NASA has turned off its Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) after a decaden of operations in which the venerable space telescope used its ultraviolet vision to study hundreds of millions of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic time. In the space telescope's last year, it scanned across large patches of sky, including the bustling, bright center of our Milky Way. The telescope spent time staring at certain areas of the sky, findingexploded stars, called supernovae, and monitoring how objects, such as the centers of active galaxies,change over time. GALEX also scanned the sky for massive, feeding black holes and shock waves from early supernova explosions.
Continue reading "NASA Turns Off Galaxy Evolution Explorer --"Discovered Giant Rings of New Stars Around Ancient, Dead Galaxies"" »
In February 2012, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, the centerpiece of a $169 million mission mapping the frontier of the sun's influence, detected atoms from interstellar space streaming by Earth, that are different from the chemical make-up of the solar system.
Continue reading ""Did Our Solar System Evolve in a More Oxygen-Rich Region of the Milky Way?" Space-Mission Findings Baffle Scientists" »
Launched 36 years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft speeds a rate of about a million miles a day entering a bizarre and mysterious region more than 11 billion miles from Earth that scientists are struggling to make sense of. It's a region where the fierce solar winds have all but vanished and pieces of atoms blasted across the galaxy by ancient supernovae drift into the solar system, the NASA probe is causing scientists to question some long-standing theories on the nature of our solar system and life beyond its cold dark edge dubbed the "magnetic highway" --a newly discovered area of the heliosphere, the vast bubble of magnetism that shields the solar system from deadly cosmic rays.
Continue reading "Voyager Spacecraft Enters a Strange, Mysterious Region 11 Billion Miles from Earth --Upending Long-Standing Theories" »
New observations with Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, or COS, show that normal spiral galaxies are surrounded by halos of gas that can extend to over 1 million light-years in diameter. The current estimated diameter of the Milky Way, for example, is about 100,000 light-years. One light-year is roughly 6 trillion miles.
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"Detailed and expensive" efforts to keep Earth microorganisms off Mars are making missions to search for life on the red planet "unviable," say astrobiologists Alberto Fairén of Cornell University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University of the NASA Office of Planetary Protection's protocols and policies. These policies "are unnecessarily restricting Mars exploration and need to be revised."
Continue reading ""NASA Fears of Contaminating Mars with an 'Earth Strain'" --Overblown Say Astrobiologists " »
Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets that can approach the Earth's orbital distance to within about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers). They range in size from as small as a few feet to as large as 25 miles (41 kilometers) for the largest near-Earth asteroid, 1036 Ganymed. More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, located on the 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui.
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The world's first space conversation experiment between a robot and humans is ready to be launched into space from the Tanegashima Space Center on August 4, 2013. The Humanoid communication robot Kirobo, shown left above, left, talks with Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager from Toyota Motor Corp. "Russia was the first to go outer space, the U.S. was the first to go to the moon, we want Japan to be the first to send a robot-astronaut to space that can communicate with humans," said Yorichika Nishijima, the Kirobo project manager.
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The image above depicts what DNA self assembly and replication might look like on a primordial earth. Atoms proportional to their atomic weight fly around this atomic soup alongside nucleotides, amino acids and strands of DNA. Now, some billions of years later, a research team at Chalmers University of Technology has demonstrated that it is possible to use self-assembling DNA molecules as scaffolding as a first step to create artificial photosynthesis. Proteins in plants and algae create a complex scaffolding (structure) that organizes chlorophyll molecules to collect light and use it to synthesize sugars and other energy-rich molecules in a reaction center.
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The image above shows the nebula's glowing gas surrounding hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. Visible simultaneously are the bright stars of the Trapezium in Orion's heart, the sweeping lanes of dark dust that cross the center, the red glowing hydrogen gas, and the blue tinted dust that reflects the light of newborn stars. The whole Orion Nebula cloud complex, which includes the Horsehead Nebula, will slowly disperse over the next 100,000 years.
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As astronomers analyze Kepler Mission data showing 42 planets with orbits entirely within the Habitable Zone in the hunt for the elusive "blue dot" -- a planet with roughly the same characteristics as Earth -- research has revealed that life might actually be able to survive on some of the many exoplanetary oddballs that exist. "When we're talking about a habitable planet, we're talking about a world where liquid water can exist," said Stephen Kane, a scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "We may find some surprises out there as we start to determine exactly what we consider habitable."
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