Posted on November 27, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on The Severe Pacific Northwest Flooding Seen From Space

The Severe Pacific Northwest Flooding Seen From Space

The State of Washington and the Province of BC are in a state of emergency following days of severe wind, rain, and flooding. The situation began when an “atmospheric river” (a plume of moisture) extended over the Pacific Northwest, triggering severe rainfall that caused already-rising rivers to overflow. This led to blocked roads, mudslides, fallen bridges, and thousands of animals drowning in farmland areas. This extensive damage was photographed from space by Earth observation satellites, one of which was the … Continue reading “The Severe Pacific Northwest Flooding Seen From Space”

Posted on November 27, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on Astronomers Find a Planet That Orbits its Star in Just 16 HOURS!

Astronomers Find a Planet That Orbits its Star in Just 16 HOURS!

Mercury is the speed champion in our Solar System. It orbits the Sun every 88 days, and its average speed is 47 km/s. Its average distance from the Sun is 58 million km (36 million mi), and it’s so fast it’s named after Mercury, the wing-footed God. But what if instead of Mercury, Jupiter was closest to the Sun? And what if Jupiter was even closer to the Sun than Mercury and far hotter? In a remote solar system about … Continue reading “Astronomers Find a Planet That Orbits its Star in Just 16 HOURS!”

Posted on November 27, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on A Machine-Learning Algorithm Just Found 301 Additional Planets in Kepler Data

A Machine-Learning Algorithm Just Found 301 Additional Planets in Kepler Data

Looking to the future, astronomers are excited to see how machine learning – aka. deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) – will enhance surveys. One field that is already benefitting in the search for extrasolar planets, where researchers rely on machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between faint signals and background noise. As this field continues to transition from discovery to characterization, the role of machine intelligence is likely to become even more critical. Take the Kepler Space Telescope, which accounted for … Continue reading “A Machine-Learning Algorithm Just Found 301 Additional Planets in Kepler Data”

Posted on November 27, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on Stars Getting Kicked out of the Milky Way can Help us map its Dark Matter Halo

Stars Getting Kicked out of the Milky Way can Help us map its Dark Matter Halo

Dark matter is notoriously difficult to study. It’s essentially invisible to astronomers since it can’t be seen directly. So astronomers rely on effects such as the gravitational lensing of light to map its presence in the universe. That method works well for other galaxies, but not so well for our own. To map dark matter in the Milky Way, we rely mostly on the motions of stars in our galaxy. Since dark matter attracts regular matter gravitationally, the method works … Continue reading “Stars Getting Kicked out of the Milky Way can Help us map its Dark Matter Halo”

Posted on November 27, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on It’s Time to Stop Doing Anti-Satellite Tests

It’s Time to Stop Doing Anti-Satellite Tests

Earlier this month, the Russian military conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test, launching a PL19 Nudol interceptor missile at a now-defunct Soviet-era intelligence satellite, KOSMOS 1408. The impact obliterated the spacecraft, creating a debris field consisting of approximately 1500 pieces of trackable debris, and potentially hundreds of thousands of pieces that are too small to monitor with ground-based radar. In the aftermath of the test, the debris field crossed the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) repeatedly, causing the … Continue reading “It’s Time to Stop Doing Anti-Satellite Tests”

Posted on November 26, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on A Space Telescope With one job: Find Habitable Planets at Alpha Centauri

A Space Telescope With one job: Find Habitable Planets at Alpha Centauri

Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our Sun, is like a treasure trove with many scientific discoveries just waiting to be found. Part of what makes it so compelling is that our efforts to detect extrasolar planets there have failed to yield any concrete results to date. While the study of exoplanets has progressed exponentially in recent years, with 4,575 confirmed planets in 3,392 systems in the Milky Way (and even neighboring galaxies), astronomers are still having difficulty determining … Continue reading “A Space Telescope With one job: Find Habitable Planets at Alpha Centauri”

Posted on November 25, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on Did Cosmic Dust Deliver the Phosphorus Needed for Life?

Did Cosmic Dust Deliver the Phosphorus Needed for Life?

Without phosphorus, there’s no life. It’s a necessary part of DNA, RNA, and other biological molecules like ATP, which helps cells transport energy. But any phosphorus that was present when Earth formed would’ve been sequestered in the center of the molten planet. So where did phosphorus come from? It might have come from cosmic dust. When Earth formed, phosphorus was part of the materials that coalesced into the planet. But one of Phosphorus’ properties means that much of the initial … Continue reading “Did Cosmic Dust Deliver the Phosphorus Needed for Life?”

Posted on November 25, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on Mother and Daughter Win Tickets for Suborbital Space Ride With Virgin Galactic

Mother and Daughter Win Tickets for Suborbital Space Ride With Virgin Galactic

A wellness coach from Antigua and her daughter are getting tickets for a suborbital space trip, thanks to the latest in a line of out-of-this-world sweepstakes going back 20 years. And although not a single spaceflight sweepstakes winner has flown yet, there’s still significant value to such contests, financially and otherwise. “Being able to give people of all ages and backgrounds equal access to space, and in turn, the opportunity to lead and inspire others back on Earth, is what … Continue reading “Mother and Daughter Win Tickets for Suborbital Space Ride With Virgin Galactic”

Posted on November 25, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on “Incident” that Occurred During Loading Pushes the Webb Launch Date to Dec. 22nd

“Incident” that Occurred During Loading Pushes the Webb Launch Date to Dec. 22nd

At Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana, technicians are busy getting the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) ready for launch. The observatory arrived at the facility on Oct. 12th and was placed inside the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket that will carry it to space on Nov. 11th. The upper stage was then hoisted high above the core stage and boosters so that a team of engineers could integrate them. Unfortunately, an “incident” occurred shortly after when … Continue reading ““Incident” that Occurred During Loading Pushes the Webb Launch Date to Dec. 22nd”

Posted on November 24, 2021Categories News   Leave a comment on Comet A1 Leonard Brightens in December

Comet A1 Leonard Brightens in December

Now is the time to start tracking Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard, as it starts its dawn dive sunward. The days following New Year’s 2021 saw a comet discovery with potential. On the night of January 3rd, exactly one year to the day prior to perihelion, astronomer Gregory J. Leonard working at the Mount Lemmon Observatory near Tucson Arizona discovered the first long-period comet of the year, C/2021 A1 Leonard. Shining at magnitude +19 and 5 Astronomical Units (AU) distant (about … Continue reading “Comet A1 Leonard Brightens in December”