Space Calendar July 25 – July 31 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 25 – July 31 2012. 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.

Solar Corona Revealed in Super-High-Definition

Solar Corona Revealed in Super-High-Definition

Today, astronomers are releasing the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s corona, or million-degree outer atmosphere, in an extreme-ultraviolet wavelength of light. The 16-megapixel images were captured by NASA’s High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, which was launched on a sounding rocket on July 11th. The Hi-C telescope provides five times more detail than the next-best observations by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

“Even though this mission was only a few minutes long, it marks a big breakthrough in coronal studies,” said Smithsonian astronomer Leon Golub (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), one of the lead investigators on the mission.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Spitzer Finds Possible Exoplanet Smaller than Earth

Spitzer Finds Possible Exoplanet Smaller than Earth

PASADENA, Calif. — Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have detected what they believe is a planet two-thirds the size of Earth. The exoplanet candidate, called UCF-1.01, is located a mere 33 light-years away, making it possibly the nearest world to our solar system that is smaller than our home planet.

Why Is Earth So Dry?

Why Is Earth So Dry?

With large swaths of oceans, rivers that snake for hundreds of miles, and behemoth glaciers near the north and south poles, Earth doesn’t seem to have a water shortage. And yet, less than one percent of our planet’s mass is locked up in water, and even that may have been delivered by comets and asteroids after Earth’s initial formation.

Astronomers have been puzzled by Earth’s water deficiency. The standard model explaining how the solar system formed from a protoplanetary disk, a swirling disk of gas and dust surrounding our Sun, billions of years ago suggests that our planet should be a water world. Earth should have formed from icy material in a zone around the Sun where temperatures were cold enough for ices to condense out of the disk. Therefore, Earth should have formed from material rich in water. So why is our planet comparatively dry?

A new analysis of the common accretion-disk model explaining how planets form in a debris disk around our Sun uncovered a possible reason for Earth’s comparative dryness. Led by Rebecca Martin and Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., the study found that our planet formed from rocky debris in a dry, hotter region, inside of the so-called “snow line.” The snow line in our solar system currently lies in the middle of the asteroid belt, a reservoir of rubble between Mars and Jupiter; beyond this point, the Sun’s light is too weak to melt the icy debris left over from the protoplanetary disk. Previous accretion-disk models suggested that the snow line was much closer to the Sun 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth formed.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar July 18 – July 24 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 18 – July 24 2012. 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.

Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.

The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Hubble Unmasks Ghost Galaxies

Hubble Unmasks Ghost Galaxies

Astronomers have puzzled over why some puny, extremely faint dwarf galaxies spotted in our Milky Way galaxy’s back yard contain so few stars.

These ghost-like galaxies are thought to be some of the tiniest, oldest, and most pristine galaxies in the universe. They have been discovered over the past decade by astronomers using automated computer techniques to search through the images of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. But astronomers needed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to help solve the mystery of these star-starved galaxies.

Hubble views of three of the small-fry galaxies reveal that their stars share the same birth date. The galaxies all started forming stars more than 13 billion years ago — and then abruptly stopped — all in the first billion years after the universe was born in the big bang.

The relic galaxies are evidence for a transitional phase in the early universe that shut down star-making factories in tiny galaxies. During this time, the first stars burned off a fog of cold hydrogen in a process called reionization.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar July 11 – July 17 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 11 – July 17 2012. 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.