Observations

NASA can see your Christmas lights… from outer space

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Many are already preparing for Christmas – some shopping for presents, some Christmas lights… the usual. But as you’re gearing up for the winter holidays, NASA is watching you. Well, they’re not really watching you, it’s more that they are monitoring light emissions from big cities – and they report that during the holiday season, patterns in nighttime light intensity change –…

Great Pics, Observations, Space

Cassini’s Stunning Pictures of Jupiter’s Southern Hemisphere

This polar map is composed of 18 colour images taken by the narrow-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft following a flyby in 2000, but was only recently released.

When we think about Jupiter, we have a certain image in mind – the big red giant with a huge spot on its surface and rings around it. But if you look at it from “below” (from the southern Hemisphere), the planet looks entirely different, as the Cassini probe showed. “If you were to float just beneath the giant planet…

News, Observations, Space

Earth-like planet spotted for the first time with a ground-based telescope

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Space-based telescopes have been used to spot planets (even Earth-like planets) for years now, but this is the first time ever that a ground-based telescope has detected an Earth like planet. A telescope based on the ground in La Palma (one of the Canary Islands) called Nordic has found 55 Cancri e, an exoplanet two times bigger than Earth orbiting a star much…

News, Observations, Space

Mysterious martian gouges carved by hovering dry ice

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It’s like Christmas before Christmas – the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has started sending back images it took of the red planet, and there’s just so many fantastic stuff it feels like Christmas has come earlier this year. Now, the MRO sent back images peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves (pictured) that seem to appear and disappear seasonally….

News, Observations, Science, Space

Dawn spacecraft will soon figure out what Ceres actually is

Ceres as seen by Hubble Space Telescope (ACS). The contrast has been enhanced to reveal surface details.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has set sail to Ceres – one of the most intriguing objects in our solar system. Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, containing a third of all the mass in the asteroid belt. The unmanned Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at Ceres in early 2015, and will hopefully shed provide…

Geology, News, Observations

Ancient “lava pie” found on Mars

NASA's MRO probe captured an image of a strange formation that resembles a pie. Photo by NASA/JPL.

A NASA probe has taken a picture of a surprising pie-like geological feature on Mars. Scientists are not yet sure what caused the feature, but the likely culprit is lava. The 1.2 mile (1.9 km) wide feature was imaged by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) appears like an island of iron in a very smooth field. Judging…

Observations, Space

First full colour image of Comet 67P captured by Rosetta probe; meanwhile, Philae lost a leg

Comet 67 full colour

Only a couple of weeks ago, a historic rendezvous between the Rosetta spacecraft and Comet 67P was made after a 10-year round-trip journey of four billion miles. Most importantly, the Rosetta deployed its lander, Philae, safely on the comet’s surface which is set to soon beam back important information pertaining to the comet’s inner composition and other details. For instance, we already know there…

Astronomy, News, Observations, Space

Nova seen Expanding right from the Beginning for the First Time

Artist impression of a dwarf star 'feeding' on donor star. Credit: David A. Hardy / astroart.org

Here’s something you don’t see everyday – for the first time, astronomers witnessed how a nova is formed right from the onset, capturing and detailing its expansion. The white dwarf turned nova is located some 14,800 light-years away and its study is set to reveal many things about how novas form. The star is dead, long live the nova! Stars shine…

News, Observations, Space

Neptune-sized alien planet found to harbor water vapor in its atmosphere

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Astronomers have discovered water vapor in the atmosphere of a new exoplanet – a planet from outside our solar system – roughly the size of Neptune, orbiting a star 124 light-years away. This is the first time water vapor has been found on an alien planet smaller than Jupiter. The discovery is set to improve scientists’ understanding of how planet forms and which planets may be best suited to support alien life….

News, Observations, Space

India’s probe nears Mars orbit – will it make history?

Artist conception of the Mars Orbiter Mission in orbit around Mars. Image: Wikipedia Commons

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM, for short, is gearing up to enter Mars’ orbit this Wednesday, after the dormant main engine on the spacecraft was test-fired flawlessly on Monday. If the maneuver proves successful, then India will join an exclusive list of countries who have deployed Mars explorers, like the US, Russia, Japan and Europe. …