10 Major Discoveries

There are no super Earths in our solar system, but they may be the most common type of planet in our galaxy.
A Super Earth is a planet smaller than Neptune, but larger than Earth. There are no Super Earths in our solar system. But they may be the most common type of planet in our galaxy, according to data from the Kepler Space Telescope. Some have rock or ice cores wrapped in hydrogen and helium gas. Others are solid rock covered in water or ice, or flowing lava.

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Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
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New Commercial Rocket Descent Data May Help NASA With Future Mars Landings

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.
“Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars are significantly different than those used here on Earth, investment in these technologies is critical,” said Robert Braun, principal investigator for NASA’s Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT) project and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “This is the first high-fidelity data set of a rocket system firing into its direction of travel while traveling at supersonic speeds in Mars-relevant conditions. Analysis of this unique data set will enable system engineers to extract important lessons for the application and infusion of supersonic retro-propulsion into future NASA missions.”
NASA equipped two aircraft with advanced instrumentation to document re-entry of the rocket’s first stage. The first stage is the part of the rocket that is ignited at launch and burns through the rocket’s ascent until it runs out of propellant, at which point it is discarded from the second stage and returns to Earth. During its return, or descent, NASA captured quality infrared and high definition images and monitored changes in the smoke plume as the engines were turned on and off.
Thermal imagery of the Space X Falcon 9 first stage performing propulsive descent Sept. 21. Supersonic retro-propulsion data obtained from this flight test is being analyzed by NASA to design future Mars landing systems.
Thermal imagery of the Space X Falcon 9 first stage performing propulsive descent Sept. 21. Supersonic retro-propulsion data obtained from this flight test is being analyzed by NASA to design future Mars landing systems.
Image Credit: NASA
“NASA’s interest in building our Mars entry, descent and landing capability and SpaceX’s interest and experimental operation of a reusable space transportation system enabled acquisition of these data at low cost, without standing up a dedicated flight project of its own,” said Charles Campbell, PDT project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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The Arctic and the Antarctic Respond in Opposite Ways

A very short video outlining how Earth’s Poles respond to global warming.
The Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that have a lot of ice and acts as air conditioners for the Earth system. This year, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum extent while the Arctic reached a minimum extent in the top ten lowest since satellite records began. One reason we are seeing differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic is due to their different geographies. As for what’s causing the sea increase in the Antarctic, scientists are also studying ocean temperatures, possible changes in wind direction and, overall, how the region is responding to changes in the climate.

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Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
Old Price: $169.95
Price: $129.36

Mars Comet Encounter

NASA Prepares its Science Fleet for today’s  Mars Comet Encounter
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will make a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19. At a distance of only 87,000 miles, it’s a near miss of the Red Planet.
Siding Spring’s nucleus will come closest to Mars around 2:27 p.m. EDT, hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second). This proximity will provide an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to gather data on both the comet and its effect on the Martian atmosphere.
“This is a cosmic science gift that could potentially keep on giving, and the agency’s diverse science missions will be in full receive mode,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This particular comet has never before entered the inner solar system, so it will provide a fresh source of clues to our solar system’s earliest days.”
Siding Spring came from the Oort Cloud, a spherical region of space surrounding our sun and occupying space at a distance between 5,000 and 100,000 astronomical units. It is a giant swarm of icy objects believed to be material left over from the formation of the solar system.
Siding Spring will be the first comet from the Oort Cloud to be studied up close by spacecraft, giving scientists an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the materials, including water and carbon compounds, that existed during the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Some of the best and most revealing images and science data will come from assets orbiting and roving the surface of Mars. In preparation for the comet flyby, NASA maneuvered its Mars Odyssey orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the newest member of the Mars fleet, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), in order to reduce the risk of impact with high-velocity dust particles coming off the comet.
The period of greatest risk to orbiting spacecraft will start about 90 minutes after the closest approach of the comet’s nucleus and will last about 20 minutes, when Mars will come closest to the center of the widening trail of dust flying from the comet’s nucleus.

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Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids
Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids
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