A Russian Soyuz rocket launched the new Progress 46 cargo ship toward the International Space Station at 6:06 p.m. EST Jan. 25, 2012 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
NASA’s Aqua satellite saw icy cold cloud top temperatures in Tropical Storm Ethel on January 19, which hinted at intensification. Infrared satellite imagery gives forecasters a clue to how high the cloud tops are that belong to thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone. The rule is the higher the cloud top, the stronger the uplift and the stronger the thunderstorm. When NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Ethel on January 19 at 09:17 UTC (4:17 a.m. EST) the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument measured the temperatures of Ethel’s cloud tops. Thunderstorm cloud tops around the entire center of circulation and in some of the bands of thunderstorms that circled the center to the east and north, were colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius).
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.
An unmanned rocket lit up the Florida night sky on January 19 as it launched a vital new communications satellite into orbit for the U.S. military, the first major American space launch of the year. The Delta 4 rocket roared spaceward from a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad carrying the Wideband Global SATCOM 4 satellite, the latest addition to the military’s highest capacity communications system in history. Liftoff occurred on time at 7:38 p.m. EST (0038 Jan. 20 GMT). Built by Boeing, the $464 million WGS-4 satellite is the fourth in a growing constellation of high-capacity satellites that provide tactical communications to and between ground forces, as well as relay data and imagery from surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
Astronomers have discovered a small galaxy that is invisible to telescopes and may be completely composed of dark matter, which reflects no light.The newfound galaxy is incredibly distant and extremely small. It orbits as a satellite of a larger galaxy. Though telescopes can’t spot the dwarf galaxy, scientists detected its presence through the tiny distortions its gravity causes to light that passes it by. The new dwarf galaxy is about 7 billion light-years away. It weighs about 190 million times the mass of the sun. According to study co-author Matthew Auger of the University of California, Santa Barbara this is the lowest mass galaxy that they have seen at this distance by far.
An Earth-watching satellite has snapped a stark view of the Costa Concordia shipwreck from space, showing the huge ocean liner on its side just days after it tragically ran aground off Italy’s Tuscany coast. The new satellite photo was taken on January 17 by an Earth-observation satellite operated by DigitalGlobe, a Colorado-based company that uses a constellation of spacecraft to take high- resolution images of Earth. In the satellite view of the Costa Concordia shipwreck, the luxury cruise ship is visible through a scattered cloud layer, as it lies half-submerged off the coast of Giglio, Italy. The ocean liner hit a reef on January 13 and tipped over. The Costa Concordia was carrying about 3,200 passengers and a crew of 1,000 when it ran aground.
China launched a Long March rocket on January 9 with a high-resolution civil mapping satellite to survey natural resources and a craft to relay marine tracking data for U.S.-based Orbcomm Inc.
Satellite sleuth Thierry Legault captured the impressive video of the Phobos-Grunt Mars probe January 1 from the Calern Plateau observatory above Nice in the French Riviera.
In this year astronomers could discover planets in other solar systems, also amateur astronomers discovered new asteroids, comets, and some comet fly at minimum distance from our planet.