April 2015

Pluto/Charon: Surface Features Emerging

April 30, 2015

One of the more memorable moments from yesterday’s teleconference on the New Horizons mission was Alan Stern’s comment that the latest pixelated images of Pluto/Charon constituted his ‘meet Pluto moment.’ If anyone has an interest in meeting Pluto, it’s Stern (Southwest Research Institute), who serves as principal investigator and whose unflagging efforts made it possible. […]

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HD 7924: Planets with a Robotic Assist

April 29, 2015

We’ve found a lot of planets far away from the Sun but know comparatively little about what may be circling nearby stars. The rationale is clear: The Kepler mission’s field of view was carefully chosen to provide a large sample (over 145,000 main sequence stars) that could be studied for transits by the spacecraft’s photometer. […]

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DSAC: Paradigm Changer for Deep Space Navigation?

April 28, 2015

We need to improve the way we handle data tracking and deep space navigation. While the near term is always uncertain because of budgetary issues, we can still take the long view and hope that we’re going to see a steadily increasing number of robotic and human spacecraft in the Solar System. That puts a […]

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Exoplanet Spectrum in Visible Light

April 27, 2015

It’s the twentieth anniversary of the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, a ‘hot Jupiter’ that was the first planet to be discovered around a normal star. I always have to throw in that ‘normal’ qualifier because it was in 1992 that Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced their discovery of planets around the pulsar PSR […]

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Habitable Worlds Around Tau Ceti?

April 24, 2015

Yesterday’s look at NExSS (the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science), NASA’s new ‘virtual institute,’ focused on the multidisciplinary nature of the effort. The work I’m looking at today, an analysis of the planets around Tau Ceti performed at Arizona State University, only emphasizes the same point. To get a read on whether two planets that […]

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NExSS: A ‘Virtual Institute’ for Deep Space

April 23, 2015

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, is a collaborative initiative from NASA to draw on the collective talent of researchers from ten universities, three NASA centers and two research institutes. Conceived as a ‘virtual institute,’ the effort is both geographically diverse and multidisciplinary in nature, focusing not only on the search for exoplanets […]

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Project Dragonfly: Design Competitions and Crowdfunding

April 22, 2015

by Andreas Hein Centauri Dreams readers most likely know Andreas Hein as the head of Project Hyperion, an effort for Icarus Interstellar to examine the prospects for manned interstellar flight, but he has also written in these pages about the uploading of consciousness. Now working on his PhD at the Technical University of Munich, Andreas […]

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Voyager to a Star?

April 21, 2015

The latest imagery from New Horizons has me wondering what it must be like to be on the team for this mission. Although released a week ago, the photo at left was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard the spacecraft on April 9. The distance from Pluto and Charon in the shot is about […]

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Transient Listening: A Caution

April 20, 2015

by James Benford Searching for the faintest of signals in hopes of detecting an extraterrestrial civilization demands that we understand the local environment and potential sources of spurious signals. But we’ve also got to consider how signals might be transmitted, the burden falling on SETI researchers to make sense out of the physics (and economics) […]

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Exomoons: A Data Search for the Orbital Sampling Effect and the Scatter Peak

April 17, 2015

Exomoons continue to be elude us, though they’re under intense study. One detection strategy is called Orbital Sampling Effect, as explained in the article below. I’ll let Michael Hippke describe it, but the intriguing fact is that we can work with these methods using existing datasets to refine our techniques and actively hunt for candidates. […]

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