NASA’s Hubble and Chandra Find Evidence for Densest Nearby Galaxy

M60-UCD1

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory and telescopes on the ground may have found the most crowded galaxy in our part of the universe.

The ultra-compact dwarf galaxy, known as M60-UCD1, is packed with an extraordinary number of stars and may be the densest galaxy near Earth. It is providing astronomers with clues to its intriguing past and its role in the galactic evolutionary chain.

M60-UCD1, estimated to be about 10 billion years old, is near the massive elliptical galaxy NGC 4649, also called M60, about 54 million light years from Earth. It is the most luminous known galaxy of its type and one of the most massive, weighing 200 million times more than our sun, based on observations with the W.M. Keck Observatory 10-meter telescope in Hawaii.

What m...

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NASA Curiosity Rover Detects No Methane on Mars

Westward View from Curiosity on Sol 347

Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers because previous data reported by U.S. and international scientists indicated positive detections.

The roving laboratory performed extensive tests to search for traces of Martian methane. Whether the Martian atmosphere contains traces of the gas has been a question of high interest for years because methane could be a potential sign of life, although it also can be produced without biology.

“This important result will help direct our efforts to examine the possibility of life on Mars,” said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientist for Mars exploration...

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ESA’s Cluster satellites in closet-ever ‘dance in space’

Artist's impression of the Cluster constellation

Since 2000, the four identical satellites of the Cluster quartet have been probing Earth’s magnetosphere in three dimensions. This week, two of them made their closest-ever approach, just 4 km, enabling valuable data to be acquired with unprecedented detail.

In an orbital reconfiguration that will help to maintain the mission’s life span, two of the four satellites achieved their closest-ever separation on 19 September, closing to within just 4 km of each other as they orbited at up to 23 000 km/h high above Earth.

“We’re optimising the Cluster formation so that the separation between Cluster 1 and the duo of Cluster 3 and 4 – which are on almost identical orbits – is kept below 100 km when the formation crosses Earth’s magnetic equator,” says Detlef Sieg, working on Cluster flight d...

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NASA’s Deep Space Comet Hunter Mission Comes to an End

Deep Impact

After almost 9 years in space that included an unprecedented July 4th impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional comet flyby, and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA’s Deep Impact mission has ended.

The project team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., has reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history’s most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.7 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).

“Deep Impact has been a fantastic, long-lasting spacecraft that has produced far more data than we had planned,” said Mike A’Hearn, the Deep Impact principal investigator at the Univer...

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Cygnus En Route for Sunday Rendezvous With Station

Cygnus

While the newest commercial cargo vehicle to join the International Space Station’s resupply fleet launched Wednesday morning on its demonstration flight, the Expedition 37 crew aboard the orbiting complex was hard at work with medical research, emergency simulation training and preparations for Sunday’s arrival of the new space freighter.

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 261 miles above the southern Indian Ocean...

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Underground Action

cavenaut_descent
17 September 2013ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and NASA astronauts Mike Barratt and Jack Fischer started their underground training yesterday with a first trip into the depths of the island of Sardinia, Italy.The first job was getting used to moving around a cave. Like spacewalking, caving involves thinking in three dimensions, tethering and having a buddy for safety.

The unique course offers practical experience for the astronauts on leadership, teamwork, making the right decisions and solving problems in a multicultural team.

In many ways, the ‘cavenauts’ will be working in a more remote and hostile environment than on the International Space Station...

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LIVE: NASA TV Airs September Space Station Crew Launch

NASA Television will provide extensive coverage live from Kazakhstan of the Sept. 25 launch of three crew members of Expedition 37-38, as they begin their journey to the International Space Station.

Michael Hopkins of NASA and Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will depart from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:58 p.m. EDT (2:58 a.m. Kazakh time Sept. 26) aboard a Soyuz spacecraft headed for the space station. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 p.m. and will include video of pre-launch activities leading up to spacecraft boarding.

Hopkins and Ryazanskiy are flight engineers, and Kotov commands the Soyuz spacecraft, which will rendezvous with the space station and dock after four orbits of Earth...

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SPRINT-A Solar Array Paddles Deployment and Nickname Decided

SPRINT-A

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) has deployed its solar array paddles (SAPs) normally at 15:49 p.m. today through data received at the Uchinoura Ground Station. The SPRINT-A was launched by the Epsilon-1 from the Uchinoura Space Center at 14:00 p.m. on September 14, 2013.
The satellite is currently in good health.
The SPRINT-A’s nickname was also decided. It is “HISAKI” The name was chosen for the following reasons.

(1)    “Hisaki” is the name of a cape in the Uchinoura area. (The cape at the tip of the Tsushiro Peninsula.)
–    It is the first brightened point by the rising sun in the Uchinoura area, thus the place is a symbol of a new day in Uchinoura.
–    It is...

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