27 Jan 2012

 NASA and the Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems.

This brings the Kepler discovered planet count to 60.  Overall, NASA has confirmed 729 extra-solar planets to date.  Kepler works by monitoring the changes in light emitted from a star to determine if a planet is causing the change.  Kepler is monitoring more than 150,000 stars in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.  There are 2,300 other planets candidates still to be confirmed with more being added all the time. 

One of these planetary systems is called Kepler-33.  It has a star which is bigger and older than our own sun, with five known planets.  All five planets orbit the star at a distance that is closer than that of Mars to the Sun.  The size of the planets range from 1.5 to five times the Earth's diameter.  It isn't known at this time if they are rocky planets or gas giants.

Source:  Telegraph
Image Source:  NASA

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12 Jan 2012

According to Space.com and other sources, the Russian Agency is suggesting that failures such as the Mars probe Phobos-Grunt and other setbacks last year may be the result of foul play.

This Phobos-Grunt probe is due to enter the Earth's atmosphere Sunday, January 15th.  It was launched November 8th and became stuck in Earth orbit.  Apparently unnamed people may have brought it down and caused at least four other failures back in 2011.

It would seem that when the crafts enter the "dark" side of Earth, or areas where they can't see the craft and do not receive telemetry data, is when these failures occur.

There have also been other rocket failures in 2011, among them most recently on December 23, 2011, an unmanned Soyuz-2 rocket crashed shortly after liftoff.

These set backs are surely raising serious concerns from agencies like NASA who rely heavily on Russian spacecraft to help support the International Space Station (ISS).  NASA had recently retired the Space Shuttle fleet and it will be some time before the agency has new spacecraft to ferry astronauts to ISS.  NASA has been encouraging private companies to take on the space taxi service, such as agencies like SpaceX.  SpaceX is working on manned vehicles for the near future.  The hope is to have these up and running by 2015.

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09 Jan 2012

Space.com is showcasing this story of G-Form, a company that features extreme electronics cases, and their video of an iPad falling from the edge of space, in this case around 100,000 feet (30,480 meters) before the weather balloon they used, burst.  The iPad stayed on the whole time and remained functional after its journey.

Check out the high definition video here:

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20 Dec 2011

NASA is going to reveal new planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope today in a press conference.  You can monitor NASA TV for the conference.  Kepler has been in orbit since 2009 and is designed to hunt planets in distance solar systems.  NASA recently revealed a planet that exists in a habitable zone of a star 600  light years away, called Kepler-22b.

Artist Rendering of Kepler-22b

The overall number of known worlds discovered to date, beyond our own solar system are in the 700+ range, both via Kepler and other observation methods.

Check back to this post for updates later.


NASA announced the detection of the first Earth sized planets outside our solar system today in the press conference.  Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, both too close to their host star to be in the habitable zone, however.  These are the smallest exoplanets found around a star like our own.  Read more details on NASA's news article here.

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

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01 Dec 2011

This is a video clip of a rocket built by private spaceship builder Jeff Bezos.  It takes a short hop during a 2011 test flight by his company Blue Origin.  Watch as the rocket takes off, stops midair, then descends vertically for a landing. 

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22 Nov 2011

The newest and biggest NASA mission to the Red Planet to date is about to take off.  It will be the first one to land under controlled flight.  It is going to use a multistage landing system, lowering the one-ton rover, via a tether.  NASA is hoping to use this mission as a prototype for rover landings on Mars and other locations.  See the video clip below depicting the animation of the rover landing and operation.

NASA has a window of opportunity that began November 18th and lasts three weeks, with the rover arriving at Mars in the August 2012 timeframe.

18 Nov 2011

Europa is one of many moons which orbit the planet Jupiter.  For years now we have known that Europa most likely has an ocean of water lurking deep under the frozen icy surface.  The surface of Europa is almost all water ice.  It has cracks on the surface resembling many found here on Earth.  How does it get warm enough for water to exist under the surface?  Tidal forces from Jupiter and other moons are causing Europa to flex, generating interior warmth.

Europa has been a prime focus for life as well, since the 1980s.  Arthur C. Clarke in "2010" used it.  If water exists on Europa and it most likely does, this would also change our focus on where to look for life in the universe and how it may come to exist.

New data from the Galileo spacecraft have found blocks of ice on the surface that suggest an interaction between the icy surface and a sub-surface lake of water.

14 Nov 2011

Time Lapse from ISS

Shown in this vimeo video are time lapse photographs taken by Ron Garan and the crew of expedition 28 and 29 on the International Space Station from August to October 2011.  The vimeo info goes on to say that the images were most likely at an altitude of 350 km using a high ISO HD Camera.

 Source: Vimeo

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