Sifting through muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin yielded 500 tiny particles from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Cosmic dust raining down from space has been discovered on rooftops in three major cities.
“We’ve known since the 1940s that cosmic dust falls continuously through our atmosphere, but until now we’ve thought that it could not be detected among the millions of terrestrial dust particles, except in the most dust-free environments such as the Antarctic or deep oceans.”
The tiny particles date back to the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
“The obvious advantage to this new approach is that it is much easier to source cosmic dust particles if they are in our backyards.”
— Matthew Genge, Imperial College London
Researchers sifted through 300 kilograms of muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin. Using magnets to pull out the particles, which contain magnetic minerals, they identified a total of 500 cosmic dust grains. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy 25 years to the Hubble Space Telescope! The largest orbital telescope ever launched was deployed on April 25, 1990, during the mission of STS-31 Discovery. Launch occurred the day prior, on 24 April.
Although the telescope’s optics were flawed upon arrival into orbit, Servicing Mission 1 installed corrective lenses that allowed the telescope to return some of the most spectacular imagery ever returned from space.
The telescope is expected to be operational until at least the mid 2020′s.
After a Voyage of More than 3 Billion Miles, NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft is Ready to Begin Exploring PlutoPosted: January 23, 2015
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently began its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto. The spacecraft is entering the first of several approach phases that culminate July 14 with the first close-up flyby of the dwarf planet, 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion kilometers) from Earth.
“We’ve completed the longest journey any spacecraft has flown from Earth to reach its primary target, and we are ready to begin exploring.”
— Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado
“NASA first mission to distant Pluto will also be humankind’s first close up view of this cold, unexplored world in our solar system,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “The New Horizons team worked very hard to prepare for this first phase, and they did it flawlessly.”
The fastest spacecraft when it was launched, New Horizons lifted off in January 2006. It awoke from its final hibernation period last month after a voyage of more than 3 billion miles, and will soon pass close to Pluto, inside the orbits of its five known moons.
“NASA first mission to distant Pluto will also be humankind’s first close up view of this cold, unexplored world in our solar system. The New Horizons team worked very hard to prepare for this first phase, and they did it flawlessly.”
— Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division
In preparation for the close encounter, the mission’s science, engineering and spacecraft operations teams configured the piano-sized probe for distant observations of the Pluto system that start Sunday, Jan. 25 with a long-range photo shoot.
The images captured by New Horizons’ telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) will give mission scientists a continually improving look at the dynamics of Pluto’s moons. The images also will play a critical role in navigating the spacecraft as it covers the remaining 135 million miles (220 million kilometers) to Pluto.
“We’ve completed the longest journey any spacecraft has flown from Earth to reach its primary target, and we are ready to begin exploring,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] The Fluid Dynamics of ‘The Starry Night’: How Van Gogh’s Masterpiece Explains the Scientific Mysteries of Movement and LightPosted: January 13, 2015
Maria Popova writes:
…more than a masterwork of art, Van Gogh’s painting turns out to hold astounding clues to understanding some of the most mysterious workings of science.
This fascinating short animation from TED-Ed and Natalya St. Clair, author of The Art of Mental Calculation, explores how “The Starry Night” sheds light on the concept of turbulent flow in fluid dynamics, one of the most complex ideas to explain mathematically and among the hardest for the human mind to grasp. From why the brain’s perception of light and motion makes us see Impressionist works as flickering, to how a Russian mathematician’s theory explains Jupiter’s bright red spot, to what the Hubble Space Telescope has to do with Van Gogh’s psychotic episodes, this mind-bending tour de force ties art, science, and mental health together through the astonishing interplay between physical and psychic turbulence.
Van Gogh and other Impressionists represented light in a different way than their predecessors, seeming to capture its motion, for instance, across sun-dappled waters, or here in star light that twinkles and melts through milky waves of blue night sky.
“The effect is caused by luminance, the intensity of the light in the colors on the canvas. The more primitive part of our visual cortex — which sees light contrast and motion, but not color — will blend two differently colored areas together if they have the same luminance. But our brains primate subdivision will see the contrasting colors without blending. With these two interpretations happening at once, the light in many Impressionist works seems to pulse, flicker and radiate oddly.”
That’s how this and other Impressionist works use quickly executed prominent brushstrokes to capture something strikingly real about how light moves.
Sixty years later, Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov furthered our mathematical understanding of turbulence when he proposed that energy in a turbulent fluid at length R varies in proportion to the five-thirds power of R. Experimental measurements show Kolmogorov was remarkably close to the way turbulent flow works, although a complete description of turbulence remains one of the unsolved problems in physics. Read the rest of this entry »
Where’s the Best Place to Watch The Movie ‘Gravity’?
IN OUTER SPACE
Andrew Moseman writes: They call it the successor to Hubble. But the James Webb Space Telescope is something more than the next great observatory to provide breathtaking views of nebulae and new insights to our place in the cosmos. It is also nearly all of NASA’s eggs in one basket, one that appears to be perpetually near the brink of disaster. But things are looking up. Relatively speaking.
Mission Control said Monday that unless something goes awry, two astronauts ought to finish installing a new ammonia pump Tuesday, during this second spacewalk. NASA originally thought three spacewalks might be needed.
A bad valve in the pump caused the breakdown, prompting the urgent series of spacewalk repairs.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a spectacular new image of an iconic nebula to celebrate its 23 years of peering deep into the heavens.
The Hubble observatory, which launched on April 24, 1990, captured theHorsehead Nebula in infrared light, peering through obscuring veils of dust to reveal the object’s hidden features.
“The result is a rather ethereal and fragile-looking structure, made of delicate folds of gas — very different to the nebula’s appearance in visible light,” mission officials wrote in an image description today (April 19). The new observations allowed astronomers to create a dazzling video of the Horsehead Nebula based on Hubble’s photos.
The Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33, is located about 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion (The Hunter). The Horsehead is a huge interstellar cloud of gas and dust, like other nebulae, and the light from a nearby star gives it a beautiful glow.
The object is a popular observing target, and Hubble has taken numerous Horsehead photos over the years — including in 2001, to celebrate the telescope’s 11-year anniversary.
The Horsehead’s dramatic pillar is made of sterner stuff than the clouds surrouding the nebula, which have already dissipated. But the pillar will disintegrate as well in another 5 million years or so, astronomers say, and the Horsehead will go the way of the dodo.
The Hubble Space Telescope is perhaps best known for its photos in visible light. But the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, which was installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009, also takes crisp images in infrared wavelengths, researchers said.
Hubble, a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, has made more than 1 million science observations since its 1990 launch, and it’s still going strong. NASA announced last month that it had extended the telescope’s science operations through April 2016.
NASA’s highly anticipated successor to Hubble, the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, is slated to blast off in 2018. JWST is optimized to view in infrared light.
via CBS News