AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch SMAP on a Delta II 7320 rocket from Vandenberg AFB, CA
scheduled for:
29 Jan 15 14:20:42 GMT
29 Jan 15 6:20:42 PST
29 Jan 15 9:20:42 Eastern

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Kepler Discovers Three Super-Earth Exoplanets Orbiting Nearby Star

Cartoon illustration depicting how the three newly-found planets’ shadows (right side) can be seen as eclipses from Earth (left side) as they transit in front of their star. Image Credit: K. Teramura, UH IfA.

Last week was a good one for exoplanet enthusiasts, with yet more news relating to how other worlds are now […]

Scorching Hot Venus May Have Once Had Oceans ... of Carbon Dioxide

Radar image of the northern hemisphere of Venus, taken by the Magellan spacecraft. Radar is necessary to see through Venus’ perpetual cloud cover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

The continued exploration of the planets and moons in our Solar System have revealed many strange things, including that Earth is not the only place with oceans and […]

Tilted Aquaplanets Might Still be Habitable, Study Suggests

Artist’s conception of an ocean-covered aquaplanet. Image Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

With so many exoplanets now being discovered on a regular basis by astronomers, the focus has turned to what number of them might be habitable for some kind of life. For life as we know it at least, that depends on a number of […]

Strong Winds Explain Titan's Immense Dunes, According to New Study

Radar image of long lines of dunes on Titan. They can be up to 300 feet tall and hundreds of miles long. Image Credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech/ASI/ESA and USGS/ESA

Saturn’s largest moon Titan is one of the most Earth-like places in the Solar System, as least in terms of appearances, with its seas, lakes, and rivers […]

Stars Above and Earth Below: NASA's Proposed New Airship Competition Good for Science

Artist’s conception of a new high-altitude NASA airship which could make science observations of both the Earth below and stars above. Image Credit: Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive)/Keck Institute for Space Studies

Airships are a unique form of transportation—giant, balloon-like, lighter-than-air vehicles which can stay aloft for extended periods of time. Their design makes them […]

Hot 'Super-Earths' Provide Clues to Water in Exoplanet Atmospheres

Artist’s conception of super-Earth 55 Cancri e, one of the few exoplanets so far which astronomers are able to study the atmosphere of. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Some of the most interesting exoplanets discovered so far are the “super-Earths,” rocky worlds which are significantly larger and more massive than Earth but still smaller than the […]

Astronomers Create Most Detailed Weather Map Yet of an Exoplanet

Graphic depicting how WASP-43b orbits its star, always keeping the same hemisphere facing the star, much like how the Moon always keeps the same hemisphere facing the Earth. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

Being able to find exoplanets orbiting distant stars is a major accomplishment in itself, and fine-tuning the data […]

Giant Cloud at Titan's South Pole Is Toxic and Freezing Cold

View from Cassini of the huge polar vortex cloud over Titan’s south pole. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/University of Arizona/SSI/Leiden Observatory and SRON

Titan is the only moon in the Solar System known to have a dense atmosphere, and while similar to Earth’s atmosphere in some ways, such as being rich in nitrogen, it also holds […]

Exploring Uncharted Territory: ESA's Venus Express Spacecraft Completes Aerobraking Campaign, Raises Orbit Prior to End of Mission

An artist’s concept of Venus Express during the aerobraking manoeuvre, which saw the spacecraft orbiting Venus at an altitude of approximately 130 km from 18 June to 11 July. These low passes through the atmosphere of Venus allowed the spacecraft to conduct scientific observations that weren’t possible from higher altitudes. Image Credit: ESA–C. Carreau

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No Water, Please: The Case of the Surprisingly Dry 'Hot Jupiters'

This is an artistic illustration of the gas giant planet HD 209458b in the constellation Pegasus. The planet was recently studied by astronomers alongside two other similar extrasolar worlds, for their abundance in water. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor in the planets’ atmospheres than standard planet-formation models […]