Space Calendar November 1 – November 7 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for November 1 – November 7 2010. 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.

Space Buckyballs Thrive, Finds NASA Spitzer Telescope

Space Buckyballs Thrive, Finds NASA Spitzer Telescope

PASADENA, Calif. — Astronomers have discovered bucket loads of buckyballs in space. They used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to find the little carbon spheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy — in the space between stars and around three dying stars. What’s more, Spitzer detected buckyballs around a fourth dying star in a nearby galaxy in staggering quantities — the equivalent in mass to about 15 of our moons.

Buckyballs, also known as fullerenes, are soccer-ball-shaped molecules consisting of 60 linked carbon atoms. They are named for their resemblance to the architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, an example of which is found at the entrance to Disney’s Epcot theme park in Orlando, Fla. The miniature spheres were first discovered in a lab on Earth 25 years ago, but it wasn’t until this past July that Spitzer was able to provide the first confirmed proof of their existence in space (see http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-243). At that time, scientists weren’t sure if they had been lucky to find a rare supply, or if perhaps the cosmic balls were all around.

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Hubble Data Used to Look 10,000 Years into the Future

Hubble Data Used to Look 10,000 Years into the Future

The globular star cluster Omega Centauri has caught the attention of sky watchers ever since the ancient astronomer Ptolemy first catalogued it 2,000 years ago. Ptolemy, however, thought Omega Centauri was a single star. He didn’t know that the “star” was actually a beehive swarm of nearly 10 million stars, all orbiting a common center of gravity.

The stars are so tightly crammed together that astronomers had to wait for the powerful vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to peer deep into the core of the “beehive” and resolve individual stars. Hubble’s vision is so sharp it can even measure the motion of many of these stars, and over a relatively short span of time.

A precise measurement of star motions in giant clusters can yield insights into how stellar groupings formed in the early universe, and whether an “intermediate mass” black hole, one roughly 10,000 times as massive as our Sun, might be lurking among the stars.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Shadows on Saturn

Shadows on Saturn

Saturn’s moon Mimas casts a elliptical shadow on the planet south of the larger, wider shadows cast by the planet’s rings. Mimas and the rings are not shown here. This view looks toward the southern hemisphere of the planet. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 8, 2010 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 750 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 82 degrees. Image scale is 13 kilometers (8 miles) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Trick or Treat? The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. For a higher resolution versioin, click here. Credit: NASA/JPL

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Space Calendar October 25 – October 31 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for October 25 – October 31 2010. 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.

Titan — Oct. 20, 2010 (raw)

Titan -- Oct. 20, 2010 (raw)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft obtained this raw image of Saturn’s moon Titan on Oct. 18, 2010. Bright clouds streak the moon’s midsection, likely an indication of changing seasons and the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere. Cassini’s imaging camera was about 2.5 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) away from Titan. The rings of Saturn faintly etch the top of this image. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2011. For more information on raw images check out our Frequently Asked Questions section. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Titan and Tethys — Oct. 20, 2010 (raw)

Titan and Tethys -- Oct. 20, 2010 (raw)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft obtained this raw image of Saturn’s moons Titan and Tethys on Oct. 18, 2010. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is the larger, hazy moon in the background. Tethys is the bright icy moon in the foreground. The rings of Saturn faintly etch the top of this image. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2011. For more information on raw images check out our Frequently Asked Questions section. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Astronomers Find Weird, Warm Spot on an Exoplanet

Astronomers Find Weird, Warm Spot on an Exoplanet

The gas-giant planet, named upsilon Andromedae b, orbits tightly around its star, with one face perpetually boiling under the star’s heat. It belongs to a class of planets termed hot Jupiters, so called for their scorching temperatures and large, gaseous constitutions.

One might think the hottest part of these planets would be directly under the sun-facing side, but previous observations have shown that their hot spots may be shifted slightly away from this point. Astronomers thought that fierce winds might be pushing hot, gaseous material around.

But the new finding may throw this theory into question. Using Spitzer, an infrared observatory, astronomers found that upsilon Andromedae b’s hot spot is offset by a whopping 80 degrees. Basically, the hot spot is over to the side of the planet instead of directly under the glare of the sun.

“We really didn’t expect to find a hot spot with such a large offset,” said Ian Crossfield, lead author of a new paper about the discovery appearing in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal. “It’s clear that we understand even less about the atmospheric energetics of hot Jupiters than we thought we did.”

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Titan — Oct. 14, 2010 (raw)

Titan -- Oct. 14, 2010 (raw)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took this raw image of Saturn’s moon Titan on Oct. 14, 2010, kicking off an action-packed long weekend that took the spacecraft by eight other moons. The camera was pointing toward Titan at approximately 207,643 kilometers (129,023 miles) away. This image has not been validated or calibrated. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2011. For more information on raw images check out our Frequently Asked Questions section. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]