Saturday, July 28, 2012

Two space anniversaries plus more space and astronomy news

Last week's top space and astronomy stories in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Two space anniversaries edition) on Daily Kos were also the top stories of the week. Here they are, minus last week's top story. I decided not to recycle.

Discovery News: Did We Meet Martians 36 Years Ago?
Analysis by Ray Villard
Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:47 AM ET
As we count down to the much-anticipated landing of NASA's six-wheeled Mars Science Lab (MSL) on Aug. 5/6th, it's noteworthy that 36 years ago today mankind made the first successful touchdown on the Red Planet.

The nuclear-powered Viking 1 lander settled down in a burst of retrorocket fire on a smooth circular plain close to the great volcanic Tharsis Bulge on July 20, 1976. Four billion years ago this region may have been a water-filled bay on Mars.
Viking 1 was shutdown in 1982, but its legacy is as alive as ever today. Viking 1, and its sister robot, Viking 2, were the only two spacecraft ever dispatched to Mars with miniature onboard biological laboratories that performed the first in-situ experiments to find extraterrestrial life.

Though sending such a payload to what was then a largely unknown planet seemed premature, it does reflect NASA's aggressive spirit of exploration from the glory days of the 1960s and early 70s.
Discovery News: Nixon's Contingency Plan for a Failed Apollo 11
Analysis by Amy Shira Teitel
Sat Jul 21, 2012 05:02 AM ET
On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin launched from the lunar surface and rejoined Michael Collins in orbit before the three men began their trip home.

Ascending from the lunar surface was one of the most important maneuvers on the mission; any problems could leave Aldrin and Armstrong stranded on the moon with no way home. It was a gruesome scenario, but not impossible. In the unlikely event this lunar disaster did happen, NASA had a plan in place.
More stories after the jump.

NASA Television on YouTube: Countdown to Curiosity on This Week @NASA

The most advanced robot ever sent to another world is nearing its destination, and NASA scientists and managers at a Headquarters news briefing called the Curiosity Rover mission the hardest one attempted in the history of robotic planetary exploration. Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars in the early morning hours of August 6, Eastern. Also, J-2X Test; 'Chutes Assured; New Digs for Space Trio; Science Supporters; Space Sojourn; Enterprise Unveiled; Remembering Apollo 11; and more.

Weird Ancient Spiral Galaxy Discovered
Gravitational tugs from a small intruder galaxy is believed to be responsible for sculpting ancient galaxy's unusual spiral structure.
By Irene Klotz
Wed Jul 18, 2012 01:00 PM ET
Astronomers have discovered a three-armed spiral galaxy dating back nearly 11 billion years -- much older than similarly structured objects that are common in the modern universe.

The discovery was so jarring, scientists at first didn't believe their data.

"Our first thought was that we must have the wrong distance for the galaxy," lead researcher David Law, with the University of Toronto, told Discovery News.

"Then we thought perhaps it was the human brain playing tricks on us. If you look at enough blobby, weird-looking galaxies sooner or later, like a Rorschach blob test, you start to pick out patterns whether or not they're there," Law said.
Discovery News: Exoplanet Neighbor is Smaller than Earth
Analysis by Irene Klotz
Wed Jul 18, 2012 03:14 PM ET
Astronomers believe they have found a planet about two-thirds the size of Earth orbiting a star 33 light-years away, a virtual neighbor in cosmic terms.

Don't pack your suitcase yet. The planet, known as UCF-1.01, is not very hospitable, with temperatures that exceed 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a surface that may be volcanic or molten and little if any atmosphere.

It's not just a summer heat wave. For UCF-1.01, it's a way of life. The planet is located so close to its parent star, a red dwarf known as GJ 436, that it completes an orbit in 1.4 Earth days.
NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: A Taste of Solar Maximum

Solar maximum is still a year away. This month sky watchers got a taste of things to come when a powerful flare sparked Northern Lights over the United States as far south as Arkansas, Colorado and California. via Discovery News: Multinational Soyuz Docks with Space Station
American, Russian and Japanese astronauts are being welcomed aboard the orbiting outpost.
Content provided by Mike Wall,
Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:15 PM ET
Three astronauts arrived at the International Space Station early Tuesday (July 17) for a four-month stay, bringing the huge orbiting outpost back to its full complement of six spaceflyers.

The Soyuz space capsule carrying the three new crewmembers -- NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Japanese spaceflyer Aki Hoshide -- docked with the station at 12:51 a.m. EDT Tuesday (0451 GMT) after a two-day flight. The Soyuz launched into orbit Saturday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"Everything is perfect," Malenchenko radioed Russia's Mission Control Center in Korolev, just outside Moscow. Video cameras on the exterior of the space station captured spectacular views of the Soyuz pulling up to the orbiting lab with the bright blue Earth in the background.
And that's it for last week's news. Time to start collecting this week's stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment