Science News

Saturn-Orbiting Probe Sends Christmas Greetings

22 December 2011
NASA recently published new wonderful images of Saturn, relayed by the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft. The pictures show Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and other Saturnian satellites. They also record splendid phenomena, in which one moon passes in front of, or behind another. Studying these events allows scientists to better understand the orbits of Saturn’s moons.

Total Lunar Eclipse

10 December 2011
On 10 December 2011, a total lunar eclipse will be visible worldwide, in most of Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. Unlike eclipses of the Sun, lunar eclipses are safe to view with the unaided, unprotected eye.

An Exciting Discovery of an Extrasolar Planet

08 December 2011
NASA's Kepler spacecraft, a space observatory in orbit around the Sun, has confirmed the discovery of an extrasolar planet, orbiting in the "habitable zone", the region around a star where an Earth-like planet can maintain liquid water on its surface. (Planets circling other stars are termed extrasolar planets or exoplanets. As of early December 2011, over 700 extrasolar planets have been discovered.) Kepler also has discovered over 1,000 new exoplanet candidates, nearly doubling its previous record. Ten of these candidates are about the size of Earth, and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify their planetary nature.

Monitoring a Saturnian Storm

30 November 2011
Saturn has a dense turbulent atmosphere. In Saturn, winds blow at speeds of over 1,500 km/h, and giant storms are occasionally observed. The Saturnian storms often appear as whitish ovals, floating amid the planet’s pale cloud bands. They are known as the great white spots. In late 2010, NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft imaged a new large Saturnian storm, and monitored its evolution, through mid-2011.

Expedition 29 Astronauts Return Safely to Earth

26 November 2011
On the morning of 22 November 2011, a Russian Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft, carrying onboard astronauts Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov, landed safely in Kazakhstan, concluding a five-and-a-half-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Earth’s largest artificial satellite, which orbits about 350 km above ground.

Zooming in on a Small Saturnian Moon

22 November 2011
Saturn has a large family of satellites, consisting of 62 moons and numerous smaller objects, known as moonlets. Saturn’s moons range widely in size, and have various physical and orbital characteristics. NASA recently published an exquisite image of a small intriguing Saturnian moon, known as Enceladus. (Most of the Solar System’s moons have been given names from world’s mythologies.)

Fly by Saturn's Magnificent Rings

18 November 2011
NASA recently published a wonderful picture of Saturn, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. The image shows a pair of Saturn's icy moons and the planet's graceful rings. Cassini was flying just above the plane of the rings.

A New Flight to the International Space Station

14 November 2011
On 14 November 2011, the Russian Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft launched into space, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the largest artificial satellite of Earth, orbiting at an altitude of about 350 km. Soyuz TMA-22 carries onboard NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. Coverage of the Soyuz arrival at the ISS will be broadcasted on NASA Television, on 15 November.

Youngsters to Design Space Experiments

24 October 2011
“Your experiment, 250 miles above Earth, for the whole world to see." This is the promise made at the end of the video on the official website of the YouTube Space Lab contest. NASA has joined Space Adventures company, to support this competition. Space Adventures is cooperating with YouTube and Lenovo. With initiative and imagination, students have the opportunity to envisage and design their own experiment with a wonderful prize, flying it on the International Space Station.

Roaming the Surface of the Red Planet

20 October 2011
On 25 January 2004, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed safely on Mars. Opportunity is a six-wheeled, solar-cell-powered robotic rover, which explores Mars, applying cameras and devices that study the Martian rocks and soil. It is regarded as a robot geologist. Opportunity’s scheduled mission was only 90 Martian days long. (The day on Mars is only about 39 minutes longer than Earth’s day.) However, Opportunity has successfully continued to operate on Mars, through extended missions.

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