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.
A perforated plastic sheet carried into space in a microsatellite could serve as a cheap alternative space telescope, according to researchers at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The devices would sift photons like spaceborne cheesecloths.
In an unusual move, our cash-strapped space agency is contemplating the donation of one of its still-functional space telescopes. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission is out of money, but the observatory still works just fine, so NASA might give it away — if Caltech wants it.
When space agencies or institutions want to erect a space telescope, they usually look to some remote area like Chile's Atacama desert where clouds are few and light pollution is likewise scarce. But a team of NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab researchers wants to go even further off the grid to escape the likes of clouds and light pollution. Many millions of miles off grid in fact.
The search for extraterrestrial life elsewhere in our universe has taken many forms, from the radio signal searching undertaken by SETI to the rovers and probes deployed elsewhere in our universe. But if it's intelligent civilizations we're looking for, say a couple of Harvard and Princeton researchers, we can likely find them just by literally looking for them.
There’s very little we can write to preface the imagery below, so we’ll just set the scene and get out of the way. The video below was captured by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. And it might make you cry.
We are all made of stars, and that’s not just a Moby-ism. The stuff of the cosmos is also the stuff of life, so it’s interesting to look at ourselves and then at an image like the one above--a violent star birthing region filled with swirling, super-heated gas and dust--and ponder what possible futures might be spawning there. This newly released image from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows in detail the effect that newly minted stars have on the very gas and dust from which they are formed.