Wednesday, December 13, 2017

China's FAST Radio Telescope Identifies Three New Pulsars

FAST radio telescope

The China-based FAST, the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, has discovered three new pulsars, the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) said Tuesday. So far, FAST has identified a total of nine pulsars since its trial operations began in September 2016.

Telescopes Team Up to Study Giant Galaxy

The giant radio galaxy Centaurus A as observed by the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. Credit ICRAR/Curtin.

Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fueling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun. In research published Tuesday, the international team of scientists used the telescopes to observe a nearby radio galaxy known as Centaurus A.

Does New Horizons’ Next Target Have a Moon?

On three occasions in June and July 2017, New Horizons mission team members attempted to track a small, distant Kuiper Belt object, 2014 MU69, as it passed in front of a star – an event known as an occultation. The colored lines mark the path of the star as seen from different telescopes on each day; the blank spaces on those lines indicate the few seconds when MU69 blocked the light from the star. Scientists are using these observations to craft a picture of MU69 and any companion bodies. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/James Tuttle Keane

Scientists were already excited to learn this summer that New Horizons’ next flyby target – a Kuiper Belt object a billion miles past Pluto -- might be either peanut-shaped or even two objects orbiting one another. Now new data hints that 2014 MU69 might have orbital company: a small moon.

Chandra Reveals the Elementary Nature of Cassiopeia A

These images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory show the location of different elements in the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant including silicon (red), sulfur (yellow), calcium (green) and iron (purple). Each of these elements produces X-rays within narrow energy ranges, allowing maps of their location to be created. The blast wave from the explosion is seen as the blue outer ring. Astronomers study supernova remnants to better understand how stars produce and then disseminate many of the elements on Earth and in the cosmos at large. (Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO )

Where do most of the elements essential for life on Earth come from? The answer: inside the furnaces of stars and the explosions that mark the end of some stars' lives. Astronomers have long studied exploded stars and their remains — known as "supernova remnants" — to better understand exactly how stars produce and then disseminate many of the elements observed on Earth, and in the cosmos at large.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trump Policy Directive Makes Moon NASA’s Official Goal for Human Exploration

Representatives of Congress and the National Space Council joined President Donald J. Trump, Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt and current NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, for the president’s signing of Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond. Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

In a brief but pointed Dec. 11, 2017, ceremony at the White House, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, which officially directs NASA to send astronauts back to the Moon as a precursor effort to exploring Mars.

Breakthrough Listen to Observe Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua for Signs of Alien Technology

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid: `Oumuamua. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Breakthrough Listen, the global astronomical program searching for evidence of civilizations beyond Earth, announced that it is currently focusing its observational efforts on ‘Oumuamua, the mysterious interloper recently spotted moving rapidly through the solar system.

RUAG Space Lands Contract Extension to Develop Crucial Parts for Galileo Satellites

An artist’s rendering of a Galileo satellite in orbit around Earth. Image Credit: Arianespace

OHB System AG, the prime contractor for Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites, has extended its contract with RUAG Space to produce 12 additional Control and Data Units for these spacecraft.