astronomy round-up: 7 September 2012

Curiosity Mars Rover: Our Interplanery Emissary

Curiosity Mars Rover: Our Interplanery Emissary, by tj.blackwell

Here are some astronomy and related science headlines from this week:

  • NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Begins Arm-Work Phase

    “After driving more than a football field’s length since landing, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is spending several days preparing for full use of the tools on its arm.”

  • NASA rover returns voice and telephoto views from martian surface

    “NASA’s Mars Curiosity has debuted the first recorded human voice that traveled from Earth to another planet and back.”

  • This Mercury-like planet is getting ripped to shreds by its sun George Dvorsky

    “Astronomers using the Kepler space telescope have confirmed the discovery of a short-period super-Mercury planet that has entered the final stage of its life. The object has gotten so close to its parent star that it’s only taking 15.7 hours to orbit around it, while it’s surface temperature has risen to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit. The result: a dramatic comet-like tail that’s bursting outward from the planet — and with it, much of the planet’s surface.”

  • Hydrogen Atoms Can Help Astronomers See Into Our Galactic Past

    “An international team of researchers, led by Tel Aviv University, has developed a method for detecting galaxies of stars that formed when the universe was in its infancy, during the first 180 million years of its existence. Prof. Rennan Barkana of TAU’s School of Physics and Astronomy says that this method is able to observe stars that were previously believed too old to find.”

  • Dawn has Departed the Giant Asteroid Vesta

    “Mission controllers received confirmation today that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has escaped from the gentle gravitational grip of the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn is now officially on its way to its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres.”

  • First European Astronomy Journalism Prize Winners Announced

    “The winner of the first European Astronomy Journalism Prize, designed to help inspire the next generation of researchers has been announced today (5 September 2012) at a reception in the House of Commons. Katia Moskvitch from the BBC was announced as the winner and awarded a trip to Chile, by a panel of judges representing the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) who ran the competition, together with the Royal Astronomical Society and the Association of British Science Writers.”

  • Astronomy program set for home schoolers

    “According to Allison Young, program coordinator for Thronateeska Heritage Center, subject material for the six-week course offers students an overview of astronomy, exploring everything from stars, planets and meteors to space travel. While intended only to supplement regular school curriculum, the program meets guidelines of the Georgia Performance Standards for Education, Young said.”

  • More women scientists needed, urges Pandor

    “South Africa needed more women scientists to help reduce poverty and solve health problems, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said on Friday.”

  • OU professor, team proves Einstein theory

    “A team of researchers that included an OU physics professor recently became the first to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity.
    By observing the orbit of two stars, Mukremin Kilic, OU physics and astronomy professor, and the team detected the gravitational waves that gave proof to the theory.”

  • Hubble Spots Supernova in Distant Galaxy

    “The Hubble team has released a new image of NGC 5806, a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo.”

  • Gravity waves boost speed of twin stars, scientists say

    “Two stars circling each other are speeding up in a tell-tale way that scientists attribute to gravitational waves: ripples in the very fabric of space and time.”

  • Walls of lunar crater may hold patchy ice

    “Scientists using the Mini-RF radar on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have estimated the maximum amount of ice likely to be found inside a permanently shadowed lunar crater located near the Moon’s south pole. As much as 5 to 10 percent of material, by weight, could be patchy ice, according to the team of researchers led by Bradley Thomson at Boston University’s Center for Remote Sensing.”

  • Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Found Orbiting Red Dwarf Gliese 163

    “Dubbed Gliese 163c, the planet – with a mass of 6.9 times that of Earth and an orbital period of 26 days – orbits a red dwarf star 49 light years away in the Dorado constellation.”

  • Explosion of galaxy formation lit up early universe

    “New data from the South Pole Telescope indicates that the birth of the first massive galaxies that lit up the early universe was an explosive event, happening faster and ending sooner than suspected.”

  • NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest for Students

    “Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth.”

  • The mystery of dark matter may be near to being deciphered

    “The universe is comprised of a large amount of invisible matter, dark matter. It fills the space between the galaxies and between the stars in the galaxies. Since the prediction of the existence of dark matter more than 70 years ago, all sorts of researchers – astronomers, cosmologists and particle physicists have been looking for answers to what it could be. With the latest observations from the Planck satellite, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, may be closer than ever to a solution to the origin of the mysterious dark matter.”

  • The Milky Way now has a twin (or two)

    “Astronomers have found the first group of galaxies that is just like the Milky Way, a rare sight in the local universe.”

  • How old are the first planets?

    “To build a planet you need lots of rubble and that means lots of heavy elements – stuff more massive than atoms of hydrogen and helium. The elemental composition of the collapsing nebula that gave birth to the Sun and the planets of the Solar System included things like iron, silicon and magnesium that form the bulk of rocky planets, and carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium and other such elements that are essential for life.”



Creative Commons photo by tj.blackwell.



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