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Orion recovery test update on This Week @NASA - August 8, 2014

Goodbye Big Bang, hello black hole? A new theory of the universe's creation

Could the famed "Big Bang" theory need a revision? A group of theoretical physicists suppose the birth of the universe could have happened after a …

The black hole at the birth of the Universe

The big bang poses a big question: if it was indeed the cataclysm that blasted our universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago, what sparked it? …

Our Universe May Have Emerged from a Black Hole in a Higher Dimensional Universe

The event horizon of a black hole — the point of no return for anything that falls in — is a spherical surface. In a higher-dimensional universe, a …

Physics

Fast Radio 'Bursts' From Beyond Our Galaxy Baffle Astronomers

A split-second burst of energy that erupted in deep space is giving astronomers important new clues about a mysterious class of astrophysical phenomena.<p>Only a handful of these rapid, millisecond-duration events, known as "fast radio bursts" (FRBs), had been detected previously, all of them by a …

King's 2,100-Year-Old Mausoleum, Vast Trove Of Artifacts Discovered In China

A 2,100-year-old mausoleum built for a king named Liu Fei has been discovered in modern-day Xuyi County in Jiangsu, China, archaeologists report.<p>Liu Fei died in 128 B.C. during the 26th year of his rule over a kingdom named Jiangdu, which was part of the Chinese empire.<p>Although the mausoleum had …

This Dwarf Planet Might Have More Fresh Water Than All Of Earth

And it's actually (relatively) nearby<p>This is poor, unfortunate Ceres. Discovered in 1801, it was at first called a planet, then soon classified as an asteroid, and recently as a dwarf planet, not quite qualifying for real planet status despite residing in the solar system's asteroid belt. But now …

Vintage ISEE-3 satellite makes long-awaited flyby on Sunday

ISEE-3, the vintage satellite that was retired by NASA and reactivated by a private group of scientists and engineers, will make an historic swing past the moon on Sunday as part of its long journey around the sun.<p>The lunar flyby will occur on Aug. 10 at 11:16 a.m. PDT, at which time members of …

Astronomy

WATCH: NASA Tests New Mars Braking System

Test of the flying-saucer-like Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD).<p>NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a video of its test of a new inflatable braking system designed to land heavy payloads on Mars.<p>The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator was carried aloft by a balloon and then …

Watch NASA's 'flying saucer' spin in the upper reaches of our atmosphere

NASA is testing a "flying saucer" designed to land on Mars and deliver large payloads to the Red Planet, and the agency has released a spectacular video of a high-altitude test conducted over Hawaii this past June. In it, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is brought up 180,000 feet high …

Ant Fight Creates Liquid With Properties Never Before Seen In Nature

Well, at least (ant) war is good for something.<p>There are not many creatures that can stand up to fire ants, nor their famously painful sting. Besides causing discomfort in mammals like humans (I've been stung, and it doesn't feel great), this venom has potent insect-killing powers, with the ability …

A Night Sky Matchup: Supermoon Vs. Meteors

This year's Perseid meteor shower may be hard to see because it coincides with a so-called supermoon. NPR's Linda Wertheimer talks to Caltech professor Mike Brown about the dueling celestial events.<p>Transcript<p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:<p>You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. This summer, …

When is the next supermoon?

We’ve just passed a series of 3 full supermoons. The next supermoons of 2018 will be the new moons of June, July and August.<p>A supermoon is a new or …

Astronomy

How It Works: The Highest-Efficiency Solar Cell

I'm going to soak up the sun.<p>Solar cells typically convert no more than 20 percent of incoming energy into electricity, in part because they capture only certain wavelengths of light. Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems have developed a solar cell that converts …

APOD: Rosetta Approaches Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (2014 Aug 11) Image Credit & Copyright: ESA, Rosetta spacecraft, NavCam imager; Music: Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140811.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZQy3-zXq-M Explanation: What does it look like to approach a comet? Early this month humanity received a new rendition as the robotic Rosetta spacecraft went right up to -- and began orbiting -- the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This approach turned out to be particularly fascinating because the comet nucleus first revealed itself to have an unexpected double structure, and later showed off an unusual and craggy surface. The above 101-frame time-lapse video details the approach of the spacecraft from August 1 through August 6. The icy comet's core is the size of a mountain and rotates every 12.7 hours. Rosetta's images and data may shed light on the origin of comets and the early history of our Solar System. Later this year, Rosetta is scheduled to release the Philae lander, which will attempt to land on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko's periphery and harpoon itself to the surface. http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eine_kleine_Nachtmusik http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Amadeus_Mozart Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140811 #APOD

APOD: Collapse in Hebes Chasma on Mars (2014 Aug 12) Image Credit & Copyright: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140812.html Explanation: What's happened in Hebes Chasma on Mars? Hebes Chasma is a depression just north of the enormous Valles Marineris canyon. Since the depression is unconnected to other surface features, it is unclear where the internal material went. Inside Hebes Chasma is Hebes Mensa, a 5 kilometer high mesa that appears to have undergone an unusual partial collapse -- a collapse that might be providing clues. The above image, taken by the robotic Mars Express spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, shows great details of the chasm and the unusual horseshoe shaped indentation in the central mesa. Material from the mesa appears to have flowed onto the floor of the chasm, while a possible dark layer appears to have pooled like ink on a downslope landing. A recent hypothesis holds that salty rock composes some lower layers in Hebes Chasma, with the salt dissolving in melted ice flows that drained through holes into an underground aquifer. http://www.esa.int/ http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMGQOXLDMD_people_0_iv.html http://www.esa.int/Services/Terms_and_conditions Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140812 #APOD

APOD: Rings Around the Ring Nebula (2014 Aug 13) Image Credit: Hubble, Large Binocular Telescope, Subaru Telescope; Composition & Copyright: Robert Gendler http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140813.html Explanation: It is a familiar sight to sky enthusiasts with even a small telescope. There is much more to the Ring Nebula (M57), however, than can be seen through a small telescope. The easily visible central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably deep exposure - a collaborative effort combining data from three different large telescopes - explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from the nebula's central star. This remarkable composite image includes narrowband hydrogen image, visible light emission, and infrared light emission. Of course, in this well-studied example of a planetary nebula, the glowing material does not come from planets. Instead, the gaseous shroud represents outer layers expelled from a dying, sun-like star. The Ring Nebula is about 2,000 light-years away toward the musical constellation Lyra. http://hla.stsci.edu/ http://www.lbto.org/ http://www.naoj.org/NAOJ/ http://robgendlerastropics.com/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140813 #APOD

APOD: No X-rays from SN 2014J (2014 Aug 16) Image Credit: NASA / CXC / SAO / R. Margutti et al. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140816.html Explanation: Last January, telescopes in observatories around planet Earth were eagerly used to watch the rise of SN 2014J, a bright supernova in nearby galaxy M82. Still, the most important observations may have been from orbit where the Chandra X-ray Observatory saw nothing. Identified as a Type Ia supernova, the explosion of SN2014J was thought to be triggered by the buildup of mass on a white dwarf star steadily accreting material from a companion star. That model predicts X-rays would be generated when the supernova blastwave struck the material left surrounding the white dwarf. But no X-rays were seen from the supernova. The mostly blank close-ups centered on the supernova's position are shown in the before and after inset panels of Chandra's false color X-ray image of the M82 galaxy. The stunning lack of X-rays from SN 2014J will require astronomers to explore other models to explain what triggers these cosmic explosions. http://www.nasa.gov/ http://chandra.si.edu/ http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.1488 http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/790/1/52 Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140816 #APOD http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php?t=32797#p230500

APOD: Jupiter and Venus from Earth (2014 Aug 17) Image Credit: Marek Nikodem (PPSAE) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140817.html Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2012 was visible almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. Pictured above in 2012, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Early tomorrow (Monday) morning, the two planets will pass even closer -- only 0.2 degrees apart as visible from some locations -- just before sunrise. http://www.ozma.astronomia.pl/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140817 #APOD

APOD: Star Trails Over Indonesia (2014 Aug 18) Image Credit & Licence: HuiChieh (my dark sky) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140818.html Explanation: Both land and sky were restless. The unsettled land included erupting Mount Semeru in the distance, the caldera of steaming Mount Bromo on the left, flowing fog, and the lights of moving cars along roads that thread between hills and volcanoes in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, Indonesia. The stirring sky included stars circling the South Celestial Pole and a meteor streaking across the image right. The above 270-image composite was taken from King Kong Hill in mid-June over two hours, with a rising Moon lighting the landscape. http://mydarksky.org/ http://www.facebook.com/huichieh.teoh Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140818 #APOD

APOD: Contrasting Terrains on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (2014 Aug 19) Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team; MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140819.html Explanation: Where should Philae land? As ESA's robotic spacecraft Rosetta circles toward Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a decision must eventually be made as to where its mechanical lander should attempt to touch-down. Reaching the comet earlier this month, Rosetta is sending back detailed pictures of the comet's unusual nucleus from which a smooth landing site will be selected. Pictured above, near the image top, the head of the comet's nucleus shows rugged grooves, while near the image bottom, the body shows a patch-work of areas sometimes separated by jagged hills. Some of the patch-work areas apparent on both the head and body seem to have fields of relatively smooth terrain. In the connecting area called the neck, however, visible across the image center, a relatively large swath of light-colored smooth terrain appears, punctuated occasionally by large boulders. Rosetta is scheduled to release Philae toward the dark mountain-sized comet nucleus with an anticipated landing date in November. http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/ESA_Multimedia/Copyright_Notice_Images http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta http://www.mps.mpg.de/1979623/OSIRIS Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140819 #APOD

APOD: In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula (2014 Aug 20) Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140820.html Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5,000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius. http://hla.stsci.edu/ http://www.nasa.gov/ http://www.esa.int/ http://geckzilla.com/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140820 #APOD

APOD: Comet Jacques, Heart and Soul (2014 Aug 22) Image Credit & Copyright: Dominique Dierick http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140822.html Explanation: On July 13th, a good place to watch Comet Jacques was from Venus. Then, the recently discovered visitor (C/2014 E2) to the inner solar system passed within about 14.5 million kilometers of our sister planet. Still, the outbound comet will pass only 84 million kilometers from our fair planet on August 28 and is already a fine target for telescopes and binoculars. Two days ago, Jacques' greenish coma and straight and narrow ion tail were captured in this telescopic snapshot, a single 2 minute long exposure with a modified digital camera. The comet is flanked by IC 1805 and IC 1848, also known as Cassiopeia's Heart and Soul Nebulae. If you're stuck on planet Earth this weekend you can hunt for Comet Jacques in evening skies, or spot a Venus, Jupiter, crescent Moon triangle before the dawn. http://users.telenet.be/create/me.html Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140822 #APOD

APOD: Venus and Jupiter at Dawn (2014 Aug 21) Image Credit & Copyright: Stefano De Rosa http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140821.html Explanation: On Monday morning, Venus and Jupiter gathered close in dawn skies, for some separated by about half the width of a full moon. It was their closest conjunction since 2000, captured here above the eastern horizon before sunrise. The serene and colorful view is from Istia beach near the city of Capoliveri on the island of Elba. Distant lights and rolling hills are along Italy's Tuscan coast. Of course, the celestial pair soon wandered apart. Brighter Venus headed lower, toward the eastern horizon and the glare of the Sun, while Jupiter continues to rise a little higher now in the sky near dawn. The two brightest planets meet again next June 30th, in the evening twilight above the western horizon. http://stefanoderosa.com/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140821 #APOD

APOD: Arp 188 and the Tadpole's Tail (2014 Aug 25) Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing & Copyright: Joachim Dietrich http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140825.html Explanation: Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation Draco. Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188 - from right to left in this view - and was slung around behind the Tadpole by their gravitational attraction. During the close encounter, tidal forces drew out the spiral galaxy's stars, gas, and dust forming the spectacular tail. The intruder galaxy itself, estimated to lie about 300 thousand light-years behind the Tadpole, can be seen through foreground spiral arms at the upper right. Following its terrestrial namesake, the Tadpole Galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older, the tail's star clusters forming smaller satellites of the large spiral galaxy. http://hla.stsci.edu/ http://www.esa.int/ http://www.nasa.gov/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/83669184@N05/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140825 #APOD

Scans Of 'Taung Child' Skull Show Human Ancestor's Brain Didn't Grow Like Our Own

The skull of an ancient human ancestor fails to show evidence of the type of brain expansion typically seen in modern human infants, according to a new study.<p>The "Taung child" fossil is known as the first and best example of early brain evolution in hominins, the group containing humans and their …

Weird Rocks Support New Model For Earth's Deep Mantle

Models of how the Earth's mantle works may need to change, thanks to two new studies that recreate the extreme conditions just above the planet's core.<p>The deep mantle, a region that lies 416 to 1,800 miles (670 to 2,900 kilometers) below the Earth's surface, is impossible to reach and hard to "see" …

The Care and Feeding of Baby Giant Galaxies

Astronomers announced the finding of a new “galaxy cluster” this week. What does that mean for us on Earth?<p>The Milky Way is a fairly hefty galaxy, …

Cambridge Physicists Find Wormhole Proof

<b>What's the Latest?</b><p>Physicists at the University of Cambridge have found a theoretical foundation for the existence of wormholes, which are tubes that …

A Camera That Covers Every Angle

No blind spot for this one<p>For 16 years, EyeSee360 has made panoramic cameras for the military and other industries. Now the company has adapted its technology for the 360Fly, a consumer video camera that allows anyone to record a whole scene—360 degrees around and 240 vertically—without moving. …