Archive for October, 2009

Exoplanet discovery count passes 400

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

October 20, 2009
(PLANETQUEST) — European astronomers this week announced the discovery of 32 new worlds – including a handful of so-called “super Earths” – bringing the total exoplanet tally to over 400.

The latest batch of exoplanets was discovered by an international team of astronomers using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), the spectrograph for ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope in La Silla, Chile. With more than 75 exoplanet discoveries to its credit, the instrument has become a powerful tool for planet hunters.

Perhaps even more exciting to scientists than the big numbers are the increasingly small planets being found. Several of the worlds recently discovered with HARPS are just a few times larger than Earth, marking progress toward the ultimate goal of detecting small, terrestrial planets. However, none of the planets announced last week are considered habitable.

Finding small, rocky planets that might resemble Earth is a key goal for NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which is currently scanning thousands of distant stars for signs of transiting exoplanets.

Written by Joshua Rodriguez/PlanetQuest
http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/

Teamwork Brings About Successful Ares I-X Launch

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The stars and stripes on the American flag reflect NASAs commitment to teamwork as the Constellation Programs Ares I-X test rocket roars off Launch Complex 39B at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

The stars and stripes on the American flag reflect NASA's commitment to teamwork as the Constellation Program's Ares I-X test rocket roars off Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann


After shrugging off some delays due to clouds, Ares I-X has lifted off into the Florida sky and done what it was designed to do: lift off, test the flight software, perform a separation maneuver, and test the recovery system. This is a great day for the Ares I-X Mission Management Office, and a first step toward NASA’s next generation of human spaceflight. More details on the data will be coming out over the next several days, weeks, and months.

INDONESIAN ASTEROID

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Space Weather News for Oct. 28, 2009

INDONESIAN ASTEROID: Earlier this month, with no warning, a ~10-meter wide asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere above Indonesia and exploded. The break-up was so powerful, it triggered nuclear test ban sensors thousands of kilometers away. A just-released analysis of infrasound data shows that the asteroid detonated with an energy equivalent of about 50 kton of TNT, similar to a small atomic bomb. This significant impact has received relatively little attention in Western press. Details are available today on http://spaceweather.com.

Ares I-X Launch Scrub: Can You Say “Triboelectrification?” | Universe Today

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Ares I-X Launch Scrub: Can You Say “Triboelectrification?” | Universe Today

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Weather Only Issue for Ares I-X Test Flight | Universe Today

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Weather Only Issue for Ares I-X Test Flight | Universe Today

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Possible rain and high clouds are the only “ifs” so far for the test flight of the Ares I-X rocket on Tuesday morning, the first test flight of a new rocket for NASA in over 30 years. Central to the concern about weather is a possible static discharge called “tribo electrification” created by the outer coating of the rocket if flies through cloud vapor or precipitation that is colder than -10 degrees C (14 deg. F). This static electricity could disrupt the transmission of flight test data from the rocket, one of the main reasons for the test. At a briefing Monday morning, managers for the Ares program said the only other issue they are working with also deals with weather – the timing when to remove a probe cover.

“There are no issues we are currently working,” said Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager. “We’ve worked through all the technical issues and it is relatively unprecedented to have a vehicle this clean for this long. Right now we’re just making sure test team is ready. The probe cover is not a new problem; we want to be smart and protect ourselves for when we take it off, because once you take it off you can’t put it on.”
The probe is covered by a “sock” that is Velcroed over the cover. The cover has to be removed manually by pulling a lanyard attached to the cover. If the cover is taken off and it starts to rain, water could get inside, freeze and cause problems with the probe. This doesn’t cause any issues of the vehicle being able to fly, but could cause issues with taking and receiving data.

The probe is part of over 700 sensors for the flight.

The launch window opens at 8 am EDT (1200 GMT), but managers said they can use the entire four-hour window if necessary. $445 million test flight will last six minutes from liftoff to splashdown, with the Ares I-X reaching a maximum altitude of 46,000 km (153,000 feet) and a top velocity more than 4.7 times the speed of sound.

MONDAY NIGHT SKY SHOW

Monday, October 26th, 2009

When the sun sets on Monday, Oct. 26th, go outside and look south. Jupiter and the Moon are converging for a beautiful conjunction. The bright pair can been seen even through thinly-clouded skies and city lights.

Colorado Astronomy Day 2009

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Once again the weather skunked us again. We got set up at Observatory Park about 1pm. Wes and Neil brought their telescopes, and had set up the scale model of the solar system at the walk way at the west end of the park between Bromley Lane and Southern Street.
We did have about 25 persons show up, and after the wind died down we were able to do some out reach projects. We had a few people show up and ask several questions about the telescopes. Neil’s telescope is a vintage 8 inch modified Newtonian reflector for astrophotography, and was probably made around 1950’s or 60’s he is not sure. There is a manufacture tag on it saying it was made by Research Optical in Oshkosh Wisconsin.
Mrs. Aden and a few of her students from Overland Hill Middle School made it out to walk the solar system walk. Our next event will be at Barr Lake State Park on Saturday November 14th.

There is a photo of Neil’s Telescope in the Gallery under Star Parties.

NASA Refines Asteroid Apophis’ Path Toward Earth – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

NASA Refines Asteroid Apophis’ Path Toward Earth – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Galilean Nights!

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Hey Stargazers! It has been quite a while since I posted – but I wanted to give everyone a heads up that Brighton Astronomy Group is now registered with Galilean Nights! The same weekend as our Oct 24th star party clubs and organizations around the world will be gathering once more to celebrate the work of Galileo by pointing our scopes to Jupiter and the stars. Don’t forget we’ll have the replica of Galileo’s telescope at the star party so you can see what he did 400 years ago.

Visit  http://www.galileannights.org for more information of Galilean Nights.

See you all on Oct 24th!!!

Adam

L.C.R.O.S.S. Post Impact Press Conference

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The LCROSS Centaur and Spacecraft impacted the moon at approximately 4:30 a.m. PDT. Scientists are reviewing the initial data and will report what they know at a Post Impact News Conference at 7:00 a.m. PDT / 10:00 a.m. EDT on NASA TV.

No big plume of debris was seen, but they did see a flash in the infrared spectrum and some sodium so far. It could be days or month before any final conclusions are made, as they have lots of data to analyze.

For up to date information and video go to.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/index.html