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Today is Wednesday, July 8, the 189th day of 2015. There are 176 days left in the year.

  • How Studying Saturn Moon Titan Could Unlock Secrets  of Alien Planets
    How Studying Saturn Moon Titan Could Unlock Secrets of Alien Planets Mon, Apr 27, 2015

    With nearly 2,000 confirmed planets now known beyond our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheresof these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life. Astronomers are honing their techniques in exoplanet observation using an object we know much more about in our own solar system — Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The process should help scientists better understand what a signal from a hazy planet that is similar to Titan would look like. "Observers struggle with trying to distinguish haze signals from gas signals from noise," Tyler Robinson, of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told Astrobiology Magazine by email. More »

  • Ancient Artifacts to Space Tech: History of Tools Explored in NYC Exhibit
    Ancient Artifacts to Space Tech: History of Tools Explored in NYC Exhibit Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    An exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York juxtaposes tools from throughout human history — from ancient rock tools, to the most cutting-edge instruments being used to explore outer space — and looks for the commonalities among them. The exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt museum titled "Tools," explores this concept by drawing together artifacts and items from nine Smithsonian museums and research centers, including the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "Almost everything we do involves a tool," Cara McCarty, curatorial director of the Cooper Hewitt museum and co-curator of the "Tools" exhibition, said as we walked through the third floor of the Cooper Hewitt museum. More »

  • Technique to Detect Distant Earth-Like Planets Will Be Tested on Venus Firs …
    Technique to Detect Distant Earth-Like Planets Will Be Tested on Venus Firs … Wed, Oct 15, 2014

    A Harvard-Smithsonian team hopes to identify Earth-like planets by calibrating the spectrograph to read very small Doppler shifts caused by the tug of these planets on their stars. More »

  • NASA's Next Mars Lander Will Peer Deep Into Red Planet's History: Here's …
    NASA's Next Mars Lander Will Peer Deep Into Red Planet's History: Here's … Mon, Aug 18, 2014

    NASA's next Mars lander, now under construction, will probe the inner workings and early stages of the Red Planet's development billions of years ago. "Things are coming together," said Stu Spath, InSight program manager here at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, the aerospace firm building the Mars spacecraft for its 2016 liftoff. In many ways, InSight is a technological kissing cousin to the NASA Phoenix Mars Lander of 2008, which was equipped to investigate ice and soil on Mars's far-northern region. "The lander structurally looks extremely similar to Phoenix," Spath told Space.com. More »

  • Celestial Showstopper: The Only Venus Transits I'll Ever See (Op-Ed)
    Celestial Showstopper: The Only Venus Transits I'll Ever See (Op-Ed) Tue, Jun 17, 2014

    Victor Rogus is an amateur astronomer, and this is the seventh in his series of exclusive Space.com posts about amateur astronomy. Many things, natural and manmade, can cross the face of the sun: Airplanes, the International Space Station, sun spots and the two inner planets — Venus and Mercury — can at times be seen crossing the solar disk from our Earthly vantage point.  Two times during my life, I witnessed and photographed Venus as it crossed the face of the sun. I used a 5-inch apochromatic telescope at f9 in conjunction with an over-the-aperture solar filter. More »

  • Wow! NASA Rover on Mars Sees Mercury Cross the Sun's Face (Photos, Vide …
    Wow! NASA Rover on Mars Sees Mercury Cross the Sun's Face (Photos, Vide … Wed, Jun 11, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has photographed Mercury crossing the face of the sun, marking the first time such a planetary "transit" has ever been imaged from the surface of a planet other than Earth. The Mercury transit photos — which Curiosity captured on June 3 using its Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument — also represent the first images of the solar system's innermost planet ever taken from Mars, NASA officials said. Also visible are two sunspots about the same size as Earth, which are moving much more slowly than Mercury. "This is a nod to the relevance of planetary transits to the history of astronomy on Earth," Mastcam science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University said in a statement. More »

  • See the Moon Meet Jupiter in Sunday Night Sky: Where to Look
    See the Moon Meet Jupiter in Sunday Night Sky: Where to Look Sat, Apr 5, 2014

    Weather permitting, when you step outside Sunday evening (April 6) you have a chance to see a rendezvous of two of the brightest objects in the night sky: the moon and Jupiter. To gauge how wide 5 degrees is, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees, so Jupiter and the moon will appear roughly "half a fist" apart. Even without the moon, Jupiter alone readily attracts attention. Jupiter, at about magnitude negative 2.2, outshines everything in the night sky except Venus and the moon. More »

  • What Would A Rocky Exoplanet Look Like? Atmosphere Models Seek Clues
    What Would A Rocky Exoplanet Look Like? Atmosphere Models Seek Clues Wed, Mar 12, 2014

    Is the atmosphere thick, or dissipating into space? As planets transit across the face of their stars, it's possible for astronomers to figure out what chemicals are contained in the planet atmospheres, and to make predictions. Francois Forget, a senior research scientist with the Meteorological Dynamics Laboratory of the Pierre Simon Laplace Institute in Paris, is part of a group trying to create a model for how planetary atmospheres behave on smaller, rocky planets like Earth, based upon observations in our own solar system. "It’s designed in a way so we can simulate, as much as we can, a planet with any kind of atmosphere around any kind of star, and with this tool explore the range of planets we can have." More »

  • 'Smart' Rovers Are the Future of Planetary Exploration
    'Smart' Rovers Are the Future of Planetary Exploration Sat, Feb 8, 2014

    Researchers supported by NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) program are designing algorithms and instruments that could help future robotic missions make their own decisions about surface sites to explore on other planets. Robotic explorers are designed to be as tough as possible, and they can survive for a long time, even in some of the most extreme conditions the solar system has to offer. For instance, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 for what was scheduled to be a three-month mission. After spending more than six years in transit from Earth to the saturnian moon, Huygens' trip through Titan's dense atmosphere lasted only two and half hours. More »

  • Venus Moves into the Morning Sky: How to See It
    Venus Moves into the Morning Sky: How to See It Fri, Jan 10, 2014

    If you were looking up just after sunset this week, you may have caught a glimpse of Venus setting just after the sun, weather permitting. But try it again at the same time next week, and Venus will be gone. On Saturday (Jan. 11), Venus will pass between Earth and the sun, an event scientists call an "inferior conjunction." A conjunction occurs when two celestial objects reach the same longitude and appear to line up. The last time we had an inferior conjunction of Venus and the sun was on June 6, 2012. More »

  • Jupiter and Moon Meet Up in Night Sky Tonight
    Jupiter and Moon Meet Up in Night Sky Tonight Wed, Dec 18, 2013

    This cosmic companion is not a star, but the largest planet in our solar system: Jupiter. Jupiter currently blazes at negative 2.7 magnitude, meaning that it is three times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. It looks quite different from Jupiter. In fact, Jupiter will be exactlyopposite to the sun in our sky.  More »

  • Alien Super-Earth Planets Plentiful in Exoplanet Search
    Alien Super-Earth Planets Plentiful in Exoplanet Search Fri, Dec 13, 2013

    Our solar system hosts a cornucopia of worlds, from the hellfire of Venus to the frozen plains of Mars to the mighty winds of Uranus. Outside our solar system, however, it's a different story. More »

  • My favourite speech: Micheál Martin
    My favourite speech: Micheál Martin Fri, Nov 22, 2013

    To coincide with the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death, Micheál Martin picks the former US president’s 1962 address to students at Rice University in Texas. More »

  • Astronomers find most Earth-like planets yet
    Astronomers find most Earth-like planets yet Thu, Apr 18, 2013

    Using a potent NASA space telescope to scan the skies for planets like ours where life might exist, astronomers said Thursday they have found the most Earth-like candidates yet. More »

  • World Watches As Venus Passes Across The Sun
    World Watches As Venus Passes Across The Sun Wed, Jun 6, 2012

    Skywatchers have gazed in awe as Venus passed in front of the Sun - an event that won't be seen again for another 105 years. More »

  • Venus Crosses Sun For Last Time Till 2117
    Venus Crosses Sun For Last Time Till 2117 Tue, Jun 5, 2012

    Stargazers are in for a rare astronomical treat as planet Venus crosses the Sun for the last time until 2117. More »