NASA Announces Latest Progress, Upcoming Milestones in Hunt for Asteroids

NASA is on the hunt for an asteroid to capture with a robotic spacecraft, redirect to a stable orbit around the moon, and send astronauts to study in the 2020s — all on the agency’s human Path to Mars. Agency officials announced on Thursday recent progress to identify candidate asteroids for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), increase public participation in the search for asteroids, and advance the mission’s design.

NASA plans to launch the ARM robotic spacecraft in 2019 and will make a final choice of the asteroid for the mission about a year before the spacecraft launches. NASA is working on two concepts for the mission: the first is to fully capture a very small asteroid in open space, and the second is to collect a boulder-sized sample off of a much larger asteroid. The agency will choose between these two concepts in late 2014 and further refine the mission’s design.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope made recent observations of an asteroid, designated 2011 MD, which bears the characteristics of a good candidate for the full capture concept. While NASA will continue to look for other candidate asteroids during the next few years as the mission develops, astronomers are making progress to find suitable candidate asteroids for humanity’s next destination into the solar system.

Duration: 01:22:33

via NASA.

Exploring Europa - Ocean Worlds of the Outer Solar System

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be a small, ice-covered moon of Jupiter or Saturn that harbors some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it! Dr.Kevin Hand, Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains the science behind how these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. Dr. Hand focuses on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is a top priority for future NASA missions and shows how the exploration of Earth’s ocean is helping our understanding of the potential habitability of worlds.

Duration: 01:23:35

via NASA.

Solar Flares and a Virtual Universe

via scishow:

SciShow Space takes you inside solar flares, and how we’ve managed to get the best look at one yet, along with news about a new, Web-based simulation of the earliest days of the universe that you can explore yourself!

Which Planets Have Rings?

You think only Saturn has rings? Well, think again. Rings are actually extremely common in our Solar System - they’re all over the place. So which planets - and other objects - sport rings?

via Fraser Cain.

Starburst Dwarf Galaxies Played Big Role In Early Universe

Using new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to determine that dwarf galaxies were producing stars at a faster rate than previous studies. FULL STORY:

via Video From Space.

Why Did This Bright Galaxy Go Dark?

In 2013, astronomers became aware the center of galaxy NGC 5548 had seemingly gone dark. Astrophysicist Jelle Kaastra and team now think they know why: a stream of obscuring gas blown by the action of the central supermassive black hole.

Full Story:

via Video From Space.

Whirlpool Galaxy Hosts Black Holes Orbiting Sun-Like Stars

The Chandra X-ray Observatory detected over 400 x-ray sources within the galaxy. Several of them are X-ray binary systems that contain a neutron star or black hole orbiting a Sun-like star. FULL STORY:

via Video From Space.

How Much of the Universe is Black Holes?

We all fear black holes, but how many of them are there out there, really? Between the stellar mass black holes and the supermassive ones, just how much of our Universe is black holes?

via Fraser Cain.

The Biggest Thing In The Universe Is So Gigantic It Shouldn’t Exist At All

What’s the biggest known structure in the universe?

Astronomers used to think it was a “filament” of galaxies known as the Sloan Great Wall. But recent research suggests a different structure is even bigger — and its size has astronomers scratching their heads.

Meet the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall (Her-CrB GW). Check it out in the video above.

"The Her-CrB GW is larger than the theoretical upper limit on how big universal structures can be," Dr. Jon Hakkila, an astrophysics professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and one of the astronomers who discovered the structure, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Thus, it is a conundrum: it shouldn’t exist but apparently does."

Mysteries just like this are why astronomers scan the skies for a glimpse into the past, as they shed light not only on the early years of our universe, but also more about our galaxy, our solar system, and ultimately, ourselves.

Click Here For Full Transcript.

via Talk Nerdy to Me.

When do we get to finally go to Mars?

When will we actually be able to send humans to Mars? What technologies will we need to enable this journey and the stay on Mars?

In Space News:
Boeing unveils the CST-100
Orion’s heat shield is installed for EFT-1 Test
Falcon 9 Flight 10 with Orbcomm Satellites has been delayed
Bulgaria becomes a member of ESA
Venus Express starting an aerobrake
Google buys Skybox imaging

Duration: 47:47

via TMRO.

Eyes on the Sky: June 16 thru June 22

The stars and constellations of SUMMER! Learn how to find and identify the brightest stars of summer like Antares, Vega, Altair and Deneb, and how to find most of the constellations of the season. See what’s up in the night sky every week with “Eyes on the Sky” videos, astronomy made easy.

via Eyes on the Sky.

Minerva and the New Hunt for Alien Worlds

via scishow:

SciShow explains the science of detecting exoplanets — planets in orbit around distant stars — and how a new observatory being built in California may open up whole new worlds to us, literally!

Biggest Explosions In the Universe Obscured By Gas And Dust

Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs) release as much energy as our Sun will emit in its entire lifetime and are the brightest phenomenon in the Universe. ALMA array observations have been used to map gas and dust in GRB’s host galaxies for the first time.

via Video From Space.

Galaxy Merger Tails Sprout Dwarfs

The resulting debris from a collision of galaxies is expelled through tidal tails. Tidal dwarf galaxies are born out of the debris. Credit: Observatoire de Paris / GEPI / François Hammer et al.

via Video From Space.