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#5281
Jessica

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SpaceX Wants Unmanned Starship on the Moon in 2022 and Manned in 2024
Brian Wang | October 22, 2019
Screen-Shot-2019-10-22-at-11.04.31-PM-73

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell described the SpaceX moon timeline at the IAC (International Astronautical Congress) 2019.

First Starship earth orbital flight within 1 year
Land on moon before 2022. They want to stage cargo with an unmanned mission.
Trip around the moon (crewed) in the 2023 timeframe. This with the Japanese billionaire.
Moon landing by 2024

Those are aspirational targets.

Starship is the vehicle of dreams. It will go to orbit, moon and Mars.

Gwynn did emphasize that the current most important SpaceX job is the crew Dragon for NASA.

 

https://www.nextbigf...ed-in-2024.html



#5282
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To the NYSE and beyond: Virgin Galactic becomes first public space tourism company

Source: Washington Post

RZE5ENXKEYI6TIZJON4PX6Q3MM.jpg
 

Virgin Galactic stock popped in its New York Stock Exchange debut Monday, with shares rising more than 12 percent as investors welcomed the first publicly traded space tourism company. The Richard Branson company merged last week with Social Capital Hedosophia, a New York investment firm already listed on the NYSE, allowing Virgin Galactic to bypass the standard stock offering process. Social Capital Hedosophia took a 46.5 percent stake, giving Virgin Galactic a valuation of more than $1.5 billion. Initially priced at $12 a share, Virgin Galactic stock was trading around $13.50 a share by midmorning.

“Virgin Galactic is making history again today as it becomes the world’s first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company,” chief executive George Whitesides said in a statement. “For the first time, anyone will have the opportunity to invest in a human spaceflight company that is transforming the market.”

The public debut of Virgin Galactic — which takes the SPCE ticker — is a major milestone for the fast-growing space sector, which is projected to be worth $2.7 trillion by 2045, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. For years, Virgin Galactic has been locked in competition with fellow billionaire-led enterprises, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin. Bezos has said Blue Origin is vying to build a lunar lander for NASA, as it aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. (Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004, but it suffered serious setbacks after a spaceship came apart during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in 2014, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury. The company has raised more than $1 billion since its inception, but much of it came directly from Branson, a British billionaire. Boeing recently invested $20 million for a 1 percent stake in the company, which said its first commercial flights will commence in mid-2020.

 


Read more: https://www.washingt...c-nyse-listing/



#5283
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US air force's mystery space plane back on Earth after secret two-year mission

Source: The Guardian



The air force’s mystery space plane is back on Earth, following a record-breaking two-year mission.
The X-37B landed at Nasa’s Kennedy space center in Florida early Sunday. The air force is keeping quiet about what the plane did in orbit after launching aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2017. The 780-day mission sets a new endurance record for the reusable test vehicle.

It looks like a space shuttle but is one-fourth the size at 29 feet.

Officials say this latest mission successfully completed its objectives. Experiments from the Air Force Research Laboratory were aboard.

 


Read more: https://www.theguard...dy-space-center



#5284
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Dark Energy Survey Sees First Light

 

https://www.skyandte...es-first-light/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky & Telescope) Nearly 500 researchers at 75 institutions in 13 countries are working to shed light on dark energy. Their five-year project relies on a new instrument being commissioned on the 4-meter Mayall telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is set to revolutionize astronomy — again.

 

Conclusion:

 

… Like the SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey), DESI collects an object’s light via a fiber-optic cable before spreading it into a spectrum. But unlike the SDSS, DESI will take those spectra 5,000 objects a time at an amazing speed. Humans are no longer involved in the placement of the cables — instead, robots will reposition 5,000 cables every 20 minutes in a humming, choreographed dance. Under ideal conditions, DESI will collect information on more than 100,000 galaxies per night.

 

The DESI camera has a field of view of 8 square degrees, or 40 times the area of the full Moon, and astronomers expect it to image and take a spectrum of 10 million stars and 35 million galaxies, looking as far back as 11 billion years ago.

 

DESI is primed to map the universe and enable the study of its namesake, dark energy, a mysterious force that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe. But there's more to DESI than cosmological studies.

 

“DESI is perfectly designed for the exploration of the unknown,” says Arjun Dey (Kitt Peak National Observatory). “Among the millions of galaxies and stars DESI will study, there are rare, perhaps one-of-a-kind, astronomical sources, some completely unanticipated, that await discovery.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5285
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The Air Force’s secretive spy spaceplane is back on Earth after a record two-year stay in space

 

https://www.theverge...ding-orbit-time

 

Introduction:

 

(The Verge) The Air Force’s mysterious spy spaceplane, the X-37B, is back on Earth after spending more than two years in orbit. It’s still unknown exactly what the vehicle is for, but the Air Force admits that the spacecraft did carry a number of small satellites into space during this mission.

 

Conclusion:

 

The first flight of the X-37B took place in 2010, and exactly what the vehicle does up in space has been a mystery ever since. However, the Air Force has dropped a few hints from time to time. Resembling a mini-Space Shuttle, the X-37B is known to test out technologies and experiments meant to last for long periods of time in space. And this is the first time the X-37B has seemingly deployed unknown small satellites into orbit.

 

That has angered some in the space community. The Air Force did say that the X-37B would be taking up these small satellites when the vehicle launched in 2017. However, some space industry analysts have pointed out that none of these spacecraft have been officially cataloged by the Air Force. The satellites were also not registered with the United Nations, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at Harvard and space tracking expert. He argues that would violate the UN’s Registration Convention — which requires countries to tell the UN exactly what they’re sending into space. It’s possible that the satellites remained attached to the X-37B for its entire trip, which would skirt around the issue. But ultimately, we don’t know what became of them.

 

In the meantime, the X-37B will likely get a checkup from the Air Force. There are two currently operational X-37Bs, and one of them is set to fly again in early 2020.

191027_F_XB799_0751.0.jpeg

The X-37B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after landing.

Image: US Air Force


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5286
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Astronomical Discoveries: New Black Holes and How the Big Bang May Have Ignited

 

https://www.courthou...y-have-ignited/

 

Introduction:

 

(Courthouse News) – A trio of studies released Thursday offer clues about the earliest star nurseries and the fuel ignition mechanisms that may have sparked the supernova explosion that sparked the Big Bang, the origin point of our universe.

 

Astronomers working to create a census of all black holes in the universe have also learned of a new class of black holes smaller than the tiniest black holes ever encountered in the cosmos.

 

At the dawn of our universe 13.8 billion years ago, an explosion sent a vast array of chemical elements across space that eventually cooled and formed the galaxies and stars that now populate the heavens. Little was known about the chemistry behind star and galaxy formation immediately after the Big Bang, until now.

 

While observing a distant quasar, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy stumbled onto a gas cloud that holds clues on how celestial objects formed nearly 850 million years after the Big Bang.

 

Researcher Eduardo Bañados and colleagues said in a statement that stars in the newly visible cloud differ from stars formed much later after the Big Bang in that they contain mostly helium and hydrogen atoms, according to the study published in Astrophysical Journal.

BigBangQuasars.jpg?resize=1000%2C600

Astronomers determined the chemical composition of a pristine gas cloud using light from one of the most distant quasars, seen just 850 million after the Big Bang, or 1/14th of the universe’s current age.

(Courtesy of Max Planck Institute for Astronomy)


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5287
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Second-ever interstellar comet contains alien water

 

https://www.nature.c...586-019-03334-5

 

Introduction:

 

(Nature) Astronomers have for the first time spotted signs of water in our Solar System that originated somewhere else. The alien water seems to be spraying off comet 2I/Borisov, which is flying towards the Sun on a journey from interstellar space.

 

“There’s water — that’s cool, that’s great,” says Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany. The discovery isn’t surprising, he says, because most comets contain a lot of water. But confirming its presence in an interstellar comet is an important step towards understanding how water might travel between the stars.

 

A team led by Adam McKay, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, reported the discovery on 28 October on the arXiv preprint server1

d41586-019-03334-5_17330618.jpg

Astronomers discovered comet 2I/Borisov in late August.

Credit: D. Jewitt (UCLA)/ESA/NASA


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5288
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Nasa's Voyager 2 sends back its first signal from interstellar space

Source: The Guardian


Twelve billion miles from Earth, there is an elusive boundary that marks the edge of the sun’s realm and the start of interstellar space. Voyager 2, the longest-running space mission, has finally beamed back a faint signal from the other side of that frontier, 42 years after its launch.

The Nasa craft is the second ever to travel beyond the heliosphere, the bubble of supersonic charged particles streaming outwards from the sun. Despite setting off a month ahead of its twin, Voyager 1, it crossed the threshold into interstellar space more than six years behind, after taking the scenic route across the solar system and providing what remain the only close-up images of Uranus and Neptune.

Now Voyager 2 has sent back the most detailed look yet at the edge of our solar system – despite Nasa scientists having no idea at the outset that it would survive to see this landmark.

“We didn’t know how large the bubble was and we certainly didn’t know that the spacecraft could live long enough to reach the edge of the bubble and enter interstellar space,” said Prof Ed Stone, of the California Institute of Technology, who has been working on the mission since before its launch in 1977.

 

Read more: https://www.theguard...erstellar-space



#5289
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Researchers claim data from Planck space observatory suggests universe is a sphere

by Bob Yirka , Phys.org

A trio of researchers with the University of Manchester, Università di Roma 'La Sapienza' and Sorbonne Universities has sparked a major debate among cosmologists by claiming that data from the Planck space observatory suggests the universe is a sphere—not flat, as current conventional theory suggests. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, Eleonora Di Valentino, Alessandro Melchiorri and Joseph Silk outline their arguments and suggest their findings indicate that there exists a cosmological crisis that must be addressed.

 

Conventional theory, which backs inflation theory, suggests that after the Big Bang, the universe expanded in a way that was flat—two lights shone in parallel would travel forever in parallel. But now, after studying data sent back to Earth from the Planck space observatory (which mapped cosmic microwave background radiation over the years 2009 to 2013) Di Valentino, Melchiorri and Silk have come to disagree with conventional thinking. They claim that there is evidence that the universe is closed—that it is shaped like a sphere. If you shine two lights into the dark of space, they suggest, at some point, the light would come back around to you from behind.

 

https://phys.org/new...rse-sphere.html



#5290
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TESS presents panorama of southern sky

by Francis Reddy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The glow of the Milky Way—our galaxy seen edgewise—arcs across a sea of stars in a new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Constructed from 208 TESS images taken during the mission's first year of science operations, completed on July 18, the southern panorama reveals both the beauty of the cosmic landscape and the reach of TESS's cameras.

 

"Analysis of TESS data focuses on individual stars and planets one at a time, but I wanted to step back and highlight everything at once, really emphasizing the spectacular view TESS gives us of the entire sky," said Ethan Kruse, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow who assembled the mosaic at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Within this scene, TESS has discovered 29 exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, and more than 1,000 candidate planets astronomers are now investigating.

 

https://phys.org/new...uthern-sky.html



#5291
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SpaceX Starship Could Eventually Cost $2 Million Per Launch According to Elon Musk
Brian Wang | November 6, 2019
spacexstarship-730x430.jpeg
 

On November 5, 2019, at the first U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day, Elon Musk said the Super Heavy Starship reusable rocket will use just $900,000 worth of propellant to get off Earth and into orbit and with operational costs will eventually cost $2 million per launch. Musk said during a conversation with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

This will likely mean that each Super Heavy Starship will cost about $100 million to build. This would be near the cost of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. The Falcon Heavy has 27 Merlin engines and the Super Heavy Starship will have about 38-44 Raptor engines.

 

https://www.nextbigf...-elon-musk.html



#5292
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With Mars methane mystery unsolved, Curiosity serves scientists a new one: Oxygen

by Lonnie Shekhtman, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.

 

https://phys.org/new...-curiosity.html



#5293
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Japan spacecraft starts yearlong journey home from asteroid

By MARI YAMAGUCHI
November 13, 2019



TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese spacecraft left a distant asteroid on Wednesday, starting its yearlong journey home after successfully completing its mission to gather soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar system, the country’s space agency said.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the Hayabusa2 spacecraft left its orbit around the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.

Hayabusa2 staff at the command center stood up and cheered when JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda confirmed the departure.

The spacecraft captured and transmitted to Earth some of its final images of Ryugu, or “Dragon Palace,” named after a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale, as it slowly began moving away, JAXA said. Hayabusa2 will continue its “farewell filming” of the asteroid for a few more days.

 

-snip-

Read more: https://apnews.com/3...62bb44433c5b7f9



#5294
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^^^^Below is a link to an article from a different source on the same topic.  A lot that repeats what is in the article above, but still from a slightly different perspective.

 

https://www.nature.c...586-019-03514-3


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5295
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Water Vapor Confirmed On Europa

oojupitereuropa.jpg

Forty years ago, a Voyager spacecraft snapped the first closeup images of Europa, one of Jupiter's 79 moons. These revealed brownish cracks slicing the moon's icy surface, which give Europa the look of a veiny eyeball.

Missions to the outer solar system in the decades since have amassed enough additional information about Europa to make it a high-priority target of investigation in NASA's search for life.

What makes this moon so alluring is the possibility that it may possess all of the ingredients necessary for life. Scientists have evidence that one of these ingredients, liquid water, is present under the icy surface and may sometimes erupt into space in huge geysers. But no one has been able to confirm the presence of water in these plumes by directly measuring the water molecule itself. Now, an international research team led out of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has detected the water vapor for the first time above Europa's surface. The team measured the vapor by peering at Europa through one of the world's biggest telescopes in Hawaii.



#5296
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First global geologic map of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, completed

by Karin Valentine, Arizona State University

The first map showing the global geology of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been completed and fully reveals a dynamic world of dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains.

 

Planetary geologist David Williams of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration worked with a team of researchers, led by planetary geologist Rosaly Lopes of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to develop this global geologic map of Titan. The map, and their findings, which include the relative age of Titan's geological terrains, were recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Titan is the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan what rains down is methane and ethane—hydrocarbons that we think of as gases but that behave as liquids in Titan's frigid climate.

 

https://phys.org/new...rgest-moon.html



#5297
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First detection of the cosmic monster explosions with ground-based gamma-ray telescopes

by Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron

The strongest explosions in the universe produce even more energetic radiation than previously known: Using specialized telescopes, two international teams have registered the highest energy gamma rays ever measured from so-called gamma-ray bursts, reaching about 100 billion times as much energy as visible light. The scientists of the H.E.S.S. and MAGIC telescopes present their observations in independent publications in the journal Nature. These are the first detections of gamma-ray bursts with ground-based gamma-ray telescopes. DESY plays a major role in both observatories, which are operated under the leadership of the Max Planck Society.

 

Gamma-ray bursts (GRB) are sudden, short bursts of gamma radiation happening about once a day somewhere in the visible universe. According to current knowledge, they originate from colliding neutron stars or from supernova explosions of giant suns collapsing into a black hole. "Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the universe and typically release more energy in just a few seconds than our Sun during its entire lifetime—they can shine through almost the entire visible universe," explains David Berge, head of gamma-ray astronomy at DESY. The cosmic phenomenon was discovered by chance at the end of the 1960s by satellites used to monitor compliance with the nuclear test ban on Earth.

 

https://phys.org/new...-gamma-ray.html



#5298
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Astronomers See Extreme Photons from Collapsing Massive Stars

 

https://www.skyandte...-massive-stars/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky and Telescope) On January 14, 2019, two space telescopes caught a flash of gamma rays, the signal of a massive star that had just collapsed into a black hole. This powerful explosion released more energy in a second than the Sun would emit over its entire lifetime. Although rare in any given galaxy, such events are common across the universe — astronomers detect new long-duration gamma-ray bursts every day. But what happened next was exceedingly rare.

 

In a matter of moments, the outer layers of the star had transformed into a swirling disk, delivering gas to the gaping maw that now sat at its core. Twin jets of material sprang from opposite sides of the disk, traveling at more than 99.999% of the speed of light — only to ram into surrounding material. Within seconds, that material was aglow, a shining echo of the star’s collapse. And within a minute, from within this afterglow, a shower of powerful gamma rays emerged, more energetic than any recorded from such a burst.

 

These photons, with energies around 10 million times higher than the highest-energy X-rays, rained down above the twin Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes in La Palma, Spain, for 20 minutes. MAGIC is an unusual telescope in that it doesn’t detect gamma-rays themselves, which never make it through Earth’s atmosphere. Instead it makes indirect detections of the showers of particles that every impacting gamma ray creates.

 

Another telescope, the High-Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) in Namibia, does the same and found only slightly less energetic photons from an earlier event in 2018.

A series of papers in the November 20th Nature (see also link and introduction below) dissect the observations of these two bursts and what they mean for how the most massive stars end their lives.

 

 

Introduction:

 

(Nature) Astrophysical explosions known as γ-ray bursts (GRBs) can release in one second the amount of energy that the Sun will produce in its entire lifetime1. The emission from GRBs covers a broad stretch of the electromagnetic spectrum and occurs in two stages: the prompt-emission phase and the afterglow phase. The main emission mechanism is thought to be synchrotron radiation, whereby the gyration of energetic electrons around magnetic-field lines releases photons. Until now, emission from GRBs has been observed only at energies below 100 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). Three papers in this issue24 report observations of γ-rays that have energies above 100 GeV from two bright GRBs, dubbed GRB 190114C and GRB 180720B.

 

The Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) Collaboration2 detected photons in the teraelectronvolt range (1 TeV is 103 GeV) from GRB 190114C, using the MAGIC telescopes at La Palma, Spain. The first detections started about one minute after the burst triggered NASA’s two spaceborne GRB detectors: the Burst Alert Telescope on board the Swift satellite and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor on board the Fermi satellite. The high-energy photons continued to rain down on the MAGIC telescopes for about 20 minutes, with the flux decreasing rapidly over this time. The MAGIC Collaboration and colleagues3 detected this GRB using several other ground-based and space-borne telescopes. When combined with the MAGIC data, this rich data set allowed the authors to model the event comprehensively and study how the TeV emission was produced.

 

Abdalla et al.4 detected photons of energies above 100 GeV (but below 1 TeV) from GRB 180720B, using the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) array of telescopes in Namibia. Although these photons were lower in energy and fewer in number than those observed from GRB 190114C, they were detected from deep in the afterglow phase (10 hours after the GRB was triggered and lasting for 2 hours). The flux and maximum energy of the afterglow emission both decrease over time, owing to deceleration of the jets — the two narrow, oppositely directed channels through which most of the explosive energy of a GRB is released. Consequently, the detection of such high-energy photons deep in the afterglow phase is also groundbreaking.

 

grb-illo-480px.jpg

Hubble’s observations suggest that this particular gamma ray burst displayed such powerful emission because the collapsing star was sitting in a very dense environment, right in the middle of a bright galaxy 5 billion light years away.
ESA / Hubble / M. Kornmesser


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5299
caltrek

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First Global Geological Map of Saturn’s Moon Titan Released

 

https://www.skyandte...ical-map-titan/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky and Telescope) Scientists have created a new map of Saturn’s moon Titan that shows its unique geological features and how they’ve evolved over time. The map is all the more fascinating because it shows that the same geological processes that work on Earth also work on Titan. Only on Titan, the temperature is so achingly cold (98 K, or -290°F) that any liquid carving its surface is not water but hydrocarbons, mainly methane and ethane.

 

To create the global map, Rosaly Lopes (Caltech) and her colleagues combined data collected by NASA’s Cassini mission, which flew by the moon more than 120 times. In addition to high-resolution radar mapping that covered almost half of the moon’s surface, the spacecraft also characterized the surface using lower-resolution radar, infrared images, and infrared spectra.

 

High-resolution radar captured details as small as 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) across. The global map, on the other hand, has a scale of 1:20,000,000, which means that every centimeter on the map corresponds to 200 km on the moon’s surface. By filling in the full globe, even at lower resolution, the map not only charts the diverse geological formations on Titan, but it also enables planetary scientists to see how those features evolved over time.

 

In November 18th’s Nature Astronomy, Lopes and colleagues describe six main types of geological features — all of them eerily familiar to ones on Earth. Based on how the features overlap each other, the researchers are also able to tell their relative ages.

Titan-global-geo-map-1200px-608x360.jpg

A Mollweide projection of the first global geologic map of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is based on radar and visible and infrared images from NASA's Cassini mission, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

 

If you go to the linked article and click the image above that appears in that article, you can view a higher resolution version.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5300
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Three supermassive black holes discovered at the center of one galaxy

The simultaneous merging of giant galaxies.

BY
AMIT MALEWAR
NOVEMBER 23, 2019

NGC-6240-696x696.jpg

The irregular galaxy NGC 6240. New observations show that it harbours not two but three supermassive black holes at its core. The northern black hole (N) is active and was known before. The zoomed-in new high-spatial resolution image shows that the southern component consists of two supermassive black holes (S1 and S2). The green colour indicates the distribution of gas ionized by radiation surrounding the black holes. The red lines show the contours of the starlight from the galaxy and the length of the white bar corresponds to 1000 light years. Photo: P Weilbacher (AIP), NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)


For the first time, scientists have captured three supermassive black holes at the center of the galaxy NGC 6240. Intriguingly these black holes are so close to each other.

The observations were made by an n international research team led by scientists from Göttingen and Potsdam using the 8-meter VLT, a telescope operated by the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The 3D MUSE spectrograph was utilized in high-resolution spatial mode together with four artificially produced laser stars and an adaptive optics system.

The pictures are obtained using sophisticated technology with a sharpness like that of the Hubble Space Telescope, yet additionally contains a spectrum for each image pixel. These spectra were decisive in deciding the movement and masses of the supermassive black holes in NGC 6240.

NGC 6240 galaxy is known as an irregular galaxy due to its particular shape. Till now, scientists used to consider that the galaxy is formed due o collision of two smaller galaxies and therefore contains two black holes in its core. These galactic ancestors moved towards each other at velocities of several 100 km/s and are still in the process of merging.

 


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