If you follow NASA at all, you know the agency has had some funding troubles of late, forcing changes to its manned spaceflight and Mars exploration programs. Among more high-profile woes, the strapped budget almost doomed one of the agency’s cheapest missions, the prolific Galaxy Evolution Explorer. But Chris Martin had another idea.
Yesterday NASA formally loaned the telescope to Caltech, the first time the space agency has turned over the reins to a functioning spaceborne asset. It may not be the last, however — if funding pressures persist, the GALEX experiment could pave the way for many future spacecraft adoptions.
The center of the Milky Way is hard to see in visible light, because interstellar dust blocks our view. But the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared vision can penetrate the dust and see through to our galaxy’s jam-packed core.
This is a newly updated version of the plane of the Milky Way captured by the Spitzer telescope. NASA says the area shown here is immense: Horizontally, it spans 2,400 light years, or 5.3 degrees of the sky, and vertically it covers 1,360 light years, or 3 degrees.
At the heart of M87, the Virgo A galaxy, is one of the biggest black holes ever seen — about 6 billion times more massive than the sun. Scientists working with the Chandra X-ray telescope and the Very Large Array have compiled this nice new image of its insatiable appetite in action.
New photos from the Hubble Space Telescope show once again the value of having a decades-old orbiting observatory. After examining identical photos taken 10 years apart, scientists measured the speeds of individual stars in a distant nebula — a feat akin to seeing the apparent thickness of a human hair 500 miles away.
The stars were not moving in the ways scientists expected, so the finding could illuminate star-formation theories, the researchers say.
NASA today released a new, panoramic mosaic of the Milky Way, and frankly, it rivals anything snapped during the Hubble's early days. Taken by the Chandra X-ray space telescope, the picture shows the massive energy released by neutron stars and black holes more vividly than any previous picture.
Herschel, the largest infrared space telescope yet flown, was launched a month ago by the ESA and was not expected to deliver images for another few weeks. It has, however, already produced images- in three colors- of M51, ‘the whirlpool galaxy,’ from a test observation run. The goal of the test was to get a large image and a sense of what Herschel will deliver in the future.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.