07 December 2013
On 2 December 2013, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) launched its Moon-bound spacecraft Chang’e 3, consisting a robotic lander and a rover. On 6 December, Chang’e 3 successfully entered lunar orbit, in preparation for a controlled lunar landing, scheduled later this month. This would be the first soft landing on the Moon, in 37 years, since the Soviet Luna 24 mission. Interestingly, Chang’e is the name of the goddess of the Moon, in Chinese mythology.
17 November 2013
NASA recently published a spectacular image of Saturn, the ringed giant, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. At the time of obtaining the image, Saturn was aligned to the Sun and three other planets: Earth, accompanied by its Moon, Mars, the Red Planet, and Venus, Earth’s twin. The Sun was eclipsed by Saturn, while the three planets, look quite tiny, as very small points of light, in the background, since they were hundreds of millions of kilometers away from Saturn. Saturn’s magnificent rings, backlit by the Sun, glow in various fascinating colors.
10 November 2013
A team of astronomers has discovered the first Earth-sized planet beyond the solar system that has a rocky composition like that of Earth. The planet, known as Kepler-78b, orbits very close to its parent star, every 8.5 hours, making it a very hot object and not hospitable for life. Planets orbiting outside the solar system are known as exoplanets or extrasolar planets. Since 1992, astronomers have discovered more than 1,000 exoplanets.
30 October 2013
Using data obtained by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and observations made with a giant Earth-based telescope, a team of astronomers has discovered and measured the distance to an extremely distant galaxy, located about 30 billion light years away from Earth. This galaxy, known technically as z8_GND_5296, now holds the record of the most distant known galaxy.
24 October 2013
On 16 October 2013, Russian officials found the largest fragment so far of the blazing meteorite that exploded, at an altitude of about 30 km, over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, on 15 February 2013. Divers aided by a mechanical winch lifted it from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul, near Chelyabinsk. The space rock, however, while being weighed, broke into three chunks, weighing together over 570 kg.
13 October 2013
NASA recently published an interesting image, showing a small galaxy, containing a huge number of stars. The image was produced by combining images in visible light and images in X-rays of this galaxy, known as M60-UCD1. Interestingly, astronomers believe that M60-UCD1, located some 54 million light years away from Earth, is the densest galaxy in the nearby universe, since it contains a very large number of stars within a small volume.
22 September 2013
Iran announced it is considering launching a Persian cat into space, in March 2014, as its next space animal, after claiming it launched a monkey earlier this year.
08 September 2013
On 6 September 2013, the US space agency, NASA, launched a new spacecraft to the Moon. The mission, known as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), will orbit the Moon, to study the thin gases and cosmic dust around it. LADEE will help improve the understanding of the Moon and other planetary bodies. The launch was from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, located in the US State of Virginia, aboard the Minotaur V rocket.
04 August 2013
NASA recently published an image of an amazing galaxy, acquired by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The image shows a whirl-like galaxy, known technically as NGC 524. The galaxy contains twirling dark clouds of gas and cosmic dust, which render the appearance of a giant whirl.
21 July 2013
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has discovered a new moon orbiting the most distant planet, Neptune. The blue giant planet now has 14 known satellites.