Monday, August 20, 2018

New Kind of Aurora Is Not an Aurora at All

Alberta Aurora Chasers capture STEVE, the new-to-science upper atmospheric phenomenon, on the evening of April 10, 2018 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Fellow Aurora Chaser Robert Downie kneels in the foreground while photographer Ryan Sault captures the narrow ribbon of white-purple hues overhead. The vibrant green aurora is seen in the distant north, located to the right in the photo. In this issue, Gallardo-Lacourt et al. use a ground based all-sky imager and in situ satellite data to study the origin of STEVE. Their results demonstrate that STEVE is different than aurora since the observation is characterized by the absence of particle precipitation. Credit: Ryan Sault.

Thin ribbons of purple and white light that sometimes appear in the night sky were dubbed a new type of aurora when brought to scientists’ attention in 2016. But new research suggests these mysterious streams of light are not an aurora at all but an entirely new celestial phenomenon.

Infant Exoplanet Weighed By Hipparcos and Gaia

The planet Beta Pictoris b is visible orbiting its host star in this composite image from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) 3.6-m telescope and the NACO instrument on ESO’s 8.2-m Very Large Telescope. The Beta Pictoris system is only about 20 million years old, roughly 225 times younger than the Solar System. Observing this dynamic and rapidly evolving system can help astronomers shed light on the processes of planet formation and early evolution. Credit: ESO/A-M. Lagrange et al.

The mass of a very young exoplanet has been revealed for the first time using data from ESA’s star mapping spacecraft Gaia and its predecessor, the quarter-century retired Hipparcos satellite.

Light from Ancient Quasars Helps Confirm Quantum Entanglement

The quasar dates back to less than one billion years after the big bang.  Image: NASA/ESA/G.Bacon, STScI

Last year, physicists at MIT, the University of Vienna, and elsewhere provided strong support for quantum entanglement, the seemingly far-out idea that two particles, no matter how distant from each other in space and time, can be inextricably linked, in a way that defies the rules of classical physics.

InSight Spacecraft Passes Halfway to Mars

This artist's concept shows the InSight spacecraft, encapsulated in its aeroshell, as it cruises to Mars. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight spacecraft, en route to a Nov. 26 landing on Mars, passed the halfway mark on Aug. 6. All of its instruments have been tested and are working well.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

India Aims to Send Its First Manned Mission to Space by 2022

Narendra Modi greets the people as he proceeds towards the dais to address the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort during the 72nd Independence Day function in New Delhi on August 15, 2018. Photo Credit: PTI

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled on Wednesday, August 15, an ambitious plan to send first Indian to space by 2022. The announcement was made when he was addressing the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.

NASA, SpaceX Agree on Plans for Crew Launch Day Operations

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX are finalizing plans for launch day operations as they prepare for the company’s first flight test with astronauts on board. The teams are working toward a crew test flight to the International Space Station, known as Demo-2, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019.

Fireball '40 Times as Bright as Full Moon' Lights Up Alabama Sky

A meteor lit up the Alabama sky on Aug. 17. (NASA)

NASA has released video of "a very bright" fireball that lit up the sky over Alabama just after midnight Friday morning. The official time of sighting was 12:19 a.m. CDT. The fireball was described as "at least 40 times as bright as the Full Moon." It was first seen 58 miles above Turkeytown, Ala. northeast of Gadsden, according to NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center.