Monday, September 22, 2014

MAVEN Arrives At Mars

NASA's MAVEN probe is safely in Mars orbit, arriving last night.

MAVEN's mission is to try to determine why Mars has lost most of its atmosphere.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Establishing Dark Matter

Physicists think dark matter is a large component of the universe because they can't find enough mass in normal matter to account for the gravity required to hold the universe together as we see it.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, on board ISS, is used to search for dark matter by analyzing the components of cosmic rays, and it has produced an interesting result.  So far, it has detected more positrons than expected, and positrons could be indicators of dark matter.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mass And Age

Astronomers have found a world ten times more massive than Jupiter that orbits its parent star in only 23 hours.  It's a young star, but it behaves like an older star.

Astronomers think the powerful gravity of the huge world raises tides on the star, complicating its functioning and "aging" it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dwarf Galaxy, Huge Black Hole

Astronomers have found a dwarf galaxy with a supermassive black hole-- not the way these things usually work.

They think the dwarf galaxy was once larger than our Milky Way, but a collision with another galaxy blew away much of its mass.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NASA Chooses

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the spacecraft that will take astronauts back into space under American control.

The first flight is scheduled for 2017.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Big Day For NASA

Later today, NASA will announce which private company or companies will be given the green light to build spacecraft that will carry NASA astronauts into space.

Boeing, with its long association with NASA, seems to have the inside track, but SpaceX is presumably a strong contender.  NASA would like to select two companies, to foster competition.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Next Year For Branson

Sir Richard Branson had wanted to be on Virgin Galactic's first commercial flight to the edge of space yet this year, but that event has been pushed into early next year.

VG is years behind its original schedule, but it finally seems on the verge of commercial operations.