Thursday, December 12, 2013

A wake for Comet ISON and other space news

While I'm giving my students a final, I've programmed this week's space news to autopost.  Enjoy the stories from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope and campuses on the campaign trail I first used in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Die, Selfish Gene!) on Daily Kos.

NASA Television comes first with ISON update on This Week @NASA.

With a more than ninety percent probability that Comet ISON broke apart from a major heating event on its approach to the sun Thanksgiving Day, the search is on for what's left of it. NASA will use a variety of space and Earth based telescopes to monitor the comet over the next several weeks, before the fate of ISON can be confirmed. Also, Orion's heat shield, Blue Origin milestone, Rover Challenge, Stone awarded medal and Celebrating Centaur.
Follow over the jump for more.

Hubble Space Telescope: Tonight's Sky: December 2013

Backyard stargazers get a monthly guide to the northern hemisphere's skywatching events with "Tonight's Sky." In December, look for the double-star Eta Cassiopeiae with binoculars, and brave the cold to see the Geminid meteor shower in mid-month.
Next, an update on a story I first covered in Discovery News on the sun flipping.  Reversing magnetic fields are on my geology exam this week and next.

NASA Goddard: NASA | Alex Young Interview About Our Sun's Magnetic Flip

Alex Young is interviewed about the current solar cycle and what a magnetic flip means for the earth and NASA's study of magnetic fields.
Finally, university research on astronomy and space, beginning with the University of Alabama: Heartbeat-Like Signals from Supermassive Black Hole Provide Insight to UA Astronomers.
Dec 4, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Rare heartbeat-like pulsations detected from a supermassive black hole may grant scientists better insight into these exotic objects, according to two University of Alabama astronomers who co-authored a recent scientific article on the discovery.

Drs. Dacheng Lin, a post-doctoral researcher, and Jimmy Irwin, an assistant professor in UA’s physics and astronomy department, co-wrote, along with three French scientists, an article about this black hole, with a mass about 100,000 times that of the sun, that published in a recent issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“Such signals from supermassive black holes are very important for understanding the link between black holes across mass scale, but they have proved very difficult to find,” Lin said. “Only two cases were discovered before, and our signal is five times stronger than those two cases.”
Georgia Tech: The Search for More Life in the Solar System
Model suggests ocean currents shape Europa's icy shell in ways critical for potential habitats
Posted December 4, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.

Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.

Without direct measurements of the ocean, scientists have to rely on magnetometer data and observations of the moon’s icy surface to account for oceanic conditions below the ice.
And that's it for the week's space news.  Stay tuned for more.

1 comment:

  1. Insincere puffery in the service of self-promotion. Still, it's superficially well-done, and it's not promoting anything obviously commercial, so it stays.