Category: Space

Image: Spectacular aurora from orbit

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA shared photos and time-lapse video of a glowing green aurora seen from his vantage point 250 miles up, aboard the International Space Station.

Image: Spectacular aurora from orbit

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA shared photos and time-lapse video of a glowing green aurora seen from his vantage point 250 miles up, aboard the International Space Station.

Large, distant comets more common than previously thought

Comets that take more than 200 years to make one revolution around the sun are notoriously difficult to study. Because they spend most of their time far from our area of the solar system, many “long-period comets” will never approach the sun in a person’s lifetime. In fact, those that travel inward from the Oort Cloud—a group of icy bodies beginning roughly 300 billion kilometers away from the sun—can have periods of thousands or even millions of years.

Team uses airborne telescopes to study Sun and Mercury during total solar eclipse

A team led by Southwest Research Institute will use airborne telescopes aboard NASA research aircraft to study the solar corona and Mercury’s surface during this summer’s total solar eclipse. The August 21 observations will provide the clearest images to date of the Sun’s outer atmosphere and attempt the first-ever “thermal images” of surface temperature variations on Mercury.

Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse from NASA’s WB-57F jets

For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.

Venus’s turbulent atmosphere

Venus is often referred to as Earth’s twin because both planets share a similar size and sur-face composition. Also, they both have atmospheres with complex weather systems. But that is about where the similarities end: Venus is one the most hostile places in our solar system. Its atmosphere consists of 96.5 percent carbon dioxide, with surface temperatures of con-stantly about 500 degrees Celsius. Venus is a slowly rotating planet—it needs about 243 ter-restrial days to complete one rotation. We would expect its atmosphere to rotate with the same rhythm, but in fact it takes only four days. This phenomenon is called superrotation, and it causes substantial turbulences in the planet’s atmosphere. The scientists do not yet fully understand its origin and motor, but are working on an answer to this puzzle. The many waves in the planet’s atmosphere may play an important role.

What is the weather like on Mercury?

With the dawning of the Space Age in the 1950s, human beings were no longer confined to studying the Solar planets and other astronomical bodies with Earth-based instruments alone. Instead crewed missions have gone into orbit and to the Moon while robotic missions have traveled to every corner of the solar system. And in the process, we have learned some interesting things about the planets, planetoids, and asteroids in our Solar neighborhood.

New survey suggests far fewer Jupiter sized rogue planets than thought

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Warsaw University Observatory, Ohio State University and the University of Warwick has found evidence that suggests there are far fewer Jupiter-sized rogue planets roaming the Milky Way galaxy than prior surveys have shown. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes using data compiled from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment to analyze light curves of approximately 50 million stars for the period 2010 to 2015 and what they found by doing so.

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