AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch GPS IIF-8 on a Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL
scheduled for:
29 Oct 14 17:21:00 GMT
29 Oct 14 13:21:00 EDT

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Clear Skies Above: Astronomers Detect Water Vapor on Cloud-Free Atmosphere of a Hot-Neptune

An artist’s concept of the cloud-free atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b, as revealed by the combined observations of NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, and Kepler space telescopes. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)

 

Sunny and hot all year-round, with no clouds on the horizon … That’s not a weather forecast only for the Maldive [...]

Astronomers Witness Asteroid Smash-Up Around Sun-Like Star

Artist’s conception of an asteroid collision around the Sun-like star NGC 2547-ID8. Such impacts around young stars lead to planetary formation later on. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Solar systems, including ours, are thought to begin as massive clouds of dust and gas surrounding young stars; over billions of years, planets form from repeated impacts of [...]

Astronomers Discover First Ice Giant Exoplanet Candidate in Long-Period Orbit

This artist’s concept shows Kepler-421b, a Uranus-sized transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, circling its star once every 704 days. Kepler-421b orbits an orange, K-type star that is cooler and dimmer than our Sun and is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Image Credit/Caption: Harvard-Smithsonian, Center for Astrophysics/D. A. [...]

Kepler Phase 2: Planet-Hunting Space Telescope's New Mission Proposal Approved

Illustration of how the new K2 mission will work, using solar pressure to help stabilize the telescope. Image Credit: NASA Ames / W. Stenzel

There is some good news for planet-hunters this week: The proposed K2 mission extension for the Kepler Space Telescope has been been approved by NASA. The approval, based on a recommendation from [...]

European Space Agency Selects PLATO Observatory for Proposed 2024 Launch

From the European Space Agency (ESA): “The PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) mission will identify and study thousands of exoplanetary systems, with an emphasis on discovering and characterising Earth-sized planets and super-Earths. It will also investigate seismic activity in stars, enabling a precise characterisation of the host sun of each planet discovered, [...]

PLATO Exoplanet Mission Proposal Awaits Final Selection by ESA, Following Recent Positive Recommendation

The European Space Agency’s PLATO mission aims to discover and characterize hundreds of Earth-sized exoplanets inside the habitable zones of approximately 1 million stars. The mission is likely to be approved for implementation by ESA during an announcement due for next week. Image Credit: PLATO Definition Study Report/ESA

 

The European Space Agency’s Science [...]

Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet

This illustration shows the unusual orbit of planet Kepler-413b around a close pair of orange and red dwarf stars. The planet’s 66-day orbit is tilted 2.5 degrees with respect to the plane of the binary star’s orbit. The orbit of the planet wobbles around the central stars over 11 years, an effect called precession. [...]

Solar System 2.0: Planetary System Discovered With Architecture Similar to Our Own

A comparison of planetary system KOI-351 with our own Solar System. Image Credit: German Aerospace Center.

“Second star to the right, and straight on ’till morning.”

 — Captain James T. Kirk, ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ (1991).

It is unclear which types of planets did the fictional Enterprise crew discover around the [...]

Kepler Recovery Efforts Conclude, Other Missions Mulled

Image Credit: NASA

After several months’ worth of review and testing, the team operating the Kepler Space Telescope has opted to close its efforts to make Kepler fully operational again. This follows the loss of one of the crucial components that controls the alien planet-hunting spacecraft. In an Aug. 15 teleconference, Charles Sobeck, deputy [...]

Can Kepler Be Saved? Engineering Team to Attempt Recovery of Ailing Space Telescope

Artist’s illustration of Kepler in orbit. Image Credit: NASA / Kepler mission / Wendy Stenzel

The Kepler space telescope has been nothing short of incredible, revolutionizing our understanding of exoplanets and showing just how common and diverse they really are (as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction). Recently, however, additional mechanical problems [...]