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October 2012


Like a Hollywood starlet constantly retouching her makeup, the giant asteroid Vesta is constantly stirring its outermost layer to present a young face. Data from NASA's Dawn mission show that a form of weathering that occurs on the moon and other airless bodies we've visited in the inner solar system does not alter Vesta's outermost layer in the same way. Carbon-rich asteroids have also been splattering dark material on Vesta's surface over a long span of the body's history. The results are described in two papers released today in the journal Nature.


Like a Hollywood starlet constantly retouching her makeup, the giant asteroid Vesta is constantly stirring its outermost layer to present a young face. Data from NASA's Dawn mission show that a form of weathering that occurs on the moon and other airless bodies we've visited in the inner solar system does not alter Vesta's outermost layer in the same way.


Saturn's moon Mimas appears near Saturn, dwarfed by its parent planet in this image. Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) appears tiny compared to the storms clearly visible in far northern and southern hemispheres of Saturn.


Described as a "dusty curtain" or "ghostly apparition," mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away.

Saturn's moon Mimas appears near Saturn, dwarfed by its parent planet in this image. Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) appears tiny compared to the storms clearly visible in far northern and southern hemispheres of Saturn.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 18 degrees below the ringplane. North on Saturn is up and rotated 27 degrees to the left.

Described as a "dusty curtain" or "ghostly apparition," mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away. Also catalogued as Ced 201, it lies along the northern Milky Way in the royal constellation Cepheus. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, pockets of interstellar dust in the region block light from background stars or scatter light from the embedded bright star giving parts of the nebula a characteristic blue color.

At 11:41:18 AM Moscow Time, logistics spacecraft Progress M-17M was launched from the Baikonur launch site.

The purpose of the launch is to support further in-orbit operation of the International Space Station (ISS) in accordance with Russian commitments under that project.

New research, funded by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), theorizes that our early Earth and moon were both created together in a giant collision of two planetary bodies that were each five times the size of Mars.

This new theory about how Earth's moon formed is challenging the commonly believed "giant impact hypothesis," which suggests that Earth's moon formed from a colossal impact of a hypothetical planetary embryo, named Theia, with Earth, early in our Solar System's history.


New research, funded by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), theorizes that our early Earth and moon were both created together in a giant collision of two planetary bodies that were each five times the size of Mars.

East of Argentina, swirls of peacock green stretched across roughly 300 kilometers (175 miles) of the southern Atlantic Ocean on October 27, 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image the same day. It shows an area southeast of Punta Ninfas.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed initial experiments showing the mineralogy of Martian soil is similar to weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.

The minerals were identified in the first sample of Martian soil ingested recently by the rover. Curiosity used its Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) to obtain the results, which are filling gaps and adding confidence to earlier estimates of the mineralogical makeup of the dust and fine soil widespread on the Red Planet.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed initial experiments showing the mineralogy of Martian soil is similar to weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.

"NASA has released a Request for Information (RFI) to explore the potential interest and use of its unique facilities, labs and technical expertise for structural testing at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The facilities and capabilities could support commercial, government and academic activities, and possibly lead to new technology developments. The RFI is seeking responses from prospective partners interested in using Johnson's extensive testing facilities to provide high-performance solutions for a variety of structural testing in diverse industries, including aerospace. These solutions can help businesses meet their challenges by helping engineers develop deeper insight in their materials and building processes." More

"The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) invites undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit to experience research in the planetary sciences. As a summer intern, you will work one-on-one with a scientist either at the LPI or NASA Johnson Space Center on a research project of current interest in planetary science. Furthermore, you will participate in peer-reviewed research, learn from top-notch planetary scientists, and preview various careers in science. The 10-week program begins June 3, 2013, and ends on August 9, 2013. Selected students will receive a $5000.00 stipend plus a travel stipend of $1000.00 (U.S. students) (foreign nationals will receive a $1500.00 foreign travel reimbursement)." More

"This year's "Fly Your Thesis!" campaign ended on 25 October. For three days, a specially equipped aircraft flew 31 manoeuvres - or parabolas - that generate microgravity conditions, giving students invaluable experience in how to design, construct and run experiments in a near weightless environment. Three student teams participated along with nine professional teams in the 57th ESA parabolic flight campaign. All investigated phenomena that are virtually impossible to study on the ground under the normal pull of gravity. The campaign began on 15 October and for the first five days the student teams readied their experiments for flight. This included loading the equipment into the body of the specially modified A-300 Airbus, and checking that everything was working." More


Stars are born in hiding, when dense regions within clouds of gas and dust collapse under their own gravity. But the clouds not only provide the raw material for star formation, they also absorb most of the light from their interior, hiding from view the crucial details of stellar birth -- one of the key astronomical processes if we want to understand our own origins!

Stars are born in hiding, when dense regions within clouds of gas and dust collapse under their own gravity. But the clouds not only provide the raw material for star formation, they also absorb most of the light from their interior, hiding from view the crucial details of stellar birth -- one of the key astronomical processes if we want to understand our own origins!

Europe's polar orbiting weather satellite, MetOp-A, captured this image of Hurricane Sandy just as the huge storm hit the east coast of the US yesterday. The MetOp programme is developed as a joint undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat for operational meteorology.

Larger image

NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Monday, Oct. 29 at 9:10 a.m. EDT that showed the immense extent of the storm. The image was created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Tropical Storm force winds extend almost 500 miles from the center making it almost 1,000 miles in diameter.


As Hurricane Sandy nears landfall NASA and NOAA satellites are tracking the storm to provide continuous updates. This is the latest track. As well NASA is using the International Space Station to take pictures of Sandy. These latest images were take at 11:16 a.m. ET.

One of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way almost got away with theft. However, new simulations convicted the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) of stealing stars from its neighbor, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). And the crucial evidence came from surveys looking for something entirely different -- dark objects on the outskirts of the Milky Way.


One of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way almost got away with theft. However, new simulations convicted the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) of stealing stars from its neighbor, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). And the crucial evidence came from surveys looking for something entirely different -- dark objects on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

Using a brand-new radio telescope, astronomers have produced one of the best images ever made at the lowest frequencies of giant bubbles produced by a super-massive black hole. The observations were performed at frequencies ranging from 20 to 160 MHz which are normally used for communications by airplane pilots. The picture shows what looks like a giant balloon filled with radio emitting plasma, which exceeds the size of an entire galaxy.


Using a brand-new radio telescope, astronomers have produced one of the best images ever made at the lowest frequencies of giant bubbles produced by a super-massive black hole.

The cosmic cauldron has brewed up a Halloween trick in the form of a ghostly face that glows in X-rays, as seen by ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope. The eerie entity is a bubble bursting with the fiery stellar wind of a 'live fast, die young' star.

The bubble lies 5000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canis Major, the 'greater dog', and can be imagined to take on a dog- or wolf-like face.


The cosmic cauldron has brewed up a Halloween trick in the form of a ghostly face that glows in X-rays, as seen by ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope. The eerie entity is a bubble bursting with the fiery stellar wind of a 'live fast, die young' star.

NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of the massive Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT). The line of clouds from the Gulf of Mexico north are associated with the cold front that Sandy is merging with. Sandy's western cloud edge is already over the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S. Credit: NASA GOES Project. Larger image


NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of the massive Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT).

A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.

This image was created combining NOAA's GOES-13 and GOES-15 satellite imagery on Oct. 27 and shows the cloud cover from Hurricane Sandy interacting with the long line of clouds associated with the cold front approaching the eastern U.S. The composite image was created using SSEC's McIDAS software and NOAA's GOES imager satellite imagery. Credit: NOAA/UWI/SSEC


Sandy weakened to a Tropical Storm and strengthened back into a hurricane early on Saturday Oct. 26, and its pressure was dropping, meaning that the storm is intensifying as it becomes an extra-tropical storm.

"NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., have opened registration and are seeking teams to compete in next year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money. During the 2013 NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth. The competition is planned for June 2013 in Worcester, Mass., attracting competitors from industry and academia nationwide." More

"NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes. Called NASA Wavelength, the site features hundreds of resources organized by topic and audience level from elementary to college, and out-of-school programs that span the extent of NASA science. Educators at all levels can locate educational resources through information on educational standards, subjects and keywords and other relevant details, such as learning time required to carry out a lesson or an activity, cost of materials and more. "NASA Wavelength not only lets users find nearly everything they want to know about NASA science, but it also allows them to provide direct feedback to NASA to enhance our products," said Stephanie Stockman, education lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. "This truly is a living, digital library of resources that will allow educators to find and share the best of NASA science education resources to advance their teaching." More

This visible-light image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the vicinity of the star Fomalhaut, including the location of its dust ring and disputed planet, Fomalhaut b. A coronagraphic mask helped dim the star's brightness. This view combines two 2006 observations that were taken with masks of different sizes (1.8 and 3 arcseconds). (Credit: NASA/ESA/T. Currie, U. Toronto)


A second look at data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reanimating the claim that the nearby star Fomalhaut hosts a massive exoplanet. The study suggests that the planet, named Fomalhaut b, is a rare and possibly unique object that is completely shrouded by dust.

NASA's TRMM satellite revealed Hurricane Sandy's heavy rainfall and the storm is expected to couple with a powerful cold front and Arctic air to bring that heavy rainfall to the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S. Some forecasters are calling this combination of weather factors "Frankenstorm" because of the close proximity to Halloween. However, because Sandy is a woman's name, the storm could be considered a "bride of Frankenstorm."


NASA's TRMM satellite revealed Hurricane Sandy's heavy rainfall and the storm is expected to couple with a powerful cold front and Arctic air to bring that heavy rainfall to the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.

This image acquired over the Middle East shows the northern end of the Persian Gulf, along with the border of Iran and Iraq and the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab river.

This view of Earth's horizon, shows smoke trails from the launch of the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft, was photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station.

Early in the morning on Oct. 25, 2012, the Suomi NPP satellite passed over Hurricane Sandy after it made landfall over Cuba and Jamaica, capturing this highly detailed infrared imagery, showing areas of deep convection around the central eye. Besides the highly detailed infrared imagery, the satellite shows visible-like imagery of the cloud tops, along with the city lights of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Image Credit: NOAA/NASA. Larger image


Early in the morning on Oct. 25, 2012, the Suomi NPP satellite passed over Hurricane Sandy after it made landfall over Cuba and Jamaica, capturing this highly detailed infrared imagery, showing areas of deep convection around the central eye.

Hubble astronomers have looked at one of the most distant and brightest quasars in the universe and are surprised by what they did not see: the underlying host galaxy of stars feeding the quasar. The best explanation is that the galaxy is shrouded in so much dust that the stars are completely hidden everywhere. Astronomers believe that the James Webb Space Telescope will reveal the galaxy.


Hubble astronomers have looked at one of the most distant and brightest quasars in the universe and are surprised by what they did not see: the underlying host galaxy of stars feeding the quasar.

ESA's quartet of satellites studying Earth's magnetosphere, Cluster, has discovered that our protective magnetic bubble lets the solar wind in under a wider range of conditions than previously believed.

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a remarkable new view of a whopper of an elliptical galaxy that may have been puffed up by the actions of one or more black holes in its core.


Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a remarkable new view of a whopper of an elliptical galaxy that may have been puffed up by the actions of one or more black holes in its core.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a rare massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet's upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought.


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a rare massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet's upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought.

J. Craig Wheeler has studied the exploding stars called supernovae for more than four decades. Now he has a new idea on the identity of the "parents" of one of the most important types of supernovae -- the Type Ia, those used as "standard candles" in cosmology studies that led to the discovery of dark energy, the mysterious force causing the universe's expansion to speed up.

New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that a major cause of low blood pressure during standing is the compromised ability of arteries and veins to constrict normally and return blood back to the heart.

"NASA has selected 10 university-led proposals for study of innovative, early-stage space technologies designed to improve shielding from space radiation, spacecraft thermal management and optical systems. The 1-year grants are worth approximately $250,000 each, with an additional year of research possible. Each of these technology areas requires dramatic improvements over existing capabilities for future science and human exploration missions. Early stage, or low technology readiness level concepts, could mature into tools that solve the difficult challenges facing future NASA missions. The selected areas address the high-priority technical needs as identified by the National Research Council in its recent report "NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space." "NASA's Space Technology Program is moving out on solving the cross-cutting technology challenges we face as we move beyond low-Earth orbit and head to an asteroid, Mars and beyond," said Michael Gazarik the program's director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our science and human deep space missions need advancements in these technology areas to enable exploration of space. We're excited and proud to partner with the best minds from American universities to take on these tough technical challenges." More

Could it be that dark matter "halos" -- the huge, invisible cocoons of mass that envelop entire galaxies and account for most of the matter in the universe -- aren't completely dark after all but contain a small number of stars? Astronomers from UCLA, UC Irvine and elsewhere make a case for that in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal Nature.


Could it be that dark matter "halos" -- the huge, invisible cocoons of mass that envelop entire galaxies and account for most of the matter in the universe -- aren't completely dark after all but contain a small number of stars?

The steady and dramatic decline in the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean over the last three decades has become a focus of media and public attention. At the opposite end of the Earth, however, something more complex is happening.

Scientists at the University of Arizona and in California have completed the most challenging large astronomical mirror ever made. For the past several years, a group of optical scientists and engineers working at the UA Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory underneath the UA's football stadium have been polishing an 8.4-meter (27.5-foot) diameter mirror with an unusual, highly asymmetric shape.

Scientists at the University of Arizona and in California have completed the most challenging large astronomical mirror ever made. For the past several years, a group of optical scientists and engineers working at the UA Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory underneath the UA's football stadium have been polishing an 8.4-meter (27.5-foot) diameter mirror with an unusual, highly asymmetric shape.


Scientists at the University of Arizona and in California have completed the most challenging large astronomical mirror ever made.

Using a whopping nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory, an international team of astronomers has created a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central parts of the Milky Way. This gigantic dataset contains more than ten times more stars than previous studies and is a major step forward for the understanding of our home galaxy.


Using a whopping nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory, an international team of astronomers has created a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central parts of the Milky Way.

Most researchers imagine the initial oxygenation of the ocean and atmosphere to have been something like a staircase, but with steps only going up.


The search for extrasolar planets has already detected rocky planets and interesting planetary candidates in the Habitable Zone of their host stars. Astrobiologists are pioneering new ways of imaging and examining these worlds, including how to assess their habitability.

Get ready for a fascinating eating experience in the center of our galaxy. The event involves a black hole that may devour much of an approaching cloud of dust and gas known as G2.

A supercomputer simulation prepared by two Lab physicists and a former postdoc suggests that some of G2 will survive, although its surviving mass will be torn apart, leaving it with a different shape and questionable fate.

Mount Shasta, California is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The Cascade Range includes many impressive stratovolcanoes along its north-south extent, some active over the past few hundred years.


NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket on their mission to the International Space Station at 5:51 a.m. CDT Tuesday (4:51 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

The sun emitted a significant solar flare on Oct. 22, 2012, peaking at 11:17 p.m. EDT. The flare came from an active region on the left side of the sun that has been numbered AR 1598, which has already been the source of a number of weaker flares. This flare was classified as an X.1-class flare.

The sun emitted a significant solar flare on Oct. 22, 2012, peaking at 11:17 p.m. EDT. The flare came from an active region on the left side of the sun that has been numbered AR 1598, which has already been the source of a number of weaker flares. This flare was classified as an X.1-class flare.

This image of a solar flare on Oct 22, 2012, combines the light from two different wavelengths as captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The wavelengths are 131 and 335 Angstroms, typically colorized in teal and blue, respectively. The former is a particularly good wavelength for observing solar flares, while the latter helps highlight active regions on the sun where such flares can originate. Credit: NASA/SDO/GSFC


On Oct. 22, 2012, the sun emitted another mid-level flare, which peaked at 2:51 p.m. EDT. The flare emerged from the same region as the M9 flare on Oct. 20, an active region that has been numbered AR 1598. The flare is classified as an M5 flare, which means it was weaker than the earlier one.

Most big galaxies fit into one of two camps: pinwheel-shaped spiral galaxies and blobby elliptical galaxies. Spirals like the Milky Way are hip and happening places, with plenty of gas and dust to birth new stars. Ellipticals are like cosmic retirement villages, full of aging residents in the form of red giant stars. Now, astronomers have discovered that one well-known elliptical has a split personality. Centaurus A is hiding a gassy spiral in its center.


Most big galaxies fit into one of two camps: pinwheel-shaped spiral galaxies and blobby elliptical galaxies. Spirals like the Milky Way are hip and happening places, with plenty of gas and dust to birth new stars.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, Expedition 33 flight engineer, uses a still camera to photograph the Canadarm2 robotic arm's Latching End Effector (LEE) from a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station. ISS033-E-012353 (16 Oct. 2012) --- high res (1.0 M) low res (68 K)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, Expedition 33 flight engineer, uses a still camera to photograph the Canadarm2 robotic arm's Latching End Effector (LEE) from a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station. ISS033-E-012353 (16 Oct. 2012) --- high res (1.0 M) low res (68 K)

Wake Island is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The atoll of Wake Island is located in the central Pacific Ocean approximately 4,000 kilometers to the west-southwest of Hawaii and 2,400 kilometers to the northwest of Guam. In addition to Wake Island, the atoll includes the smaller Peale and Wilkes Island for a total land surface area of 6.5 square kilometers.

The Soyuz rocket is rolled out to the launch pad by train, on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23. The rocket will send Expedition 33/34 Flight Engineer Kevin Ford of NASA, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin of ROSCOSMOS on a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. Larger Image

Earth's Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

Stretching over 4000 km long and 200 km wide, and with a dizzying depth of 10 km, it is some ten times longer and five times deeper than Earth's Grand Canyon, a size that earns it the status of the largest canyon in the Solar System.


Earth's Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

"NASA Ames Research Center and Sustainable Silicon Valley are collaborating to showcase game-changing innovations to regional water and energy use, to protect the regional environment of Silicon Valley and find solutions that are scalable to the planet. The "Call for Solutions" to Planetary Sustainability requests proposals addressing regional and worldwide concerns such as climate change, water management, energy use, transportation, manufacturing and supply chain management. "We are looking for scalable technology and policy solutions to more efficient use of natural resources, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Dr. Steven Zornetzer, NASA Ames Associate Director, Technical." More


NGC 3344 is a glorious spiral galaxy around half the size of the Milky Way, which lies 25 million light-years distant. We are fortunate enough to see NGC 3344 face-on, allowing us to study its structure in detail.

NGC 3344 is a glorious spiral galaxy around half the size of the Milky Way, which lies 25 million light-years distant. We are fortunate enough to see NGC 3344 face-on, allowing us to study its structure in detail.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Is On The Move Around 'Matijevic Hill' - sols 3098-3104, Oct. 10, 2012-Oct. 17, 2012:

Opportunity is conducting a local area survey around the location where orbital observations show the presence of clay minerals at the inboard edge of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission.

The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission.


Polar-ring galaxies are peculiar objects. Astronomers have found only a handful of them, so not much is known about their origins. Most have an early-type spiral system, called a lenticular galaxy, as the central showpiece.

This image of the ring galaxy NGC 660, captured with the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Fredrick C. Gillett Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i, was obtained in August of 2012. The optical image, made using g, r, I, and hydrogen alpha filters, were assigned the colors of blue, green, orange and red respectively. The field of view is 9.3x5.6 arcminutes and is oriented 8 degrees clockwise from north at right and east up. The total exposure (integration) time was 1,620 seconds cumulative for all filters. Color composite produced by Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA


Studying planets around other stars will be the focus of the new Small-class Science Programme mission, Cheops, ESA announced today. Its launch is expected in 2017.

"NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon next year. The balloon competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge. NASA is targeting fall 2013 for the next flight opportunity for the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP). HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 instruments built by students A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity. Flights are launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M., and typically achieve 15 to 20 hours' duration at an altitude of about 23 miles." More

The MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Sea Ice off eastern Greenland on October 16, 2012. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team. Larger image.

Western Australia's Kimberley region, with a coastline along the Timor Sea, is pictured in this Envisat image.

Off the coast in the lower left we can see a group of three coral reefs, known as the Rowley Shoals. Located on the edge of one of the world's widest continental shelves, each atoll covers an area of 80-90 sq km including lagoons.

Photographed by one of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station, this oblique nocturnal view features Phoenix, Arizona. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metro area has a population approaching 4.5 million, ranking the area number 13 in the United States. ISS033-E-011058 (9 Oct. 2012) - high res (1.5 M) low res (100 K)

"Detections of massive extrasolar moons are shown feasible with the Kepler space telescope. Kepler's findings of about 50 exoplanets in the stellar habitable zone naturally make us wonder about the habitability of their hypothetical moons. Illumination from the planet, eclipses, tidal heating, and tidal locking distinguish remote characterization of exomoons from that of exoplanets. We show how evaluation of an exomoon's habitability is possible based on the parameters accessible by current and near-future technology." More

Among the oddities of the outer solar system are the middle-sized moons of Saturn, a half-dozen icy bodies dwarfed by Saturn's massive moon Titan. According to a new model for the origin of the Saturn system, these middle-sized moons were spawned during giant impacts in which several major satellites merged to form Titan.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been on an epic road trip, as this graphic of its orbits around the Saturn system shows. This picture traces Cassini's orbits from Saturn orbit insertion, on June 30, 2004 PDT, through the planned end of the mission, on Sept. 15, 2017. Saturn is in the center, with the orbit of its largest moon Titan in red and the orbits of its six other inner satellites in white.

"NASA Dryden Flight Research Center has released a solicitation entitled "NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO) for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status. The current solicitation cycle, AFO #6, provides access to flights on parabolic flights, suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV), and high-altitude balloons. Applications are due on or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time December 21, 2012, and selections will be announced in February 2013 (target)." More

"NanoRacks (NR) today announced the selection of a winning proposal for their Announcement of Opportunity for off the shelf NanoLabs on the International Space Station. Infinity Aerospace was selected for their proposal to design, develop and market an Arduino based, open-source, 1U NanoLab for use on the NanoRacks space station research platforms, as well as all other platforms including Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. "The community was challenged to create an open source, easy to use NanoLab and Infinity Aerospace's proposal hit the target beautifully, both in the technical design and the spirit of the competition," explained Richard Pournelle, senior vice-president of NanoRacks. Under the terms of the AO, the winning entry receives $2,000 in seed funding from NanoRacks, technical assistance on complying with NASA space station safety requirements, and the ability to have their winning products marketed by NanoRacks' to their educational and research customers." More


Among the oddities of the outer solar system are the middle-sized moons of Saturn, a half-dozen icy bodies dwarfed by Saturn's massive moon Titan. According to a new model for the origin of the Saturn system, these middle-sized moons were spawned during giant impacts in which several major satellites merged to form Titan.

In 1986, when Voyager swept past Uranus, the probe's portraits of the planet were "notoriously bland," disappointing scientists, yielding few new details of the planet and its atmosphere, and giving it a reputation as a bore of the solar system.

Now, however, thanks to a new technique applied at the Keck Observatory, Uranus is coming into sharp focus through high-resolution infrared images, revealing in incredible detail the bizarre weather of the seventh planet from the sun.


In 1986, when Voyager swept past Uranus, the probe's portraits of the planet were "notoriously bland," disappointing scientists, yielding few new details of the planet and its atmosphere, and giving it a reputation as a bore of the solar system.


Jupiter, the mythical god of sky and thunder, would certainly be pleased at all the changes afoot at his namesake planet. As the planet gets peppered continually with small space rocks, wide belts of the atmosphere are changing color, hotspots are vanishing and reappearing, and clouds are gathering over one part of Jupiter, while dissipating over another.

Titan shows us its active polar atmosphere with the north polar hood and south polar vortex both on display in this image captured by the Cassini spacecraft.

The north polar hood is visible as the dark cap on the moon's cloud layer at the top of Titan in this image and the south polar vortex is visible as the bright feature at the bottom. For more on Titan's south polar vortex, see Titan's South Polar Vortex in Motion.


Watching active volcanic eruptions should definitely be done from a distance, but a group of California researchers has figured out how to do it from the comfort of home. Using an ingenious combination of Earth-based telescopic surveys and archival data, they have gathered nearly 40 distinct snapshots of effusive volcanic eruptions and high temperature outbursts on Jupiter's tiny moon, Io, showing details as small as 100 km (60 miles) on the moon's surface.

Watching active volcanic eruptions should definitely be done from a distance, but a group of California researchers has figured out how to do it from the comfort of home. Using an ingenious combination of Earth-based telescopic surveys and archival data, they have gathered nearly 40 distinct snapshots of effusive volcanic eruptions and high temperature outbursts on Jupiter's tiny moon, Io, showing details as small as 100 km (60 miles) on the moon's surface.

Comparison of the images in the visible-light (left) and infrared (middle and right) parts of the spectrum from 2009 to 2012 highlight the massive changes affecting the atmosphere of Jupiter.

The first direct detection of radioactive titanium associated with supernova remnant 1987A has been made by ESA's Integral space observatory. The radioactive decay has likely been powering the glowing remnant around the exploded star for the last 20 years.


The first direct detection of radioactive titanium associated with supernova remnant 1987A has been made by ESA's Integral space observatory. The radioactive decay has likely been powering the glowing remnant around the exploded star for the last 20 years.

"ESA and NASA have tested a communications protocol that will allow astronauts to control robots from space stations orbiting planets or asteroids. The test marks the way for a trial-run with an astronaut on the International Space Station next week. Last week a Space Station user centre at the University of Boulder, USA sent a command to a NASA laptop on the International Space Station to start a script that controlled the Mocup robot at ESA's ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The robot was commanded to move forward and take pictures, which it performed as planned. Mocup is one of the robots in ESA's Meteron - Multi-purpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network - initiative for future missions to the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies. Space exploration will most likely involve sending robotic explorers to test the waters on uncharted planets before sending humans to land." More

Radar images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal some new curiosities on the surface of Saturn's mysterious moon Titan, including a nearly circular feature that resembles a giant hot cross bun and shorelines of ancient seas. The results were presented today at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences conference in Reno, Nev.

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It's a big claim, but Washington University in St. Louis planetary scientist Frederic Moynier says his group has discovered evidence that the Moon was born in a flaming blaze of glory when a body the size of Mars collided with the early Earth.

It's a big claim, but Washington University in St. Louis planetary scientist Frederic Moynier says his group has discovered evidence that the Moon was born in a flaming blaze of glory when a body the size of Mars collided with the early Earth.

European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system -- the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.


European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system -- the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.


Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans -- asteroids that orbit the Sun on the same path as Jupiter. Like racehorses, the asteroids travel in packs, with one group leading the way in front of the gas giant, and a second group trailing behind.

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have studied a giant filament of dark matter in 3D for the first time. Extending 60 million light-years from one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, the filament is part of the cosmic web that constitutes the large-scale structure of the universe, and is a leftover of the very first moments after the Big Bang. If the high mass measured for the filament is representative of the rest of the universe, then these structures may contain more than half of all the mass in the universe.


Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have studied a giant filament of dark matter in 3D for the first time. Extending 60 million light-years from one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, the filament is part of the cosmic web that constitutes the large-scale structure of the universe, and is a leftover of the very first moments after the Big Bang

Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans -- asteroids that orbit the Sun on the same path as Jupiter. Like racehorses, the asteroids travel in packs, with one group leading the way in front of the gas giant, and a second group trailing behind.


Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans -- asteroids that orbit the Sun on the same path as Jupiter. Like racehorses, the asteroids travel in packs, with one group leading the way in front of the gas giant, and a second group trailing behind.


NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now almost seven years into its 9.5-year journey across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons. Just over two years from now, in January 2015, New Horizons will begin encounter operations, which will culminate in a close approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, and the first-ever exploration of a planet in the Kuiper Belt.

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft makes its relative approach to the International Space Station prior to grapple by the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, controlled by Expedition 33 crew members. ISS033-E-011355 (10 Oct. 2012) - high res (0.5 M) low res (34 K)

Figure of the planet: Caption: An artist's illustration of PH1, a planet discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen science project. PH1, shown in the foreground, is a circumbinary planet and orbits two suns. Image Credit: Haven Giguere/Yale.

A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that in turn is orbited by a second distant pair of stars.


A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that in turn is orbited by a second distant pair of stars.


Austria's Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday after overcoming concerns with the power for his visor heater that impaired his vision and nearly jeopardized the mission. Baumgartner reached an estimated speed of 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24) jumping from the stratosphere, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall and set several other records* while delivering valuable data for future space exploration.

Austria's Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday after overcoming concerns with the power for his visor heater that impaired his vision and nearly jeopardized the mission. Baumgartner reached an estimated speed of 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24) jumping from the stratosphere, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall and set several other records* while delivering valuable data for future space exploration.

Cable technicians raise their cherry pickers watch and photograph the space shuttle Endeavour as it is maneuvered through the streets of Inglewood, Calif., on its way to its new home at the California Science Center, on Oct. 13, 2012. Endeavour, built as a replacement for space shuttle Challenger, completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles. Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on display at the science center, embarking on its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) Larger images"

"The data presented in this paper are the result of the efforts of the Planet Hunters volunteers, without whom this work would not have been possible. Their contributions are individually ac- knowledged at http://www.planethunters.org/authors. We also acknowledge the following list of individuals who flagged one or more of the transit events on Talk discussed in this paper before or after discovery of the planet: Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr. Johann Sejpka, and Arvin Joseff Tan." More

12 October 2012: Soyuz lifts off for the third time from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place the second pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites into orbit. Credits: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2012. Larger image.

Volcano peak near Valdivia, Chile, as seen from the IceBridge DC-8. Credit: NASA / Jim Yungel.

Scientists and flight crew members with Operation IceBridge, NASA's airborne mission to study Earth's changing polar ice, are beginning another campaign over Antarctica. Now in its fourth year, IceBridge's return to the Antarctic comes almost a year after the discovery of a large rift in the continent's Pine Island Glacier.


The space shuttle Endeavour is seen atop the Over Land Transporter (OLT) after exiting the Los Angeles International Airport on its way to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.

The space shuttle Endeavour is seen atop the Over Land Transporter (OLT) after exiting the Los Angeles International Airport on its way to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.


This image from the Pleiades satellite shows part of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Located south east of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert. The city is a major business hub, and its revenues come from tourism, real estate and financial services.

This image from the Pleiades satellite shows part of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Located south east of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert. The city is a major business hub, and its revenues come from tourism, real estate and financial services.

One of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station took this night photo of Shenyang, China, located at 41.8 degrees north latitude and 123.43 degrees east longitude, alongside the smaller Sujiatun, China (center left). The orbital outpost was over a point centered at 40.4 degrees north latitude and 124.2 degrees east longitude when the photo was taken. ISS033-E-011098 (9 Oct. 2012) - high res (1.4 M) low res (84 K)

The first Martian rock NASA's Curiosity rover has reached out to touch presents a more varied composition than expected from previous missions. The rock also resembles some unusual rocks from Earth's interior.

"A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time." More


A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.


Space debris came into focus last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. Envisat, ESA's largest Earth observation satellite, ended its mission last spring and was a subject of major interest in the Space Debris and Legal session.

"Andrews Space (Andrews) today announced it signed an agreement with ISIS of the Netherlands to begin manufacturing a US version of the ISIPOD, branded the EZPOD, in the United States. Under the terms of the agreement, Andrews will manufacture and integrate the EZPODs domestically with initial units available as early as January 2013. "Until now the United States only had a single CubeSat dispenser solution available. The ISIS ISIPOD product is reliable, proven and lower-cost than similar products on the market and now it's available in the United States, under the brand name EZPOD, as a domestically manufactured solution," said Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Andrews Space. "The EZPOD gives our customers a highly competitive alternative to the status quo." More

New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth's size orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet.

"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth," said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy. "The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite."

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA!

"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA! Crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) will share with students what satellites can be used for. Crew will also explain how these communication devices are launched and carried into space. Students will then be asked to think of other ways to use information gathered from satellites and design their own custom satellite. Topics covered include developing an awareness of outer space, exploring communication devices and understanding data collection. Check out the video with lesson plans here."

Other Lego postings


ESA's Huygens probe bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest in the 10 seconds after touching down on Saturn's moon, Titan, in January 2005, a new analysis reveals. The findings provide novel insight into the nature of the moon's surface.

ESA's Huygens probe bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest in the 10 seconds after touching down on Saturn's moon, Titan, in January 2005, a new analysis reveals. The findings provide novel insight into the nature of the moon's surface. Play video

Weird Facts That You Didn't Know About E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, io9

"6) E.T. was Spielberg's response to the "stalled space program."

That's what Spielberg said in 1981, adding: "If the government won't fund the space program, to allow people's imagination to soar, then all I can do is make movies that bring space down to earth and make it more accessible to the imagination."

Keith's note: Of course, E.T. was also a hacker.

The team operating Curiosity decided on Oct. 9, 2012, to proceed with using the rover's first scoop of Martian material. Plans for Sol 64 (Oct. 10) call for shifting the scoopful of sand and dust into the mechanism for sieving and portioning samples, and vibrating it vigorously to clean internal surfaces of the mechanism. This first scooped sample, and the second one, will be discarded after use, since they are only being used for the cleaning process. Subsequent samples scooped from the same "Rocknest" area will be delivered to analytical instruments.

"During this initial phase of TechPort's rollout, NASA users will only be able to access the website through the nasa.gov domain, and not from iPads or computers off the NASA network. The Office of the Chief Technologist will seek employee feedback on the website, and plans to make TechPort publicly available in the future. Users will be able to browse, search, track, analyze and report on the portfolio of technology investments being pursued at program and project levels, with the resulting benefits being the easy access to information about programs and project results.

Technology project data in TechPort was collected through an agency-wide data call for technology project information. This call was conducted earlier this year as part of the development of the Strategic Space Technology Investment Plan. Program and project personnel entered technology project data into TechPort, which was validated by NASA mission directorate/office representatives. Moving forward, TechPort will provide a venue for data owners to easily update technology project information, as well as the tools to conduct analysis and reporting on that data." More

"NASA is seeking applications from graduate students for the agency's Space Technology Research Fellowships. Applications will be accepted from students pursuing or planning to pursue master's or doctoral degrees in relevant space technology disciplines at accredited U.S. universities. The fellowship awards, worth as much as $68,000 per year, will coincide with the start of the fall 2013 term. The fellowships will sponsor U.S. graduate student researchers who show significant potential to contribute to NASA's strategic space technology objectives through their studies. To date, NASA has awarded these prestigious fellowships to 128 students from 50 universities and across 26 states and one U.S. territory." More


This gallery shows four planetary nebulas from the first systematic survey of such objects in the solar neighborhood made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The planetary nebulas shown here are NGC 6543, also known as the Cat's Eye, NGC 7662, NGC 7009 and NGC 6826. In each case, X-ray emission from Chandra is colored purple and optical emission from the Hubble Space Telescope is colored red, green and blue.

This gallery shows four planetary nebulas from the first systematic survey of such objects in the solar neighborhood made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The planetary nebulas shown here are NGC 6543, also known as the Cat's Eye, NGC 7662, NGC 7009 and NGC 6826. In each case, X-ray emission from Chandra is colored purple and optical emission from the Hubble Space Telescope is colored red, green and blue.

Salar de Coipasa, Bolivia is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The Salar de Coipasa, located in the Altiplano region of western Bolivia, covers an area of approximately 2,500 square kilometers.

ESA's Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapour to fill Earth's oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star.

Stars form within cold, dark clouds of gas and dust - 'pre-stellar cores' - that contain all the ingredients to make solar systems like our own.


ESA's Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapour to fill Earth's oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star.

This video clip shows the first Martian material collected by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, being vibrated inside the scoop after it was lifted from the ground on Oct. 7, 2012.

This video clip shows the first Martian material collected by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, being vibrated inside the scoop after it was lifted from the ground on Oct. 7, 2012.

On the mission's 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012),NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its soil scoop for the first time, collecting a scoopful of sand and powdery material at the "Rocknest" site. Imaging verified collection of the sample.

Dr. Jon Clark is a six-time space shuttle crew surgeon. He has served in top roles at Johnson Space Center and is a 26-year U.S. Navy veteran who qualified as a Naval flight officer, Naval flight surgeon, Navy diver, and Special Forces free fall parachutist. Clark's particular focus is crew survival in space and the neurological effects caused by extreme environments. He serves as space medicine advisor for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) at Baylor College of Medicine as well as chief medical officer for orbital commercial space company Excalibur Almaz. Since 2009 he has been a volunteer for the pioneering "Stratos" team, responsible for protecting a man named Felix Baumgartner from the risks as he attempts a record-breaking "space diving" jump from a balloon at 120,000 feet.

Jump time: 9 Oct 2012 8:30 am EDT

Status Reports


Clouds regularly punctuate Earth's blue sky, but on Venus the clouds never part, for the planet is wrapped entirely in a 20 km-thick veil of carbon dioxide and sulphuric dioxide haze. This view shows the cloud tops of Venus as seen in ultraviolet light by the Venus Express spacecraft on 8 December 2011, from a distance of about 30 000 km.

Clouds regularly punctuate Earth's blue sky, but on Venus the clouds never part, for the planet is wrapped entirely in a 20 km-thick veil of carbon dioxide and sulphuric dioxide haze. This view shows the cloud tops of Venus as seen in ultraviolet light by the Venus Express spacecraft on 8 December 2011, from a distance of about 30 000 km.


Iran has publicly said it plans to send a human into space by 2019. Up until now we had not seen an image of what an Iranian manned spacecraft might look like. However at the 63rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, Iran had a poster on display with a spacecraft on it. Is this the future Iranian manned spacecraft?

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.


Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The historic launch of the first-ever contracted cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station by Space Exploration Technologies Corporationis ready. Also, cybersecurity; Antares rollout; hangin' out on Google; the Hubble constant; space orchestra, and more!


The pre-launch briefing of Commercial Resupply Mission 1 (CRS-1), the first of twelve missions by the SpaceX/Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.


NASA and its international partners have announced an agreement to send two crew members to the International Space Station on a one-year mission designed to collect valuable scientific data needed to send humans to new destinations in the solar system.

An unexpected discovery by astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) is forcing scientists to rethink their understanding of the environment in globular star clusters, tight-knit collections containing hundreds of thousands of stars.

"SSEP offers a unique flight opportunity that allows students to experience both the excitement and the challenges inherent in conducting research in a microgravity environment," said Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It really is STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in action, using the International Space Station -- which has America's only orbiting National Laboratory -- to host these students' science experiments. Twenty-three microgravity experiments designed by participants of the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) will become part of space history Oct. 7. They will be launched to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercially developed and built American spacecraft to fly a resupply cargo resupply mission to the station." More

"Cal Poly's Research and Graduate Programs office entered into a license agreement that allows Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC to develop and sell the patent-pending, small-satellite technology called CubeSat System, Method, and Apparatus. The CubeSat technology represents state-of-the-art miniature low-power electronics. It is a product of Cal Poly's nationally recognized PolySat program. The technology provides a smaller, less costly, more flexible satellite avionics design that is re-usable and easily adaptable across a wide range of satellite missions. Cal Poly's PolySat Project was founded in 1999 and includes a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate engineering students working to design, construct, test, launch and operate small satellite systems, otherwise known as CubeSats." More


This Envisat image shows us a very rare, cloud-free view of Iceland. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland and immediately south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is the westernmost European nation, and has more land covered by glaciers than the whole of continental Europe.


On 8 June, the high-resolution stereo camera on Mars Express captured a region within the 1800 km-wide and 5 km-deep Argyre basin, which was created by a gigantic impact in the planet's early history. After Hellas, the Argyre impact basin is the second largest on the Red Planet.

On 8 June, the high-resolution stereo camera on Mars Express captured a region within the 1800 km-wide and 5 km-deep Argyre basin, which was created by a gigantic impact in the planet's early history. After Hellas, the Argyre impact basin is the second largest on the Red Planet.

This Envisat image shows us a very rare, cloud-free view of Iceland. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland and immediately south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is the westernmost European nation, and has more land covered by glaciers than the whole of continental Europe.

The large, white area is a national park that encompasses the Vatna Glacier - Europe's largest - and surrounding land.

Technicians attach the Dragon capsule to a Falcon 9 rocket at the SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., during preparations for the CRS-1 mission. SpaceX is set to launch the first of a dozen operational missions for NASA to deliver more than 1,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station on Oct. 7. Launch time is 8:35 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, just a few miles south of the space shuttle launch pads. The spacecraft will be joined to the station three days later. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Cassini spacecraft looks at an example of a ray crater on the leading hemisphere of Saturn's moon Dione.

The ray crater is in the upper-left of the image and ejecta rays show up as brighter material emanating from the crater. To see an example of a ray crater on Rhea, see Icy Impact .

Several tiny satellites are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The satellites were released outside the Kibo laboratory using a Small Satellite Orbital Deployer attached to the Japanese module's robotic arm on Oct. 4, 2012.

Several tiny satellites are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The satellites were released outside the Kibo laboratory using a Small Satellite Orbital Deployer attached to the Japanese module's robotic arm on Oct. 4, 2012.

"NASA engineers, student interns and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from a small, cube-shaped satellite launched into orbit from the International Space Station Thursday. The satellite, dubbed "TechEdSat," was released at 11:44 a.m. EDT from the new Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the space station. TechEdSat measures about 4 inches (10 centimeters) on a side and carries a ham radio transmitter. It was developed by a group of student interns from San Jose State University (SJSU) in California with mentoring and support from staff at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. TechEdSat arrived at the space station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle July 21 and the station's Expedition 33 crew processed it for launch." More


NASA's Curiosity rover is in a position on Mars where scientists and engineers can begin preparing the rover to take its first scoop of soil for analysis.

NASA's Curiosity rover is in a position on Mars where scientists and engineers can begin preparing the rover to take its first scoop of soil for analysis.


Twenty-three microgravity experiments designed by participants of the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) will become part of space history Oct. 7.

Infrared view of the Beta Pictoris solar system, obtained by combining data from the ADONIS instrument on ESO's 3.6 m telescope (outer regions) and the NACO instrument on one of the 8.2 m units of ESO's Very Large Telescope (inner region), and then subtracting the overpowering glare of the central star. The image shows a planet orbiting at roughly the same distance from Beta Pictoris as Saturn is from our own Sun, and a prominent dust disc in the outer reaches of the system. New observations from ESA's Herschel space telescope have found magnesium-rich olivine crystals in the disc that likely originated from collisions between comets: the dust shares the same compositional characteristics as in several comets in our Solar System. Furthermore, the observation of these olivines in the outer dust disc suggest that they have been transported from their birthplace close to the central star, since they cannot form under the cold conditions found further out. Credits: ESO/A-M. Lagrange et al.


Pristine material that matches comets in our own Solar System have been found in a dust belt around the young star Beta Pictoris by ESA's Herschel space observatory.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have announced the most precise measurement yet of the Hubble constant, or the rate at which our universe is stretching apart.

NASA Tournament Lab to Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, NASA

"NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Office of Science announced on Wednesday the launch of the Big Data Challenge, a series of competitions hosted through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL). The Big Data Challenge series will apply the process of open innovation to conceptualizing new and novel approaches to using "big data" information sets from various U.S. government agencies. This data comes from the fields of health, energy and Earth science. Competitors will be tasked with imagining analytical techniques and software tools that use big data from discrete government information domains. They will need to describe how the data may be shared as universal, cross-agency solutions that transcend the limitations of individual agencies."

NASA Tournament Lab & TopCoder Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, TopCoder

"NASA and Harvard University have established the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community allow for competitions to create the most innovative, most efficient, and most optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers. The NTL provides an online virtual facility for NASA researchers with a computational or complex data processing challenge to "order" a solution, just like they would order laboratory tests or supplies."

Wyle Takes Part in TechAmerica Report on Big Data, Wyle

"TechAmerica Foundation's much anticipated report "Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide To Transforming The Business of Government," which was released today, gives the federal government a comprehensive roadmap to using "Big Data" to better serve Americans."

The Cassini spacecraft takes an angled view toward Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal. North on Saturn is up and rotated 16 degrees to the left. This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 14 degrees below the ringplane. The rings cast wide shadows on the planet's southern hemisphere.

Technicians and scientists check out one of the Webb telescope's first two flight mirrors on Sept. 19, 2012 in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The mirrors are going through receiving and inspection and will then be stored in the Goddard clean room until engineers are ready to assemble them onto the telescope's backplane structure that will support them.

Technicians and scientists check out one of the Webb telescope's first two flight mirrors on Sept. 19, 2012 in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The mirrors are going through receiving and inspection and will then be stored in the Goddard clean room until engineers are ready to assemble them onto the telescope's backplane structure that will support them.

ESA's third Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Edoardo Amaldi, completed the final part of its highly successful six-month servicing mission to the International Space Station by reentering the atmosphere today and burning up as planned over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific ocean.

Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) are the most complex space vehicles ever developed in Europe and are the largest and most capable resupply ships to dock with the Space Station.


ESA's third Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Edoardo Amaldi, completed the final part of its highly successful six-month servicing mission to the International Space Station by reentering the atmosphere today and burning up as planned over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific ocean.


The Cassini spacecraft takes an angled view toward Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal.


Cambridge University Press has released a new book, The International Atlas of Mars Exploration - The First Five Decades: 1953 to 2003, by Western University cartographer Philip J. Stooke. It is the second exploration atlas Stooke has created having previously released the popular International Atlas of Lunar Exploration.


For the 63rd International Astronautical Congress held in Naples, Italy, Meng Linzhi from the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) presented a paper for the Moon Exploration session held on Tuesday 2 October.


Technology has radically changed the contributions that amateurs can make to the field of astronomy. Using a readily-available 'hobby' telescope, off-the-shelf camera and computer equipment, plus experienced observing skills, Emmanuel I. Kardasis of the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association has produced the first amateur albedo map of Jupiter's moon Ganymede.

"Technology has radically changed the contributions that amateurs can make to the field of astronomy. Using a readily-available 'hobby' telescope, off-the-shelf camera and computer equipment, plus experienced observing skills, Emmanuel I. Kardasis of the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association has produced the first amateur albedo map of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This demonstration has implications for the future role of amateur astronomers. The work will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Madrid. An albedo map details higher areas of reflectivity on an object's surface recording where material is brighter or darker. Kardasis' albedo map closely aligns with professional images of Ganymede's surface, indicating features such as Phrygia Sulcus (furrows and ridges 3700km across) and the Nicholson region (a low-lying darker area)." More

Technology has radically changed the contributions that amateurs can make to the field of astronomy. Using a readily-available 'hobby' telescope, off-the-shelf camera and computer equipment, plus experienced observing skills, Emmanuel I. Kardasis of the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association has produced the first amateur albedo map of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This demonstration has implications for the future role of amateur astronomers. The work will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Madrid.

Technology has radically changed the contributions that amateurs can make to the field of astronomy. Using a readily-available 'hobby' telescope, off-the-shelf camera and computer equipment, plus experienced observing skills, Emmanuel I. Kardasis of the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association has produced the first amateur albedo map of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This demonstration has implications for the future role of amateur astronomers. The work will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Madrid.

Exoplanet hunters estimate that there could be billions of super-Earths - planets with a mass of up to ten times that of Earth - orbiting stars in the Milky Way alone. But do super-Earths really deserve their name and would they be capable of hosting life? A study of the thermal evolution of rocky super-Earths suggests that they may bear very little resemblance to our home planet. Dr. Stamenkovic will present the results at the European Planetary Science Congress on Wednesday 26th September.

Venus Express has spied a surprisingly cold region high in the planet's atmosphere that may be frigid enough for carbon dioxide to freeze out as ice or snow.

The planet Venus is well known for its thick, carbon dioxide atmosphere and oven-hot surface, and as a result is often portrayed as Earth's inhospitable evil twin.


Venus Express has spied a surprisingly cold region high in the planet's atmosphere that may be frigid enough for carbon dioxide to freeze out as ice or snow.


Europa, the enigmatic moon of Jupiter, is believed to be home to a subsurface ocean of liquid water. However, future missions to explore Europa's ocean may need to dig deep.

"A technology designed for use by astronauts in the hazardous environment of space has found a lifesaving use in another dangerous occupation, but this time on Earth, or rather under it: coal mining. Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., is providing the air revitalization system it matured under a NASA Space Act Agreement to Mine Shield LLC of Lancaster, KY., for use in its underground miner refuge chambers. These air-tight metal chambers are used by miners as lifesaving havens when trapped underground providing air, water, and food until rescued. In 2010, NASA began to invest in the commercial sector's capability to support transport of crew to and from low Earth Orbit. During this initiative through a Space Act Agreement, NASA invested approximately $1.5 million of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 economic stimulus funds in Paragon to mature their air purifying system." More

"The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) is accepting applications for its 2013 Summer Internship Program. This unique program places college students in NASA laboratories working with scientists on research projects focused on protecting astronaut health during spaceflight. The NSBRI-sponsored program gives selected students an opportunity to spend nine weeks in laboratories at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland or Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. In addition to the laboratory work, interns participate in a week-long Summer Bioastronautics Institute at NSBRI Headquarters in Houston. The Summer Bioastronautics Institute offers workshops focusing specifically on the enhancement of research, presentation and mentoring skills." More


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera about 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) away from the top of a rock called "Bathurst Inlet" for a set of eight images combined into this merged-focus view of the rock.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera about 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) away from the top of a rock called "Bathurst Inlet" for a set of eight images combined into this merged-focus view of the rock. This context image covers an area roughly 6.5 inches by 5 inches (16 centimeters by 12 centimeters). Resolution is about 105 microns per pixel.

"Mobile apps have become a regular part of my daily life. It's safe to say there are enough apps to perform virtually any task you have in mind! I find apps to be a great tool to keep me in touch with friends, daily news, and NASA. The flagship app for NASA is of course the "NASA App", which is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and has been downloaded over 9.9 million times and recently averaged over 2.5 million hits per day. However, NASA has made a wide variety of interactive apps for mobile users, which range from performing a spacewalk to receiving a notification every time the ISS is right above you. These apps give you an opportunity to stay involved and educated on current and future NASA missions. Listed below are all 46 of the NASA-related apps for iOS and Android!" More

"Douglas, Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Israeli-based NSL Satellites Ltd., in partnership with NanoRacks LLC of the U.S., together will fly a number of educational microgravity experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). The next launch of an experiment is scheduled for October 7th on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. Rick Sanford, CEO of Odyssey Moon, said, "We at Odyssey Moon are so excited about this opportunity to give students around the globe access to the NASA U.S national lab. For a start-up space technology company it is very impressive that we have lined up over three successful commercial space missions in a three year period." The three different experiments will look at how cancer cells develop in microgravity, another will determine the direction of the sprouts/roots growth of radish seeds under microgravity, and there is an experiment to examine the hardening of an epoxy resin sample to test the characteristics of the mix in microgravity conditions. These experiments are being developed by Israeli students in Misgav Middle School and OR High School." More


At the 63rd International Astronautical Congress currently being held in Naples, Italy, the opening plenary featured eight heads of space agencies. They discussed current projects, future plans, international cooperation and answered questions from the audience.