Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2016
By VJ Karthik

NASA's latest New Frontiers mission, OSIRIS-REx, will venture to a near-Earth asteroid to discover clues about the unique resources asteroids hold, processes that affect asteroids' orbital paths and their potential for impacting Earth, and the origins of life in the solar system. In addition, OSIRIS-REx will collect a sample from the surface of the asteroid and return it to Earth for generations of scientists to study and analyze, making this the first American asteroid sample return mission and the largest sample returned from an extraterrestrial body since Apollo.

OSIRIS-REx's was launched on September 8, 2016.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson

Music credits: "Defenders of the Earth" and "Finding Gaia" by Daniel Jay Nielson [ASCAP]; Atmosphere Music Ltd PRS; Volta Music; Killer Tracks Production Music

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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016
By Kadri

Living Among Giants: Exploring and Settling the Outer Solar System by Michael Carroll

Michael Carroll’s „Living Among Giants“  Explorer the other solar system from the perspective of it being a potential destination for manned missions, colonization and as a vacation destination in the future.

The book is divided into three parts, all of which are excellently illustrated.

The first part of the book looks at the solar system in general, how the planets formed, and the space missions that have sent us back data about the other solar system from the Pioneer spacecrafts to Cassini and a few possible missions that are still in the future.

In the second part of the book we have a much closer look at the giant planets, what distinguishes them from one another and about the discovery of their moons and different aspects of them. Naturally more attention is on the larger moons, such as the four Galilean moons, the fascinating Titan and Triton. The overview gives the moons more of a character so you can see that they’ve all got something interesting an special about them.

The final part of the book looks at how we might get there – what kind of technology is necessary, and what kind of options do we already have for sending spacecrafts there – so you can get a quick overview of different propulsion systems that might for example eventually take the first manned mission to Titan.

Living Among Giants is a fascinating book with excellent detours into what some planetary scientists would like to visit on different moons – what views would be the coolest? What sort of cruise to take to have the best views of Saturn’s rings, or what kind of crater, chasm, cryovolcano or any other feature would be interesting to explore.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016
By Kadri

The Sun in H-Alpha on July 19th, 2016. Two large active areas are visible on disk, and one large prominence on the edge. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016
By Kadri

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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016
By Kadri
Observing an astronomical object through a telescope seems like something you might not really have to train or learn, but standing by the side of the telescope and constantly telling people to look in longer, change the position of their eye, etc. made me want to put together my view of what every different kind of observer sees as they look through a H-Alpha solar Telescope (Coronado SolarMax II in the case of these images).
How have you seen this Sun? Credit: Kadri Tinn

To begin with (left to right and from the top down):

  • There are a lot of people who despite your efforts don't want to look through the telescope despite telling them that it's perfectly safe.
  • Then there are the people who catch a glimpse of the Sun from a distance from the eyepiece, to make sure they're safe - they'd probably see an out-of-focus image of the Sun and no features. And they'd describe it as a red dot
  • Naturally in a lot of locations you'd happen to observe the Sun when it's not quite clear. But there are still enthusiastic people who want to look in for a second and not wait for clouds to pass - occasionally they could see some sunspots or filaments, but it's mostly just black clouds.
  • For the more leisurely observer, who has more than just a couple of seconds to spare - they'd notice the prominences on the edges, and any large sunspots.
  • For the thorough observer who might want to stay observing for hours - they'd see the tiniest sunspots, plages and filaments, prominences etc.
  • And finally we come to the astrophotography enthusiast, who mostly doesn't see much of the sun through the eyepiece, but rather on a camera or computer screen - the colors will of-course get changed, and so will contrast, but they'd see all the details (including dust on their camera sensor).

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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016
By Kadri
The Sun's disk appeared empty of spots for a rather large stretch of days, only to be again covered in spots by now. Here's an image of, when there still weren't that many dark features to see on last weekend.

The Sun in H-Alpha on July 10th, 2016. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2016
By Kadri
Press briefing at JPL about the Juno mission, (that by now has succesfully done an engine burn and reached orbit around Jupiter!).

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