AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch AFSPC-4 on a Delta 4 - Medium+ rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL scheduled for 24 Jul 14 22:59:00 GMT

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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 [...]

Astronomy at the High Frontier

Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from the Shuttle Atlantis during the fourth servicing mission in May 2009. Photo Credit: NASA

The atmosphere is a problem for astronomers for two big reasons: it’s turbulent, so it smears out the light from cosmic objects, and it blocks out huge swathes of the electromagnetic spectrum. To see [...]

What Comes After Kepler?

The Kepler Space Telescope has had another of its reastion wheels fail, meaning the spacecraft’s mission of finding Earth-like worlds is probably over. Image Credit: NASA

Launched on March 7, 2009, NASA’s Kepler space telescope, designed to hunt for Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars, has proved to be an outstanding success and has surpassed [...]

Reaction Wheel Failure Places Kepler Mission in Jeopardy

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA announced May 15 that a second reaction wheel on the Kepler spacecraft has failed. This is forcing officials at the space agency to reconsider what mission that space-based telescope is now capable of conducting. Kepler went into safe mode Tuesday. When controllers went about recovering Kepler, they discovered that one [...]