Saturday, February 24, 2018

SpaceX Launches PAZ Radar Imaging Satellite into Orbit

Falcon 9 launch on February 22, 2018. Credit: SpaceX

With three successful flights already under their belt already this year, SpaceX successfully launched Spain’s PAZ radar imaging satellite along with two secondary payloads, both of them were SpaceX’s own satellites – Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b which are thought to be technology demonstrators for the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service.

Improved Hubble Yardstick Gives Fresh Evidence for New Physics in the Universe

These Hubble Space Telescope images showcase two of the 19 galaxies analyzed in a project to improve the precision of the universe's expansion rate, a value known as the Hubble constant. The color-composite images show NGC 3972 (left) and NGC 1015 (right), located 65 million light-years and 118 million light-years, respectively, from Earth. The yellow circles in each galaxy represent the locations of pulsating stars called Cepheid variables. Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU)

Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.

Astronomers Discover S0-2 Star is Single and Ready for Big Einstein Test

The orbit of S0-2 (light blue) located near the Milky Way's supermassive black hole will be used to test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity and generate potentially new gravitational models. CREDIT: S. SAKAI/A.GHEZ/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/ UCLA GALACTIC CENTER GROUP

Astronomers have the “all-clear” for an exciting test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, thanks to a new discovery about S0-2’s star status. Up until now, it was thought that S0-2 may be a binary, a system where two stars circle around each other. Having such a partner would have complicated the upcoming gravity test.

RS-25 Engine Throttles Up for Deep Space Exploration

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne Test the RS-25 Engine for NASA's Space Launch System at Stennis Space Center

With an eye toward future deep space missions, Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA on Wednesday powered up the RS-25 main engine for the agency’s powerful heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) to its highest thrust levels yet.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Japan to Launch IGS-Optical 6 Reconnaissance Satellite into Space

Archive photo of H-IIA. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Japan is gearing up to launch its flagship H-IIA rocket with IGS-Optical 6 - the newest satellite of its homegrown spy satellite program. Liftoff will take place on Monday, February 26, between 4:34 and 4:48 GMT (11:34 and 11:48 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 25).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Truck-Sized Asteroid to Fly By Earth on Saturday

A truck-sized asteroid named 2017 DR109 is slated to pass by Earth on Saturday, February 24 at around 5:18 UTC. The space rock will miss our planet with a relative velocity of 7.4 km/s at a safe distance of about 3.7 lunar distances (LD), or 1.42 million kilometers.

Amateur Astronomer Captures Rare First Light from Massive Exploding Star

Negatives images of SN 2016gkg as it appears and brightens in the outskirts of the spiral galaxy NGC 613. The object steadily brightened for about 25 minutes, as shown in the lower-right panel. (Víctor Buso images; Melina Bersten data)

Thanks to lucky snapshots taken by an amateur astronomer in Argentina, scientists have obtained their first view of the initial burst of light from the explosion of a massive star. During tests of a new camera, Víctor Buso captured images of a distant galaxy before and after the supernova’s “shock breakout” – when a supersonic pressure wave from the exploding core of the star hits and heats gas at the star’s surface to a very high temperature, causing it to emit light and rapidly brighten.