All posts tagged science

NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyl 

Kepler-186f: A Second Earth

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone—a range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zone of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.

via The Habitable Zone of Inhabited Planets | The Planetary Society.

Artist’s impression of the first planet discovered orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. The planet was found in 2012 with the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-m telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger (
This image is posted under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You may reuse it for any purpose as long as you include the above credit.

First Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System

Andromeda, otherwise known as M31, is among our nearest neighbors, “only” 2.5 million light-years away. Its line-of-sight speed has been known for a long time (from Doppler measurements), but until now we didn’t know whether its actual direction of motion is more toward us or more tangential to us.

The answer: Andromeda is coming at us, and will “collide” with the Milky Way in about four billion years. I put the word “collide” in quotes because while the collision will have a dramatic effect on the appearance of both galaxies, physical encounters between stars (and the planets they contain) will be really rare, because there is so much empty space between stars. Our solar system will most likely be unaffected by the collision, and will be having greater problems at that time due to our Sun’s behavior; that’s roughly the same time it’s estimated that the Sun will expand into a red giant.

Artist's views of a night sky transformed by a galaxy merger | The Planetary Society.

We at The Planetary Society are aware of how Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the Moon sparked so many of our Members’ lifelong interest in space. We invited them to share their stories about how Armstrong affected the course of their lives.

Neil Armstrong, donned in his space suit, poses for his official Apollo 11 portrait. Armstrong began his flight career as a naval aviator. He flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War. Armstrong joined the NASA predecessor, NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), as a research pilot at the Lewis Laboratory in Cleveland and later transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards AFB, California. He was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the 4,000 mph X-15. He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters, and gliders.

In 1962, Armstrong was transferred to astronaut status. He served as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission, launched March 16, 1966, and performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. In 1969, Armstrong was commander of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, and gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the Moon and the first man to step on its surface. Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters Office of Advanced Research and Technology, from 1970 to 1971. He resigned from NASA in 1971.

Died: August 25, 2012, Cincinnati
Born: August 5, 1930, Wapakoneta

Memories of Neil Armstrong | The Planetary Society.

The full-resolution MARDI images are just as great as we anticipated. As of the moment that I write this, there are 110 full-resolution frames on the ground out of the roughly 1500-image sequence. Most of these are separated in time by several seconds, but among the recently returned data are the first 42 frames, inclusive; we’re on our way to getting the full-resolution movie speaking both in terms of temporal and spatial resolution. Of the first 42 frames, the first 26 are dark, taken before the heat shield separated. This is the 27th. I animated these and the subsequent ones, aligning them all (without rotating them) on a crater at the bottom center of the visible Martian surface, and was really quite amazed at how smooth the descent of the heat shield was. This version is at half the full resolution.
Credit: NASA / JPL / MSSS / Emily Lakdawalla.