Space

Our newest hero! Historic first landing on a speeding comet – hold on tight Philae!

Today the European Space Agency’s Philae comet probe became the first spacecraft to land on a comet! Philae has been hitching a ride on Rosetta spacecraft as it travelled over 317 million miles on its 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (sorry kids, nerdy scientists name these things, not me). Scientists believe Philae landed successfully (bounced actually) but failed to launch the harpoons that were intended to anchor it to Comet 67P/C-G. As such, it may be a rough ride for Philae but we have full confidence that the little guy can ride it out and give us a ton of great pictures and scientific data. ESA scientists say Rosetta initially hit the surface of the comet about 100 meters from the planned landing site, then…
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Space

Jaw-dropping photo of Milky Way, Northern Lights, and erupting volcano – all in one picture!

Although taken individually, the events are not all that uncommon but when they’re all captured in the same photograph, it’s mind-boggling. This photograph taken by Maciej Winiarczyk is believed to be the first time someone has photographed the Milky Way, Northern Lights, and an erupting volcano – all in the same jaw-dropping picture! Maciej Winiarczyk, from Caithness, Scotland, was at Jokulsarlon Lagoon in Iceland when he took the amazing picture of the Bardarbunga volcano erupting on October 21, 2014 (the Bardarbunga volcano is Iceland’s largest in over 200 years and it's still going today). At the same time, the angle of the photograph allowed him to squeeze the Milky Way into the picture. The addition of the glorious lights of the Aurora Borealis, which were…
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Space

Sun gets in Halloween spirit – makes spooky jack-o’lantern face for all its fans

The Sun showed its Halloween spirit this week by putting on its best spooky jack-o’lantern face.  The incredible image above was captured by NASA on October 8, 2014 and shows active regions on the sun combined to create the spooky image.  The sun's active regions, a storm of magnetic fields, appear brighter because they are emitting more light and energy.  This image above blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 Angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance. Sources: NASA, ABC News
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Space

European Space Agency’s Rosetta/Philae mission to land on a comet

It may sound like science fiction but alas, this is really about to happen. On November 11, 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) will land a small robotic spaceship, known as Philae, on a comet. It will be the first comet landing in the history of mankind. Rosetta’s (and Philae’s) mission The mission to land on a comet began on March 2, 2004 when the solar-powered robotic space probe, Rosetta, was launched by the European Space Agency attached to an Ariane 5 rocket engine. Rosetta’s objective was simple – to study the comet 67P/C-G. To do so, Rosetta carried on board a small robotic lander, Philae (pronounced Fie-Lee), named after the Philae Island where an obelisk was found that was used along with the Rosetta Stone…
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Space

Watch what happens when astronauts on the moon drop a hammer and feather at the same time

For a long time, Reeko has been trying to convince his readers that despite mind-boggling implications, Galileo was correct – all objects fall at the same rate regardless of how heavy they are. In other words, mass does not affect gravitational pull. Theoretically, in a vacuum, if you dropped a school bus (yes, yes, imagine the principal inside if you really must add dramatic effect) and a feather from a tower, both would hit the ground at the same time (and the principal would be very unhappy). Wait – don’t leave yet! We’re not making this stuff up! In 1971, on his last day on the moon, Apollo 15 Commander David Scott tested this theory. In one hand, he took a heavy geological hammer. In…
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Space

Scientists discover huge new rocky planet dubbed “Godzilla of Earths”

Scientists have discovered a new planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth. Dubbed the “Godzilla of Earths” (officially known by its more boring name - Kepler-10c), the planet is a new type of huge and rocky alien world that is about 560 light-years from Earth. Scientists have always thought that a planet the size of Kepler-10c would be gaseous, collecting hydrogen as they grew and eventually becoming gassy Jupiter-like planets.  They were surprised to find that despite its gargantuan size, Kepler-10c is a solid, rocky beast. Kepler-10c orbits its parent star every 45 days and scientists believe it is too close to its star to support any life. In addition to the newly-discovered Kepler-10c, another strange world orbits the same star – Kepler-10b, a lava-like world…
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Space

European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) – Scientists create the world’s largest telescope on top of a mountain

Once they finish building it, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be more powerful than any telescope on earth. Its huge mirror, which is used to gather the faint light of faraway galaxies, stars, and planets (allows astronomers to see further than ever), will measure 129 feet ( meters or 1,547 inches) and require microscopic precision to align the 800 hexagon-shaped pieces of mirror it will take to construct the telescope. E-ELT will be more than three times larger than any telescope on the planet!  To get an idea of how big E-ELT will be, take a look at the picture above and find the pickup truck to compare its size to the size of the E-ELT telescope.  Wow! E-ELT will be built on…
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Space

Oh how cute! Saturn just made an itty-biddy baby moon (named “Peggy”)

Saturn has more than 60 moons and researchers said yesterday that they think they may have captured a photo of Saturn giving birth to another itty-biddy moon (which they named "Peggy"). NASA’s Cassini space probe took the picture in April 2013 which shows a bright arc about 750 miles wide at the edge of Saturn’s outermost ring (see bottom left-hand side of picture above). Scientists think the arc and strange bumps located near it were probably created by the gravity of a small, icy object – possibly a newborn moon. Scientists think that most of Saturn’s moons are made of ice that broke out of Saturn’s rings (which are also made mostly of water ice) when the rings were much, much bigger.
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Space

Meet Solar Impulse 2- the solar powered airplane that hopes to fly around the world

See the big, shiny covering on top of the wings of this airplane? Those are solar panels and yes, this is a solar powered plane. If the inventors got it right, this plane will be able to fly around the world using nothing more than solar energy it collects during its travels. The Solar Impulse 2, has a wingspan close to that of a huge 747 airplane yet, it weighs just about as much as a car (5,000 lbs.). It has a comfortable pilot seat which doubles as a toilet and folds down flat into a bed (so you can poop lying down?). And in case you’re wondering, yes, the plane also carries a parachute and life raft.  The inventors say they did not want…
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Space

How big is space? New facts from NASA about the El Gordo galaxy cluster blow our mind.

A visitor to the lab once asked Reeko how big space was and the lab tour had to be cancelled. In short, Reeko answered with “really, really, really big” but what he really did was add a bunch of “reallys” to make the point that space was “really big”. There were so many “reallys” that after about 20 minutes, the visitors got anxious (one thought Reeko was having a “spell”) and the entire tour had to be called off for the day. For kids that have visited the lab, this explains why the sign at the entrance says “Be curious – ask any question you want (except for how big space is)”. Fact is, space is really, really big with about oh, one thousand “reallys”…
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