NASA’s Messenger Spacecraft Crashes into Mercury, Captures Stunning Shots Before Demise


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Artist rendering of Messenger above Mercury.

NASA confirmed Thursday afternoon that its Messenger spacecraft collided into Mercury’s surface at more than 8,000 mph, creating a new crater on the planet.

NOTE : MESSENGER (a backronym of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) was a robotic NASA spacecraft which orbited the planet Mercury.MESSENGER became the second mission after Mariner 10’s 1975 flyby to reach Mercury when it made a flyby in January 2008, followed by a second flyby in October 2008, and a third flyby in September 2009, prior to entering Mercury’s orbit in March 2011. It was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

“Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating Messenger as more than a successful mission,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said. “The Messenger mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission — analyzing the exciting data already in the archives, and unraveling the mysteries of Mercury.”

But before Messenger’s years-long mission came an end, NASA released several new photos of Mercury, as taken by the spacecraft. Some of these photos were composite imagery, combining years of data and photos collected by Messenger, according to CNET.

Here’s one of the incredible false-color images recently published by NASA. The different colors signify variations in mineral composition, topography and other factors on Mercury’s surface.

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Here are some images of Mercury,

Click Image to Start Slideshow

The mission ended, according to NASA, because the spacecraft’s thrusters have run out of fuel.

Source : Weather.com

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Hubble captures green ‘quasar ghosts’ from past radiation blast


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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a set of enigmatic quasar ghosts — ethereal green objects which mark the graves of these objects that flickered to life and then faded. The eight unusual looped structures orbit their host galaxies and glow in a bright and eerie goblin-green hue. They offer new insights into the turbulent pasts of these galaxies.

Hubble Space Telescope has discovered manifestations from the remote past, bright streams of gas, which look like immense looped objects glowing green, once ionized by quasars that no longer exist.

The telescope, which will turn 25 in 20 days, has taken photos of eight unusual space objects glowing emerald in the depths of space. Light emitting space areas dubbed ‘Hanny’s Voorwerp’ are tens of thousands of light years across.

The first object of this kind was spotted by Dutch schoolteacher Hanny van Arkel in 2007.

Hubble spies eight green filaments lit up by past quasar blasts

The ethereal wisps in these images were illuminated, perhaps briefly, by a blast of radiation from a quasar — a very luminous and compact region that surrounds a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. Galactic material falls inwards towards the central black hole, growing hotter and hotter, forming a bright and brilliant quasar with powerful jets of particles and energy beaming above and below the disc of infalling matter.

In each of these eight images a quasar beam has caused once-invisible filaments in deep space to glow through a process called photoionisation. Oxygen, helium, nitrogen, sulphur and neon in the filaments absorb light from the quasar and slowly re-emit it over many thousands of years. Their unmistakable emerald hue is caused by ionised oxygen, which glows green.

hese objects were found in a spin-off of the Galaxy Zoo project, in which about 200 volunteers examined over 16 000 galaxy images in the SDSS to identify the best candidates for clouds similar to Hanny’s Voorwerp. A team of researchers analysed these and found a total of twenty galaxies that had gas ionised by quasars. Their results appear in a paper in the Astronomical Journal.

Source : RT , Spacetelescope.org

The icy eyes of Mars


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One thing all solid bodies in the Solar System share in common is craters. Some worlds, like Mercury or the Moon, are covered in them, having no atmosphere to erode them away. Earth has relatively few; our dynamic atmosphere and water circulation wipes them out after a few millennia. And some icy bodies like Saturn’s moon Enceladus or Jupiter’s Europa only have a few because their surfaces are also constantly changing… on a geologic timescale.

Source : Sen Blog

Rosetta images reveal crack hundreds of meters long in comet 67P


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Image of Comet 67P taken by ESA’s Rosetta (Click Image to Download)

The European Space Agency (ESA) succeeded in delivering the Philae lander to the surface of comet 67P several months ago, but its Rosetta probe hasn’t been twiddling its robotic thumbs since then. It’s still in orbit of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko to study the comet as it gets closer to the sun. In the newest set of images published by the ESA, scientists reveal 67P is coming apart at the seams. A huge crack was discovered running hundreds of meters along the surface.

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To visualize what’s happening, it’s important to know a little about the shape of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Many of us have an idea of comets as being more or less round, but many of them are actually quite oddly shaped. For example, 67P has two lobes, one smaller than the other, connected by a narrow neck. It looks a little like a rubber duck. The crack detected by Rosetta’s Osiris camera is in the neck region, which is also where most of the gas and dust is being expelled.

The crack is about one meter in width, which wouldn’t be so impressive if it wasn’t covering such a large area. The neck region where the crack was found is only 1km wide after all, so a few hundred meters is nothing to sneeze at. In the image above, the crack is visible in two locations on the surface, but the middle section is obscured by layers of dust, which the ESA team has found is plentiful on the surface of 67P, especially in the neck region where the object’s minimal gravity is even less substantial.

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67P won’t reach its closest approach to the sun for several months, but it’s already losing more than 11kg of gas and dust every second. Scientists are unsure if the crack will worsen or close up as the comet continues to lose weight. If the stresses on the neck increase, the comet could fracture and break in two .
Some researchers believe that 67P’s shape is the result of two smaller objects colliding in the distant past, so this crack could be following an existing “fault line” in the structure. It’s also possible this crack is nothing out of the ordinary for porous comets like 67P as they erode. It’s hard to say for sure — this is the first time we’ve gotten such a close-up look at a comet.

Rosetta dropped the Philae lander off on 67P back in November, but it didn’t quite go as planned. The lander’s harpoons failed to fire, which caused it to bounce along the surface, eventually coming to rest in a shadow that prevented the solar panels from creating enough power. After doing most of its science, Philae went to sleep. The ESA has continued to monitor conditions on the comet with Rosetta and hopes that when the comet nears the sun, it will shine more light on Philae, allowing it to come back online.

Philae isn’t close enough to the neck region to offer any insights about the newly discovered crack, but it can certainly tell us more about the composition of 67P. Even if Philae never comes back online, Rosetta will keep an eye on the surface from a few kilometers up. It will be there through 67P’s solar perigee in August, and will follow as it heads back out toward Jupiter.

Source : Geek.com

Europe Wants To Send Humans To The Dark Side Of The Moon


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(Click Image to Download)

Should we return to the Moon? While Elon Musk, Mars One, and even NASA have their sights set on the Red planet, many think that the Moon is a better option for space exploration .
The European Space Agency (ESA) is one – they just released a new video stating that the Moon is an important and crucial step in mankind’s future.

“In the future, the Moon can become a place where the nations of the world can come together to understand our common origins, to build a common future, and to share a common journey beyond. A place where we can learn to move onwards into the solar system,” ESA explains in the video “Destination: Moon” .

ESA envisions future manned missions to the far side of the Moon – also known as the dark side of the Moon because it never faces the Earth (though it isn’t shrouded in darkness at all). This alien landscape is a rugged terrain, scarred with billions of years worth of impact craters, including one of the largest impact craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.

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Photograph of the far side of the moon taken by a crew member on Apollo 16.

Scientists think the crater formed around 4 billion years ago. Inside of this 8.1-mile-deep crater, certain parts are shrouded in perpetual, freezing darkness, but at the crater’s rim, shown below, are high, mountainous peaks that bathe in almost-constant sunlight. It’s here, on these lunar mountains that ESA plans to send robots and eventually humans.

By sending future missions to the Moon we will be able to answer questions like:

  • Is there water elsewhere on the Moon?
  • If so, how much?
  • Where did it come from?
  • And what can it teach us about the origins of water and life on Earth?

If the Moon proves to have an abundant store of water under it surface, then future human generations can use the hydrogen and oxygen atoms for rocket fuel.

To Check out the full video Goto to Business Insider

Huygens probe landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on 14 January 10 years ago


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Image of Titan taken by NASA’s Cassini Space Orbiter (Click Image to Download)

In honor of the Huygens probe’s historic 2005 landing on the surface of Titan (Saturn’s largest satellite, and the only moon in our solar system with a dense atmosphere), NASA has released a movie that recreates, with data collected by Huygens and the Cassini orbiter, a dramatic approach of the moon’s surface from deep space.

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CREDIT : NASA

The descent on 15 January 2005 lasted a total of two hours, with Huygens landing on a frigid floodplain surrounded by icy cobblestones.

It is the only landing that has ever been performed in the outer solar system to date, and one of only a handful of bodies – the others being Venus, Mars, the moon, two asteroids and most recently a comet – that manmade probes have ever landed on.

On the surface the probe continued to send back data for more than an hour, until its batteries were drained.

Since that historic moment, scientists have pored over volumes of data about Titan sent back to Earth.

Here is the Video ,

Source : Dailymail , io9

New Hubble Telescope Photos Capture One of the Universe’s Most Stunning Formations


In 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope captured what would become one of history’s most enduring images of the universe: The Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. Now, 20 years later, Hubble has released a collection of brand new, high-definition shots of the iconic formation. 

If you thought the universe was hauntingly beautiful before, wait until you see these.

Behold:

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible

Eagle Nebula Captured by Hubble Space Telescope (Click Image to Download)

Comprised of three towers of gas, dust and space matter, structures like this are not altogether uncommon in star-forming regions. But as the Hubble website notes, the Pillars of Creation are some of the most photogenic and mesmerizing examples ever seen.

“The Hubble image of the pillars taken in 1995 is so popular that it has appeared in film and television, on tee-shirts and pillows, and even on postage stamps,” HubbleSite writes.

The telescope used the Wide Field Camera 3 to capture the stunning new images. It sees near-infrared light, visible like and near-ultraviolet radiation, and also has higher resolution and a bigger field of view than the camera that came before it.

This time, Hubble also captured an image taken in infra-red light, which “penetrates much of the obscuring dust and gas and unveils a more unfamiliar view of the pillars,” according to the website. “Here newborn stars, hidden in the visible-light view, can be seen forming within the pillars themselves.”

New view of the Pillars of Creation — infrared

Not everything is happy-go-lucky in Pillars of Creation-land, however. Despite their name, the new shots indicate that the pillars are also being worn down by the very stars they are helping to incubate. “The dust and gas in these pillars is seared by intense radiation from the young stars forming within them, and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars,” HubbleSite explains.

Arizona State University’s Paul Scowen, who helped lead Hubble’s first deep dive into the Eagle Nebula, stressed just how incredible our sightings of the Pillars are. “I’m impressed by how transitory these structures are,” he said in a press release. “We have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution.”

Interestingly, environments like the Eagle Nebula and other star-forming regions were instrumental in our own solar system’s development. “What that means is when you look at the environment of the Eagle Nebula or other star-forming regions, you’re looking at exactly the kind of nascent environment that our Sun formed in,” Scowen said.

The Pillars of Creation — 1995 and 2015 comparison

Source : mic.com

This One Picture Will Make You Realize How Big The Universe Actually Is


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Milky Way Galaxy (Click Image to Download)

We’ve all heard the universe is a very big place, but this image from Alex Grossman really drives that concept home.

The question: How far has humanity’s influence reached?

The very first thing created by humanity that left our tiny planet wasn’t a satellite or space ship, it was the broadcasts from a world obsession with radio. This image shows how far radio broadcasts will have reached in our galaxy, the Milky Way, by the time that technology is 200 years old. Considering we only started broadcasting in 1880, this map actually represents our reach in 2080.

In the vacuum of space radio waves travel at the speed of light, so our entire influence on the universe has now traveled just 135 light years away from Earth (1 “light year” equals the distance light travels in 1 year). That’s right, the tiny blue dot in the image below is how far every single action by humanity has reached. Feel tiny yet?

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How does that compare to our furthest traveling spacecraft? The Voyager 1, which is now traveling almost outside the influence of our Sun, is only about 18 light hours away from the Earth. That’s about 97,000 times smaller than the blue dot in these pictures.

Now for the real kicker.

How many galaxies like our Milky Way are in the entire Universe? No one knows the actual figure because we can’t see to the outside edge (if there is one), but the amount we can see in the observable universe is estimated to be… wait for it…

…more than 170 billion galaxies.

There it is. We are really, really, very, amazingly, incredibly, so, small.
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Milky Way galaxy rendering by Nick Risinger

Source : www.visualnews.com

NASA plans to fix Mars Rover Opportunity’s Amnesia via Hacking


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NASA’s Opportunity (Click Image to download)

It’s been more than 10 years since NASA’s rover Opportunity landed on the red planet. The rover has been exploring Mars ever since and has provided a lot of information for the understanding of the red planet. NASA has also stated that the rover Opportunity has lasted on Mars more than they ever anticipated it to. But the recent memory problems suggest that the rover may be coming to an end of its life. But still NASA plans to sort out the issue through hacking into the software of the rover.

NASA has explained that the rover like a typical computer has two memory parts, one volatile like the RAM of our computer which totally gets wiped out when we shutdown or reboot our computer, and the other non-volatile which acts like the secondary storage such as the hard disk on our computer. The non-volatile memory preserves data even after rebooting or shutting down.

The rover Opportunity has a problem in its volatile memory which may be related to the ageing hardware on the rover.

The data cannot be saved by the rover in its volatile memory because an error occurs so the rover then has to save the data in its non-volatile memory.

The problem then arises as the non-volatile memory even though large but still has a finite limit to it, meaning the rover can’t operate for long in this condition.

Even though the rover can operate normally at present, but NASA plans to fix the issue by hacking into the software of the rover and disregard the bad patch of the volatile memory that causes this issue.

NASA does understand that there’s a chance that the process may cause permanent damage to the rover but since it has outperformed its anticipated life, NASA plans to move ahead with the solution nonetheless.

Source : full-timewhistle.com

Hubble captures image of galaxy 60 million light-years away


The beautiful side of IC 335

Photo: Hubble/NASA and ESA) IC 335 located at Fornax Galaxy (Click Image to Dwonload)

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a galaxy far, far away …

Located 60 million light-years away, the galaxy IC 335 is part of a galaxy group containing three other galaxies, and located in the Fornax Galaxy.

NASA shared the stunning space image on Facebook Dec. 24, and it has been liked more than 33,000 times.

Because many of the characteristics of a galaxy are only visible from its face, NASA says it’s difficult to classify the “edge on” IC 335.

According to NASA, the “45,000 light-year-long galaxy could be classified as an SO type,” or lenticular galaxy, which typically have a thin stellar disk and a bulge and fall between a true spiral and an elliptical galaxy.

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the galaxy IC 335 in front of a backdrop of distant galaxies. IC 335 is part of a galaxy group containing three other galaxies, and located in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster 60 million light-years away.

As seen in this image, the disk of IC 335 appears edge-on from the vantage point of Earth. This makes it harder for astronomers to classify it, as most of the characteristics of a galaxy’s morphology — the arms of a spiral or the bar across the center — are only visible on its face. Still, the 45 000 light-year-long galaxy could be classified as an S0 type.

These lenticular galaxies are an intermediate state in galaxy morphological classification schemes between true spiral and elliptical galaxies. They have a thin stellar disk and a bulge, like spiral galaxies, but in contrast to typical spiral galaxies they have used up most of the interstellar medium. Only a few new stars can be created out of the material that is left and the star formation rate is very low. Hence, the population of stars in S0 galaxies consists mainly of aging stars, very similar to the star population in elliptical galaxies.

As S0 galaxies have only ill-defined spiral arms they are easily mistaken for elliptical galaxies if they are seen inclined face-on or edge-on as IC 335 here. And indeed, despite the morphological differences between S0 and elliptical class galaxies, they share some common characteristics, like typical sizes and spectral features.

Both classes are also deemed “early-type” galaxies, because they are evolving passively. However, while elliptical galaxies may be passively evolving when we observe them, they have usually had violent interactions with other galaxies in their past. In contrast, S0 galaxies are either aging and fading spiral galaxies, which never had any interactions with other galaxies, or they are the aging result of a single merger between two spiral galaxies in the past. The exact nature of these galaxies is still a matter of debate.

Credit:  USA TODAY /ESA/Hubble and NASA