tech e blog

NASA Exoplanet HD 219134b

Astronomers, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, have discovered HD 219134b, a rocket exoplanet located a mere 21 light-years away. While the planet itself can't be seen directly, the star it orbits is visible to the naked eye in dark skies in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star. It's also the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star and a "potential gold mine of science data," says NASA. Continue reading for a video on how to locate the exoplanet in the night sky and more information.

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Bright Spots Ceres

Scientists have discovered mysterious bright spots as well as haze over a crater in Ceres. This haze, spotted by the Dawn spacecraft, can be seen at certain times of day, suggesting it could be providing some atmosphere to this area of the dwarf planet. Chris Russell, the mission's principal investigator, said: "At noontime, if you look at a glancing angle, you can see what seems to be haze. It comes back in a regular pattern." Continue reading for three videos and more information.

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Kepler 452-b

NASA announced today that researchers have discovered Kepler 452-b, a rocky world, 1.6-times larger than Earth, orbiting a G-type star at almost exactly the same distance that we orbit the sun, placing it in the habitable zone. It's located approximately 1,400 light-years away, and orbits a star that is 4% more massive and 10% brighter than our Sun. "If Kepler 452b is indeed a rocky planet, its location vis-a-vis its star could mean that it is just entering a runaway greenhouse phase of its climate history. Kepler 452b could be experiencing now what the Earth will undergo more than a billion years from now, as the Sun ages and grows brighter," said Doug Caldwell, a SETI Institute scientist working on the Kepler mission. Continue reading for the two videos, including a news report.

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NASA Earth Epic

Yesterday, NASA released an image of Earth captured by the the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVER) satellite from a million miles away. The image is basically a combination of three different filtered images taken by the satellite's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC). "The high quality of the EPIC images exceeded all of our expectations in resolution. The images clearly show desert sand structures, river systems and complex cloud patterns. There will be a huge wealth of new data for scientists to explore," said Dscovr project scientist Adam Szabo. Continue reading for an image of the camera itself and more information.

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Tilt-Shift Hubble

Photographs of distant galaxies are majestic enough, but Imgur user ScienceLlama decided to take photos captured by Hubble and run them through Adobe Photoshop CS6's tilt-shift filter to give them a miniaturized look. According to Universe Today, "...the entire structure takes on the appearance of something tiny - based purely on our eyes' natural depth-of-field when peering at a small object close up. The original image was captured in infrared light by the Hubble Space Telescope and released in celebration of its 23rd anniversary." Click here to view the first image in this week's funny internet trolls gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of the ultimate two basketball trampoline trick shot.

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Saturn Cassini

NASA's Cassini-Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn, the fourth space probe to visit the ringed planet and the first to enter orbit. It has studied the planet and its many natural satellites since arriving there in 2004. Cassini is powered by 32.7 kg of plutonium-238 - the heat from the material's radioactive decay is turned into electricity. Now the Cassini probe is orbiting Saturn, it is between 8.2 and 10.2 astronomical units from the Earth. It takes 68 to 84 minutes for radio signals to travel from Earth to the spacecraft, and vice versa. Click here to view the first image in this week's funny school pictures gallery. Continue reading for a viral video compilation showing why gravity sucks.

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Pluto Photos

Finally, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully completed its flyby of Pluto, shooting past the dwarf planet at 4:49 a.m. PDT. What you're looking at above are the first high-res photos beamed back as the spacecraft approached its closest position to Pluto, flying at 28,000mph. New Horizons was approximately 476,000 miles from the surface at the time this photo was taken, but it got as close as 7,500 miles. "It's truly a mark in human history. Pluto didn't turn out to be a relatively featureless planet with a foggy nitrogen rich atmosphere as was expected. It has turned out to be a complex and interesting world. For the very first time we know that," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa's associate administrator for science from the mission control center at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Continue reading for a NASA video and the image they posted on Instagram.

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Comet Philae Alien

Scientists say that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko landed on by the spacecraft Philae could be home to an abundance of alien microbial life beneath an icy surface. Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have discovered strange clusters of organic material that resemble viral particles. Philae first landed on the comet in November, and it has since undergone a period of hibernation from which it awoke in June, having recharged its solar panels. Continue reading for the news report and more information.

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ISS Across Moon

Photo credit: Dylan O'Donnell

Australia-based amateur photographer Dylan O'Donnell managed to capture this stuning photograph of the International Space Station flying across the face of the moon - the ISS silhouette can be seen in the upper right hand corner. You may think a high-powered telescope is all you need, but capturing this photograph takes lots of patience to say the least, as the ISS zooms by in a blink of an eye, 0.33-seconds to be exact. Continue reading for a video of when it happened back in December, along with an up-close version of this image.

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NASA Live Feed Cut

Mysterious lights in the sky are quite a common sight, especially in space, but when unidentified flying objects are spotted leaving Earth right before NASA cuts its live feed, it's a dream scenario for conspiracy theorists. Fortunately, "Mister Enigma" on YouTube recorded the stream, and even includes a zoomed-in portion that shows what seem to be two rotating dots rising from the atmosphere. Continue reading for the clip.

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