Looking Back Home

Juno spacecraft took time to capture Earth and Moon.Credit: NASA

On its way to the biggest planet in the solar system -Jupiter, NASA's Juno spacecraft took time to capture its home planet and its natural satellite -- the moon.

"This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves."


Elenin is breaking apart, no doomsday coming

With Comet Elenin in continuous view of STEREO’s (Behind) Heliospheric Imager 1.

Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1), widely known for inaccurate reports of its threat to Earth, appears to be breaking apart. Observations by amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazzo of Castlemaine, Australia show a rapid dimming and elongation of the comet's nucleus akin to that of Comet LINEAR (C/1999 S4), which also disintegrated when it approached the sun in 2000. Comets are fragile objects, so this development while unexpected comes as no surprise.


Comet Elenin interaction With a Coronal Mass Ejection

STEREO-B spacecraft has catched a very interesting event – the interaction of the gas coma of comet Elenin and coronal mass ejections from the Sun. On the video we can clearly see dynamics of the cometary tail, which squirming under the influence of powerful pressure of solar wind. After a brief increase, the brightness of the comet began to decreasing within a few days and reached a level of brightness that the comet was in early August.

source: spaceobs.org

Can there be brown dwarf closer to us than our closest known star?

This artist's conception illustrates what a 'Y dwarf' might look like. Y dwarfs are the coldest star-like bodies known, with temperatures that can be even cooler than the human body
This artist's conception illustrates what a "Y dwarf" might look like. Y dwarfs are the coldest star-like bodies known, with temperatures that can be even cooler than the human body. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body.


Saltwater on Mars?

An artist's rendering of the Phoenix lander on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL 
A new NASA project will soon help answer questions about whether or not saltwater droplets are common on Mars and whether or not they could play a role in the survival of martian microbes.

How common are droplets of saltwater on Mars? Could microbial life survive and reproduce in them? A new million-dollar NASA project led by the University of Michigan aims to answer those questions.


Mars Channels may be Caused by Lava

Some of the features on Mars that have been interpreted as large, ancient riverbeds might actually be evidence of massive, fast-moving, low-viscosity lava flows. The new study could have implications in the search for signs of past life on Mars.

The Kasei Valles, a circum-Chryse outflow channel, which flowed into the Chryse Planitia. Credit: NASA/Texas Tech

 Since the Mars Viking missions of the ’70s, humans have compared the topography of the Red Planet’s surface to their home and imagined a world that once contained flowing rivers that carved channels and canyons.


How big is Earth?

Using measurements from space, scientists have confirmed that, although the surface of the Earth is constantly changing, the planet is not expanding.

This view of Earth comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Image Credit: NASA
A NASA-led research team has confirmed what Walt Disney told us all along: Earth really is a small world, after all.


Aliens Climate not a NASA study!

If you have read a story like this ;

Scientists said Thursday that "extraterrestrial environmentalists" could become so angry about what we have done to the planet that they may see us a threat to the intergalactic ecosystem - and take action by attacking Earth.

The scenario was devised in a joint study by Penn State and the NASA Planetary Science Division. The title? "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis." more on this article

Be informed that its not an official study, here is the author explanation:

An Arrow-Shaped mistery on Titan

Using a global circulation model, scientists have determined why Titan has what looks like an enormous white arrow on its surface.

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, with the 'arrow' visible on the left. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI
Why does Titan, Saturn's largest moon, have what looks like an enormous white arrow about the size of Texas on its surface?

A research group led by Jonathan L. Mitchell, UCLA assistant professor of earth and space sciences and of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, has answered this question by using a global circulation model of Titan to demonstrate how planetary-scale atmospheric waves affect the moon's weather patterns, leading to a "stenciling" effect that results in sharp and sometimes surprising cloud shapes.

"These atmospheric waves are somewhat like the natural, resonant vibration of a wine glass," Mitchell said. "Individual clouds might 'ring the bell,' so to speak, and once the ringing starts, the clouds have to respond to that vibration."

A Space Storm from Sun to Earth

"The movie sent chills down my spine," says Craig DeForest of the Southwest Researcher Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live. I felt very small."

CMEs are billion-ton clouds of solar plasma launched by the same explosions that spark solar flares. When they sweep past our planet, they can cause auroras, radiation storms, and in extreme cases power outages. Tracking these clouds and predicting their arrival is an important part of space weather forecasting.


Can the Moon be Younger than we think?

Artist’s representation of the moon formation event. Copyright: Fahad Sulehria, 2005
Earth’s moon could be younger than previously thought, according to new research from a team that includes Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and former-Carnegie fellow Maud Boyet. Their work will be published online in Nature on August 17.

The prevailing theory of our moon’s origin is that it was created by a giant impact between a large planet-like object and the proto-Earth. The energy of this impact was sufficiently high that the Moon formed from melted material that was ejected into space. As the Moon cooled, this magma solidified into different mineral components.

Analysis of lunar rock samples thought to have been derived from the original magma has given scientists a new estimate of the Moon’s age.

Comet Elenin Poses No Threat to Earth

Credit : NASA
Often, comets are portrayed as harbingers of gloom and doom in movies and on television, but most pose no threat to Earth. Comet Elenin, the latest comet to visit our inner solar system, is no exception. Elenin will pass about 22 million miles (35 million kilometers) from Earth during its closest approach on Oct. 16, 2011.

Also known by its astronomical name C/2010 X1, the comet was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an observer in Lyubertsy, Russia, who made the discovery "remotely" using an observatory in New Mexico. At that time, Elenin was about 401 million miles (647 million kilometers) from Earth. Since its discovery, Comet Elenin has – as all comets do – closed the distance to Earth's vicinity as it makes its way closer to perihelion, its closest point to the sun.

NASA scientists have taken time over the last several months to answer your questions. Compiled below are the some of the most popular questions, with answers from Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and David Morrison of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.


Asteroid 2011 OJ 45

On the 17 th August a new asteroid designated 2011 OJ 45 will pass by earth missing us by 4.6 Lunar Distances. Its a small asteroid between 17-39 meters. It does not represent any danger to our world.

Orbit diagram . Credit :JPL/NASA .Click to Enlarge


A Requiem for the Space Shuttles

Image above: Space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery meet in a "nose-to-nose" photo opportunity as the vehicles switch locations Aug. 11 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Now in Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1), Discovery will go through more preparations for public display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia next spring. Endeavour will be stored in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) until October, when it will be moved into OPF-2 to continue being readied for display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles next summer. Image credit: NASA/Frankie Martin CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

After 30 years of spaceflight, more than 130 missions, and numerous science and technology firsts, NASA's space shuttle fleet will retire and be on display at institutions across USA to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers.

Hubble Offers a Dazzling 'Necklace'

The Necklace Nebula is located 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagitta (the Arrow). In this composite image, taken on July 2, 2011, Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 captured the glow of hydrogen (blue), oxygen (green), and nitrogen (red). Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A giant cosmic necklace glows brightly in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image.


Dangerous Comet Collision to Come?

New research shows that the Earth was impacted for a few hours by a stream of dust from a potentially dangerous comet on February 4, 2011.

The meteoroids were moving on a very elongated orbit, typical of long-period comets like Hale-Bopp (pictured above). Image Credit: Philipp Salzgeber
A telegram was issued on July 10th by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union announcing that the Earth got impacted for a few hours by a stream of dust from a potentially dangerous comet last February 4.

“This particular shower happens only once or twice every sixty years,” says discoverer Dr. Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames. “The stream of dust is always there, but quite invisible just outside of Earth’s orbit. Only when the planets steer the dust in Earth’s path do we get to know it is there.”

NASA Observations on Comet Elenin

Comet Elenin as seen by HI1-B on Aug. 6, 2011.

As Comet Elenin passed to within just 7 million kilometers of the STEREO (Behind) spacecraft, NASA rolled the spacecraft to take a look at it (Aug. 1, 2011) with its wide angle HI-2 instrument. Though the observation lasted only a little over an hour, the fuzzy looking comet can be seen moving across a small portion of the sky. STEREO will be taking these one-hour observations every day through August 12. The comet is seen by the HI-2 telescope between August 1-5, and by the higher resolution HI-1 telescope between August 6-12.


DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space

NASA-funded researchers have found more evidence meteorites can carry DNA components created in space.

Meteorites contain a large variety of nucleobases, an essential building block of DNA. (Artist concept credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

Scientists have detected the building blocks of DNA in meteorites since the 1960s, but were unsure whether they were created in space or resulted from contamination by terrestrial life. The latest research indicates certain nucleobases - the building blocks of our genetic material -- reach the Earth on meteorites in greater diversity and quantity than previously thought.

Huge Solar Flare

On August 9th at 0805 UT, sunspot 1263 produced an X7-class solar flare--only the third X-flare of new Solar Cycle 24 and the most powerful so far. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the explosion's extreme ultraviolet flash:

The brunt of the explosion was not Earth directed. Nevertheless, radiation from the flare created waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere, briefly disrupting communications at some VLF and HF radio frequencies. The blast also accelerated a mild torrent of protons toward Earth. The CME will probably miss Earth. At this time, however, we cannot rule out a glancing blow from the flank of the cloud on August 11th or 12th


Unidentified Sunken Object: Probably Not Alien

Credit: Ocean Explorer/Peter Lindberg
A team of Swedish researchers has found what some are calling a UFO under about 300 feet of water between Finland and Sweden. According to a piece in the Vancouver Sun,

There are plenty of theories about what the USO (unidentified sunken object) might be. Lindberg offered a "new Stonehenge," though some suspect it's a natural formation, such as the rim of a small underground volcano, which certainly create a very round, prominent ring.

Others see clear evidence that the object, whatever it is, is too perfectly round to be anything but man-made. Of course, one of the most popular - and most outlandish - theory is that it's a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Yet there's another theory: the USO is neither an extraterrestrial craft nor a natural feature but instead a rotating gun turret from a World War II era battleship.

more: here


NASA confirms debris is from space shuttle Columbia -Video inside

The object was found by fishermen in Lake Nacogdoches.

Columbia wreckage
Click to Enlarge

A piece of wreckage from space shuttle Columbia was exposed as the level of Lake Nacogdoches in Texas dropped during the drought. (Nacogdoches Police Department / August 3, 2011)

NASA officials confirmed Tuesday that debris revealed by the receding waters of a drought-stricken Texas lake is from the space shuttle Columbia.

Do scientists expect a huge solar storm in 2013?

Do scientists expect a huge solar storm in 2013?

Credit: NASA/SDO

The sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat approximately every 11 years. Solar minimum refers to the several Earth years when the number of sunspots is lowest; solar maximum occurs in the years when sunspots are most numerous. During solar maximum, activity on the sun and the possibility of space weather effects on our terrestrial environment is higher. The next solar maximum is expected in the 2013-2014 time frame.


ISS to be de-orbited and sunk in Pacific after 2020

The International Space Station (ISS) will be de-orbited and sunk in the Pacific Ocean after 2020 like its Russian predecessor Mir, Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) Deputy Head Vitaly Davydov said on Wednesday.

"We will be forced to sink the ISS. We cannot leave it in orbit as it is a very complicated and a heavy object. There must be no space waste from it," Davydov said in an interview posted on the Roscosmos website.
"We have agreed with our partners that the ISS would function roughly until 2020," he said adding the station's life was initially estimated at 15 years.

Dawn New Images from Vesta

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the first ever to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt, is spiraling towards its first of four intensive science orbits. That initial orbit of the rocky world Vesta begins Aug. 11, at an altitude of nearly 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) and will provide in-depth analysis of the asteroid. Vesta is the brightest object in the asteroid belt as seen from Earth and is thought to be the source of a large number of meteorites that fall to Earth.

The Dawn team unveiled the first full-frame image of Vesta taken on July 24:


Detected a Stealth Asteroid

Orbit Diagram. Credit : NASA /JPL

2011 OD18 was discovered yesterday morning by La Sagra Observatory in Spain after it flew between the Earth and Moon three days ago, according to initial calculations. It took until the last day of the month for July's first close-passer discovery, but this is usually a slow month in the NEO business.
It approached 0.5 Lunar Distances. Newly discovered intruder 2011 OD18 is between 15 m - 33 m .
If entered our atmosphere it would break before reaching the surface.