASA/GSFC/ASU/WUSTL, processing by B. Jolliff
Map of the abundance of the element thorium on the Moon made with data from the Lunar Prospector, a space mission launched in 1998, shows that most of this radioactive element is concentrated in a region on the Moon's near side (left). But there is also a small hot spot called the Compton-Belkovich Thorium Anomaly (labeled C-B in the map) on the side of the Moon that faces away from Earth.

Analysis of new images of a curious “hot spot” on the far side of the Moon reveal it to be a small volcanic province created by the upwelling of silicic magma. The unusual location of the province and the surprising composition of the lava that formed it offer tantalizing clues to the Moon’s thermal history.

New Russian carrier rockets to the Moon

N-1 Rocket . When Soviet Union try to reach the moon with a manned program.

Russia is working on two large-scale space projects simultaneously, including the next generation of the “Soyuz” spaceships and a principally new space system with the Rus-M carrier rocket. The launching pad for it will be built in the Far East. In the future it will be possible to carry out manned flights to the Moon from there.    


A Gun in Space

Salyut 3
Salyut 3 was a Soviet space station launched on June 25, 1974. It was the second Almaz military space station, and the first such station to be launched successfully. It was included in the Salyut program to disguise its true military nature. Due to the military nature of the station, the Soviet Union was reluctant to release information about its design, and about the missions relating to the station.

Spectrum-R Mirror Deployed

Orbital operations with Russian astrophysical observatory Spectrum-R which had been launched from Baikonur on July 18 continue successfully. Radiotelescope mirror has been successfully deployed on July 23.
According to telemetry data obtained in Lavochkin R&D, the scheduled operations are carried out in full scope.

RadioAstron's front view

Spectrum-R, developed under Radioastron project in the framework of Russian Federal Space Program, is intended to study the Universe. The aim of the mission is to use the space telescope to conduct interferometer observations in conjunction with the global ground radio telescope network in order to obtain images, coordinates, motions and evolution of angular structure of different radio emitting objects in the Universe. Scientists also expect to obtain more information about pulsars and interstellar plasma, black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way. The spacecraft's operational lifetime will be no less than five years.


NASA Tests Future Deep Space Vehicle For Water Landings

As NASA closes the chapter on the Space Shuttle Program, a new era of exploration vehicles is beginning to take off.

Hydro Impact Basin (HIB) Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Boilerplate Test Article (BTA) drop test from July 21, 2011. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Testing began this month at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., in the new Hydro Impact Basin to certify the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for water landings. The Orion MPCV will carry astronauts into space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure safe re-entry and landing.


Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

This artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole, similar to APM 08279+5255, where astronomers discovered huge amounts of water vapor. Image credit: NASA/ESA

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world's ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

Next Mars Rover to Land at Gale Crater

This computer-generated view based on multiple orbital observations shows Mars' Gale crater as if seen from an aircraft northwest of the crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA

NASA's next Mars rover will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet's Gale crater.

The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale.

Leonid Elenin Discovered a new comet , P/2011 N01


"G.V.Schiaparelli" Astronomical Observatory

P/2011 N01 was discovered on 2011, Jul. 07.30 by Leonid Elenin and I. Molotov on four 240-s exp. taken with a 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector + CCD from their remote ISON-NM Observatory, New Mexico, USA.

Atlantis last reentry

From ISS astronaut Mike Fossum made this photo of Atlantis streaking toward home.

A Photo from the Messenger of Mercury

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Date acquired: June 26, 2011

Image ID: 0217604449, 0217604465, 0217604445
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 9 (1000 nanometers), 7 (750 nanometers), 6 (430 nanometers) as red-green-blue
Center Latitude: -19.31°
Center Longitude: 187.7° E
Resolution: 1385 meters/pixel

Highlighted in this image are Basho, the dark-haloed crater at the bottom of this scene, Kalidasa crater, the bright crater near the center, along with Tolstoj basin on the right, in beautiful color. Many different types of surface materials are found in this region, including crater rays, low reflectance material (LRM), and smooth plains (within Tolstoj).

This image was acquired as part of MDIS's color base map. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel). The highest-quality color images are obtained for Mercury's surface when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead, so these images typically are taken with viewing conditions of low incidence and emission angles.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet.  During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.

source: NASA


Atlantis Completes Final Space Shuttle Program Landing

Space shuttle Atlantis
Image above: Space shuttle Atlantis lands for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA TV

At 5:57 a.m. EDT, space shuttle Atlantis landed for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles on STS-135.

It was the 25th night landing, the 78th landing at Kennedy and the133rd landing in shuttle history.

Minor Planets Disrupt Earth's Orbit

Long-term simulations show that close encounters between the minor planets Ceres and Vesta could affect the Earth's orbit.

Numerical simulations of the long-term evolution of the orbits of minor planets Ceres and Vesta, which are the largest bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have found that close encounters among these bodies lead to strong chaotic behavior of their orbits, as well as of the Earth's eccentricity. This means that the Earth's past orbit cannot be reconstructed beyond 60 million years. Studying the interactions between the Earth and the solar system environment can help astrobiologists understand the conditions that make Earth habitable for life, and the future that could be in store for our planet's biosphere.


New Moon Around Pluto discovered by Hubble

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite – temporarily designated P4 - popped up in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet.

The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km).

Spectrum R reached Orbit

Credit: Astro Space Center

Russian astrophysical observatory Spectrum-R has reached the targeted orbit.
The scientific spacecraft successfully separated from the Fregat-SB upper stage at 10.06 a.m. MSK. Spectrum-R was injected into orbit with altitude of about 340 thousand km.

Bizarre ring of dense gas at the center of our Galaxy

In a strange twist of science, astronomers using the Herschel Space Observatory have discovered that a suspected ring at the center of our galaxy is warped for reasons they cannot explain. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

New observations from the Herschel Space Observatory show a bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Only a few portions of the ring, which stretches across more than 600 light-years, were known before. Herschel's view reveals the entire ring for the first time, and a strange kink that has astronomers scratching their heads.


Dawn Spacecraft Snaps Close-up Image of Asteroid Vesta

This is the first image obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft after successfully entering orbit around Vesta. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the first close-up image after beginning its orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta. On Friday, July 15, Dawn became the first probe to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The image taken for navigation purposes shows Vesta in greater detail than ever before. When Vesta captured Dawn into its orbit, there were approximately 9,900 miles (16,000 kilometers) between the spacecraft and asteroid. Engineers estimate the orbit capture took place at 10 p.m. PDT Friday, July 15 (1 a.m. EDT Saturday, July 16).