Planets discovered by NASA's Kepler mission

NASA Kepler Discovers 26 Alien Planets Around 11 Different Stars

NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. The planets orbit close to their host stars and range in size from 1.5 times the radius of Earth to larger than Jupiter. Fifteen are between Earth and Neptune in size. Further observations will be required to determine which are rocky like Earth and which have thick gaseous atmospheres like Neptune.

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Comet Dives Into Sun

For the First Time Seen Comet Death Dive Into Sun

For the first time, a death-diving comet has been observed as it vaporized in the sun’s atmosphere, thanks to new data from a NASA satellite. More than a thousand known comets are so-called Kreutz sungrazers, a family of icy bodies that pass very near to the sun’s surface on their orbits through the solar system. Using NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), astronomers are able to spot many of these sungrazers as they get close to our star. Now, using a variety of data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), astronomers have been able to watch a sungrazer’s last moments as it disintegrated inside the sun’s atmosphere.

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Russian Mars Probe Crashes Into Pacific Ocean

According to Ria Novosti news agency after languishing in Earth orbit for more than two months, the 14.5-ton Phobos-Grunt spacecraft fell at around 12:45 p.m. EST (1745 GMT) on January 15, apparently slamming into the atmosphere over a stretch of the southern Pacific off the coast of Chile. As reported Ria Novosti Alexei Zolotukhin, an official with Russia’s Defense Ministry say that spacecraft crashed about 776 miles (1,250 kilometers) west of the island of Wellington. Before the crash, Russia’s Federal Space Agency, known as Roscosmos, released a map that estimated a potential crash zone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean sometime between 12:50 p.m. and 1:34 p.m. EST (1750-1834 GMT) on Sunday.

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Where Will Fall Russian Mars Probe?

A huge hunk of Russian space junk is set to crash to Earth in the next few days, but nobody knows exactly when or where it’s going to come down. According to the latest estimate of Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency the 14.5-ton Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, which got stuck in Earth orbit shortly after its November 8 launch, may re-enter the atmosphere at 11:22 a.m. EST (1622 GMT) on Sunday. If that projection is accurate, pieces of the failed spacecraft will splash into the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires. According to Roscosmos the predicted time and place of re-entry could change in the future.

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Cassini Diagnostic Testing Part of Its Radio System

Engineers with NASA’s Cassini mission are conducting diagnostic testing on a part of the spacecraft’s radio system after its signal was not detected on Earth during a tracking pass in late December. The spacecraft has been communicating with Earth using a backup part. The issue occurred with the ultra-stable oscillator, which is used for one type of radio science experiment and also as a means of sending data back to Earth. The spacecraft is currently using an auxiliary oscillator, whose frequency stability is adequate for transmitting data from the spacecraft to Earth. Tests later this month will help mission managers decide whether it will be possible to bring the ultra-stable oscillator back into service.

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