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trackstar
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News from Outer Space

April 21st, 2009, 7:57 pm

Smallest Exoplanet Found in Search for Earth's Twin - Reuters April 21(all pasted in here)"SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Scientists searching for a planet like Earth said on Tuesday they have found the smallest planet ever detected outside the solar system, less than twice the size of our own.The exoplanet, a planet that orbits a star beyond the solar system, is called Gliese 581e after the star it circles. Because of its relatively small size it is likely rocky, like Earth, as opposed to gas giants such as Jupiter or Saturn, the astronomers said."It is the lightest planet detected outside the solar system so far," Dr. Gaspare Lo Curto, an astronomer at the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, told a news conference."We are not too far away from finding a planet like Earth," he added.Gliese 581e orbits its star in just 3.15 days, but lies outside a so-called "habitable zone" and could not sustain life, Lo Curto said. Its mass is just 1.9 times that of Earth, and it is 20.5 light years away.But while the small planet is outside the habitable zone, the biggest of three other previously discovered planets in the same system appears to be inside this just-right zone."The most outlying planet is inside what is defined as a habitable zone, which is a zone where there could be water in a liquid state on the surface of the planet," Lo Curto said.The international team of researchers used a 3.6 meter telescope at the Paranal Observatory in La Silla, 370 miles north of Chile's capital Santiago. Their findings are also being presented to an astronomical meeting this week in Britain.Around 340 exoplanets have so far been found orbiting other stars besides the Earth's sun, most of them gas giants with characteristics similar to Jupiter and Neptune."
Last edited by trackstar on April 20th, 2009, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Traden4Alpha
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News from Outer Space

April 21st, 2009, 8:38 pm

Interesting. If that planet has rotational lock, it might have a habitable zone around the terminator (assuming all the yummy volatiles aren't locked in an dark-side icecap).I'm looking forward to future results from the Kepler mission. All the ground-based exoplanet detection schemes seem to have a horrible bias toward only finding big and hot planets.
 
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News from Outer Space

April 22nd, 2009, 11:12 am

Yes, I see that they have found a "diamond mine" of stars!Here is the article from your Kelper link onward to NASA:NASA's Kepler Captures First Views of Planet-Hunting Territory Kepler's Diamond Mine of Stars. MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., -- NASA's Kepler mission has taken its first images of the star-rich sky where it will soon begin hunting for planets like Earth. The new "first light" images show the mission's target patch of sky, a vast starry field in the Cygnus-Lyra region of our Milky Way galaxy. One image shows millions of stars in Kepler's full field of view, while two others zoom in on portions of the larger region. The images can be seen online at: NASA Mission Kepler Images...One new image from Kepler shows its entire field of view -- a 100-square-degree portion of the sky, equivalent to two side-by-side dips of the Big Dipper. The region contains an estimated 4.5 million stars, more than 100,000 of which were selected as ideal candidates for planet hunting. Two other views focus on just one-thousandth of the full field of view. In one image, a cluster of stars located about 13,000 light-years from Earth, called NGC 6791, can be seen in the lower left corner. The other image zooms in on a region containing a star, called Tres-2, with a known Jupiter-like planet orbiting every 2.5 days. ...Kepler will spend the next three-and-a-half years searching more than 100,000 pre-selected stars for signs of planets. It is expected to find a variety of worlds, from large, gaseous ones, to rocky ones as small as Earth. The mission is the first with the ability to find planets like ours -- small, rocky planets orbiting sun-like stars in the habitable zone, where temperatures are right for possible lakes and oceans of water. To find the planets, Kepler will stare at one large expanse of sky for the duration of its lifetime, looking for periodic dips in starlight that occur as planets circle in front of their stars and partially block the light. Its 95-megapixel camera, the largest ever launched into space, can detect tiny changes in a star's brightness of only 20 parts per million. Images from the camera are intentionally blurred to minimize the number of bright stars that saturate the detectors. While some of the slightly saturated stars are candidates for planet searches, heavily saturated stars are not. "Everything about Kepler has been optimized to find Earth-size planets," said James Fanson, Kepler's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our images are road maps that will allow us, in a few years, to point to a star and say a world like ours is there." Scientists and engineers will spend the next few weeks calibrating Kepler's science instrument, the photometer, and adjusting the telescope's alignment to achieve the best focus. Once these steps are complete, the planet hunt will begin. ...For images, animations and more information about the Kepler mission, visit: NASA Kepler
 
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News from Outer Space

May 8th, 2009, 10:42 pm

Countdown Begins for Shuttle Launch to Hubble - Reuters May 8 CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Countdown clocks at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida began ticking toward Monday's launch of shuttle Atlantis on a final servicing call to the Hubble Space Telescope, officials said on Friday."Hello Florida, it's great to be here -- at last," shuttle commander Scott Altman told reporters shortly after he and his crew arrived at the spaceport late Friday afternoon. "It's been a long road to get here. We're all thrilled."Altman, pilot Greg Johnson, flight engineer Megan McArthur and spacewalkers John Grunsfeld, Michael Massimino, Michael Good and Andrew Feustel are due to spend 11 days in orbit to repair two of Hubble's science instruments, install a new imager and a new light-splitting spectrograph and replace Hubble's gyroscopes, batteries and a computer, among other tasks."We're ready to give Hubble a hug," Grunsfeld said....
 
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July 16th, 2009, 10:49 pm

A pissing contest for you competitive men out there:Buzz Aldrin Lunar Challenge
 
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Traden4Alpha
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July 16th, 2009, 11:29 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: trackstarA pissing contest for you competitive men out there:Buzz Aldrin Lunar ChallengeWhat a wuss! Real Men hold it!
 
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July 16th, 2009, 11:38 pm

LOL! I was thinking about female astronauts too and I wonder if PMS would be worse if you were closer to, or actually on, the Moon.Have not determined a clear reason why that might be so, just thinking...
 
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Fermion
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July 17th, 2009, 12:13 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: trackstarLOL! I was thinking about female astronauts too and I wonder if PMS would be worse if you were closer to, or actually on, the Moon.Have not determined a clear reason why that might be so, just thinking...Are you chanelling Ali G?
 
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July 17th, 2009, 12:30 am

Like, totally.Ali G Interviews Buzz Aldrin
 
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July 17th, 2009, 9:48 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: Traden4AlphaQuoteOriginally posted by: trackstarA pissing contest for you competitive men out there:Buzz Aldrin Lunar ChallengeWhat a wuss! Real Men hold it! and didn't we learn a year or two back that astronauts wear diapers (both in space and when driving to florida)
 
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July 17th, 2009, 9:51 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: trackstarNews from Outer SpaceI'd got an inkling that was where you were
 
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News from Outer Space

July 17th, 2009, 10:58 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: trackstarNews from Outer SpaceI'd got an inkling that was where you were I have been visiting the Cat Women from Outer Space, in fact, and they send their love to you.
 
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News from Outer Space

July 21st, 2009, 8:34 am

Backyard astronomer discovers black spot on Jupiter - Times Online - July 21"Armed with a home-made telescope and enjoying clear night skies in the southern hemisphere, an amateur Australian astronomer made an extraordinary discovery in his backyard at the weekend: a dark "scar" the size of the Earth that had suddenly appeared on the planet Jupiter...Yesterday Nasa confirmed Mr Wesley’s discovery and released their own images. The pictures, taken by the American space agency's infrared telescope in Hawaii, show a scar in the atmosphere near Jupiter's south pole. It comes 15 years after Jupiter was bombarded by pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, and in the same week the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the moon landings. “I remember watching Jupiter back then, so I grew up with those images of the Shoemaker-Levy,” Mr Wesley said. “So it was a very surreal feeling to suddenly see this appear on Jupiter again.”"
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News from Outer Space

July 26th, 2009, 1:00 am

Follow up to the Jupiter story.Jupiter - Our Cosmic Protector - New York Times July 25Jupiter took a bullet for us last weekend. An object, probably a comet that nobody saw coming, plowed into the giant planet’s colorful cloud tops sometime Sunday, splashing up debris and leaving a black eye the size of the Pacific Ocean. This was the second time in 15 years that this had happened. The whole world was watching when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fell apart and its pieces crashed into Jupiter in 1994, leaving Earth-size marks that persisted up to a year.That’s Jupiter doing its cosmic job, astronomers like to say. Better it than us. Part of what makes the Earth such a nice place to live, the story goes, is that Jupiter’s overbearing gravity acts as a gravitational shield deflecting incoming space junk, mainly comets, away from the inner solar system where it could do for us what an asteroid apparently did for the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Indeed, astronomers look for similar configurations — a giant outer planet with room for smaller planets in closer to the home stars — in other planetary systems as an indication of their hospitableness to life....But is this warm and fuzzy image of the King of Planets as father-protector really true? “I really question this idea,” said Brian G. Marsden of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, referring to Jupiter as our guardian planet. As the former director of the International Astronomical Union’s Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, he has spent his career keeping track of wayward objects, particularly comets, in the solar system.Jupiter is just as much a menace as a savior, he said. The big planet throws a lot of comets out of the solar system, but it also throws them in."...
 
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Traden4Alpha
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News from Outer Space

July 26th, 2009, 1:04 pm

The Jupiter black spot story really highlights the valuable role of amateur astronomers in planetary observations, comet-finding, asteroid tracking, and supernova discovery. The cost of a very nice telescope (with a 15" to 25" aperture) is less than the price of a new car. And given the massive price differential between urban real estate and dark-skies rural real estate, it's eminently financially feasible to sell the city house and buy a nice little astronomical aerie, if one is so inclined.So many celestial objects, so little grant money!
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