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The Spacecraft that Fell to Earth Slowly

A large piece of space hardware, the Cygnus OA6, was guided to fall back to Earth on a shallow trajectory on June 22 in the uninhabited Southern Pacific Ocean. Creating a horizon-to-horizon man-made meteor, this spectacular re-entry was studied by an international airborne team led by SETI Institute scientist Peter Jenniskens. Their work will give insight into the behavior of other space debris objects that enter at grazing angles, and prepare for an observing campaign to study the impact of one of the small asteroids, that frequently impact our planet.

The team has created videos and photos of this spectacular event, as well as a detailed log of their experience. You can see the re-entry and share the excitement here: http://buff.ly/28PPnuh

Image credit: Tim Peake/NASA
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That was AWESOME!!! It would be nice to find a way to clean more junk from orbit - and using it for future studies is excellent.
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Glow Below

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams captured several photos on April 25 that went into this composite view of sunset reflecting off of Earth's ocean. Williams is now commander of the International Space Station; he took command just before the departure of American astronaut Tim Kopra, British astronaut Tim Peake and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko Saturday, June 18. Three new crewmembers will arrive in July, bringing the complement aboard the station back up to six. — Sarah Lewin

More space images: http://buff.ly/28VkWo6
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Fd xDtumn.vs v v bn bn n n bfjooni 
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E.T. Phones Earth? 1,500 Years Until Contact, Experts Estimate

Like humanity, average civilizations have barely scratched the surface of galactic communication, so humans shouldn't start to worry about whether they're alone for another 1,500 years or so.

"Communicating with anybody is an incredibly slow, long-duration endeavor," said Evan Solomonides at a press conference June 14 at the American Astronomical Society's summer meeting in San Diego, California. Solomonides is an undergraduate student at Cornell University in New York, where he worked with Cornell radio astronomer Yervant Terzian to explore the mystery of the Fermi paradox: If life is abundant in the universe, the argument goes, it should have contacted Earth, yet there's no definitive sign of such an interaction.

Based on the assumption that life and technology on Earth should have evolved at a relatively average pace, not significantly faster or slower than for other civilizations, Solomonides calculated the communication bubbles that life would produce throughout the galaxy. He found that, as of today, only about a tenth of 1 percent of the Milky Way would be blanketed by signals. With those numbers, it's likely that Earth won't hear from other life-forms for another 1,500 years.

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If Earth is an average planet, then humanity shouldn't expect to hear from alien life for another 1,500 years.
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Woofin' paint-thinner again, huh?
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IotD: Pervasive Ice Retreat in West Antarctica

The widespread retreat has likely been caused by warmer ocean water licking at the undersides of the floating ice near the grounding line—or as the authors write: “an ingress of relatively warm circumpolar deep water.”

The image above shows an area near Eltanin Bay, where the majority of the grounding line is found at the seaward front of the ice. It was acquired by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 on March 2, 2015. The ice loss is most pronounced along the Ferrigno Ice Stream, which was named for Jane Ferrigno, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who used satellite data (including Landsat) to map Antarctica.

“Our study provides important context for understanding the causes of ice retreat throughout Antarctica as a whole,” said Frazer Christie, a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the study. “We now know West Antarctica has been changing for many decades, so the next challenge is to ascertain the key ice, ocean, and atmospheric factors responsible for such ice losses.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

More info: http://buff.ly/28N8dk1
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خوب
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X-ray Echoes of Shredded Star Provide Close-up of 'Killer' Black Hole

Stellar debris falling toward a black hole collects into a rotating structure called an accretion disk. There the gas is compressed and heated to millions of degrees before it eventually spills over the black hole's event horizon, the point beyond which nothing can escape and astronomers cannot observe. The Swift J1644+57 accretion disk was thicker, more turbulent and more chaotic than stable disks, which have had time to settle down into an orderly routine. The researchers present the findings in a paper published online in the journal Nature on Wed., June 22.

One surprise from the study is that high-energy X-rays arise from the inner part of the disk. Astronomers had thought most of this emission originated from a narrow jet of particles accelerated to near the speed of light. In blazars, the most luminous galaxy class powered by supermassive black holes, jets produce most of the highest-energy emission.

"We do see a jet from Swift J1644, but the X-rays are coming from a compact region near the black hole at the base of a steep funnel of inflowing gas we're looking down into," said co-author Lixin Dai, a postdoctoral researcher at UMCP. "The gas producing the echoes is itself flowing outward along the surface of the funnel at speeds up to half the speed of light."

X-rays originating near the black hole excite iron ions in the whirling gas, causing them to fluoresce with a distinctive high-energy glow called iron K-line emission. As an X-ray flare brightens and fades, the gas follows in turn after a brief delay depending on its distance from the source.

"Direct light from the flare has different properties than its echo, and we can detect reverberations by monitoring how the brightness changes across different X-ray energies," said co-author Jon Miller, a professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Read more: http://buff.ly/28NaLhv
Billions of years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, a monster black hole shredded a passing star and emitted X-rays. Now astronomers are using X-ray echoes to study a newly awakened black hole for the first time.
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حذف شود این پست
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Graphite Found at Pluto Moon Charon and Dwarf Planet Ceres

The gray surfaces of the dwarf planet Ceres (the asteroid belt's largest resident) and Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, both show signs of containing forms of graphite, the material in pencil lead. The dark carbon suggests that similar processes could change the colors of both worlds, though they're significantly different environments.

According to Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, these results are surprising. Throughout Ceres' history, carbon-filled meteorites and asteroids have crashed into the dwarf planet. The solar wind's charged particles have collided with the deposited carbon, repeatedly reprocessing it to release hydrogen and leaving behind a dull, gray graphitized carbon. However, radiation from the solar wind should be significantly weaker at Charon than it is at Ceres, because Charon lies, on average, about 10 times farther from the sun than Ceres does. If the moon's surface is covered with graphite, she said, "it likely formed a different way."

Read more: http://buff.ly/28QJs7R
Both the dwarf planet Ceres and Pluto's moon Charon may be covered with material similar to the graphite in a pencil.
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Hubble Confirms New Dark Spot on Neptune

Neptune's dark vortices are high-pressure systems and are usually accompanied by bright "companion clouds," which are also now visible on the distant planet. The bright clouds form when the flow of ambient air is perturbed and diverted upward over the dark vortex, causing gases to likely freeze into methane ice crystals.

"Dark vortices coast through the atmosphere like huge, lens-shaped gaseous mountains," Wong said. "And the companion clouds are similar to so-called orographic clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features lingering over mountains on Earth."

Beginning in July 2015, bright clouds were again seen on Neptune by several observers, from amateurs to astronomers at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Astronomers suspected that these clouds might be bright companion clouds following an unseen dark vortex. Neptune's dark vortices are typically only seen at blue wavelengths, and only Hubble has the high resolution required for seeing them on distant Neptune.

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New images obtained on May 16, 2016, by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope confirm the presence of a dark vortex in the atmosphere of Neptune.
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Bon sari
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Mapping Near-Earth Hazards

Recognizing the potential danger that NEOs can pose to Earth, Congress has tasked NASA with tracking down 90% of NEOs larger than 140 meters in diameter. With our current survey capabilities, we believe we’ve discovered roughly 25% of these NEOs thus far. Now a new study led by Tommy Grav (Planetary Science Institute) examines whether LSST will be able to complete this task.

The authors find that, within 10 years, LSST will likely be able to detect only 63% of NEOs larger than 140 m. Luckily, LSST may not have to work alone; in addition to the current surveys in operation, a proposed infrared space-based survey mission called NEOCam is planned for launch in 2021. If NEOCam is funded, it will complement LSST’s discovery capabilities, potentially allowing the two surveys to jointly achieve the 90% detection goal within a decade.

Read more: http://buff.ly/28QT2JE
Can LSST successfully hunt down the near-Earth asteroids that are capable of posing a threat to us?
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India’s Space Agency Sends 20 Satellites Into Orbit

India on Wednesday put 20 satellites into the Earth’s orbit, including 17 from foreign countries, a record number for its space agency as it seeks to become a low-cost and reliable choice for launches.

The successful mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation puts it right after Russia and the U.S. for the number of satellites launched from a single rocket so far, said an ISRO official. In 2014, a single Russian space launch vehicle deployed 33 satellites. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket carried 29 satellites in 2013.

ISRO’s rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carried its own Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation along with 13 satellites from the U.S., two from Canada, one each from Germany and Indonesia and two from Indian academic institutions.

“ISRO continues to break new barriers,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on his Twitter account. He said the country’s space program “has time and again shown the transformative potential of science and technology in people’s lives.”

Read more: http://buff.ly/28RRkYY
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Yay more space junk!
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Commotion in Saturn's Rings: New Photo Reveals Ink-Stain Smudge

A stunning photo of Saturn from the orbiting Cassini spacecraft reveals a large, bright smudge on the planet's outermost ring, suggesting interference from a passing object.

The photo is among those taken by NASA's Cassini orbiter this past April. The mark crossing Saturn's skinny F-ring looks almost like a smear of ink left behind by a faulty office printer, but this giant smudge was no mechanical error. Instead, the affected ring appears to reveal disturbance from some object out in space.

Though Saturn's moon Pandora is visible nearby in the new portrait, the satellite probably didn't cause the disruption to Saturn's ring. Instead, a small object that resides inside of the ring probably created the disturbance, NASA officials said in a statement.

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A stunning photo of Saturn from the orbiting Cassini spacecraft reveals a large, bright smudge on the planet's outermost ring, suggesting interference from a passing object.
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This makes me think of aliens. 👓
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ATA Checks Out Nearby Planetary System

Trappist 1, which was discovered by a group of exoplanet researchers led from the University of Liege in Belgium, is in our cosmic backyard. It offers a more-than-thousand-fold improvement in sensitivity to any transmissions. The three detected planets around this dim, red dwarf are roughly the same size as the Earth, with orbital periods of a few days to possibly as much as 2-1/2 months. They are, quite obviously, in very tight orbits. But because their host star is so dim, all three could be “habitable” in the sense of (1) being rocky worlds like Earth or Mars, and (2) sporting temperatures that would permit liquid water oceans and an atmosphere. A further, more speculative consideration is that any stellar system with more than one habitable planet could host a civilization for which interplanetary communication links would be important – a possible source of detectable signals.

The radio spectrum between 1 and 10 GHz was examined, and no signals above 3 10^-24 watts/m2-Hz were found. The import of that upper limit to signal strength can be demonstrated with an example. If Trappist 1 has inhabitants sending a signal in our direction with an antenna 300 m in size (the same as the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico), then our observations would be able to find it if the transmitter had a power of 300 kilowatts or more. That is hardly an implausible power level.

Read more: http://buff.ly/28Nju3r
by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer. Could extraterrestrial intelligence be relatively nearby? With that possibility in mind, the Allen Telescope Array has been used to observe planets around the star Trappist 1 – a target that is a mere 40 light-years distant. In general, SETI has preferentially ...
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Featured Image: Star Clusters in M51

This beautiful mosaic of images of the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) and its companion was taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. This nearby, “grand-design spiral” galaxy has a rich population of star clusters, making it both a stunning target for imagery and an excellent resource for learning about stellar formation and evolution. In a recent study, Rupali Chandar (University of Toledo) and collaborators cataloged over 3,800 compact star clusters within this galaxy. They then used this catalog to determine the distributions for the clusters’ ages, masses, and sizes, which can provide important clues as to how star clusters form, evolve, and are eventually disrupted.

Image credit: Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope; Rupali Chandar et al

Read more about their study: http://buff.ly/28LOgvI
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It is not all about us but it is all about God 
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Our mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.
Introduction

We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

The Institute comprises 3 centers, the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach.

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 120 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by two centers. Dr. Gerry Harp leads the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research and  Dr. David Morrison is the Director for the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Edna DeVore leads our Center for Education and Public Outreach.