I haven't posted much astronomy news this past week, so I figured it would be good to give a round up. And then cat pictures, because its fricken Caturday, which is serious business.
Lets start with this story. NASA's Glory satellite failed to reach orbit on March 4th, 2011. The protective shell on top of the rocket that housed the satellite failed to separate as expected. The satellite's goal was to study interactions between the Sun and aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The rocket and satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean.
The Europa Mission may be canceled due to budget cuts. NASA is always one of the first on Congress's chopping block. A really sad thing when they can give so much with proper funding. This mission would further study the ice covered moon of Jupiter, providing details on the nature of the ocean locked under the ice, and pave the way for future robotic missions to possible probe that ocean.
At the same time, NASA's Head is defending the space budget proposal to Congress. Congress criticizes NASA for not adhering closely enough to the details of the previously approved plans. The biggest problem with that is that Congress critters tend to reach their hand into NASA projects and fiddle with them to bring work to their districts, often at a loss the NASA. There is also criticism of how much NASA should shift to commercial space flight. I particularly agree with Phil Plait's view, that NASA should be paving the way with new technologies and exploration, while 'space trucks' can be picked up by private industry.
The Sun is continuing to be very active. There are now two large sunspots, 1164 and 1166 on the face of the Sun. There are expectations for an X-class flare, which are huge and can cause radio blackouts. A Coronal Mass Ejection is also due to hit the Earth tomorrow. Expect pretty auroras at high latitudes, and radio problems. There might also be GPS disruption.
Speaking of the Sun, A new study of the Sun's deep physics explains sunspot free days. Not to long ago, the Sun seemed blank for several days on end. This also happened while I was doing solar observing, which was boring to see, but a fascinating problem for the usually active Sun. It's good to see some answers finally.
An amateur astronomy took this amazing picture. It's of astronaut Steve Bowen during a spacewalk mission, it was taken from a ground-based telescope.
China is building the world largest rocket production base. While NASA seems to be fighting for its existence, the Chinese are quickly rising in the space science community.
New images of the giant planet orbiting Beta Pictoris. These aren't the first image of the Super-Jupiter planet known as Beta Pictoris b (great name, I know). It orbits Beta Pic at about the distance that Saturn orbits our Sun. These new images tell us more about the formation and development of stellar systems. More at Bad Astronomy.
A NASA scientist claims to have found evidence of alien life in a meteorite. The skepticism of this article is huge. This is only a claim, one that is a long way off from being validated. More study and research of this meteorite will need to be done. It certainly is intriguing though, and if true, would be amazing. Bad Astronomy has a great rebuttal.
I think that covers pretty much all the major news of the past few days. There's always lots of interesting things going on. I know two things I didn't specifically link to were NASA's extending the shuttle's stay in space for two extra days, and the ESA is moving forward with its own GPS and GLONASS equivalent satellite navigation program. Now, CAT PICTURES!
|Me holding Bella|
|Reyn being fat|