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Space telescope

“Kepler has produced results needed to take the next big step forward in humankind's searc...

It’s been five years since NASA’s $600 million Kepler Space Telescope was launched to look for planets beyond our Solar System – so-called exoplanets – and while the quest to find a twin for Earth has so far been fruitless, Kepler’s observations have revealed our galaxy to be full of worlds potentially able to support life.  Read More

Artist's concept of exoplanet systems (Image: NASA)

It’s a good thing that planets outside our Solar System get catalog designations instead of proper names, or space scientists would now be scraping the barrel for “Ralph” or “Tigger.” That’s because on Wednesday, NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope had hit the “motherload” of exoplanets, confirming 715 new planets in 315 star systems. It used a new statistical technique that the space agency says has removed a bottleneck that has plagued the analysis of the Kepler data.  Read More

The newly detected radioactive elements of Cas A glow blue in this composite image (Image:...

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is unraveling the mystery of how stars go supernova by mapping the remnants of radioactive material left in the wake of a supernova. The findings go against previous theories to create a more chaotic view of the conditions prevailing directly before a star explodes.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)

Last year, it looked as though the Kepler space probe had nothing to look forward to but the scrap heap. After the failure of two of its reaction wheels, the unmanned spacecraft was incapable of maintaining the precision pointing needed to hunt planets beyond the Solar System. Now, however, NASA’s Kepler team has demonstrated that space telescope can still detect exoplanets thanks the K2 mission concept maneuver.  Read More

2013 YP139 showing up as a red dot traveling across the sky (Image: NASA)

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) may have only come back online last September after a 31-month hibernation, but it’s already producing results. According to the space agency, the unmanned spacecraft discovered a never-before-seen asteroid on December 29 – the first discovery of its new mission to seek out potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs).  Read More

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

Artistic rendering of a planet's transmission spectrum (Image: Christine Daniloff/MIT, Jul...

A team of MIT researchers has described a new method for finding the mass of exoplanets by studying the spectra of light passing through the planet's atmosphere. Because a planet's mass can tell us a lot about its potential for harboring life, this development could provide an important tool in solving the puzzle of whether or not we're alone in the universe.  Read More

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

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