This week, NASA discussed their plans to explore Mars and Titan for signs of life, while Stephen Hawking warned against hostile aliens. So, being in an extraterrestrial-seeking mood, we've taken to the archives, where speculation about interplanetary neighbors--be they hyper-intelligent beings, primitive microbes or Martian beavers--has long filled our pages.
The European Extremely Large Telescope -- the European Southern Observatory's successor to its Very Large Telescope, which will be the world's largest optical telescope when it is built -- finally has a home. The ESO will build its mega-observatory atop Cerro Armazones, a 10,000-foot-high mountain in Chile's Atacama desert, and about 12 miles from the Very Large Telescope.
A new instrument with an evil-sounding name is helping scientists see how stars are born. Lucifer, which stands for (deep breath) "Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research," is a chilled instrument attached to a telescope in Arizona. And yes, it's named for the Devil, whose name itself means "morning star." But it wasn't meant to evoke him, according to a spokesman for the University of Arizona, where it is housed.
Until recently, radio astronomers have concentrated almost exclusively on the high-energy radiation streaming in towards Earth from exotic stellar bodies like pulsars, quasars, and super-massive black holes. But now, a new European observatory called the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) has begun releasing data on the low-energy radiation that permeates the Universe.
Like nations pitching the International Olympic Committee for a chance to host the games, South Africa and Australia are in a heated contest to lure the internationally funded Square Kilometer Array (SKA) to their own respective stomping grounds. And while Australia already has its first precursor antenna up and running, South Africa responded in kind today, unveiling the MeerKAT Precursor Array (MPA) radio telescope today.
A telescope-toting 747 is about to become astronomy’s most versatile tool
By Mark WolvertonPosted 02.24.2010 at 2:15 pm 14 Comments
In the movies, opening the door on a plane at 45,000 feet is disastrous. But this spring it will be standard procedure on one 747—one carrying a telescope high enough to capture the cosmos better than ever before.
Amateur and professional astronomers alike know the Orion Nebula as one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky, and a new image from Europe's powerful VISTA telescope has captured it in a stunning new light. But rather than just seeing the visible cloud of gas enshrouding the stellar nursery, VISTA turned its infrared vision upon the young stars emerging in and around the nebula.
Russia's proposal for an Armageddon-style mission to deflect the space rock Apophis seemed bold, but it's not the only one fretting about a catastrophic impact on Earth. The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a new report that calls for an international asteroid defense agency that can organize a proper mission to counter possible asteroid threats, New Scientist reports.
After a slew of successful of space telescope repair missions and launches in recent months, NASA is taking it easy these days. To use the newest powerful telescope, scientists will take a ride in a convertible. Sort of. The space agency's new telescope is situated inside a 747 with a hole in its side.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or Sofia, has an open hatch so a telescope can watch the sky while the plane flies at 500 mph.
It's been less than a year since NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope, and the device is already paying off with new discoveries. In particular, NASA scientists have identified a planet with the consistency of styrofoam, a gaggle of exoplanets, and two never-before-observed objects too small to be stars, but too hot to be planets.