Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ALMA Starts Observing the Sun

This ALMA image of an enormous sunspot was taken at a wavelength of 1.25 millimetres. Sunspots are transient features that occur in regions where the Sun’s magnetic field is extremely concentrated and powerful. They have lower temperatures than their surrounding regions, which is why they appear relatively dark.  These observations are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where ESO is a partner. They are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the mysterious physics of our nearest star.  Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted center of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth. The images are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where ESO is a partner. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star. The ALMA antennas had been carefully designed so they could image the Sun without being damaged by the intense heat of the focused light.

Researchers Find Likely Cause – and Potential Way to Prevent – Vision Deterioration in Space

Volunteer Wendy Hancock, left, and researcher Dr. Lonnie Petersen hang on to supports during a zero-gravity interval. Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Vision deterioration in astronauts who spend a long time in space is likely due to the lack of a day-night cycle in intracranial pressure. But using a vacuum device to lower pressure for part of each day might prevent the problem, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers said. Their study appears in the Journal of Physiology.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Last Man on the Moon, Gene Cernan, Passes Away at 82

Cernan inside the Lunar Module Challenger after a moonwalk during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Photo Credit: NASA

Astronaut Eugene (Gene) A. Cernan died Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, at the age of 82. He flew into space three times – aboard Gemini IX in 1966, Apollo 10 in 1969, and as commander of Apollo 17 in 1972. Cernan was largely known by the title noted in his autobiography, “The Last Man on the Moon.”

Presumed Young Star Turns Out to Be a Galactic Senior Citizen

Rolf Chini has been researching approximately 400 stars in the vicinity of the sun that share some of the sun’s properties for many years. In the process, he and his team have made a very interesting discovery. © RUB, Nelle

It was considered a teenager among the stars. But now one thing has become clear: this celestial object was formed when our galaxy was born. Why did researchers get it wrong for many decades?

Monday, January 16, 2017

SAGE III to Provide Highly Accurate Measurements of Atmospheric Gases

Technicians inside a clean room at NASA's Langley Research Center work on the SAGE III instrument, preparing it to ship to NASA's Kennedy Space Center for launch to the International Space Station. The ozone- and aerosol-measuring instrument is the latest in a long line of atmospheric science experiments designed at NASA Langley. Photo Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

The International Space Station (ISS) will soon get an important tool to investigate the Earth's upper atmosphere capable of conducting highly accurate measurements of aerosols and gaseous constituents in the stratosphere and troposphere. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III (SAGE III) will study ozone, aerosols, water vapor, and other atmospheric gases to help us better understand the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.

SMAP Satellite Provides New Insights for Weather, Agriculture and Climate

The SMAP observations are providing an unprecedented level of detailed, worldwide information on the amount of water in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil, collected globally every two to three days.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The top 2 inches of topsoil on all of Earth’s landmasses contains an infinitesimal fraction of the planet’s water — less than one-thousandth of a percent. Yet because of its position at the interface between the land and the atmosphere, that tiny amount plays a crucial role in everything from agriculture to weather and climate, and even the spread of disease.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Russian Astronomer Discovers New Comet Using His Own Cutting-Edge Telescope

Сomet C/2017 A3 (Elenin). Credit: Ernesto Guido

Russian astronomer and researcher at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics Leonid Elenin has discovered a new comet with a telescope in Australia and the automated observatory remote control software. "The C/2017 A3 [Elenin] was discovered in the southern sky at the boundary of the Carina and Puppis constellations during a planned observation using an Australian telescope of the ISON network. It has an 18-star magnitude and is accessible for amateur telescopes," the scientist told TASS.