January 2011

Jupiter Impactor Probably an Asteroid

January 31, 2011

What was it that left such an interesting infrared signature in Jupiter’s atmosphere on July 19, 2009? The images below, made with a wide variety of instruments, show what appears to be the debris of an object that collided with the planet. The event was first noted by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley in Australia, who […]

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100 Year Starship Meeting: A Report

January 28, 2011

by Marc Millis On January 11 & 12, I participated in a gathering of roughly 30 individuals to learn about and discuss the DARPA/Ames 100-year Starship Study. In addition to reporting on those events, I’ve included my personal commentary at the end of this report. Recall that in October 2010, the Director of NASA/Ames, Pete […]

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Good News from Both Sail Missions

January 27, 2011

Good fortune continues to smile on Japan’s IKAROS solar sail. First of all, we can point to the image at left, a small shot to be sure but an amazing one nonetheless. Emily Lakdawalla explains on the Planetary Society’s blog that IKAROS’ transmitter is not powerful, so that it took a full two weeks to […]

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The Most Distant Galaxy Yet?

January 26, 2011

As we improve our ability to look back to the early universe, the changes we see in galaxies at this period compared to later eras are striking. A new study, using data from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 3 has been gathering infrared imagery back to a period as early as 480 […]

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NASA Teleconference This Afternoon

January 26, 2011

Be aware of a NASA teleconference coming up at 1 PM EST (1800 UTC) today to discuss interesting Hubble data re the early universe. I’ll be publishing today’s entry on these findings not long after the teleconference starts. You can follow audio of the event here.

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Encounters Remembered and Anticipated

January 25, 2011

After yesterday’s meditation on the Voyager spacecraft and their significance in the larger canvas of space exploration, it’s worth recalling that we have just celebrated Voyager 2’s encounter with Uranus — this month marks the 25th anniversary of the event. If your memories of the encounter are fuzzy, you might recall the other major news […]

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Voyager and the Will to Explore

January 24, 2011

I remember thinking when Voyager 2 flew past Neptune in 1989 that it would be a test case for how long a spacecraft would last. The subject was on my mind because I had been thinking about interstellar probes, and the problem of keeping electronics alive for a century or more even if we did […]

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A Cometary Return

January 21, 2011

Another comet looms, but first, some sail news. If everything went well, NanoSail-D opened its sail at 0255 UTC this morning, and indeed @NanoSailD in a tweet not long after the supposed deployment time said the satellite had sent data confirming the sail was open. We’re now waiting for ground-based tracking to confirm the fact, […]

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NanoSail-D Back, Needs Tracking

January 20, 2011

Yesterday I had just written about the role of luck in dark energy observations (in reference to Adam Riess’ discovery of an HST supernova image critical to the investigation), when news came in of another stroke of good fortune. This one involves not an astronomical observation but an actual spacecraft, the NanoSail-D solar sail demonstrator, […]

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A Bracing Look at the Unseen Universe

January 19, 2011

Yesterday I planned to write a review of Richard Panek’s The 4 Percent Universe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), a fascinating look at dark matter and dark energy and the current state of our research into them. Panek is an excellent writer with an eye for detail and the human touch. He gets you into the […]

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