Showing posts from September, 2011

NASA Spacecraft Revealing More Details About Planet Mercury

Source:    NASA RELEASE: 11-330 Excerpt: ...Scientists for decades had puzzled over whether Mercury had volcanic deposits on its surface. New data show a huge expanse of volcanic plains surrounding the planet's north polar region. These continuous smooth plains cover more than six percent of the planet's total surface. The deposits appear typical of flood lavas, or huge volumes of solidified molten rock similar to those found in the northwest United States. "If you imagine standing at the base of the Washington Monument, the top of the lavas would be something like 12 Washington Monuments above you," said James Head of Brown University…. Scientists also have discovered vents or openings measuring up to 16 miles (25 kilometers) across that appear to be the source of some of the large volume of very hot lava that has rushed across Mercury's surface….

Heat--A visual tour of what's hot and what's not in the universe

Source:   Rasmussen College Excerpt: Infographic tour features interesting facts about extreme temperatures in space.

Jumpy stars slow hunt for other Earths; NASA mission looks for extra time to battle stellar noise.

Source:   Ron Cowen, Nature Excerpt:  The Kepler spacecraft has hit an unexpected obstacle as it patiently watches the heavens for exoplanets: too many rowdy young stars. The orbiting probe detects small dips in the brightness of a star that occur when a planet crosses its face. But an analysis …has found that the stars themselves flicker more than predicted, with the largest number varying twice as much as the Sun. That makes it harder to detect Earth-sized bodies. …the analysis suggests that Kepler will need more than double its planned mission life of three-and-a-half years to achieve its main goal of determining how common Earth-like planets are in the Milky Way.... "We need an extended mission because the detection of Earth-sized planets hangs in the balance," says Geoff Marcy ... a member of the Kepler team....

NASA Gives Public New Internet Tool To Explore The Solar System

Source:      NASA RELEASE: 11-288 Excerpt: NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool. The "Eyes on the Solar System" interface combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft and explore the cosmos. Screen graphics and information such as planet locations and spacecraft maneuvers use actual space mission data. ..."Eyes on the Solar System" and an introduction video are available at:

Dwarf Planet Mysteries Beckon to New Horizons

Source:   Dauna Coulter, Science@NASA Excerpt: At this very moment one of the fastest spacecraft ever launched -- NASA's New Horizons -- is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. ... headed for the lonely world of Pluto on the outer edge of the solar system. Although astronomers now call Pluto a dwarf planet, "it's actually a large place, about 5,000 miles around at the equator," says Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission. "And it's never been explored."