Ceres: NASA Finds Mysterious White Spot On Dwarf Planet


9e0d6e9b1d1caa03490f6a706700d076

Ceres- A Dwarf Planet located at Asteroid belt (Click Image to Download)

NASA scientists have been stymied by the discovery of a large, bright white spot on the dwarf planet Ceres, which has been revealed in images from the Dawn spacecraft, set to soon arrive at the unusual celestial object.

Ceres-670-665x385

The white spot appeared in a series of photographs of Ceres taken on January 13, according to Space.com. Though the images were released on January 19, just what has caused the anomaly on the dwarf planet, which is located between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt, remains undetermined, according to mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman.

“Yes, we can confirm that it is something on Ceres that reflects more sunlight, but what that is remains a mystery,” he said.

The Dawn spacecraft marks the first mission to Ceres, and is set to arrive at the dwarf planet in March of this year. The spacecraft has traveled 3.1 billion miles over the last seven years, according to Popular Science, pushed toward the asteroid belt at just 450 mph by a set of ion thrusters.

Scientists know precious little about Ceres, which has a diameter of 590 miles and a surface area four times larger than the state of Texas. Astronomers have previously observed water vapor plumes erupting off Ceres, thought to be the product of ice geysers referred to as “cryovolcanos.” Though much of its mass is believed to be composed of water, some speculate that the Dawn mission will determine that the dwarf planet possesses a rocky, barren surface.

Although it is unclear what Dawn will find when it reaches the dwarf planet, the spacecraft already has a mystery to solve in the form of Ceres’ unusual white spot.

Source: www.inquisitr.com

Did NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Find Fish Fossil On Mars ?


Follow us on Google+ , Twitter and Facebook

Mars_Curiosity_Rover-665x385

Curiosity Mars rover has provided numerous intriguing insights into the mysteries of the Red Planet since it landed on the Martian surface two years ago. It has also supplied armchair astronomers with plenty of fringe theories about the planet that unfortunately seem to catch more attention on the internet than the actual research being done on Mars.

 Last month, amateur observers were quick to conclude photo-error unusualities on images taken by the rover as evidence for alien existence. A report gave details on how “experts” on social media, like YouTuber “Martian Archelogist” [sic], interpreted tricky lighting on rocks as actual elongated skulls left behind by otherworldly civilizations. These and other similar claims have either been disregarded or debunked by real researchers.

A more recent Mars “alien evidence” story has been circulating on social media for the past few days, detailing how Curiosity Mars rover allegedly discovered fish bones on the surface of the planet — particularly near the Windjana drilling target, where the rover has just recently completed drilling a hole. Allegedly dubbed as NASA’s “greatest discovery”, the fossils were reportedly found intact and resembling what humans might identify as the endoskeleton of a fish.

A site called MSNBC.website, which allegedly broke the story online, quoted statements reportedly released by NASA’s chief scientist Dr. Elle Stafon.

“This is extraordinary news for the scientific community. We’ve found minute evidence of prior life before but nothing as concrete as this.”

Although there is an actual Dr. Stafon working at NASA, the statements she allegedly issued regarding the rover fish bone discovery were fabricated. The image of the fossil discovery provided by the article has also been proven to be a doctored version of an actual NASA image of the Windjana area on Mars, the site of the Curiosity rover’s recently concluded drilling activities.

Since arriving on Mars in 2012, the Curiosity rover has actually made real discoveries about our nearest neighbor. Last year, the rover discovered the existence of an ancient, knee-deep streambed which used to flow on the Martian surface for thousands of years at a time. This inspired strong suspicions among scientists of ancient microbial life that may have existed on Mars hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Last June, the Curiosity Mars rover has officially spent a whole Martian year on its mission, having completed 687 Earth days of travel and discovery on the red planet.

Source :inquisitr

Scientists Discover Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is Red


Follow us on Google+ , Twitter and Facebook

Jupiter-Surface-Painting-Wallpaper

We know that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is red. Its color is right there in the name. However, why is it red? A team of NASA scientists recently found out.

Previous theories about the reddish color of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot suggested that the color comes from chemicals beneath Jupiter’s clouds, with certain chemicals forming lower in Jupiter’s atmosphere and then rising to the top of the spot.

However, after studying new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, along with laboratory experiments, scientists think that the red in the Red Spot comes from sunlight hitting chemicals higher up in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

After studying Cassini’s data, researchers used ultraviolet light to mimic sunlight, and blasted it at two gases known to exist on Jupiter: ammonia and acetylene. The result was a red material that matched Cassini’s observations of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

“Our models suggest most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material,” says Kevin Baines, a Cassini team scientist. “Under the reddish ‘sunburn’ the clouds are probably whitish or grayish.”

The Great Red Spot is actually a massive storm on the surface of Jupiter. It’s so big that three Earths could easily fit inside it. Discovered in the 1600s, the storm reaches high into Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

“The Great Red Spot is extremely tall,” Baines says. “It reaches much higher altitudes than clouds elsewhere on Jupiter.”

This high altitude is why the Great Red Spot’s color is so intense: the storm’s winds bring ammonia ice particles into the upper atmosphere, exposing it to more sunlight. Because the storm is spinning, similar to a hurricane, the ammonia particles can’t escape. This creates a constant red color at the top of the storm.

So why is the Great Red Spot’s color so important? Jupiter only has a few elements, with its body mostly formed of hydrogen and helium. By examining the colors on the planet’s surface, scientists can identify those elements and get a better idea of the planet’s chemical composition.

Jupiter displays a variety of similar shades across its surface: oranges, browns and other shades of red. These colors suggest areas with thinner and higher clouds, which lets us see deeper into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The Great Red Spot, though, stands out as one of Jupiter’s more mysterious features. Jupiter has no land mass, so a storm of that magnitude should have disappeared quickly in such a turbulent atmosphere. However, the Great Red Spot is still there, although recent measurements show that it’s possibly shrinking.

Source : techtime

Amateur astronomer spots supernova in nearby galaxy


Follow us on Google+ , Twitter and Facebook

SUPERNOVA

Two images taken six years apart highlight the new supernova discovered in the M61 galaxy 

An amateur astronomer has detected an exploding star in a bright, nearby galaxy. Koichi Itagaki, who has found over 80 such supernovas, noticed the exploding star as a brilliant point of light in the spiral galaxy M61, which sits a mere 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo.

Supernovas come in two flavors: the violent destruction of a very massive star or a thermonuclear eruption on the surface of an exposed stellar core. The explosions are rare, so finding one within our galactic neighborhood gives researchers a unique chance to study them up close.

Source :  Science news