space

Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

schwit1 writes: Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself! Quoting: “As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another. Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly.” The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NASA astronaut launches to space station, his home for an entire year

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly launched to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz rocket on Friday for a year-long mission that will reveal more about humans in space and get us one step closer to Mars

Scientists will study astronaut Kelly’s health in tandem with his identical twin, Mark, a retired astronaut. Mark Kelly will remain on Earth and undergo hundreds of experiments while his brother is in space. Scott Kelly’s mission is about double the length of a typical ISS mission.

The photo below shows astronaut Kelly just a minute after liftoff as the Soyuz was traveling more than 4,000 mph Read more…

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‘This is about to get real': NASA twin astronaut prepares for a year in space

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will blast off for the International Space Station on a yearlong mission in which he’ll break the all-time record for the most cumulative time in space for any U.S. astronaut

But the mission is about more than just duration; it will also be a one-of-a-kind study of the human body. Scott’s identical twin brother, Mark, who is a retired astronaut, will undergo comparative genetic testing and other medical experiments on Earth while his brother is in space

Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are set to launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket at 3:47 p.m. EDT on Friday. This mission will be about double the length of a typical ISS mission. “I’m thinking this is about to get real,” Scott Kelly tweeted six days before launch Read more…

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NASA wants to grab a chunk of asteroid and move it into the moon’s orbit

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WASHINGTON — NASA is aiming to launch a rocket to an asteroid in five years and grab a boulder off of it — a stepping stone and training mission for an eventual trip sending humans to Mars.

The space agency Wednesday unveiled details of the $1.25 billion plan to launch a solar-powered unmanned spaceship to an asteroid in December 2020. The ship would spend about a year circling the large space rock and pluck a 13-foot boulder off its surface using robotic arms. It would have three to five opportunities to grab the rock, said Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s associate administrator.

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Meteorite impact zone in Australia may be the largest ever discovered

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The impact zone of a meteorite that may have hit the Earth in the Australian outback around 300 million years ago is double the size originally thought, making it the largest ever discovered.

The 400-kilometre wide crash site — near the border of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory — is now believed to have been caused by a meteorite that broke into two before slamming into the ground, according to researcher Dr Andrew Glikson from the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology

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Image: ANU

The crater caused by the collision has vanished with time but signs of a possible double impact exist below the surface and were discovered during drilling for another research project. The research team say it is the largest impact zone discovered in the world, with the scars reaching more than 190km long and 30km deep. Rocks found in the area date from 300 to 600 million years ago, but an exact date of impact is not currently known. Read more…

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Jupiter Destroyed ‘Super-Earths’ In Our Early Solar System

sciencehabit writes: If Jupiter and Saturn hadn’t formed where they did—and at the sizes they did—as the disk of dust and gas around our sun coalesced, then our solar system would be a very different and possibly more hostile place, new research suggests (abstract). Computer models reveal that in the solar system’s first 3 million years or so, gravitational interactions with Jupiter, Saturn, and the gas in the protoplanetary disk would have driven super-Earth–sized planets closer to the sun and into increasingly elliptical orbits. In such paths, a cascade of collisions would have blasted any orbs present there into ever smaller bits, which in turn would have been slowed by the interplanetary equivalent of atmospheric drag and eventually plunged into the sun. As Jupiter retreated from its closest approach to the sun, it left behind the mostly rocky remnants that later coalesced into our solar system’s inner planets, including Earth.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russia will start sending tourists to space again in 2018

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MOSCOW — Russia officials say they will resume space tourism in 2018 after years of sending only professional cosmonauts and astronauts into space.

Russia had sent seven paying guests to the International Space Station since 2001 before curtailing the program in 2009. Sending a tourist has been all but impossible since 2011 when the United States shut down its Space Shuttle program and had to rely on Russian Soyuz rockets in order to get into orbit.

Russia, however, has made an exception for British soprano Sarah Brightman who is due to blast off on Sept. 1. Read more…

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Soon, astronauts may be able to enjoy a cocktail like the rest of us

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Astronauts hoping to sip drinks in style may soon have an open-top cocktail glass to look forward to.

Called the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project, the idea is to create an open-top cocktail glass that can be used in space. The glass would use an innovative “groove system” that would keep fluids under control, and only release them when someone takes a drink.

The creators of the glass design, called the Cosmic Lifestyle Corp., are currently seeking funding for the project on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com. However, as of this posting, the company has yet to raise $2,000 of the desired $30,000 before the April 2 deadline. Read more…

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Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Nitrogen Discovery On Comet

An anonymous reader sends word that the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has detected traces of molecular nitrogen on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. “A peculiar mix of molecular nitrogen on the comet target of Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft may offer clues to the conditions that gave birth to the entire solar system. Molecular nitrogen was one of the key ingredients of the young solar system. Its detection in Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which Rosetta is currently orbiting, suggests that the comet formed under low-temperature conditions (a requirement to keeping nitrogen as ice), according to officials with the European Space Agency.”

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How we’ll live in space, according to people in the 1970s

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Toroidal Colony. Cutaway view, exposing the interior. Art work: Rick Guidice

Image: NASA Ames Research Center.

Earth is just too small and fragile a basket
for mankind to keep all its eggs in.
attributed to Robert A. Heinlein

In the 1970s, NASA held a series of summer schools to explore practical designs for future space colonies. Artists illustrated the concepts.

Each approximately the size of a Californian beach town, such colonies were imagined as completely self-contained habitats with artificial gravity, some with artificial weather, where people could live out their entire lives.

There were three main types of colony: toroidal (donut shaped), sphere and cylinder. All rotated in order to simulate Earth’s gravity and were lit by huge mirrors that reflected the sun’s rays into the interior. Construction materials would be mined from the moon and asteroids. Read more…

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