In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, Cassini’s wide angle camera has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its Moon in the same frame. It is only 1 footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide angle footprint that has the Earth/Moon system in it.
Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the Moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side.
Simple is good
This is a GIF set of Astronauts falling on the Moon [video]
But if it was all faked, why do they land so softly?
University of Washington researchers and scientists at a Redmond-based space-propulsion company are currently building components of a fusion-powered rocket, which could enable astronauts to travel to Earth’s neighboring planet Mars within weeks instead of months, at speeds considerably faster than feasible until now. The current travel speeds using fuel rockets make Mars travel a journey of about four years but the new fusion technology being tested by researchers at the University of Washington promises that in 30 to 90 days.
The lab tests have proven to be successful on each part of the process and the scientists are now planning to combine the sections into a one final and overall test.
“Using existing rocket fuels, it’s nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth,” said lead researcher John Slough, a UW research associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. “We are hoping to give us a much more powerful source of energy in space that could eventually lead to making interplanetary travel commonplace.”
The team has developed a technology using a special type of plasma that will be encased in a magnetic field. When the plasma is compressed with high pressure by the magnetic field, nuclear fusion takes place.
The process has successfully been tested by researchers and they plan on having the first full test to be done by the end of this summer.
In practice the powerful magnetic field causes large metal rings surrounding the plasma to implode which will compress it to the point of fusion. The process takes only a few microseconds but that will be enough to release heat and ionize the rings that form a shell around the plasma. The super-heated ionized metal, in turn, ejects out from the rocket at a high velocity pushing the rocket forward. Repeating the process in intervals of about 30 seconds or more can propel a spaceship.
The research was funded by NASA in hopes that the technology would ultimately replace rocket fuel and yield to much faster spacecrafts that ever built before. Scientist say that just a grain size of the material from the plasma used can equal to a gallon of rocket fuel. That by itself will reduce the size of the spacecraft and the payload considerably making deep space travel much more cost effective.
It would be nice to see someone go to Mars in my lifetime.
The most accurate study so far of the motions of stars in the Milky Way has found no evidence for dark matter in a large volume around the Sun. According to widely accepted theories, the solar neighborhood was expected to be filled with dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance that can only be detected indirectly by the gravitational force it exerts.A new study by a team of astronomers in Chile has found that these theories just do not fit the observational facts. This may mean that attempts to directly detect dark matter particles on Earth are unlikely to be successful.
A team using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, along with other telescopes, has mapped the motions of more than 400 stars up to 13 000 light-years from the Sun. From this new data they have calculated the mass of material in the vicinity of the Sun, in a volume four times larger than ever considered before.
I think we’re going to be very surprised when we finally figure out what “dark matter” is. None of the current explanations sit right with me.
I WAITED THROUGH ALL THAT… FOR THAT?!!??
THAT WAS SO WORTH IT
Oh my gosh.
The Cassini spacecraft has sent back yet another jaw-dropping image (just one of thousands now!) of four of Saturn’s moons posing around and inside the giant planet’s rings.
Titan is the largest in the background, and also the largest moon at 5,150 kilometres (3,200 miles) across, with Dione in front of it, which is 1,123 kilometres (698 miles) in diameter. Just to the right of the edge of the rings is Pandora, which is only about 81 kilometres (50 miles) in diameter. Tiny little Pan, only about 28 kilometres (17 miles) across, can just barely be seen as a speck inside the Encke Gap of the A ring on the left side of the image (look closely!).
Another amazing natural montage showing the alien beauty of the worlds in the Saturnian system. The full-size image can be seen here.
The Sun and Earth - A Size Comparison
The south pole of Jupiter.
In this HiRISE captured an image of a black spot mars the flank of Arsia Mons that is most likely a portal innto a subterranean cavern. Their identifications were based upon Mars Odyssey THEMIS images, which achieve resolutions of a little better than 20 meters per pixel; having spotted the caves, they requested that the sharper-eyed HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter target the spots for more detailed imaging. The image above is the first one of these, and it shows the cave entrance called Jeanne.
There is absolutely nothing visible inside that hole. HiRISE is a very sensitive instrument, but it seems that the cave is so big and so deep that almost none of the light that enters the cave comes out. It’s deep, and it’s big; the hole that we see really is just a skylight on a big subterranean room. We’ll never know for sure how big or deep the hole is without a manned mission visiting it, but the HiRISE team will calculate the sensitivity of the camera to put a lower limit on how deep that cave must be for HiRISE to be able to see nothing at all inside it.
Every space mission from the last 50 years mapped out. Pretty awesome. Click for hi-res.
"We all grew up learning, in school, that there were nine planets in the solar system. We never thought much about it: That’s just the way it was. But in 2005, Mike Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, discovered a tenth. As he explains in his new book, How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming, out today by Spiegel & Grau, this is something he had been working toward his whole life. That day of discovery was one of the best days of his life, second only, perhaps, to the day his daughter, Lilah, was born.
"But the excitement only lasted so long. Brown’s discovery ignited a year-long debate over how, exactly, to define a planet. And when things got out of control, when too many bodies were being upgraded to planetary status, it was Brown who had to step in and demote his own discovery, the largest object found in the solar system in 150 years, and, along with it, beloved Pluto."