Science News

A New Moon for Pluto

13 July 2012
Astronomers observing with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have discovered a new moon of Pluto, the distant icy dwarf planet. The discovery increases the number of Pluto’s satellites to five. It is amazing that an object the size of Pluto has a complex satellite system. The new moon would yield new information for understanding how the Pluto system formed and evolved.

Huge Dust Storm Blows into the Red Sea

10 July 2012
On 20 June 2012, a huge arc-shaped dust storm blew from far inland in Sudan into the Red Sea. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a natural-color image of the magnificent storm (Fig. 1), on the same day.

Dust Strom over Syria and Iraq

07 July 2012
On 18 June 2012, thick dust covered large areas in Syria and Iraq. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a natural-color image (Fig. 1) of the storm, on the same day.

A Beautiful Dwarf Galaxy

04 July 2012
NASA recently published an exquisite image of a beautiful small galaxy, known as UGC 5497. The image was acquired by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), a sophisticated observatory exploring the cosmos from Earth orbit.

An Extra Second Added to 30 June 2012

01 July 2012
On 30 June 2012, a leap second was added to clocks, making that day one second longer than normal days. Typically, every day, the clock moves from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00, the start of the next day, but, at 23:59:59, on 30 June, clocks moved from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60, and then to 00:00:00, on 1 July.

Energetic Mother Star

27 June 2012
NASA recently published amazing images of two powerful eruptions, bursting form the Sun. The eruptions occurred within 24 hours, starting on 8 June 2012. The first eruption, described to be “double”, sent mushroom-like clouds of particles at just about the same time, in almost opposite directions. The second blast was also double, sending two circular clouds out into space, again at almost the same time. NASA’s STEREO A spacecraft imaged the eruptions, applying an instrument known as the COR2 coronagraph. This coronagraph allows observing the Sun’s expansive tenuous outer atmosphere, the corona, by blocking out the Sun with an occulting disk, shown in the center of Fig. 1 as a black disk. The Sun’s true location is highlighted with a white circle within the disk.

Our Curious Sun

24 June 2012
NASA recently published a wonderful image of the Sun (Fig. 1), obtained by the Sun-orbiting STEREO A spacecraft. The image shows the eruption of a filament, a glowing cloud in Sun’s atmosphere, over the solar north pole. The explosion occurred on 19 February 2012. The image was taken in ultraviolet light.

Dust Storm over the Red Sea

20 June 2012
In early June 2012, a dust storm blew over the Red Sea. The large arc-shaped storm stretched from the Sudanese coast toward the southeast. On 8 June, NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a natural-color image (Fig. 1) of the magnificent dust cloud. The dust was thick enough to obscure the sea, while a veil of thinner dust covered the entire region.

Exploring the Violent Universe

18 June 2012
On 13 June 2012, NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft blasted into space, and successfully reached Earth orbit. It is a space observatory that will apply a sophisticated X-ray telescope to observe massive black holes, active galaxies and other bizarre cosmic objects. (The acronym NuSTAR stands for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array.)

Spacecraft Pictures a Planetary Alignment

14 June 2012
On 1 June 2012, the Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft obtained an interesting image (Fig. 1), showing Venus and Mercury, the two innermost planets, shining very close to the Sun in the field of view. SOHO, a sophisticated solar observatory, is a joint project of the US space agency, NASA, and the European Space Agency, ESA.

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