On September 1, 2017, a potentially hazardous asteroid named 3122 Florence skimmed past Earth from a mere 4.4 million miles (7 million km) distance. The huge asteroid, which is around 2.7 mile (4.4 km) wide, was the “biggest object passed this close to Earth since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began”, according to Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The close flyby was captured with an amateur astronomer using a 80 mm F5 Apo telescope and a Canon 6D camera, and published on youtube.
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On February 22, 2017, NASA astronomers has announced that seven Earth-sized planets have been discovered around an ultra-cool dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1 which is located around 39 light-years from the Earth. And what’s more – three of them are orbiting their star in the habitable zone. Then, an international team of astronomers led by the Swiss astronomer Vincent Bourrier from the Observatoire de l’Université de Genève used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the planets of TRAPPIST-1 system. Now, on August 31 2017, the team announced that their findings suggest that “the outer planets of the system might still harbor substantial amounts of water”, including the three planets within the habitable zone of the star – TRAPPIST-1e, f and g. This result lends further weight to the possibility that these planets may indeed be habitable.
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On June 19, 2017, NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates. The final catalog introduces 219 new exoplanet candidates, and 10 of them are near-Earth size and orbiting in circumstellar habitable zone.Notes 1
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Have you ever wondered what would Antarctica look like if all its ice melted? This may seem extraordinary and unlikely, but, this has actually happened in the past. In fact, there have been no major ice sheets over the South Pole for most of the Earth’s history.
In the video below, NASA Goddard strip away Antarctic ice to reveal a new, and much more detailed map of the bedrock below. This map, called Bedmap2, was compiled by the British Antarctic Survey and incorporates millions of new measurements, including substantial data sets from NASA’s ICESat satellite and an airborne mission called Operation IceBridge.
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An international team led by the Italian photographer Filippo Blengini created a 365-Gigapixel Panorama of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, and the gigantic image becomes the World’s largest photo. The previous record-holder, published in 2013, was a 320-gigapixel shot of London, taken from atop the BT Tower.
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We, humans, are changing our planet drastically that scientists say the worldentered a completely a new geological era called ” Anthropocene“. But, it seems we are not shaping only the surface and the atmosphere of Earth, human activities are changing our near-space environment as well. The change is so big that NASA has detected a human-made barrier surrounding Earth.
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We see images and videos from the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts floating in the space freely. They’re in the space, so there is no gravitational force of Earth there. So, that’s why astronauts float in space, right?
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A beautiful image published by NASA, taken by the unmanned Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, shows the Earth between the rings of Saturn. The image is taken on April 12, 2017.
“Consider again that dot [Earth]. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
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The first new global map of Earth from space at night since 2012 has been released by the NASA scientists. The nighttime look of our planet is dubbed the “Black Marble”. But why?
On December 7, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon took a photo of Earth from the space, at a distance about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). This image, with the official NASA designation AS17-148-22727, became known as “The Blue Marble”.
Continue reading Lights of Human Activity (Earth from Space at Night)
Our Solar system is big, and vast, despite it is really small compared to our galaxy, not to mention the complete universe. To put this into a perspective, you can think yourself as a photon emitted by the Sun. It takes about 8 minutes to reach the Earth after a photon has been emitted from the Sun’s surface. And it takes 5 hours to get out to Pluto from the Earth. The edge of the Solar System is far beyond the orbit of Pluto.
Continue reading Leaving the Solar System at the Speed Of Light