Sunday, September 9, 2012

Voyager 1 launch 35th anniversary and other space and astronomy news

I'm working on a story for on the Michigan Republican Convention, which produced a lot more drama that the Michigan Democratic Convention. While I write that, enjoy this past week's space and astronomy news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (35th Anniversary of Voyager 1 edition) on Daily Kos. As you can see, the top story for today's entry, which comes from Science News, is the same as that of the Daily Kos diary.

Voyager chasing solar system's edge
On 35th anniversary of spacecraft’s launch, scientists ponder when it will move beyond the sun’s reach
By Nadia Drake
Web edition : Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 35 years ago on September 5, 1977, is bracing for a controlled plunge into interstellar space. Soon the craft will leave the solar system behind, bursting through the windy bubble blown by sun.

The question is: How soon? That boundary may be a bit farther away than expected, a team from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory reports in the Sept. 6 Nature.

Now 18 billion kilometers away, Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft flung from Earth. Voyager 2, launched two weeks earlier, is trailing its twin by about 3.4 billion kilometers.
More stories over the jump.

NASA Television on YouTube: Armstrong Tributes Continue on This Week at NASA

The outpouring of admiration and respect continues as people around the nation, including members of the NASA family, pay tribute to the late Neil Armstrong. Also, JFK's Rice speech revisited; Curiosity roves; Orion 'chutes and drop tests; EVA wrap-up; and more.

NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Weird Planets

Once, astronomers thought planets couldn't form around binary stars. Now Kepler has found a whole system of planets orbiting a double star. This finding shows that planetary systems are weirder and more abundant than previously thought.
WayBeyondSoccerMom on Daily Kos paid tribute to NASA's technology spinoffs in NASA Built That!

Science News: Black hole theory deepens lithium crisis
Proposal identifies potential new source of element
By Nadia Drake
September 8th, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 14)
The universe is lacking in lithium — and instead of solving what’s known as the “lithium problem,” a new study makes it even more complicated.

The work, published in the July 13 Physical Review Letters, suggests that some small black holes could be acting as lithium factories. The problem is, observed lithium levels are too low to accommodate such production. Those levels are also much lower than those predicted by otherwise robust theories describing how the first chemical elements were created just after the Big Bang.

“This makes the lithium problem worse,” says astrophysicist Brian Fields of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “But it could point to more exotic goings-on in the Big Bang.”
Science News: Crowd sourcing comes to astronomy
Online snaps of comet used to determine its orbit
By Nadia Drake
September 8th, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 14)
Some people scour the Internet for pictures of celebrities and cats.

Others search for comets.

After performing a Yahoo! image search for photos of Comet Holmes, which whizzed by Earth in 2007, a team of astronomers used the returned images to reconstruct the comet’s orbit in three dimensions — proving that astronomers can take advantage of data provided by an unwitting group of participants. on YouTube: Asteroid Vesta Revealed: Dawn Probe's Greatest Hits | Video

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spent a year exploring the giant asteroid Vesta between 2011 and 2012. See the probe's greatest Vesta hits in this video.
DarkSyde on Daily Kos linked to the JPL version of this video in This week in science: How low can we go? on YouTube: Curiosity Sniffs, Drives and Tests Arm In Busy Week On Mars | Video

The Mars Science Laboratory took in samples of the Martian atmosphere, started driving towards its first target site (Glenelg) and will park to test all the functions of its arm carrying scientific remote sensing instruments.
LeftOfYou on Daily Kos had more to say about Curiosity in From Mars: SAM Takes a Deep Breath and Flexes his Arm.

That's it for the past week's space and astronomy news.

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