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Archive for December 2, 2011

Space Station Astronaut Will Answer Video Questions From Public

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA has announced a unique opportunity to ask the commander of the International Space Station a question about his role on the orbiting outpost. Commander Dan Burbank will answer videotaped questions from the public during a live event tentatively set for Friday, Jan. 20 on NASA Television.

The video questions must be less than 30 seconds. Submitters should introduce themselves and mention their location. Questions must be posted as responses to a video Burbank recorded on YouTube at: http://go.nasa.gov/sDYpzP

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/dec/HQ_11-406_Ask_the_Crew.html

Caltech-Led Team of Astronomers Finds 18 New Planets

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Discoveries of new planets just keep coming and coming. Take, for instance, the 18 recently found by a team of astronomers led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

“It’s the largest single announcement of planets in orbit around stars more massive than the sun, aside from the discoveries made by the Kepler mission,” says John Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech and the first author on the team’s paper, which was published in the December issue of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. The Kepler mission is a space telescope that has so far identified more than 1,200 possible planets, though the majority of those have not yet been confirmed.

Full Story: http://news.caltech.edu/press_releases/13476

Scientists Search for Potential Habitats for Life on Mars

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Two University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professors are searching for potential habitats for life on Mars.

Linda Kah and Jeffrey Moersch, associate professors of earth and planetary sciences, are an integral part of a NASA team working on the Curiosity rover, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 26 and is now hurtling toward the Red Planet.

Curiosity is not scheduled to land until August 6, 2012. When it does, it will search for clues to whether the planet has ever had an environment capable of sustaining life, such as liquid or frozen water, organic compounds, and other chemical ingredients related to life.

Full Story: http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2011/12/02/scientists-search-potential-habitats-mars/

Asteroids, Mars and Drought Among NASA News Highlights at American Geophysical Union Meeting

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA researchers will present new findings on a wide range of Earth and space science topics at the 2011 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The meeting takes place Dec. 5-9 at the Moscone Convention Center, 747 Howard St., in San Francisco. Media registration for the event is open.

Media briefings during the meeting will feature topics such as new results about the asteroid Vesta, the future risk of major droughts, new discoveries at the edge of our solar system, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami. In addition, NASA scientists and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities will present noteworthy findings during scientific sessions that are open to registered journalists.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/nov/HQ_M11-242_AGU_Media_Events.html

Dawn Soars Over Asteroid Vesta in 3-D

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Glide over the giant asteroid Vesta with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in a new 3-D video.  Dawn has been orbiting Vesta since July 15, obtaining high-resolution images of its bumpy, cratered surface and making other scientific measurements.

The new video is available online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1041 . Best viewed with red-blue glasses, the video incorporates images from Dawn’s framing camera from July to August 2011. It was created by Dawn team member Ralf Jaumann of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The images were obtained when Dawn was making its approach to Vesta, and while orbiting the giant asteroid in its first science orbit, known as survey orbit, at an altitude of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers). The video begins with a global view of Vesta from the plane of its equator, where a mysterious band of linear ridges and troughs can be seen. The movie cuts to a flyover of young craters in the northern hemisphere, whose peculiar alignment has led some scientists to refer to them as the “snowman.” Then this virtual tour of Vesta takes the viewer around a massive mountain at the south pole of Vesta that is about 16 miles (25 kilometers) high, or more than twice the height of Mt. Everest.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-366

The Milky Way – A Beast With Four Tails

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: S. Koposov and the SDSS-III collaboration

Credit: S. Koposov and the SDSS-III collaboration

The Milky Way galaxy continues to devour its small neighboring dwarf galaxies and the evidence is spread out across the sky.

A team of astronomers led by Sergey Koposov and Vasily Belokurov of the University of Cambridge recently discovered two streams of stars in the Southern Galactic hemisphere that were torn off the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. This discovery came from analyzing data from the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III) and was announced in a paper released today (arXiv paper #1111.7042) that connects these new streams with two previously known streams in the Northern Galactic hemisphere.

“We have long known that when small dwarf galaxies fall into bigger galaxies, elongated streams, or tails, of stars are pulled out of the dwarf by the enormous tidal field,” said Sergey Koposov.

Full Story: http://www.sdss3.org/press/20111130.fourtails.php

NASA Announcing Kepler Discoveries at Science Conference

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA will host a news briefing at 8 a.m. PST, Monday, Dec. 5, to announce new discoveries by the Kepler mission. The briefing, during the Kepler Science Conference, will be in building 152 at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the “habitable zone,” the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Kepler is detecting planets and possible candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help scientists better understand our place in the galaxy.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/nov/HQ_M11-243_Kepler.html