Cosmology & Space Exploration 23 Mar 2017, 22:45 UTC Images returned from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission indicate that during its most recent trip through the inner solar system, the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was a very active place – full of growing fractures, collapsing cliffs and massive rolling boulders. Moving material buried some features on the comet’s surface while exhuming others. A study on 67P’s changing surface was released Tuesday, March 21, in the journal Science.
Astro Watch 23 Mar 2017, 20:44 UTC Consider that the Earth is just a giant cosmic dust bunny—a big bundle of debris amassed from exploded stars. We Earthlings are essentially just little clumps of stardust, too, albeit with very complex chemistry. And because outer space is a very dusty place, that makes things very difficult for astronomers and astrophysicists who are trying to peer farther across the universe or deep into the center of our own galaxy to learn more about their structure, formation and evolution.
Centauri Dreams 23 Mar 2017, 16:36 UTC Earth’s axial tilt (its obliquity) is 23.5 degrees, a significant fact for those of us who enjoy seasonal change. The ‘tilt’ is the angle between our planet’s rotational axis and its orbital axis. If we look at Earth’s obliquity over time, we find a 41,000 year cycle that oscillates between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Here the Moon becomes useful, with recent studies showing that without it, Earth’s obliquity could vary by 25° (some earlier analyses took this number much higher). Now we have new data from the Dawn spacecraft at Ceres relating the dwarf planet’s axial tilt to the locations where frozen water can be found on its surface. This is interesting stuff, because it depends upon the spacecraft’s ability to measure the world it orbits.
The Planetary Society Blog 23 Mar 2017, 14:37 UTC
Parabolic Arc 23 Mar 2017, 07:51 UTC Engineers are currently testing the optical module assemblies on the Goddard-built optical test bench to ensure pointing accuracy during the upcoming mission. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Sandra Vilevac) By Ashley Hume NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. NASA is developing a trailblazing, long-term technology demonstration of what could become the high-speed internet of the sky. The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems. They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications. “LCRD is the next step in implementing NASA’s vision of using optical communications for both near-Earth and deep space missions,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which leads the LCRD project. “This technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications, and we are excited to partner with the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Space Communications and Navigation program office, MIT Lincoln Labs and the U.S. Air Force on this effort.” Laser communications, also known as optical communications, encodes data onto a beam of light, which is then transmitted between spacecraft and eventually to Earth terminals. This technology offers ...