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Solar System

Path of asteroid (872) Holda, as seen by NEOWISE, shown as a dotted red line (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has sent back the first test images from its 16-in (40-cm) telescope and infrared cameras as it is prepared for its new mission. Intended to seek out potentially dangerous asteroids and help in selecting a near-Earth object as part of the space agency’s asteroid retrieval effort, NASA says NEOWISE will be a powerful tool for discovering, cataloging and understanding the asteroids in the inner Solar System.  Read More

P/2013 P5 is an asteroid with six comet-like tails (Image: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt)

In the old days, astronomy was simple – comets had tails and asteroids didn’t. Now, as if to not only disprove such established views, but drive the point home, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took images in September of an asteroid called P/2013 P5 that has not one, but six comet-like tails.  Read More

Artist's impression of the GRAIL spacecraft, which has helped provide a better understandi...

Sometimes great mysteries hang right over our heads. We’re so used to looking up and seeing the “Man in the Moon” that we often don’t realize that those familiar dark areas on the face of our nearest neighbor are part of a centuries old question that has yet to be answered. Many hypotheses have been put forward and now data from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar orbiters has provided new insights into how the surface of the Moon formed and how its distinctive “seas” came to be.  Read More

Artist's impression of Voyager 1 leaving the Solar System with the plasma layer represente...

After a journey of 36 years, NASA has announced that the Voyager 1 space probe officially left the Solar System on August 25, 2012. Based on new analysis of data sent by by the unmanned spacecraft, the space agency has declared that it is now in the first man-made object to travel into interstellar space, 12 billion miles (19 billion km) from the Sun.  Read More

PhotoFlow is a two-in-one concept design that combines solar power generation with rainwat...

In many countries around the world the supply of electricity and clean water is often sporadic and of poor quality. Consulting and design company NOS is looking to address this problem with PhotoFlow, a two-in-one concept design that combines solar power generation with water collection and storage.  Read More

Artist's impression of Voyager 1, which is now 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Earth

Sometimes it seems as though the Voyager 1 space probe is like a dog that can’t decide if it wants to be inside or out. A team of scientists led by the University of Maryland claim that the Voyager 1 space probe, which is now 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Earth left the Solar System’s boundary last year and is not, as NASA claims, passing through a transition zone. The controversial theory is based on models of the solar magnetic field on the edge of the system and how it interacts with interstellar space.  Read More

NASA map of over 1,400 potential Earth-striking asteroids (Image: NASA)

There’s something comforting about a map with “You are here” marked on it, but not when the arrow points to a spot where giant asteroids are whizzing by like cannon balls in a pirate movie. NASA has released a map of the inner Solar System showing the orbits of the 1,400 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) known as of early this year. According to the agency, the plots show the orbits of asteroids over 460 ft (140 m) in diameter that pass within 4.7 million miles (7.5 million km) of Earth.  Read More

Europa (Image: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk)

It's an icy inhospitable world, a little smaller than our own Moon: Europa. It's one of Jupiter's four largest satellites, the Galilean moons named after the polymath astronomer who discovered them in 1610. At the surface, the temperature never climbs above about -160º C (-256º F), yet it's thought that beneath the frozen epidermis there could be a liquid saltwater ocean. Were that the case, Europa would be about the best candidate for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System, albeit life in microbial form. That Europa could harbor life isn't news. That NASA is now considering landing a robot on Europa's surface is, and the agency has one or two ideas about what a robot should do when it gets there.  Read More

Time exposure of the 2007 Perseids (Image: NASA)

Early August always brings with it the promise of a spectacular show in the form of the Perseid meteor shower. This shower, which peaks August 11-13, is one of the most reliable and active meteor displays throughout the year. A new NASA study also shows that more Perseid meteors are fireballs (averaging over 100 per year) than in any other meteor shower.  Read More

You are here (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

If the midweek hump has you in a contemplative spirits, this stunning image of Earth as pictured by the Cassini spacecraft from Saturn, 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away, may offer a little context. The Earth and the Moon appear to be seemingly insignificant specks from the perspective of the spacecraft from its orbit around the gas giant, the second biggest planet in the Solar System. But as it turns out, Cassini is actually talking us up.  Read More

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