Scientists believe that a better understanding of neutrinos, one of the most abundant and difficult-to-study particles, may lead to a clearer picture of the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe. Using the world’s most powerful beam of neutrinos , generated at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, the NOvA experiment can precisely record the telltale traces of those rare instances when one of these ghostly particles interacts with matter.
NASA is ignoring Arthur C Clarke's warning to avoid exploring Juipter's moon, Europa. In 2010: Odyssey Two, a 1982 the science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, the Earth mission returns to the Jupiter system to explore beneath the ice of Europa, nine years after the failure of the Discovery One mission. As Jupiter is about to transform into a new star, Lucifer, David Bowman returns to Discovery to give HAL a last order to carry out. HAL begins repeatedly broadcasting the message: ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE. The space agency has announced funding early development of an unusual mission to Europa as it looks toward future space exploration of planets and moons that may contain both water and extraterrestrial life.
News reports Friday said that scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have begun pushing back on the notion that Pluto is a dwarf. “Humankind hasn't had an experience like this--an encounter with a new planet--in a long time,” says Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute and the mission’s principal investigator. “Everything we see on Pluto will be a revelation.” One of the fastest spacecraft ever built -- NASA's New Horizons -- which is fast approaching Pluto's tiny moon, Hydra, is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and it is nearing its unexplored destination.
Mars is a microcosm -a spiritual jumping off place in our exploration of the Universe. The white spaces -the unmapped, unexplored, unknown white spaces of the map of Planet Earth no longer exist. Our 21st Century explorers look to Mars and the planets of our Solar System and beyond for the challenge of the unexplored, the unknown.
An ultra-faint collection of 1,000 stars orbiting the Milky Way includes the most lightweight galaxies ever discovered, includind Segue 1 and Segue 2. The image above shows a standard prediction for the dark matter distribution within about 1 million light years of the Milky Way galaxy, which is expected to be swarming with thousands of small dark matter clumps called `halos'. The findings, made with the world’s most powerful telescopes offer tantalizing clues about how iron, carbon and other elements key to human life originally formed.
As our technologies become ever more sophisticated and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence continues to fail, the "Great Silence" becomes louder than ever. The seemingly empty cosmos is screaming out to us that something is amiss. Or is it? In his famous lecture on Life in the Universe, Stephen Hawking asks: "What are the chances that we will encounter some alien form of life, as we explore the galaxy?" Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi, discussing this observation with colleagues over lunch in 1950, asked, logically: "Where are they?" Why, if advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist in our Milky Way galaxy, hasn't evidence such as probes, spacecraft, or radio transmissions been found?
This past July, astronomers announced that they found a "hotspot" beneath the Big Dipper emitting a disproportionate number of the highest-energy cosmic rays. The discovery moves physics another step toward identifying the mysterious sources of the most energetic particles in the universe. The hotspot is near the "supergalactic plane" – the rather flattened Virgo supercluster of galaxies shown above. Our Milky Way galaxy is on the outskirts of the supercluster.
Titan's southern polar vortex appears to be an effect of the change of season, with large amounts of air being heated by sunlight during the northern spring and flowing towards the southern hemisphere. A puzzling detail about this swirling cloud is its altitude, some 300 km above Titan's surface, where scientists thought it was too warm for clouds to form. “We really didn’t expect to see such a massive cloud so high in the atmosphere,” says Remco de Kok of Leiden Observatory and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature.
Titan is unique in our solar system because of its dense nitrogen-methane atmosphere, which is very similar to Earth's in some ways, but very different in others. For example, air temperatures are around 200 degrees colder and, in contrast to the warm salt water seas of Earth, frigid hydrocarbon lakes populate Titan's surface.