Space Exploration

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

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In the search for other Earths, the main goal is to find a planet the same size as ours that sits in the habitable zone – the region around a given star where planetary surface temperature would be similar to ours, allowing liquid water to exist. Almost all stars have such a zone. Around a hot bright star it is further out than Earth's own orbit; with a dim star it is further in.

astrophile

But while an Earth-sized world in one of these habitable zones might have seas and rivers, it would look quite different bathed in blue-white or red light. That could affect the development of life.  Some planet searches concentrate on stars that are roughly the same size, brightness and colour as our sun. But even these stars tend to have different chemical compositions, suggesting that their planetary systems may be different too.  Perhaps the best place to look for another Earth would be in orbit around another sun.

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Several million stars are vying for attention in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of a raucous stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus, located in the heart of the Tarantula nebula.  30 Doradus is the brightest star-forming region in our galactic neighbourhood and home to the most massive stars ever seen. The nebula resides 170 000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. No known star-forming region in our galaxy is as large or as prolific as 30 Doradus.

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The image is being release to celebrate Hubble's 22nd anniversary and comprises one of the largest mosaics ever assembled from Hubble photos and consists of observations taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, combined with observations from the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope that trace the location of glowing hydrogen and oxygen.

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NASA announced that it will be extending three space-based missions: the Spitzer Space Telescope, Kepler, and the U.S. portion of the European Space Agency's Planck mission. The decision is a result of NASA's 2012 Senior Review of Astrophysics Missions, which also extends another six missions.  All three probe deep mysteries of the cosmos and try to answer fundamental questions.

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Spitzer, Planck and Kepler Space Telescopes

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA extended Spitzer and Kepler for two additional years; and the U.S. portion of Planck, a European Space Agency mission, for one year. The relative sizes of the artist's concepts are not to scale.

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private_space

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon Spacecraft lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station  at 10:43 a.m. EST.    Elon Musk made history in December 8, 2010 when his company, SpaceX, became the first to launch a privately built space capsule into orbit and return it safely to Earth.   But now, the millionaire-turned-space pioneer has an even loftier goal:   To be the First Entrepreneur to put an Astronaut in Orbit.  

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One of the strongest solar storms in years engulfed Earth early Thursday March 8, 2012, but scientists say the planet may have lucked out. Hours after the storm arrived, officials said were no reports of problems with power grids, satellites or other technologies that are often disrupted by solar storms. But that still can change as the storm shakes the planet's magnetic field in ways that could disrupt technology but also spread colorful Northern Lights. Early indications show that it is about 10 times stronger than the normal solar wind that hits Earth.

solarstorm

The storm started with a massive solar flare the evening of March 6, 2012 and grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said. The charged particles were expected to hit at 4 million mph (6.4 million kph). The storm struck about 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) in a direction that causes the least amount of problems, said Joe Kunches, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center. "It's not a terribly strong event. It's a very interesting event," he said.