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Astronomy


— Space

Curiosity goes autonomous for the first time

By - August 29, 2013 6 Pictures
NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California couldn't see and vet beforehand. This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control. Read More
— Science

NASA discovers that the Moon is much wetter than we thought

By - August 29, 2013 6 Pictures
Data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) aboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 probe has shown that there is water locked in mineral grains on the surface on our satellite's surface. Scientists had previously thought that small amounts of moisture were being generated by solar wind and other factors, but the latest findings are strong evidence that the Moon contains large quantities of its own "magmatic water" from deep within its core. Read More
— Science

Adaptive optics system clobbers Hubble with the sharpest-ever telescopic images

By - August 28, 2013 9 Pictures
Astronomers have developed a new visible-light adaptive optics (AO) system for the 6.5 meter diameter Magellan-Clay telescope in Chile's Atacama desert. The new AO system replaces the secondary mirror of the telescope with a thin adaptive mirror that can be deformed by its 585 mechanical actuators at a rate of more than 1000 times a second to correct for the image smearing effects of atmospheric turbulence. The result is the sharpest astronomical images ever produced – more than twice as sharp as can be achieved by the Hubble space telescope viewing objects through the vacuum of space. Read More
— Space

Giant Magellan Telescope will sport the world's largest mirrors

By - August 28, 2013 10 Pictures
Slated for completion by 2020, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will combine seven of the largest and most precisely built telescope mirrors, to offer image resolutions 10 times greater than Hubble at around one third of the cost. The telescope will be used to study the early universe and answer open questions on dark matter, supermassive black holes, and the nature of planets beyond our solar system. Read More
— Space

Jupiter bound: Juno probe passes halfway mark

By - August 12, 2013 14 Pictures
NASA announced on Monday that its Juno space probe has reached the halfway mark on its voyage to Jupiter after covering a distance of 879 million miles. This seems odd when you consider that Juno will pass just 347 miles (559 km) from Earth in October. Why both of these facts are true is due to the complex orbit that Juno is following in order to reach its destination. Read More
— Space

Subaru Telescope's HSC captures the Andromeda galaxy in spectacular detail

By - August 1, 2013 8 Pictures
The Andromeda galaxy is one of the most commonly studied objects in the sky. It's just 2.5 million light years from Earth, is visible to the naked eye on a moonless night and has been imaged countless times. Japan's Subaru Telescope's Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) has provided the latest snap of the popular object, showing our neighboring galaxy in a spectacular new light. Read More
— Science

Got eyes? Help find gravitational lenses!

By - May 15, 2013 5 Pictures
Gravitational lenses, which are massive galaxies or galaxy clusters that act as a magnifying glass by bending light passing them, are one of the Universe's golden gifts to astronomers. To help unlock the mysteries that might lie behind these untapped celestial resources, Zooniverse, a program of the Citizens Science Alliance, has begun the Space Warps project. It allows citizen scientists to put their skills at pattern/image recognition to use, toward finding these fugitive gravitational lenses. Read More
— Space

Humans hack space in the International Space Apps Challenge

By - May 8, 2013 12 Pictures
Given a set of problems related to space exploration and a 48-hour deadline, 9,000 people in 80 locations around the world created over 600 solutions. The International Space Apps Challenge, sponsored by NASA and other international space agencies, offered up massive amounts of data and other resources to teams of hackers who responded with creative solutions. The public now has the chance to view these solutions online and vote for their favorites on each project's official page. Gizmag set out to find the best projects related to data visualization and education, space exploration and satellite inventiveness, green technology, and remotely-operated vehicles. Read More
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