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July 31, 2018

Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018

Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Observation from Chelsea, Victoria, Australia at 06:07am AEST (UTC+10).
Image: Ian Fieggen.

On Friday–Saturday —depending on observer’s timezone— a total lunar eclipse occurred as the Moon was in the shadow of the Earth. As normal during such an eclipse, the Moon became faint and turned completely red as bluer light was scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere. Totality of 1 hour and 43 minutes was the longest in the 21st century.

People were able to observe the eclipse from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. A volunteer named José Jiménez uploaded a photo of the incident today from Alt Empordà in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, featuring the Moon, Mars, and the milky way on the same photo.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst took photos of the Moon from the International Space Station and uploaded them to Flickr on the same day.

According to timeanddate.com, the timeline of the eclipse was as follows.

Event Time (UTC)
July 27
Start penumbral eclipse 17:14:47
Start partial eclipse 18:24:27
Start full eclipse 19:30:15
Maximum eclipse 20:21:44
End full eclipse 21:13:11
End partial eclipse 22:19:00
End penumbral eclipse 23:28:38

Mars was also visible near the Moon; coming this week, reported 9News, closer to Earth than at any time since 2003.



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July 19, 2018

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Space
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  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
  • 21 April 2018: NASA launches exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS
  • 3 April 2018: China’s Tiangong-1 space station crashes into Pacific

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On Tuesday, astronomers of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, United States, announced the discovery of ten small satellites orbiting Jupiter. With this discovery, Jupiter now has 79 known satellites.

The team led by Scott Sheppard had discovered twelve of the 79 Jovian satellites, including Tuesday’s ten, mostly using a Blanco 4-meter telescope of Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The observatory is operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in the US. The tiny satellites, none more than five kilometres in diameter, were first observed in 2017. Orbits of these new Jovian satellites were calculated by International Astronomical Union‘s Minor Planet Center‘s Gareth Williams. Williams explained, “It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter […] So, the whole process took a year.”

The astronomers were looking for planets much farther out than Pluto. Sheppard said, “Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects, so we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System”.

Of the twelve satellites discovered by the team, nine were found to be retrograde, revolving around the gas giant in the direction opposite to the planet’s spin. These nine new retrograde satellites take about two years to complete one revolution around Jupiter.

The remaining three satellites were prograde, spinning in the same direction as Jupiter’s rotation. One of the prograde satellites, newly announced on Tuesday, took about one-and-half years to complete one revolution around Jupiter, and its orbit intersected with the outer retrograde satellites. Sheppard said, “Our other discovery is a real oddball and has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon […] It’s also likely Jupiter’s smallest known moon, being less than one kilometre in diameter”. The astronomer also said, “This is an unstable situation […] Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust.”

Sheppard said of the composition of those satellites, they “started orbiting Jupiter, instead of falling into it. So we think they are intermediate between rocky asteroids and icy comets. So they are probably half ice and half rock.”

Valetudo” is the name suggested for the “oddball” satellite. Valetudo was the Roman god Jupiter‘s great-granddaughter, regarded as the goddess of health and hygiene.

Sheppard said, “Jupiter is like a big vacuum cleaner because it is so massive”. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a diameter about 142,984 kilometres. The largest known satellite in the Solar System is Jupiter’s Ganymede, whose diameter is approximately 5268 kilometres. Saturn has the second-most known satellites: 62, while Uranus has 27.



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July 6, 2016

Final piece added to China\’s new radio telescope

Final piece added to China’s new radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday China announced the final panel attached to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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Final panel added to China\’s FAST radio telescope

Final panel added to China’s FAST radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday, China announced the attachment of the final panel to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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NASA\’s Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter Orbit

NASA’s Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter orbit

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Yesterday, NASA announced their spacecraft Juno has reached Jupiter orbit. It was launched almost five years ago to investigate the largest planet of the Solar System, especially its past.

Juno approaching Jupiter; simulation.
Image: NASA.

Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, said, “Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter”. He also added the spacecraft would help study the evolution of the Solar System and explore Jupiter’s radiation belts.

NASA spent US$1.1 billion for Juno. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reported Juno was confirmed in Jupiter’s orbit at 0353 UTC. Including the camera, the probe has nine scientific instruments. Juno has covered 2.7 billion kilometres (1.7 billion miles) to reach Jupiter.

NASA said non-essential equipment was turned off for the approach. They expect photos in some days. The first orbital revolution period is 53 days. Juno is expected to orbit the planet 37 times keeping an altitude of 5000 kilometres (3100 miles) above the Jovian clouds and then fall into the planet in 2018.

NASA’s Galileo, launched in 1989, found evidence of saline water on Jovian satellites Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

The electronics have been encased in titanium to protect them from high-energy radiation.



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May 9, 2016

NASA releases first topographical map of Mercury

NASA releases first topographical map of Mercury

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Monday, May 9, 2016

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On Friday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first ever global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury.

The DEM was created using data gathered by NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, including over 100,000 photographs, and shows a variety of Mercury’s topographical features including the planet’s highest and lowest points. MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon said they hope the information will be used to investigate Mercury’s geological history.

MESSENGER image of Mercury from file, 2008.
Image: NASA/JPL.

The highest elevation on Mercury is at 4.48 kilometres (2.78 miles) above Mercury’s average elevation, located just south of the equator in some of Mercury’s oldest terrain. The lowest elevation, at 5.38 kilometers (3.34 miles) below Mercury’s average, is found on the floor of the Rachmaninoff basin, a double-ring impact basin suspected to host some of the most recent volcanic deposits on the planet.

The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched in 2004 to study Mercury, including its chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field. MESSENGER began orbiting Mercury in March 2011, becoming the first spacecraft to do so. In April 2015, having completed its mission, MESSENGER dropped out of orbit and impacted the surface of Mercury.



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October 31, 2015

NASA releases complete image of Pluto\’s crescent

NASA releases complete image of Pluto’s crescent

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

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On Thursday, NASA released the first complete picture of Pluto’s crescent from the New Horizons probe. The probe captured the image with its Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14, fifteen minutes after closest approach to the planet.

After nine years’ journey, New Horizons made closest approach to Pluto on July 14 and released the first coloured photo of the dwarf planet‘s atmospheric haze on October 8. An incomplete crescent photo of Pluto was released in September.

The photo shows different layers of the haze of Pluto’s faint atmosphere with Sputnik Planum, an icy plain, visible on the right side and uneven plateaus on the dark left side.

Charon’s Craters[]

Scientists also announced their discovery that 5km wide Organa crater on Charon, the largest satellite of Pluto, absorbed large amount of radiation of wavelength 2.2µm in an infrared scan, evidence of frozen ammonia. A nearby crater, named Skywalker, of comparable size showed the presence of water ice.

Will Grundy from the New Horizons composition team said “Why are these two similar-looking and similar-sized craters, so near to each other, so compositionally distinct?” He also proposed various ideas about the abundance of ammonia. The impact creating the crater could be more recent, or may have hit a subsurface ammonia pocket, or brought ammonia with it.

Studies in 2000 revealed that Charon has ammonia, but its concentration in the Organa crater was extraordinarily high.

Bill McKinnon, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging deputy lead, called it “a fantastic discovery”. He further said “Concentrated ammonia is a powerful antifreeze on icy worlds, and if the ammonia really is from Charon’s interior, it could help explain the formation of Charon’s surface by cryovolcanism, via the eruption of cold, ammonia-water magmas.”


Crescent Pluto.
Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

Organa crater.
Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.




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October 9, 2015

After Mars, NASA announces water ice on Pluto

After Mars, NASA announces water ice on Pluto

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Friday, October 9, 2015

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The blue haze of Pluto.
Image: NASA.

NASA released yesterday the first coloured pictures of Pluto‘s blue atmosphere and water ice on the surface taken by the space probe New Horizons.

NASA said the haze particles may be grey or red in colour, but the scattering of light producing blue colour indicates the size of the particles. Smaller particles results in the scattering of the blue light. Scientists calls those soot like grey-red particles tholins.

The scientists suggest nitrogen and methane in the upper atmosphere, exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, break and combine to form more complex macromolecules similar to a process first observed on Titan, Saturn‘s satellite. Some of them grow to tholins. Eventually they are coated with volatile gas frost and fall to the surface, contributing to its red color.

Water ice on Pluto.
Image: NASA.

The data collected from the probe’s Ralph spectral composition mapper shows several small zones of water ice on Pluto. Alex Parker from Southwest Research institute (SwRI) tweeted, “We expected water-ice to be there, but we’ve searched for water-ice in Pluto’s spectrum for decades and not seen it before now”.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt?”, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of SwRI remarked; “It’s gorgeous.” “This world is alive […] It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology.”

The space probe has traveled over 100 million km (over 60 million miles) further since gathering the data on its Pluto flyby of July 14.


Related news[]

  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015
  • “NASA’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto” — Wikinews, July 17, 2015

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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Atmosphere of Pluto

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October 8, 2015

After Mars, NASA announces water on Pluto

After Mars, NASA announces water on Pluto

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

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The blue haze of Pluto.
Image: NASA.

NASA released yesterday the first coloured pictures of Pluto‘s blue atmosphere and water ice on the surface taken by the space probe New Horizons.

NASA said the haze particles may be grey or red in colour, but the scattering of light producing blue colour indicates the size of the particles. Smaller particles results in the scattering of the blue light. Scientists calls those soot like grey-red particles tholins.

The scientists suggest nitrogen and methane in the upper atmosphere, exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, break and combine to form more complex macromolecules similar to a process first observed on Titan, Saturn‘s satellite. Some of them grow to tholins. Eventually they are coated with volatile gas frost and fall to the surface, contributing to its red color.

Water ice on Pluto.
Image: NASA.

The data collected from the probe’s Ralph spectral composition mapper shows several small zones of water ice on Pluto. Alex Parker from Southwest Research institute (SwRI) tweeted, “We expected water-ice to be there, but we’ve searched for water-ice in Pluto’s spectrum for decades and not seen it before now”.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt?”, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of SwRI remarked; “It’s gorgeous.” “This world is alive […] It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology.”

The space probe has traveled 100 million km further since July 14.


Related news[]

  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015
  • “NASA’s New Horizons space probe performs first close planetary flyby of Pluto” — Wikinews, July 17, 2015

Sister links[]

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Atmosphere of Pluto

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October 1, 2015

NASA announces water on Mars

NASA announces water on Mars – Wikinews, the free news source

NASA announces water on Mars

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Mars from the Viking Orbiter, 1980.
Image: NASA/USGS.

Warm season flows on slope in Newton Crater
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

On Monday, NASA announced that signs of liquid water have been found on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found evidence of the liquid on the Martian surface, in long dark spots on the Red Planet thought to be formed because of water flow.

In a news conference, NASA’s planetary science director, Jim Green said, “We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes […] but something has happened to Mars, it lost its water.”

Water is thought to flow down slopes in the warm summer months and dry up as the temperature drops seasonally. Scientists have different theories about the water’s origin, as perhaps from the Martian atmosphere or from ice below the surface.

In 2011, Lujendra Ojha proposed the theory of water on the Martian surface, after studying salt samples from Martian soil. The temperature of Mars is close to the freezing point of water, but the presence of salt lowers the freezing point. Alfred McEwen, professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona, described the water as “briny”. Moreover, the recurring slope lineae (RSL) on the surface of Mars are found to slide down the slope in the hotter season indicating the presence of water.

NASA’s associate administrator John Grunsfeld said those observations gave a better picture about the planet’s resources that could be helpful in the future. Grunsfeld tweeted Water on Mars, not just frozen. Is anything drinking it? Someday we wil find out on our #JourneyToMars.

To mark this discovery, Google created a doodle in which Mars is sipping water.



Sister links[]

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Water on Mars
  • Commons-logo.svg Water on Mars

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