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Space telescope

Artist's concept of the foldable plastic telescope

DARPA has announced planes to use a foldable plastic lens to “break the glass ceiling” of space telescopes. It’s part of the agency’s Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program, which aims at replacing conventional glass optics with lightweight polymer membranes that may one day make possible a foldable plastic orbital telescope 20 m (65 ft) wide that will be capable of seeing a medium-sized dog on Earth from 36,000 km (22,000 mi) away.  Read More

An artist's concept of Kepler (Image: NASA)

Last August, it looked as if the NASA's Kepler space telescope was as good as scrap due to the failure of its attitude control system. Now the space agency proposes what it calls the K2 mission concept, which will give the unmanned probe "second light" by using the Sun to regain attitude control and allow Kepler to resume its search for extrasolar planets.  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

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way (Photo: ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S....

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year.  Read More

Artist's impression of Planck at L2 (Image: ESA)

On Wednesday, at 12:10:27 GMT, ESA’s Planck space telescope ended its four and a half year mission when project scientist Jan Taube sent the command telling the unmanned probe to switch itself off.  Read More

Comparison of Kepler-7b and Jupiter (Image: NASA)

"How's the weather?" has just become a topic of interstellar conversation. Using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers have mapped the first clouds discovered on an extrasolar planet. Not only does this technique give us an interesting bit of pure science, it could also be applied in the search for more earth-like planets according to NASA.  Read More

A European Southern Observatory simulation of gas cloud G2 threading through the local sta...

As you read this, the eyes of the astrophysical world are focused on about one-trillionth of the sky, watching as the calm existence of G2, a three-Earth mass gas cloud near the galactic center, is viciously disrupted by a close encounter with Sagittarius A*, the galaxy's supermassive black hole. Careful observation of this rare event is expected to provide an enormous amount of information on the environment of the central light month (about 6,000 AU) immediately surrounding the black hole.  Read More

Engineers will bring WISE out of hibernation in September to hunt potentially dangerous as...

NASA will be putting another eye on potentially dangerous asteroids in September when it reactivates the retired Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The space telescope, which was deactivated in 2011, will use its infrared instruments to carry out a survey of near-Earth asteroids that may pose a threat to our planet.  Read More

The Arkyd 100 funded by a Kickstarter campaign will launch in 2015

Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company based in Bellevue, Washington, completed its Kickstarter campaign on Sunday after a 33-day run that raised US$1,505,366 from 17,600 backers. The purpose of the campaign was to raise public interest in the company and asteroid mining in general by crowdfunding an Arkyd 100 space telescope that will be made available to the public.  Read More

The Kepler spacecraft could still hunt planets using gravity miscrolensing ( Image: NASA)

Last month, NASA declared its Kepler mission to hunt exoplanets at an end when one of the space telescope’s reaction wheels failed. Unable to keep itself pointed in the right direction, it could no longer carry on its hunt for planets beyond the Solar System. That seemed like the end of things, but Keith Horne of the University of St Andrews and Andrew Gould of Ohio State University disagree. They claim that Kepler could still hunt for exoplanets using gravity microlensing to detect how stars with planets distort space.  Read More

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