NASA issues a statement about the Alpha Centuri Exoplanet Discovery, are they a little embarrassed? As reported by KnowledgeOrb earlier this week an Earth sized exoplanet was discovered orbiting our nearest solar neighbor Alpha Centuri. While this planet is not in the habitable zone it is only 4.4 light years away. In the NASA statement Dr. John Grunsfeld has a short congratulations on the new discovery, the rest of the press release is used to remind us of the current and future exoplanet discovery missions at NASA. It seems as if NASA may be a little red faced at the fact that they did not find this planet located at our nearest solar neighbor. This planet was discovered using earth based telescopes at the European Southern Observatory. The NASA Kepler Telescope has discovered dozens of planets, some of which are in a temperature zone which could support life. Being on the cutting edge of this work, and clearly the leader in this field, perhaps NASA is wondering “why didn’t we think of that” when they [...]
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Kepler Hardware Failure causes it to temporarily stop observations The Kepler Satellite, known for many discoveries of planets outside of our solar system, has experienced the failure of one of it’s four reaction wheels which keep it pointed for these observations. Reaction Wheel #2 (RWA) has been turned off leaving the three remaining wheels to control the X,Y,Z axis of the observatory. Full control can be maintained with these three wheels. The Kepler team completed another monthly science data download over July 29-30, 2012. The Quarter 13 Month 2 data downlink was interrupted by the pointing error anomaly that Kepler experienced from July 14, 2012 through July 19, 2012. The anomaly was detected during a routine semi-weekly contact with the spacecraft on July 16, 2012. [adrotate banner="1"] The apparent cause of the anomaly was failure of reaction wheel #2 of the spacecraft’s reaction wheel assembly. Recovery actions included configuring the spacecraft to operate on three reaction wheels. Meanwhile, engineers have continued to evaluate spacecraft telemetry to aid in root cause analysis for the reaction wheel [...]
Scotch tape is the inspiration behind a completely new kind of x-ray mirror for telescopes. The concept was dreamed up by Maxim Markevich a NASA Scientist. “I remember looking at a roll of Scotch tape and thinking, ‘Was it possible to use the same design for capturing hard X-rays?’” Markevitch explained in a NASA statement. “I talked with a few people, and to my surprise, they didn’t see any principal reasons why it couldn’t be done.” [adrotate banner="1"] Markevitch and his team have begun testing materials that could potently be used to build a rolled mirror that is sensitive enough to collect hard x-rays from deep space. There are several telescopes that scan for X-rays today, including NuSTAR. This new concept will fix the problem NuSTAR has, witch is it has limited collecting areas that allow them to only “graze the surface” of possible discoveries in the hard X-ray realm. To get the job done right they will need a collecting area about 30 times larger then that of NuSTAR. [adrotate banner="1"] “However, to our knowledge, [...]