Another Year

Color image of Rachmaninoff basin

Original Post June 22, 2012 The MESSENGER spacecraft has recently been approved for an extended mission in Mercury orbit. The Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on August 3, 2004. On March 17, 2011 MESSENGER entered orbit, initiating a yearlong study of…

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Sun Stroke

Original Post June 21, 2012 Is it the breaking and reconnecting of magnetic field lines that power solar phenomena? According to a popular view of the Sun, its core pressure is supposed to be so high that it crushes hydrogen atoms together until they fuse into helium atoms, releasing energy…

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Windy Waves

Original Post June 18, 2012 Wind socks, bow shocks, shockwaves and collisions are often used to describe the phenomena that create high-frequency electromagnetic radiation in the cosmos. From gamma rays down through X-rays and extreme ultraviolet, conventional theories have relied upon gravity and acceleration as the only way for them…

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Headed for the Sky

Original Post June 14, 2012 In parts of the Amazonian rainforest, traditional costume included a headdress consisting of a circular arrangement of feathers. The ring of 36 feathers, most of which are white, lacks an obvious counterpart in the skies we see above us. The above example was collected in…

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Getting Sloshed

Original Post June 10, 2012 Is hot gas sloshing in a gravitational wine glass—or is astrophysicists’ reasoning going in a circle? A recent press release explains: “Like wine in a glass, vast clouds of hot gas are sloshing back and forth….” The blue image is assembled electronically from x-ray data and superimposed…

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Venus in Transition

Venus passed in front of the Sun on June 8, 2004

Original Post June 4, 2012 Venus will transit the Sun on June 5, 2012. Venus and Earth describe a unique orbital configuration with respect to the Sun. The resonance between the two planets is readily apparent when a plot of their movements is made over the course of eight years….

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Enigmatic Forces

"Dark Energy"

Original Post June 1, 2012 Dark energy continues to be an astronomical mystery. A new European Space Agency (ESA) space-based telescope named Euclid, after the ancient Greek philosopher, has received approval for development, with a tentative launch date sometime in 2019. According to ESA, Euclid is “a mission devised to…

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