April 18, 2014
Want to Spot Earth’s First Cousin? Look for the Swan in the Sky

From here on Earth, the planet Kepler-186f is a faint spot in the chaotic and twinkling universe. Its star is dim and far, far away.
But Kepler-186f is making headlines on Earth because, despite its distance, it looks a lot like our own planet.
The Kepler-186 system is in the constellation Cygnus, which stargazers will know as the easy-to-spot swan in the northern hemisphere’s summertime sky. 
From a human perspective, that makes it unusual. Kepler-186f is the first Earth-like planet in the habitable zone around its star that scientists have ever found. (!)
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Want to Spot Earth’s First Cousin? Look for the Swan in the Sky

From here on Earth, the planet Kepler-186f is a faint spot in the chaotic and twinkling universe. Its star is dim and far, far away.

But Kepler-186f is making headlines on Earth because, despite its distance, it looks a lot like our own planet.

The Kepler-186 system is in the constellation Cygnus, which stargazers will know as the easy-to-spot swan in the northern hemisphere’s summertime sky. 

From a human perspective, that makes it unusual. Kepler-186f is the first Earth-like planet in the habitable zone around its star that scientists have ever found. (!)

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

April 17, 2014
Our Mars Orbiter Looks Down and Saw Our Mars Rover

Right now, five human spacecrafts study Mars by hanging out near it. Two do it from the Martian surface—the Curiosity rover, which began its mission in 2012, and the more-than-a-decade-old Opportunity rover—and three do it while orbiting around the red planet. 
Earlier this month, one of those kinds of spacecraft happened to see the other. 
On April 11, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed near Aeolis Mons, a mountain near the equator in the planet’s eastern hemisphere. It photographed a hilly region nearby known as the Kimberley, and there it caught a robot that’s been hanging out among the hills for the past few months: the Mars Curiosity Rover.
Read more. [Image: NASA]

Our Mars Orbiter Looks Down and Saw Our Mars Rover

Right now, five human spacecrafts study Mars by hanging out near it. Two do it from the Martian surface—the Curiosity rover, which began its mission in 2012, and the more-than-a-decade-old Opportunity rover—and three do it while orbiting around the red planet. 

Earlier this month, one of those kinds of spacecraft happened to see the other. 

On April 11, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed near Aeolis Mons, a mountain near the equator in the planet’s eastern hemisphere. It photographed a hilly region nearby known as the Kimberley, and there it caught a robot that’s been hanging out among the hills for the past few months: the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Read more. [Image: NASA]

April 17, 2014
This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First-Cousin

Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home. 
NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered. 
It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute. 
But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green. 
Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]

This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First-Cousin

Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home. 

NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered. 

It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute. 

But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green.

Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]

April 8, 2014
soupsoup:

Researchers on April 7 said that they have produced the most accurate measurement to date of how fast the universe was flying apart when it was 3 billion years old. At the rate of 68 km/s, the universe was growing at a rate of 1% every 44 million years at the time, which is actually slower than expected.

soupsoup:

Researchers on April 7 said that they have produced the most accurate measurement to date of how fast the universe was flying apart when it was 3 billion years old. At the rate of 68 km/s, the universe was growing at a rate of 1% every 44 million years at the time, which is actually slower than expected.

April 2, 2014
What Will Mars Do To Our Minds?

When human space travel made its transition from pipe dream to reality, one of the unknowns humans contended with concerned not just the physics of space, but the psychology of it. How would the human mind react to the final frontier? Would microgravity, combined with the isolation of a spaceship, cause a kind of claustrophobia? Would propulsion outside of Earth’s bounds, in the end, cause astronauts to experience a psychic break? Was there such thing, as science fiction writers had long feared, as “space madness”?
Space, fortunately, does not drive us crazy. But that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped caring about the effects its new environments will have on our psychology. The new version of the old “space madness” question is how time away from our home planet will affect us—in the long term. What could life on Mars do to that that other cosmic mystery: the human emotional state? 
NASA is hoping to find out. This week, in partnership with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the agency launched the latest version of its Mars simulation experiment, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation mission. On Hawaii’s Big Island, 8,200 feet above sea level, conditions are as Martian as they can be on Earth: Mauna Loa’s volcanic soil is quite similar to the volcanic regolith that can be found on Mars. HI-SEAS in general aims to replicate, as closely as is possible on Earth, what life would be like on Mars—and its latest iteration will put human emotions to the test.  
Read more. [Image: NASA/HI-SEAS]

What Will Mars Do To Our Minds?

When human space travel made its transition from pipe dream to reality, one of the unknowns humans contended with concerned not just the physics of space, but the psychology of it. How would the human mind react to the final frontier? Would microgravity, combined with the isolation of a spaceship, cause a kind of claustrophobia? Would propulsion outside of Earth’s bounds, in the end, cause astronauts to experience a psychic break? Was there such thing, as science fiction writers had long feared, as “space madness”?

Space, fortunately, does not drive us crazy. But that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped caring about the effects its new environments will have on our psychology. The new version of the old “space madness” question is how time away from our home planet will affect us—in the long term. What could life on Mars do to that that other cosmic mystery: the human emotional state? 

NASA is hoping to find out. This week, in partnership with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the agency launched the latest version of its Mars simulation experiment, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation mission. On Hawaii’s Big Island, 8,200 feet above sea level, conditions are as Martian as they can be on Earth: Mauna Loa’s volcanic soil is quite similar to the volcanic regolith that can be found on Mars. HI-SEAS in general aims to replicate, as closely as is possible on Earth, what life would be like on Mars—and its latest iteration will put human emotions to the test. 

Read more. [Image: NASA/HI-SEAS]

March 6, 2014
The NASA Rover That Hovers Like a Helicopter (and Could Land on Mars)

Yesterday, a NASA test vehicle lifted off from the ground in Florida, flew freely through the air, and landed about 650 feet away. It landed, crucially, in the same position it launched—upright—and that makes it look kind of like a science fiction film.
Read more. [Image: NASA]

The NASA Rover That Hovers Like a Helicopter (and Could Land on Mars)

Yesterday, a NASA test vehicle lifted off from the ground in Florida, flew freely through the air, and landed about 650 feet away. It landed, crucially, in the same position it launched—upright—and that makes it look kind of like a science fiction film.

Read more. [Image: NASA]

February 14, 2014
What It Looks Like When One Satellite Sees Another

A rare snapshot of a satellite still in orbit.
Read more. [Image: NASA]

What It Looks Like When One Satellite Sees Another

A rare snapshot of a satellite still in orbit.

Read more. [Image: NASA]

February 13, 2014
newsweek:

(via Photo Of Sochi From Space)

newsweek:

(via Photo Of Sochi From Space)

3:12pm
  
Filed under: Reblogs Sochi Space Timelapse 
February 3, 2014
An Early Draft of Carl Sagan’s Famous Pale Blue Dot Quote

A peek into the evolution of a beloved passage.
Read more. [Image: NASA]

An Early Draft of Carl Sagan’s Famous Pale Blue Dot Quote

A peek into the evolution of a beloved passage.

Read more. [Image: NASA]

February 3, 2014

Soon, the Coldest Place in the Known Universe Will Be on … the International Space Station

Space, on top of everything else, is cold. Really cold. The cosmic background temperature—the temperature of the cosmic background radiation thought to be left over from the Big Bang—is 3 Kelvin, or -455 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet there’s variation within that. Solar winds can reach millions of degrees Fahrenheit. And then there’s the Boomerang Nebula, the cloud of gas puffed out by a dying star in the constellation Centaurus. The Boomerang Nebula clocks in at a slightly-more-frigid-than-average -458 degrees Fahrenheit, making it, officially, the coldest spot in the known universe.

But that’s about to change. Soon, it seems, the coldest spot in the known universe will be … the International Space Station. 

Yep. Meet the Cold Atom Lab, the “atomic refrigerator” NASA has planned for launch in 2016—a device that will, it’s hoped, allow the agency to study quantum mechanics in a controlled environment. “We’re going to explore temperatures far below anything found naturally,” JPL’s Rob Thompson told ScienceatNASA.

Read more.

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