Scientists Launched Rocket to Study Northern Lights

The two-stage suborbital rocket blasted off from the Poker Flat Research Range just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, and reached a height of about 217 miles (349 kilometers) on february 18 as part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and other spacecraft. Photos show the rocket as a dazzling streak of light soaring into a bright curtain of green hues created by the northern lights. Auroras are created when charged particles from the sun hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere, triggering a glowing light show. The charged particles are funneled to Earth’s polar regions by the planet’s magnetic field, creating the northern lights and their southern counterpart the southern lights.

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Scientists Have Discovered New Type of Alien Planet

Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet.The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009.GJ1214b is a super-Earth orbiting a red-dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). New observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. GJ1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in our solar system or any other planetary system currently known. To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations but according to researchers GJ 1214b, is something new altogether. This so-called super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet.

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Rhea and Titan

Saturn Two Largest Moons Rhea and Titan

Saturn two biggest moons hang together in a stunning new photo from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.The image shows the heavily cratered Rhea in the foreground, while the hazy orb of the huge moon Titan looms in the distance.Cassini snapped the shot in visible green light on December 10, 2011, and it was released to the public on February 13. According to researchers Cassini was about 808,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers) from Rhea and 1.2 million miles (2 million km) from Titan when it took the picture. Titan is the largest of Saturn’s many satellites, at 3,200 miles (5,150 km) wide, it’s nearly 1.5 times bigger than Earth’s moon.

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Janitor Satellite that will Help Clean up Space

Swiss scientists announced that they plans to develop a machine that acts almost like a vacuum cleaner to scoop up thousands of abandoned satellite and rocket parts, cleaning up outer space. CleanSpace One, a project to build the first in a family of so-called “janitor satellites” that will help clean up space. The prototype space junk cleaner will be a rectangular satellite nearly 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and about 4 inches (10 cm) tall and wide. Slated to launch as early as 2015, CleanSpace One will rendezvous with one of two defunct objects in orbit, either the Swisscube picosatellite or its cousin TIsat, both 61 cubic inches (1,000 cubic cm) in size.

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Astronauts Track Northern Lights

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are on a quest to snap photos of the northern lights. The space station crew has already beamed home dazzling photos and videos of Earth’s auroras, including a series of movies released by NASA last week. Now, the astronauts are teaming up with Canadian scientists on Earth in a coordinated campaign to track the northern aurora displays. Throughout February and March, NASA astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank will be on the lookout for flare-ups of the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, over Canada.

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NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer Mission Comes to the End

NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or Galex, was placed in standby mode as engineers prepare to end mission operations, nearly nine years after the telescope’s launch. The spacecraft is scheduled to be decommissioned. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer was launched on April 28, 2003. Its mission is to study the shape, brightness, size and distance of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history. The 50 centimeter diameter (19.7-inch) telescope onboard the Galaxy Evolution Explorer sweeps the skies in search of ultraviolet-light sources.

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Nasa Juno Spacecraft

Juno has Successfully Completed First Trajectory Correction Maneuver

NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully refined its flight path Wednesday with the mission’s first trajectory correction maneuver. The maneuver took place on February 1. It is the first of a dozen planned rocket firings that, over the next five years, will keep Juno on course for its rendezvous with Jupiter. The trajectory correction maneuver, which adjusts the spacecraft’s flight path, began at 10:10 a.m. PST (1:10 p.m. EST) on February 1. The Juno spacecraft’s thrusters fired for 25 minutes, consumed about 6.9 pounds (3.11 kilograms) of fuel and changed the spacecraft’s speed by 3.9 feet, or 1.2 meters, per second.

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Cause of Little Ice Age May Be Volcanoes

Accoriding to new study a mysterious, centuries-long cool spell, dubbed the Little Ice Age, appears to have been caused by a series of volcanic eruptions and sustained by sea ice. The research, which looked at chemical clues preserved in Arctic vegetation as well as other data, also pinpointed the start of the Little Ice Age to the end of the 13th century. During the cool spell, which lasted into the late 19th century, advancing glaciers destroyed northern European towns and froze the Thames River in London and canals in the Netherlands, places that are now ice-free. There is also evidence it affected other continents. The cause appears to have been massive tropical volcanic eruptions, which spewed tiny particles called aerosols into the atmosphere.

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Electrons Shoot Toward Space Not Earth

As the sun heads toward its 2013 maximum, the corresponding increase in space weather may temporarily strip the radiation belts around Earth of their charged electrons. But according to new study of data recorded by 11 independent spacecraft reveals that the deadly particles are blown into space rather than cast into our planet’s atmosphere, as some scientists have suggested. Streams of highly charged electrons zip through the Van Allen radiation belts circling Earth. When particles from the sun collide with the planet’s magnetic field, which shields Earth from the worst effects, the resulting geomagnetic storms can decrease the number of dangerous electrons.

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