The National Space Society put together an incredible video preview of the history-making moment. It has the vibe of a movie trailer, complete with epic narration and stunning visuals, and it perfectly captures why space enthusiasts are so psyched about the New Horizons mission.
The video sweeps you through a timeline of the last half century of space exploration using beautiful images of each planet we’ve explored, starting with Venus in 1962 and ending with Neptune in 1989.
New Horizons will reach Pluto and its moons on July 14, and they will be “the farthest worlds ever to be explored by humankind,” the video says.
Two of the crew, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korneinko, have spent the entire year in space and have undergone medical studies to help further scientific advancements on Earth. Other astronauts were rotated in at the end of Expedition 42 in December.
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.
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.
Astronomers have detected the universe’s largest known cosmological supervoid in the Southern constellation of Eridanus. Spanning some 1.8 billion light years !!!!!!!
(1 Light Years ~ 9 Trillion Kilometer)
It might be the single largest structure ever in the universe, and the only sign of it is nothing – just empty space 1.8 billion light years across. That’s 18,000 times larger than our entire galaxy.
the team remains mainly baffled as to why such an extensive void — in which the “density of galaxies is much lower than in the known universe” — could have actually arisen.
“This supervoid is certainly rare,” Greg Aldering, a cosmologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California, told Forbes. “Underdense by about 30 percent, it’s not completely empty. But what’s rare is the [spatial] extent of this void itself.”
This artist’s conception shows the newly discovered alien planet also Known as OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb , which is about 13,000 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers have found an exoplanet nearly 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known to man. This discovery is important not because of the planet itself, a gas giant about half the size of Jupiter, but because what it means for the future of planetary discovery and mapping.
“For context, most of the planets we do know about are a factor of 10-100 times closer than OGLE-2014-BLG-0124,” Dr. Jennifer Yee, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge
Far, far away.
The microlensing technique has helped astronomers discover about 30 distant alien planets in our Milky Way’s bulge, the galaxy’s central area of mostly old stars, gas, and dust.
The farthest known exoplanet resides some 25,000 light years away in the bulge of our galaxy, Yee said in the email. The bulge is a very different environment from the Milky Way’s disk, where our own solar system is located.
According to Yee, no exoplanets have been found outside of our galaxy, which spans about 100,000 light years.
This artist’s map of the Milky Way shows the location of some of the farthest known exoplanets, including OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb.
Comparing planets to planets. Astronomers hope not only to gain a better understanding of the distribution of planets in the Milky Way, but also to gather enough detail about distant planets to compare them with those closer to Earth. More than 1,000 exoplanets closer to home have been discovered by the planet-hunting Kepler mission and ground-based observatories, Space.com reported.
“We would really like to know whether planets form in the central bulge of our galaxy the same way that they do here, near the sun, where the overwhelming majority of planets have been found,” Dr. Andrew Gould, professor of math and physical sciences at Ohio State University, and a co-author of the paper describing the newfound exoplanet, told The Huffington Post.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Spitzer telescope is scheduled to observe about 120 more “microlensing” events this summer, which could lead to the discovery of even more distant exoplanets.
This infographic explains how NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope can be used in tandem with a ground-based telescope to measure the distances to planets using the “microlensing” technique.
After spending several weeks in the shadow of Ceres, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is finally getting a close-up glimpse of the dwarf planet.
For Those Who Don’t Know About CERES : Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is composed of rock and ice, is 950 kilometers (590 miles) in diameter, and comprises approximately one third of the mass of the asteroid belt. It is the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System and the only object in the asteroid belt known to be unambiguously rounded by its own gravity.
Ceres’ cratered north pole blazes through the darkness in new images captured by Dawn on April 10. The photos are the highest-resolution views of the world that Dawn has gotten since entering Ceres’ orbit on March 6, NASA officials said.
Dawn was about 21,000 miles (33,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet when the pictures were taken, and mission team members promise even better views of Ceres in the months to come.
Full science observations begin April 23, when lighting conditions will be better for Dawn and the probe will be even closer to Ceres — just 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometers) above the surface. Dawn will begin moving even lower down on May 9.
In future weeks, NASA hopes the mission will help scientists better understand a key mystery of Ceres: strange bright spots on its surface that, in some cases, have different temperatures than the terrain surrounding them. Mission scientists still don’t know what the spots are made of.
The $466 million Dawn mission, which launched in September 2007, aims to better characterize the solar system’s early days by studying Ceres and Vesta, two intact protoplanets that are the largest denizens of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The probe spent 14 months at the 330-mile-wide (530-kilometer-wide) Vesta in 2011 and 2012, then headed to Ceres.
Mission scientists said they expect that Ceres, which is about 590 miles (950 km) wide, will be wetter than Vesta, and made of different stuff. Some researchers think Ceres may even harbor liquid water beneath its surface, perhaps making the dwarf planet capable of hosting life as we know it.
Our sun is nearly 4.5 billion years — which means it missed the charming initial years of the Milky Way galaxy. If you were standing on a planet nearly about 10 billion years ago, when the Milky Way was pretty young, the night sky would have appeared very different. The image below is an artist’s impression of the night sky on a planet in a relatively young Milky Way-type galaxy, the way our galaxy was 10 billion years ago. You can see “the sky are ablaze with star birth. Pink clouds of gas harbor newborn stars, and bluish-white, young star clusters litter the landscape,” as NASA explains.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Z. Levay (STScI)
A recent study of young galaxies like our own demonstrates that as these galaxies slow down creating stars, they also stop developing as quickly in general. Which is quite logical. NASA explains:
“Astronomers don’t have baby pictures of our Milky Way’s formative years to trace the history of stellar growth so they studied galaxies similar in mass to our Milky Way, found in deep surveys of the universe. The farther into the universe astronomers look, the further back in time they are seeing, because starlight from long ago is just arriving at Earth now. From those surveys, stretching back in time more than 10 billion years, researchers assembled an album of images containing nearly 2,000 snapshots of Milky Way-like galaxies. The new census provides the most complete picture yet of how galaxies like the Milky Way grew over the past 10 billion years into today’s majestic spiral galaxies. The multi-wavelength study spans ultraviolet to far-infrared light, combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, and ground-based telescopes, including the Magellan Baade Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.”
Above is a selection of Hubble Space Telescope photos, displaying how galaxies similar to our own developed over time.
This newly released Hubble image shows Messier 22, the brightest globular cluster visible from the northern hemisphere.
A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers.
Messier 22 is located in the constellation Sagittarius, approximately 10,400 light-years away.
It was the first globular cluster to be discovered. German astronomer Johann Abraham Ihle found it on August 26, 1665, while observing Saturn.
The cluster, also known as M22 or NGC 6656, has a diameter of about 70 light-years and half a million solar masses.
According to astronomers, Messier 22 orbits the galactic center once every 200 million years.
The cluster is an easy object for the naked eye to see. Despite its relative proximity to us, the light from the cluster’s stars is not as bright as it should be as it is dimmed by dust and gas located between us and Messier 22.
As they are leftovers from the early Universe, globular clusters are popular study objects for astronomers.
Messier 22 has fascinating additional features: six planet-sized objects that are not orbiting a star have been detected in the cluster; it seems to host two black holes.
The cluster is one of only three ever found to host a planetary nebula – a short-lived gaseous shells ejected by massive stars at the ends of their lives.
Underneath some nondescript farmland near Geneva, on the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s biggest and most expensive scientific experiment is ready to re-start.
Physicists hope it could lead to discoveries that could potentially represent the biggest revolution in physics since Einstein’s theories of relativity.
Among them is Prof Jordan Nash from Imperial College London, who is working on the CMS experiment at the LHC.
“We are opening a new window on the Universe and looking forward to seeing what’s there,” he said.
“As much as we have a lot of theories of what might be out there we don’t know. We’d love to find something completely unexpected and we might, and that’s the exciting bit.”
Why are scientists doubling the LHC’s energy?
They want a glimpse into a world never seen before. By smashing atoms harder than they have been smashed before physicists hope to see peel back another veil of reality.
The aim of the various theories of physics is to explain how the Universe was formed and how the bits that make it up work.
One of the most successful of these theories is called the “Standard Model“.
It explains how the world of the very, very small works.
Just as the world became very strange when Alice shrunk after drinking a potion in the children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, physicists have found things are quite different when they study the goings on at scales that are even smaller than the size of an atom.
By doubling the energy of the LHC, it will enable them to discover new characters in the wonderful and mysterious tale of how the Universe works and came to be.
The Standard Model describes how the basic building blocks that make up atoms and govern the forces of nature interact.
And just as in Alice’s stories it features some eccentric characters, notably a family of 17 elementary particles.
Some are familiar from school physics lessons, household names if you like.
The biggest celebrity in the sub-atomic world is perhaps the electron, which orbits the atom and is involved in electricity and magnetism.
Another flashy A-lister is the photon, which is a particle of light.
But most particles from the Standard Model family are more niche, a little more art house if you like, and have strange names.
With the discovery of the sub-atomic world’s biggest celeb of all, the Higgs boson, scientists have now detected all the particles predicted by the Standard Model: a theory that beautifully explains how the Universe works in intricate detail.
Who knows, but possibly one of the biggest changes in thinking in physics for 100 years.
The sub-atomic world is set to become “curiouser and curiouser”.
Nasa has selected a variety of companies to work on projects to create advanced space technologies, including a faster method of propulsion known as Vasimr (illustrated), which could apparently get to Mars in a matter of weeks, not months
Company in Texas has been asked to develop its revolutionary engine
Ad Astra’s Vasimr engine could apparently get to Mars in 39 days
It is one of 12 advanced technology projects to be funded by Nasa
Others include new types of habitation and small deep space satellites
Nasa has selected a variety of companies to work on projects to create advanced space technologies, including faster methods of propulsion.
Other projects to be worked on include improved habitats for humans, and small satellites to explore deep space.
And one of the companies in the 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextStep) says they have an engine that could get humans to Mars in just 39 days.
The Vasimr engine – which uses plasma as a propellant – is being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket company in Texas.
Their engine shot to fame a few years ago when it was revealed that it could drastically reduce the journey time to Mars from months to weeks – although it may require a nuclear power source.
And following the successful test of a prototype in 2013, it seems Nasa is now considering it for use on a future mission to Mars.
If NASA successfully implements this engine then it will truly revolutionize whole Space Frontier. Imagine how easy it will become to explore near earth objects. Moreover, It will help to colonize mars in much faster rate.