AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch CRS-4 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL
scheduled for:
21 Sep 14 5:52:00 GMT
21 Sep 14 1:52:00 EDT

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Landing Site Selected for First-Ever Attempt to Land on a Comet

Landing site J, marked by the white + sign, on the head of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

A landing site has now been chosen for the Rosetta spacecraft’s lander, Philae, on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, it was announced this morning. After several candidate landing sites had been considered, site J has now [...]

Living On the Edge: The Icy Plains of Enceladus (Part 3)

Lit by reflected light from Saturn, Enceladus appears to hover above the gleaming rings with its well-defined ice particle jets spraying a continuous hail of tiny ice grains, in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2006 from a distance of 1.303 million kilometers. The 500-km-wide moon has excited the scientific community and [...]

Living On the Edge: Life Under the Ice (Part 1)

After drilling through the 800-meter-thick ice sheet that covers subglacial Lake Whillans in western Antarctica, a U.S. research team discovered a thriving microbial ecosystem on the lake floor that hasn’t been reached by sunlight possibly for up to a million years. The image shows the view down the bore hole as the drill melted [...]

Space Dust Indicates Ancient Origin for Saturn's Rings

Mosaic image showing Saturn backlit by the Sun, one of the most beautiful photographs sent back by Cassini. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The origin of Saturn’s rings has been one of the most interesting puzzles in planetary science, and now new data from the Cassini spacecraft is helping to fill in the pieces, showing [...]

Dust in the (Interstellar) Wind: Seven Particles of Possible Interstellar Origin Identified in Samples Returned by NASA's Stardust Spacecraft

A team of researchers has identified seven dust particles that were returned to Earth in 2006 by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, which might have originated in the interstellar medium. This false-color image shows a diffraction pattern created by one of these particles, named Orion. Image Credit: Zack Gainsforth

Following a preliminary analysis of the dust [...]

A Risky Rendezvous: 25 Years Since Voyager 2's Mission to Neptune (Part 2)

High-altitude clouds of Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, this week, humanity braced itself for its last, first-time, close-up glimpse of a new planet in the 20th century. NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in August 1977, had already conducted a breathtaking exploration of Jupiter and Saturn—together with its [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

Gliese 832c: Astronomers Discover Another Nearby Potentially Habitable Exoplanet

Artist’s conception of Gliese 832c. Image Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo/NASA Hubble/Stellarium

As the number of exoplanets discovered continues to grow exponentially, the number of potentially habitable worlds out there continues to increase as well. Astronomers have now reported finding another one of the nearest known of these kinds of planets so far, Gliese [...]

The Continuing Saga of Planet X: Could More Massive Planets Hide Beyond Pluto?

An artist’s impression of Eris, the most massive dwarf planet known to date, with an aphelion of 97 AU from the Sun. Could bigger Super-Earth-type planets be orbiting even farther out? Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada and Nick Risinger

 

Just like the proverbial cat with nine lives, the notion of an unseen planet orbiting [...]