Extreme skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, begins a freefall of 29,455 metres in a test jump for the Red Bull Stratos Project thatlasted 3 minutes and 48 seconds at speeds reaching 862 kilometers per hour, with a 10 minute and 36 second descent into the desert of New Mexico. The jump --to test the latest pressure suits and safety measures that could be used in future space travel--makes him the second person ever to have completed a jump from this altitude.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Stratospheric! -- "Extreme Space Jumping"" »
Researchers analyzing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's "handedness" – why living things only use molecules with specific orientations. The work also gave the strongest evidence to date that liquid water inside an asteroid leads to a strong preference of left-handed over right-handed forms of some common protein amino acids in meteorites. The result makes the search for extraterrestrial life more challenging.
Continue reading "NASA Researchers Discover the Origin of a Major Aspect of Creation of Life" »
"Gale Crater and its mountain will tell this intriguing story," says Matthew Golombek, Mars Exploration Program Landing Site Scientist from JPL. "The layers there chronicle Mars' environmental history."
In the gentle slopes around the mountain, Curiosity will prospect for organic molecules, the chemical building blocks of life. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found an intriguing signature of clay near the bottom of the mountain and sulfate minerals a little higher up. Both minerals are formed in the presence of water, which increases potential for life-friendly environments.
Continue reading "NASA's August 5th Mars Landing --Will Launch the Robotic Search for Life" »
For the first time ever, evidence of a comet storm comes from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, whose infrared detectors picked up indications that comets were recently torn to shreds after colliding with a rocky body.. Eta Corvi is the right age, about one billion years old, to experience a bombardment of comets akin to what occurred in our own solar system at 600 to 800 millions years of age, termed the Late Heavy Bombardment.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: 1st Ever Comet Storm Observed" »
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover at the Gale Crater site.
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars' atmosphere. Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft's perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process.
Continue reading "Odyssey Tweaked to Monitor Mars Science Lab Aug 5 Landing in Realtime" »
Stephen Emmott, head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research, has created a devastating portrait the many ways we are impacting the planet. Emmott hascreated a one-man presentation that has taken theatregoers in Great Britain on tour through our own history and use of Earth’s resources, before offering a grim glimpse of what the future might look like if the population reaches 10 billion. In an interview with New Scientist, he shows that it isn’t good.
Continue reading "SPRAWL! What Our Future Will Look Like When Earth Hits Pop. 10 Billion" »
For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.
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Pulsars are superlative cosmic beacons that rotate about their axes many times per second, emitting radio waves and gamma radiation into space. Using ingenious data analysis methods, researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and for Radio Astronomy discovered a very special gamma-ray pulsar out of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The pulsar J1838-0537 is radio-quiet, very young, and, during the observation period, experienced the strongest rotation glitch ever observed for a gamma-ray-only pulsar.
Continue reading "Fermi Sleuths Find 5,000-Year-Old Pulsar Rotating 7 Times per Second " »
Using combined data from a trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Japan-led Suzaku satellite, astronomers have obtained a rare glimpse of the powerful magnetic fields that drive torrents of gas into the stellar surface, where they heat large areas to millions of degrees. X-rays emitted by these hot spots betray the newborn star's rapid rotation, showing that it is spinning so quickly it is on the verge of breaking up.
Continue reading " Image of the Day: Rare Glimpse of a Spectacular Protostar " »