NASA: GALEX News 19 Aug 2009, 17:00 UTC For decades, astronomers have gone about their business of studying the cosmos with the assumption that stars of certain sizes form in certain quantities. Like grocery stores selling melons alone, and blueberries in bags of dozens or more, the universe was thought to create stars in specific bundles. In other words, the proportion of small to big stars was thought to be fixed. For every star 20 or more times as massive as the sun, for example, there should be 500 stars with the sun's mass or less. This belief, based on years of research, has been tipped on its side with new data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer. The ultraviolet telescope has found proof that small stars come in even bigger bundles than previously believed; for example, in some places in the cosmos, about 2,000 low-mass stars may form for each massive star. The little stars were there all along but masked by massive, brighter stars.
ESO Top News 19 Aug 2009, 10:00 UTC ESO 29/09 - Photo Release:New images released today by ESO delve into the heart of a cosmic cloud, called RCW 38, crowded with budding stars and planetary systems. There, young stars bombard fledgling suns and planets with powerful winds and blazing light, helped in their task by short-lived, massive stars that explode as supernovae. In some cases, this onslaught cooks away the matter that may eventually form new solar systems. Scientists think that our own Solar System emerged from such an environment.
German Aerospace Center (DLR) 18 Aug 2009, 21:27 UTC The German eROSITA X-ray telescope is scheduled for launch in 2012 on board the Russian SRG satellite. On 18 August 2009, executive board members of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Russian space agency Roskosmos signed a detailed agreement, setting out all the organisational and technical boundary conditions for the project.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 18 Aug 2009, 19:08 UTC A decade ago today, NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew past Earth at a distance of 1,171 kilometers (727 miles) on its way to an appointment with the solar system's second largest occupant - Saturn. Launched in October of 1997, Cassini required a grand total of four planetary flybys to provide the gravity boost it needed to get to the ringed world. A gravity boost uses a planet's mass and orbital speed to "boost" a spacecraft's velocity as it flies past. Prior to its Earth encounter, Cassini had flown past Venus on two occasions (April 26, 1998 and June 24, 1999). The Earth flyby on Aug. 18, 1999 gave Cassini a 5.5-kilometer-per-second (about 12,000-mile-per-hour) boost in velocity, speeding Cassini toward its final gravity boost target of Jupiter in December of the following year. The total effect of the probe's four planetary flybys -- two Venus, one Earth and one Jupiter - was an extra 21.44 kilometers (13.64 miles) per second of velocity for the spacecraft.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 18 Aug 2009, 19:08 UTC Today marks the 2,000th Martian day, or sol, of what was initially planned as a 90-sol mission on Mars for NASA's Spirit rover. Since their landing halfway around the planet from each other in January 2004, Spirit has driven 4.8 miles and Opportunity has driven 10.7 miles. Together, they have returned more than 246,000 images. Each Martian sol lasts about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 17 Aug 2009, 19:08 UTC With the recent discovery of the amino acid glycine in the comet dust samples returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft, it is becoming a bit more clear how life may have originated on Earth.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 17 Aug 2009, 19:08 UTC NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has arrived at its last stop on Earth -- Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. WISE is an infrared space telescope like two currently orbiting missions, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. But, unlike these missions, WISE will survey the entire sky. It is designed to cast a wide net to catch all sorts of unseen cosmic treasures. Millions of images from the survey will serve as rough maps for other observatories, such as Spitzer and NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, guiding them to intriguing targets. The data will help answer fundamental questions about how solar systems and galaxies form, and will provide the astronomical community with mountains of data to mine.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 17 Aug 2009, 19:08 UTC NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft. Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins, and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts." "The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which co-funded the research. The research was funded by the NASA Stardust Sample Analysis program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Stardust mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft.
ESA Top News 17 Aug 2009, 12:46 UTC ESA PR 19-2009. The launch date for the STS-128 mission to the International Space Station with Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled for no earlier than Monday 24 August. The crew of seven includes ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang of Sweden, on his second spaceflight, a mission dubbed ‘Alissé’.