Russian capsule touches down with space station trio
Space.com: A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying a crew of three space travelers successfully touched down in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, wrapping up a five-month mission to the International Space Station.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed at about 8:31 a.m. Kazakh time (10:31 p.m. ET Monday). Their return marks the end of the station’s Expedition 35, which Hadfield commanded.
Photo: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield sent this final picture from the International Space Station: “To some this may look like a sunset. But it’s a new dawn,” he wrote. (Chris Hadfield via Twitter)
‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse wows Australia
AP: Skygazers across the Australian Outback were among the lucky few to witness a solar eclipse on Friday as the moon glided between Earth and the sun, blocking everything but a dazzling ring of light.
The celestial spectacle, known as a “ring of fire” eclipse, was the second solar eclipse visible from northern Australia in six months. In November, a total solar eclipse plunged the country’s northeast into darkness, delighting astronomers and tourists who flocked to the region from across the globe to witness it.
Photo: Friday’s annular solar eclipse blazes like a ring of fire after sunrise, 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of Newman, Australia. The “second sun” is a lens effect. (Nicole Hollenbeck via SpaceWeather.com)
It costs money to name a planet, but the money will be used to fund space exploration and research grants.
Neutrinos From Another Galaxy Have Been Discovered in Antarctica
Scientists at the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory have captured the highest energy neutrinos that have ever been seen. And to find them, they used faster-than-light particles and a hole drilled 1.5 miles under the Antarctic ice.
Neutrinos are those spooky massless subatomic particles that can pass through normal matter like a ghost. They can pull off this trick because they don’t carry an electric charge, thus making them immune to electromagnetic forces that influence charged particles like electrons and protons.
To make this discovery, the scientists used IceCube, the world’s largest neutrino detector — a facility that encompasses an entire cubic kilometer of ice. By drilling to a depth of 1 to 1.5 miles, it’s easier for the scientists to see the flash of light from a neutrino reaction.These particles come into existence in a number of ways, including the nuclear reactions of stars. And in fact, the sun is where most of the neutrinos that pass through the Earth come from. But the discovery of two ultra-high-density neutrinos in Antarctica (dubbed “Bert” and “Ernie”) indicates they may also originate from supernova gamma-ray bursts or active galactic nuclei (the jets that spew out from supermassive black holes) — and that they can reach Earth after traveling spectacularly long distances.
Phil Plait explains:
This [detector] relies on the idea that a neutrino passing through ice can create a shower of subatomic particles, like shrapnel. These particles scream out from the collision and can actually travel faster than light through the ice. I know, this sounds impossible, but light speed is the Universal limit when it’s traveling through a vacuum. Light slows down when passing through air, or liquid, or matter. So a subatomic particle can travel faster than light through matter, while still traveling slower than light does in a vacuum.
When this happens, the particle creates a shock wave, just like a sonic boom is created when something travels faster than sound. In this case, though, it’s not a sonic boom, but a photonic boom, a shock wave of light. This creates a faint blue flash called Cherenkov radiation, and that can be seen using very sensitive detectors.
The scientists say they’re 99% certain that these neutrinos are not from some background source; ideally, they’d like to be at least 99.7% sure — so work continues.
The gravity of a massive neutron star orbited by a compact, white dwarf star is so intense that it offers an unprecedented testing ground for theories of gravity.
Since inductees provide materials for exhibits, the Astronaut Hall of Fame has the world’s largest collection of astronaut memorabilia.
(Photo: J.-Y. Li (PSI) / NASA / ESA)
Comet ISON, the long-traveling iceball that skywatchers hope will turn into the “Comet of the Century,” takes on a fuzzy glow in an image captured two weeks ago by the Hubble Space Telescope and unveiled on Tuesday.
The universe’s cosmic microwave background is kind of like a recording of the Big Bang’s phat beat.
Space News of the Day: Three Exoplanets May Be Life-Sustainable
After four years circling space looking for new planets, the Kepler spacecraft has identified three planets that look like they could possibly sustain life. The first two, known as Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f (shown above, top and middle), are approximately 1,200 light-years away and have estimated temperatures of -3 degrees C (26.6 F) and -65 degrees C (-85 F) respectively. The third planet, Kepler-69c (shown above, bottom) boasts a summer day-like temperature of 27 degrees C (80.6 F). Some scientists think these planets could actually be covered in oceans, but they are unsure if they would be composed of water or some other liquid.
Even though colonists will never return to Earth, Mars One is expecting 1 million applications for its colonization project.
The meteor shower should give skywatchers in darkened parts of the world a decent show late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
Putin says Russia to launch first manned space flight from its soil in 2018
President Vladimir Putin told astronauts in orbit on Friday that Russia will send up the first manned flights from its own soil in 2018, using a new launch pad he said will help the once-pioneering space power explore deep space and the moon.
Speaking by video link with the International Space Station’s crew from the building site, Putin said it will be open to use by the United States and Europe - playing up cooperation on the anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight, which set off the Cold War space race.
Hawaii approves permit for world’s largest telescope
Pacific Business News: A permit for the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope was approved by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday.
The telescope will be built on the summit of the volcano Mauna Kea by a group of research universities primarily from California and Canada.
Researchers believe the telescope will produce images three times sharper than those produced by optical telescopes today.
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Illustration courtesy TMT Observatory Corp
No running water, and no place to spit the toothpaste after use. What do astronauts do?
Astronomers have spotted the most distant massive star explosion of its kind, a supernova that could help scientists better understand the nature of the universe.
Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists recently caught sight of Supernova UDS10Wil (nicknamed SN Wilson) which exploded more than 10 billion years ago. It took more than 10 billion years for the light of this violent star explosion to reach Earth.
SN Wilson is known as a Type Ia supernova — a particular kind of star explosion that gives scientists a sense of how the universe has expanded over time.
“This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode,” research leader David Jones of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., said in a statement. “We can test theories about how reliable these detonations are for understanding the evolution of the universe and its expansion.”