New Pluto pictures show jelly-bean moon and mountains


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Newly-discovered frozen peaks on Pluto are taller than Ben Nevis while images of Nix reveal an unusual red spot

Newly-discovered frozen peaks on Pluto are taller than Ben Nevis while images of Nix reveal an unusual red spot

The latest pictures to be beamed back from the far reaches of the Solar System show a new mountain range on Pluto and the first close up images of two of the dwarf-planet’s smaller moons.

Animated Flyover of Pluto’s Icy Mountain

NASA’s New Horizons probe has discovered a new, mountain range on bright, heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Region.

These newly-discovered frozen peaks are estimated to be around 5,000ft high – about 600ft taller than Ben Nevis.

The Norgay Mountains discovered by New Horizons on July 15 are much taller, around 11,000ft, roughly the height of The Pyrenees.

The new range is just west of the region within Pluto’s heart called Sputnik Plain and some 68 miles northwest of Norgay Mountains..

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New Horizons has also picked up the first images large images of two of Pluto’s smaller moons.
Nix and Hydra – the second and third moons to be discovered – are approximately the same size, but their similarity ends there.

New Horizons’ first colour image of Nix shows a jelly bean shaped satellite which is 26 miles long and 22 miles wide.

Although the overall surface colour of Nix is neutral grey in the image, the newfound region has a distinct red tint. Hints of a bull’s-eye pattern lead scientists to speculate that the reddish region is a crater.

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Meanwhile, the sharpest image yet received from New Horizons of Pluto’s satellite Hydra shows that its irregular shape resembles the state of Michigan.

There appear to be at least two large craters, one of which is mostly in shadow. The upper portion looks darker than the rest of Hydra, suggesting a possible difference in surface composition.

Source: Telegraph

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New Nasa camera provides an ‘EPIC’ view of Earth


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This is what Earth looks like from a million miles away.

The stunning image, which focuses on America, was taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) and is the satellite’s first view of the entire sunlit side of our planet.

It was presented to the White House today, prompting a tweet from President Barack Obama describing it as: ‘A beautiful reminder that we need to protect the only planet we have.’

The blue marble was captured by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (Epic) and created by combining three separate images to show the Earth in incredible detail.

The camera takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband filters – from ultraviolet to near infrared.

‘This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space,’ said Nasa Administrator Charlie Bolden.

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DSCOVR orbits the sun at a location called the Lagrange point 1, or L1, It’s from that unique vantage point that the Epic instrument is acquiring science quality images of the entire sunlit face of Earth. Data from Epic will be used to measure ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3168520/America-like-ve-never-seen-New-Nasa-camera-provides-EPIC-view-Earth-million-miles-away.html#ixzz3gcucsg7K

Astronomers Find Rare 5-Star System


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An illustration of two contacting stars — part of the newly discovered bizarre five-star system.

Scientists have discovered an absolutely bizarre star system about 250 light years away, in the constellation Ursa Major.

The system (officially known as 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5) features five stars that are all gravitationally bound together. Two orbit each other in what’s called a contact eclipsing binary, meaning they’re so close together that they actually share an atmosphere, with gases flowing between them.

Another two stars also orbit each other, but at a much greater distance — about 1.8 million miles, which is more than twice the diameter of the sun. Another star hangs out near that pair, but doesn’t appear to orbit them.

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Systems that include five stars gravitationally bound together are rare, though not unprecedented (astronomers have actually found systems that include as many as six stars). But this is the first one ever found that includes multiple pairs of stars orbiting each other.

The discoverers of the strange system — a team of astronomers from Open University in the UK and elsewhere — presented all these discoveries in a new paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Thanks to George Dvorsky at io9 for bringing it to our attention.

Source: vox.com

After the Moon and Mars, ISRO eyes Venus for next exploration mission


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After the successful launch of its Mars orbiter, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now viewing Venus as possibly the next planet it can study and explore.

“Besides the Mars-2 mission, we are looking at Venus and even an asteroid for exploration. A project has to be formulated for this before we chart out a proper roadmap for the explorations.  Venus is our neighbour and has many scientific challenges and aspects that need to be studied. Exploring an asteroid is also challenging task,” Dr Kiran Kumar, Isro chairman, told HT.

In 2014, India created history in space when its Mars orbiter slipped into the Red Planet’s orbit in its maiden attempt.

India became the first Asian country to reach Mars and the first in the world to enter the orbit of the planet in its first attempt.

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Photo of Mars as taken by ISRO’s Mars Oriber Mission

Regarding the Saarc satellite, Dr Kumar said that it would be launched before December 2016. “The activities related to this project are in progress and we should begin building the satellite soon.”

Moving beyond satellite launches and planetary explorations, Isro is also aggressively working with many government departments on optimising the usage of space tools and data.

A national meet on space is likely to be held in Delhi next month, where ministries and departments of the government will give presentations on how they are using space tools in their workings. From civil aviation to railways, tribal affairs to health, postal to agriculture the number of government departments working with Isro has increased to more than 60 in the past few months.

Source : HindustanTimes

Stunning first hi-definition image of Pluto reveals huge mountains


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The first ever high-resolution image of Pluto has been beamed back to Earth showing water ice and 11,000ft (3,350 metre) mountains. The mountains likely formed no more than 100 million years ago – mere youngsters relative to the 4.56-billion-year age of the solar system. Nasa says they may still be in the process of building

Like the rest of Pluto, this region would presumably have been pummeled by space debris for billions of years and would have once been heavily cratered – unless recent activity had given the region a facelift, erasing those pockmarks.

‘We now have an isolated small planet that is showing activity after 4.5 billion years,’ said Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator. ‘It’s going to send a lot of geophysicists back to the drawing board.’

‘This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,’ added Jeff Moore of New Horizons’ Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI).

This is the first time astronomers have seen a world that is mostly composed of ice that is not orbiting a planet.

Unlike the icy moons of giant planets, Pluto cannot be heated by the gravitational pull of a larger planetary body. Nasa says some other process must be generating the mountainous landscape.

‘This may cause us to rethink what powers geological activity on many other icy worlds,’ says GGI deputy team leader John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute.

In a Wednesday press conference, scientists also revealed a high-resolution photo of Pluto’s moon Charon, which is covered in cliffs and ridges:

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They also released the first-ever photo of Pluto’s tiny moon Hydra, which appears to be covered in water ice:

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A new sneak-peak image of Hydra  is the first to reveal its apparent irregular shape and its size, estimated to be about 27 by 20 miles (43 by 33km). The surface shows differences in brightness, which suggests that Hydra’s outer layer is composed manly of water ice .

Read more: Daily Mail

SpaceX’s rocket just exploded. Here’s why that’s such a big deal.


SpaceX’s unmanned Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sunday but exploded a few minutes after liftoff. It was on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. (NASA)

An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded a couple of minutes after liftoff Sunday morning. It was the third cargo mission to the space station to be lost in recent months.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder tweeted that “there was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.” He added: “That’s all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough” analysis.

NASA officials said it was not clear what caused the explosion. During an afternoon press conference William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said there was “no negligence here.”

The three failures from three different launch providers show “the challenges facing engineering and the challenges facing space flight in general.”

The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 10:21 a.m., and everything seemed fine until 2 minutes at 19 seconds. Then video of the launch showed harrowing, if now familiar, images of a rocket exploding into a plume of smoke. The Falcon 9 was carrying more than 4,000 pounds of food and supplies to the space station, where American Scott Kelly is spending a year. There were no astronauts onboard.

The explosion also lost many student experiments and a water filtration system. Also onboard was a piece of hardware that would be used to help two new crew vehicles dock to the station.

Source : Wahshington Post

NASA to Send Microsoft’s Virtual Reality Headset to International Space Station


NASA is sending Microsoft’s virtual reality headset to the International Space Station (ISS) to beam back to Earth what astronauts see in space.

NASA and Microsoft are teaming up to develop Sidekick, a new project using commercial technology to empower astronauts aboard the ISS.

Sidekick uses Microsoft HoloLens to provide virtual aid to astronauts working off the Earth.

A pair of the devices is scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the station on June 28.

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS programme at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars,” said Mr Scimemi.

The goal of Sidekick is to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it. This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.

“Sidekick is a prime example of an application for which we envisioned HoloLens being used – unlocking new potential for astronauts and giving us all a new perspective on what is possible with holographic computing,” said Alex Kipman, technical fellow, Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.

NASA and Microsoft engineers tested Project Sidekick and the Microsoft HoloLens aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to ensure they function as expected in free-fall in advance of their delivery to the microgravity environment of the space station.

Sidekick has two modes of operation. The first is “Remote Expert Mode,” which uses Skype to allow a ground operator to see what a crew member sees, provide real-time guidance, and draw annotations into the crew member’s environment to coach him or her through a task.

Until now, crew members have relied on written and voice instructions when performing complex repair tasks or experiments.

The second mode is “Procedure Mode,” which augments standalone procedures with animated holographic illustrations displayed on top of the objects with which the crew is interacting.

This capability could lessen the amount of training that future crews will require and could be an invaluable resource for missions deep into our solar system, where communication delays complicate difficult operations.

Source : NDTV

Dwarf planet Ceres reveals pyramid-shaped mystery


Image of Pyramid taken by NASA’s Spacecraft DAWN. Do you think it is just a simple mountain or Something else.
OK, this is just too much.

First, NASA’s Dawn probe spotted curiously sparkly bright spots on the surface of Ceres, the dwarf planet that lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Beats us, the scientists said.

Now, cameras on the tractor-trailer-size spacecraft have captured a baffling structure rising 3 miles above the planet’s cratered surface.

Conveniently, the thing looks an awful lot like a pyramid.”Intriguing,” the NASA scientists said.

 Another Image of Ceres showing Strange mysterious lights. Image taken by NASA’s DAWN spacecraft.
To be fair, the agency offered no suggestion that the towering structure is an offering to some long-lost space emperor or home to our new alien overlords.
And, to be even more fair, it’s probably just a really tall mountain in a solar system filled with wondrous and strange natural phenomena.

But the Dawn mission has done nothing but stoke imaginations since the discovery of mysterious bright spots on the surface of the dwarf planet in February and the beginning of the probe’s orbit in March.

Folks have claimed to have spotted giant alien motherships hovering over the planet, bat-winged spaceships parked on its surface and even evidence of alien cities.

But the mystery only deepened with the most recent batch of images showing even more bright spots alongside the largest one, which NASA said looks to stretch some 6 miles.

Many, of course, insist that the spots look for all the world like brightly lit cities twinkling on the shadowed surface of the distant dwarf planet.

I knew it! There’s gambling going on on Ceres! #aliens pic.twitter.com/QP6PB6JFho

 
— Chris Reher (@Chris_Reher) June 13, 2015
Of course, NASA hasn’t traveled down that road. Scientists, they say, still don’t know what the spots are. Maybe ice. Maybe salt.
“But scientists are considering other options, too,” NASA said coyly.
But #itsaliens, right?
Source : FirstPost
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Moon Experiences Quake Just Like Earthquake


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As the earthquake is still an unsolved mystery for the scientists, by adding another, an Indian scientist has discovered that moon also feels tremors and quakes like earth.

The discovery is made by India’s first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 as the scientist has revealed that when the tectonic plates of moon collide, causes Quakes just like earthquake.

The plates make up the crust and upper surface and when it collide together, it causes moon-quake.

The discovery is noted out by Saumitra Mukherjee, a Professor of Geology and Remote Sensing at the School of Environmental Sciences in Jawaharlal Nehru University and a student of the university Priyadarshini Singh.

The images providing clues to the occurrence of quakes on the Moon, were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera and Narrow Angle camera aboard Chandrayaan-1.

The images depict South Polar region of the Moon and spews clue on the presence of tectonic plates which when move can cause quakes similar to earthquakes, explained study authors.

Launched in 2008, the main aim of the Chandrayaan-1 was to make a 3-dimentsional model of the Moon and mapping of chemical composition on its surface.

The discovery will help the researchers as they may be able to predict quakes on the Moon going ahead, by analyzing tectonic plate movements on the Moon and comparing them with earthquakes.

Source : ISRO

Mars has Beautiful Auroras Visible with the Naked Eye, NASA Confirms


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The stunning light show is similar to the Northern Lights, but a different colour

The Northern Lights are one of Earth’s most spectacular phenomena – with eerie green and red streaks colouring the sky.

It turns out that Mars has a similar light show – visible to the naked eye of anyone on the surface of the Red Planet – but it glows a bright blue.

That’s according to research by planetary scientist Cyril Simon Wedlund from Aalto University.

He and his team carried out an experiment in the lab to simulate the conditions on Mars.

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The Planeterella sphere simulates a magnetized planet with an atmosphere of CO2 and bombarded by the solar wind. Blue aurorae develop according to its magnetic field configuration. (D. Bernard/IPAG — CNRS)

The experiment replicated the Martian atmosphere – made up mostly of carbon dioxide – using a ‘Planeterrella’, a piece of kit that can recreate aurora in the laboratory.

In the case of the Mars experiment, a blue glow formed around the magnetic structures.

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They believe that blue is the most prominent color, though red and green may also make an appearance, and that the lights — like ones on Earth — appear several times in a solar cycle, after intense solar activity.

If an astronaut looked to the southern sky from the surface of Mars during one of these flare-ups, the researchers say, he or she would see a sky glowing with blue. Until then, we’ll just have to keep imagining them.

The Auroras are visible in many other planets like Jupiter, Saturn. below are the some photographs of auroras taken by various probes.

Source : Washington post, Mirror