Unlike most spacecraft, which are powered by rocket engines and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, these tiny satellites are expected to cost a few million dollars each and use the sun’s energy to push them across a windless space.
NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has captured video of a coronal mass ejection — solar material shooting out of the sun — in unprecedented detail.
With IRIS, scientists are trying to get to the bottom of what is known as “the solar corona mystery” (a phrase that a cursory Google search suggests is not yet a band name, if you were wondering).
Sometime between 11 p.m. tonight and 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the Earth is expected to pass through a trail of dust shed by the comet 209P/LINEAR hundreds of years ago. That could — emphasis on could — mean the peak of a never-before-seen meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. The astronomy website Slooh.com has partnered with NASA to provide this live feed from cameras in Alabama.
Here, science reporter Deborah Netburn explains what may happen when we pass through that debris field — and why we may see nothing at all.
It’s called Beta Pictoris b, and it spins at 62,000 miles per hour.
The movements of a newly discovered dwarf planet beyond Pluto’s orbit, dubbed 2012 VP113, suggest that a mysterious frontier of the solar system may include a planet much larger than Earth.
Experts say the discovery could lead scientists to rewrite our understanding of the fringes of our solar system.
Top images: The motion of 2012 VP113 clearly stands out compared with the steady state background stars and galaxies in these images, which were taken about two hours apart. Credit: Scott S. Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science. Bottom image: The three images combined into one to show the positions of 2012 VP113. Credit: Scott S. Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science.
What you’re looking at right now are some of the earliest galaxies ever observed by human eyes, dated to just 500 million years after the big bang.
Science reporter Amina Khan has the full story on these crazy astronomical spirals here.