Saturday, May 11, 2013

Space and astronomy news for Mothers Day weekend

Time for last week's space and astronomy news.

NASA Television on YouTube: Garver Tours Gulf Region NASA Facilities on This Week @ NASA

During a recent visit to the Gulf Coast region, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver toured two NASA facilities that are key to development of the new Space Launch System and the agency's commercial crew partnerships with private industry. At the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Garver was briefed on progress being made in support of the SLS and the Orion spacecraft programs. Garver later traveled to Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for a tour of testing facilities there, including the B-2 test stand. Once used to test Apollo era engines, the structure is being restored to prepare it for testing of the SLS core stage. Also, Training in Star City, Back to Work for the rovers on Mars, Ice Sheet Rover, Asteroids -- Coming to Earth!, Saturn's Big Hurricane, Herschel Completes Cool Journey, Three Years of the Sun, Seeking Quiet Supersonic Flight and more!
More news over the jump.

NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Glow-in-the-Dark Plants on the ISS

Can plants adapt to the novelty of climate change? Researchers seeking to answer this question have sent genetically engineered plants to the ISS for exposure to extreme conditions. To report their condition, the plants have learned to glow in the dark.
NTDTV on YouTube: Boeing and U.S. Military Claim Hypersonic Flight Record

Boeing and the U.S. military claim a hypersonic flight record in the latest test of the company's unmanned X-51A Waverider. on YouTube: Solar Eclipse & Evening Planets - May 2013 Skywatching Guide | Video

Jupiter, Mercury and Venus get together. Using binoculars, see the Virgo Cluster and Sombrero galaxy. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower rains and an annular solar eclipse is viewable in Northern Australia. on YouTube: SpaceShipTwo's First Powered Flight - Inside Look | Video

Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson and George Whitesides talk about Space tourism's next huge step taken on April 29th, 2013. Why Is Our Solar System Such a Cosmic Weirdo?
by Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
Date: 02 May 2013 Time: 02:00 PM ET
The solar system that humans call home may be a strange oddity when compared with the incredible diversity of planetary systems researchers are discovering in the Milky Way, astronomers say.

Scientists now estimate the Milky Way galaxy contains at least as many planets as it does stars. So far, researchers have detected nearly 900 of these so-called exoplanets already, and several thousand more candidates are under investigation.

The number of distant worlds that astronomers have discovered in the past 15 years or so has skyrocketed recently due to new advances such as NASA's Kepler mission, which can detect planets as small as Earth's moon. Analyzing the orbits, masses, diameters and compositions of these exoplanets has revealed that an extraordinary variety of them exist, such as so-called "hot Jupiters," gas giants orbiting closer to their stars than Mercury does the sun. Saturn's Age-Defying Secret Discovered
by Denise Chow, Staff Writer
Date: 03 May 2013 Time: 01:28 PM ET
As planets age, they typically become cooler and darker, but astronomers have long wondered why Saturn, one of the largest planets in the solar system, appears to be bucking the trend. Now, researchers are beginning to understand how the ringed planet manages to stay warm and bright.

A new study, led by astronomers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France, discovered physical instability inside the planet creates layers of gas that keep the heat in, the researchers said. This explains why Saturn is not cooling at the rate scientists expect for a planet of its age.

"Scientists have been wondering for years if Saturn was using an additional source of energy to look so bright, but instead our calculations show that Saturn appears young because it can't cool down," Gilles Chabrier, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter, said in a statement. 1st Meteorites from 1908 Tunguska Explosion Possibly Found
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 02 May 2013 Time: 11:33 AM ET
In June 1908, a mysterious blast occurred above the remote Russian forests of Tunguska, Siberia, with 1,000 times more power than the Hiroshima bomb, flattening trees over an area roughly the size of Tokyo.

The most widely accepted theory is that a huge asteroid or comet (not a UFO or chunk of antimatter) exploded as it entered Earth's atmosphere. But with just one death, few witnesses, and no fragments nor any impact craters to study, scientists have been left to puzzle over what exactly caused the so-called Tunguska event.

Now one Russian researcher claims to have found the first meteorites possibly left by the Tunguska impact.
Time to start compiling this week's news.

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