An international team of astronomers led by Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) made the observations of the planet GJ 1214b.
“GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,” Berta said. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”
The ground-based MEarth Project, led by CfA’s David Charbonneau, discovered GJ 1214b in 2009. This super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost seven times as much. It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 2 million kilometres, giving it an estimated temperature of 230 degrees Celsius.
In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ 1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. However, their observations could also be explained by Read more…
Peering at Pluto in preparations for a satellite visit in 2015, the Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a fourth moon orbiting the dwarf planet. The wee moon doesn’t even have a name yet — it’s called P4 for now — and its estimated diameter is between 8 and 21 miles.
That’s right, Hubble spotted something the size of a city from a distance of more than 3 billion miles away.
Pluto’s new moon is smaller than the dwarf planet’s other companions; the big one, Charon, is 648 miles across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter, according to NASA. Hubble discovered those moons back in 2005.
P4 is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 ultraviolet visible instrument, which was installed on the telescope’s final servicing missiontwo years ago, first picked it up on June 28, and then confirmed it in follow-up pictures taken July 3 and July 18. It may appear as a faint smudge in images from 2006, NASA reports, but no one noticed because it was too obscured. This recent set of Read more…
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama released a $3.73 trillion budget for fiscal-year 2012 Monday where he sought to balance two competing and conflicting agendas: dramatic cuts to federal spending while also investing in programs to improve U.S. competitiveness.
A look at what President Barack Obama has requested in his $3.73 trillion budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
Summary: Homeland Security gets $44 Billion with a priority on naked body scanners. The Transportation Department gets over a half Trillion dollars for new highway and rail construction, including $53 billion for high-speed trains. $500 million will go to the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Enforcement (See my article on LOST.) and NIST, the group that dropped the ball on the Sept. 11th investigation will be getting $764 million, roughly a 17% increase from last year.
Spending: $18.7 billion
Percentage Change from 2011: 0.9 percent decrease
Discretionary Spending: $18.7 billion
Highlights: Obama’s space budget is about the same as the previous year, avoiding the major proposed cuts other agencies are facing, partly because of the long planned Read more…