Space Calendar July 2 – July 8 2008

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 2 – July 8 2008. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

The Phoenix has landed

It’s down, all is well, pictures are being beamed back home. Here is one of the first.

This image shows a polygonal pattern in the ground near NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, similar in appearance to icy ground in the arctic regions of Earth.

Phoenix touched down on the Red Planet at 4:53 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53 p.m. Eastern Time), May 25, 2008, in an arctic region called Vastitas Borealis, at 68 degrees north latitude, 234 degrees east longitude.

This is an approximate-color image taken shortly after landing by the spacecraft’s Surface Stereo Imager, inferred from two color filters, a violet, 450-nanometer filter and an infrared, 750-nanometer filter.

[SOURCE: NASA]

Jupiter grows another red spot

In what’s beginning to look like a case of planetary measles, a third red spot has appeared alongside its cousins — the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. — in the turbulent Jovian atmosphere. This third red spot, which is a fraction of the size of the two other features, lies to the west of the Great Red Spot in the same latitude band of clouds. The visible-light images were taken on May 9 and 10 with Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

The new red spot was previously a white oval-shaped storm. The change to a red color indicates its swirling storm clouds are rising to heights like the clouds of the Great Red Spot. One possible explanation is that the red storm is so powerful it dredges material from deep beneath Jupiter’s cloud tops and lifts it to higher altitudes where solar ultraviolet radiation — via some unknown chemical reaction — produces the familiar brick color.

Detailed analysis of the visible-light images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on May 9 and 10, and near-infrared adaptive optics images taken by the W.M. Keck telescope on May 11, is revealing the relative altitudes of the cloud tops of the three red ovals. Because all three oval storms are bright in near-infrared light, they must be towering above the methane in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which absorbs the Sun’s infrared light and so looks dark in infrared images.

[SOURCE: Hubblesite]

Space Calendar June 26 – July 1 2008

Space related activities and anniversaries for June 26 – July 1 2008. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Half of Universe’s Missing Matter Found

Researchers say they have found about half of the universe’s missing matter hidden in the spaces between billions of galaxies thanks to the Hubble telescope.

Half of Universe's Missing Matter Found

This normal matter, which is called baryons, was created during and after the Big Bang, and should not be confused with dark matter, researchers said.

“We think we are seeing the strands of a web-like structure that forms the backbone of the universe,” said astronomer Mike Shull of the University of Colorado after an extensive search of the local universe.

[SOURCE: discovery.com]

Space Calendar June 19 – June 25 2008

Space related activities and anniversaries for June 19 – June 25 2008. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Microsoft Unveils Telescope for the Masses

Four hundred years after Galileo Galilei first used a telescope to peer at the night sky, the largest software company in the world rolled out a powerful tool for exploring the universe that makes going outside obsolete.

Microsoft Unveils Telescope for the Masses

The project, called WorldWide Telescope, is intended to become a virtual watering hole where professional and amateur astronomers, planetariums, teachers, science writers, students and especially children can create and share their cosmic wanderings with like-minded souls, interested participants and online communities.

[SOURCE: discovery.com]

Amazing accuracy

The picture below is pretty amazing. Not the pretty colours themselves, but what they represent. It’s an interferogram, where two radar images of the same place are combined to see if there have been any changes in the landscape.

Interferogram

This particular interferogram was produced by combining two separate radar images of the area struck by the Bam earthquake in Iran, acquired December 2003 and February 2004. Combining the images in this way highlights alterations in the scene, with radar backscattered from these features having a different signal phase, manifesting in colourful interference patterns on the combined image known as fringes. These fringes can be used to measure tiny changes in the landscape occurring between images down to a maximum accuracy of a few millimetres, allowing geologists to see where faulting has occurred. For increased accuracy the spacecraft should return to as close as possible to the same point where the first image was taken – known as the baseline. For this acquisition a baseline of just 0.6 metres was achieved, due to very high precision spacecraft navigation.

Millimetres!

Quiz!

This picture was taken by the TIROS-1 weather satellite, and most likely the first photo of earth from afar.

When was this taken?

View Results

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The correct result will be posted at a later date, although with all the information I’ve given I’m sure you can find it out for yourself(!)?

Technical problem solved

Hi world! 🙂

I started getting quite a few comments saying the Google ads were far too intrusive and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why so many people thought the exact same thing. After all, people should be used to ads by now and most of the time the ads are pretty relevant (nudge nudge bill-paying ;-). So I really thought it was just a troll. And it didn’t really help that this one guy posted four more or less identical comments.

But then I happened to view the site in Internet Explorer, and immediately saw that the large vertical banner that was supposed to casually hang around in the black area on the far left was actually hovering on top of the text area obstructing the articles! That was never the intention (doh!). All fixed now I hope, but I’ve only tested it on one IE version. Next time you see a problem please be more specific when you report it in a comment. Thank you!

And final note before we go back to our telescopes. Internet Explorer sucks, big time. It does not conform to any known standard and it’s an absolute dog to keep up with all the workarounds you need to add to a web site in order for it to look good in IE. So, PLEASE, if you can then download Firefox instead. It’s a million times better and most web developers in the world will thank you! Just go to Mozilla and select your operating system, and you’ll soon be on your way to a better browsing experience.