Space Calendar August 3 – August 9 2011

Space related activities and anniversaries for August 3 – August 9 2011. 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.

Southern Iapetus

Southern Iapetus

The Cassini spacecraft takes one of its last good looks at Iapetus, a Saturnian moon known for its yin-yang-like, bright-and-dark color pattern. This view looks toward the south pole of Iapetus (1,471 kilometers, or 914 miles across), and lit terrain seen here is in the southern latitudes of the trailing hemisphere. There is only one other planned viewing opportunity of Iapetus left in Cassini’s Solstice Mission, in March 2015. See Global View of Iapetus’ Dichotomy to learn more about the color on Iapetus. See Flight over Iapetus to learn more about the moon’s equatorial ridge. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 7, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 863,000 kilometers (536,000 miles) from Iapetus and at a Sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 98 degrees. Image scale is 5 kilometers (3 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 in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/cassini . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Space Calendar July 27 – August 2 2011

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 27 – August 2 2011. 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.

Exoplanet Aurora: An Out-of-this-World Sight

Exoplanet Aurora: An Out-of-this-World Sight

Earth’s aurorae, or Northern and Southern Lights, provide a dazzling light show to people living in the polar regions. Shimmering curtains of green and red undulate across the sky like a living thing. New research shows that aurorae on distant “hot Jupiters” could be 100-1000 times brighter than Earthly aurorae. They also would ripple from equator to poles (due to the planet’s proximity to any stellar eruptions), treating the entire planet to an otherworldly spectacle.

“I’d love to get a reservation on a tour to see these aurorae!” said lead author Ofer Cohen, a SHINE-NSF postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Above Titan’s North

Above Titan's North

The Cassini spacecraft examines Titan’s north polar hood, the part of the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon appearing dark at the top of this image. See Titan’s Hazes and Haze Layers on Titan to learn more about Titan’s atmosphere. This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Titan. North on Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across) is up. The southern pole of Titan is going into darkness, with the sun advancing towards the north with each passing day. See Two Halves of Titan and The Rite of Spring to learn more about the changing seasons in the Saturnian system. The upper layer of Titan’s hazes is still illuminated by sunlight scattered off the planet. The image was taken in visible violet light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on April 19, 2011. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 137,000 kilometers (85,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 18 degrees. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 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-Caltech/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

NASA’s Spitzer Finds Distant Galaxies Grazed on Gas

NASA's Spitzer Finds Distant Galaxies Grazed on Gas

PASADENA, Calif. — Galaxies once thought of as voracious tigers are more like grazing cows, according to a new study using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Astronomers have discovered that galaxies in the distant, early universe continuously ingested their star-making fuel over long periods of time. This goes against previous theories that the galaxies devoured their fuel in quick bursts after run-ins with other galaxies.

“Our study shows the merging of massive galaxies was not the dominant method of galaxy growth in the distant universe,” said Ranga-Ram Chary of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. “We’re finding this type of galactic cannibalism was rare. Instead, we are seeing evidence for a mechanism of galaxy growth in which a typical galaxy fed itself through a steady stream of gas, making stars at a much faster rate than previously thought.”

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Four Unusual Views of the Andromeda Galaxy

Four Unusual Views of the Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is revealed in unprecedented detail in four archive observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. They show stars and structure in the galaxy’s disc, the halo of stars that surrounds it, and a stream of stars left by a companion galaxy as it was torn apart and pulled in by the galaxy’s gravitational forces.

These four observations made by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys give a close up view of the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 (M 31). Observations of most galaxies do not show the individual stars — even the most powerful telescopes cannot normally resolve the cloudy white shapes into their hundreds of millions of constituent stars.

In the case of the Andromeda Galaxy, however, astronomers have a few tricks up their sleeves. Firstly, images from Hubble Space Telescope have unparalleled image quality as a result of the telescope’s position above the atmosphere. Secondly, M 31 is closer to our own galaxy than any other spiral galaxy (so close that it can even be seen with the naked eye on a very dark night). And thirdly, these observations avoid the crowded centre of the galaxy, where the stars are closest together and hardest to separate from each other.

[SOURCE: spacetelescope.org]

NASA’s Hubble Discovers Another Moon Around Pluto

NASA's Hubble Discovers Another Moon Around Pluto

Hubble Space Telescope’s keen vision has found yet another moon orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. This discovery expands the size of Pluto’s known satellite system to four moons. The tiny, new satellite — temporarily designated P4 — was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the frigid dwarf planet.

The new moon is the smallest moon yet discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, is 746 miles (1,200 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km).

“I find it remarkable that Hubble’s cameras enabled us to see such a tiny object so clearly from a distance of more than 3 billion miles (5 billion km),” said Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who led this observing program with Hubble.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]