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25 November 2022
Think about what types of things burn: wood, grasses, fossil fuels… mostly things that were formed by life. Fire also requires oxygen, which is largely produced by life. Did Earth have fire before life evolved? Could any other planets have fire? If there were an exoplanet with fires burning, would we have any way to detect that?
26 August 2022
When you think of ice, you might imagine glaciers, the North Pole, a clink in your water glass. But it turns out that our closest neighbor in space isn’t just a dusty ball—the moon has ice tucked away in deep craters at each of its poles. On top of that, scientists think the moon stole its ice: from comets, asteroids, maybe even from the Earth.
1 July 2022
Dani DellaGiustina is one of the youngest leaders of a NASA mission, and she was in charge of image processing for OSIRIS-REx before she even got her PhD. OSIRIS-REx is a spacecraft sent to study asteroid Bennu and scheduled to return a sample to Earth in 2023.
15 February 2011
Images are still trickling down from the successful flyby of comet Tempel 1 last night. Here is the latest image: You can start to see some details in this one! I was amused to see that the NASA website listing the new images claims that this was taken from a distance of 587.8 trillion miles away! If something looks wrong about that number to you, you’re right. That’s equivalent to …
It sounds like it might be a little while longer before we get nice high-res images from last night’s flyby of comet Tempel 1. As usual, Emily at the Planetary Society blog has the scoop: The good news is that they have all their images, and according to Stardust’s navigation team, they all have the comet centered in the field of view. The bad news is that for reasons as …
14 February 2011
Apparently NASA has a rule that the comet Tempel 1 can only be visited on holidays. Back in 2005, on the 4th of July, the Deep Impact spacecraft flew by Tempel 1 and smashed an 816 pound copper bullet into the comet. And now this Valentine’s Day the Stardust spacecraft is taking a look at the aftermath.
19 November 2010
Remember those awesome pictures of Hartley 2 from EPOXI? Well, those were the low-res camera. The high-resolution camera on the Deep Impact spacecraft is a bit blurry, so it took some time for the scientists on the mission to process the data, but they have finally released high-resolution photos and there’s a big surprise: Hartley 2 is surrounded by a swarm of fluffy cometary “snowballs”. For more info and pictures, …
4 November 2010
The flyby of Hartley 2 was a success and the first images are coming down! Check them out at the EPOXI site. In the highest-res images so far you can see that the comet has a distinct peanut-like shape and is very smooth around the narrow point.
Today we get to see a new comet! Ok, so the comet is actually quite old, and we’ve known about it since 1986, but this will be the first time we see the surface. The EPOXI mission will be swinging by the comet Hartley 2 in about an hour and a half, snapping high-resolution pictures and collecting other information all the way. If you haven’t heard of the EPOXI mission …