It’s not always easy being the little brother, but stepping out from the shadow of its bigger sibling--the Orion Nebula (Messier 42)--Messier 43 is finally getting its chance to shine. This recently released Hubble image shows M43 doing what little brothers are wont to do: emulating its bigger sibling. Both regions are churning out baby stars.
This is an image of the Space Shuttle Discovery taken from the ground, no easy feat in itself. But it wasn't taken by an observatory or a massive scientific instrument. Rob Bullen snapped this image from the UK using an 8.5" telescope. That he was guiding by hand.
Scientific observations often has to do with being in the right place at the right time, whether intentionally or not. In a stroke of good luck last Thursday the sun’s rotation, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and a sizeable M 3.6 class solar flare all lined up to allow SDO to capture a gorgeous profile view of said flare unfolding in high definition.
In a cosmic first, the Kepler telescope has discovered two planets sharing the same orbit. There is a theory that says our moon was created when a body sharing our orbit crashed into Earth, but up until now no one had found evidence of co-orbiting planets elsewhere in the universe.
The Space Shuttle Discovery is fueled and waiting on the launchpad for its 4:50 p.m. EST liftoff for the International Space Station on what will be the veteran spacecraft's final journey into orbit. The mission will carry a crew of six skyward along with important spare parts for the ISS as well as the Express Logistics Carrier-4, part of a series of unpressurized payload platforms that provide mechanical support for the ISS.
Update: We have liftoff!
The cores of neutron stars are the densest observable known matter in the universe, so dense that a single teaspoon of neutron star core would weigh some six billion tons. That density makes them fascinating to those seeking to probe the properties of matter, and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory has made an interesting discovery doing exactly that, finding the first direct evidence that matter there can take on a superfluid state.
Earthquake prediction is a difficult business; it can be done, but usually with just enough lead time to yell “earthquake!” before the shaking begins. British and Russian researchers hope to change that through an agreement inked this week that will see two experimental satellites launched into orbit to try to identify natural warning signs that an earthquake is on the horizon.
When the humanoid Robonaut takes off for the ISS next week aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, his days as the sole humanoid in orbit may already be numbered. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has announced that it plans to send its own humanoid ‘bot to the ISS in 2013.
It appears Tuesday’s massive solar eruption is already impacting communications in southern China and may disrupt satellites in orbit and electrical grids on the ground over the next few days. The X-class flare is the most powerful seen in four years.
Images from the Stardust-NExT mission's Valentine's Day rendezvous with comet Tempel 1 began hitting the Web yesterday--there are 72 total images, but each one took a dial-up-worthy 15 minutes to download--with most of them depicting a grainy rock at a distance.