Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth Away from Home

European scientists have reported that they have discovered an Earth-like planet outside the solar system. The planet, called 581c, orbits Gliese 581 - a red dwarf star only 120 trillion miles away.

The planet, discovered by the European Southern Observatory astronomers, is believed to have temperatures that ranges between 32-104 degrees, much like that of Earth's, fueling speculations that it can harbor life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

View the Sun in 3D

Three-dimensional images of the Sun can now be viewed online. NASA released the 3D photos of our closest star on the net, and are accessible thru this link.

The images were taken by the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, which was launched last October 26, 2006.

Instructions on how to make 3D glasses can be found here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Did Herschel Discovered Rings of Uranus?

When did the rings of Uranus were discovered? As most people would answer 1977, a British astronomer has a contrarian view. The rings were discovered by William Herschel in 1797.

The Register is reporting that Dr. Stuart Eves from the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, is contending that that Herschel's writings indicated that he saw a possible ring orbiting Uranus in 1797, some 180 years earlier.

Eves has apparently discovered the smoking gun among Herschel's notes, which says "February 22, 1789: A ring was suspected". The rings were first photographed in 1986 by the Voyager 2 during its flyby.

More here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Human Error Doomed Mars Global Surveyor

Yet another case of human boo-boo sent a spacecraft into oblivion. At least that was the conclusion of NASA in its investigation of the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor, which was lost in November 2006.

Operators at the NASA facility in Denver apparently sent a wrong command on the spacecraft's computer, causing it to eventually lost power. The command, which is for orienting the satellite's main antenna, was sent to the wrong address, causing the spacecraft's batteries to overheat, leading to the loss of power that shut down the MGS.

MGS was launched in 1996 and was responsible for many findings made about Mars, including the evidence that waters still flows in the Martian surface.

Asteroid Named After Filipino Scientist

Asteroid # 6636 is no longer a nameless rock orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. It has been named by the International Astronomical Union last April 2 - and after a Filipino scientist at that.

Roman Kintanar, the physicist the asteroid was named after, is a former head of the Philippine weather service PAGASA, serving the agency from 1958 to 1994.

Now known as 6636 Kintanar , the asteroid discovered by by Bulgarian astronomer Vladimir Georgiev Shkodrov on Sept. 11, 1988. It is around 4-9 kilometers in diameter, and revolves around the Sun at an average distance of 338 million kilometers. It takes 3.4 years for it to complete one orbit around the sun.

Kintanar now joins Filipino scientists Fr. Victor Badillo, Emelda Joson, and Edwin Aguirre of having asteroids named after them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Snail Mail from Tattoine

United States Post Office will be issuing stamps bearing the images from Star Wars films. The stamps, emblazoned with the faces of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Bobba Fett, R2D2, Princess Leia, Yoda and C3PO, will go on sale starting May 25.

More pics here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sea Launch Rocket Explosion

This video shows the explosion of Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket at the launchpad. The launching was carried out last January in the Pacific Ocean.

Spelunking in Mars

Mars Odyssey, which was orbiting around Mars since October 2001, has apparently discovered some caves near a volcano called Arisa Mons. The caves, named Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abbey, Nikki and Jeanne - could be entrances to an underground cave system beneath the surface. Scientists are now looking at the possibility that these cave systems could harbor Martian lifeforms.

...and in the future, Martian settlers could look forward to add spelunking to their daily activities in the red planet.

Mars Odyssey website is here.