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Posts Tagged ‘stars’

NASA Shuts Down Prolific Sky-Mapping Space Telescope

February 20, 2011 Comments off

A prolific sky-mapping telescope that has spent more than a year scanning the heavens for asteroids, comets and other cosmic objects received its last command today (Feb. 17).

NASA shut down its WISE spacecraft – short for Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer – at 3:00 p.m. EST (2000 UTC) today. The mission’s principal investigator, Ned Wright of the University of California in Los Angeles, sent the final command to the now-hibernating spacecraft, according to an update from the WISE mission’s official Twitter account.

“The WISE spacecraft will remain in hibernation without ground contacts awaiting possible future use,” NASA officials said via Twitter.

WISE launched on Dec. 14, 2009 to begin a 10-month mission to collect Read more…

68 New Earths and 288 New Super Earths: The New Kepler exoplanet data – NASA videos and pictures

February 3, 2011 Comments off

NASA press release on the 1202 new Kepler telescope exoplanets.

Exoplanets classified by size which are:

- 68 Earth-size exoplanets with a radius (Rp) of less than 1.25 Earth radius (Re)
- 288 super-Earth size exoplanets with 1.25 x Re < Rp ≤ 2.0 x Re - 662 Neptune-size exoplanets with 2.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 6.0 x Re - 165
Jupiter-size exoplanets with 6.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 15 x Re - 19
very-large-size with 15.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 22 x Re

“We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone – a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the Kepler Mission’s science principal investigator. “Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars.”

Kepler will continue conducting science operations until at least November 2012, searching for planets as small as Earth, including those that orbit stars in a warm habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet. Since transits of planets in the habitable zone of solar-like stars occur about once a year and require three transits for verification, it is expected to Read more…