Sunday, 29 December 2013

[RwandaLibre] 6 Biggest Space Science Discoveries of 2013


6 Biggest Space Science Discoveries of 2013 - 4 hrs ago

The year 2013 saw a wealth of discoveries, insights, and milestones
that advanced the fields of astronomy and other space sciences. From
extrasolar planets to extraterrestrial neutrinos, these finds have
made sure that 2013 has been an unforgettable year.

Here's a look back at some of the most stunning space science
revelations of the year:

NASA's Voyager 1 reaches interstellar space

After almost 35 years of traveling, scientists reported this year that
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft reached interstellar space in August 2012.
Because the solar system doesn't contain helpful "You Are Here" signs
to mark its boundary, scientists relied on a powerful solar eruption
to determine the density of the molecules in space around the craft.

With the transition into interstellar space, Voyager 1 became the
first craft to leave the solar system behind, making it a significant
milestone in the annals of space exploration. It is currently about
11.66 billion miles (18.76 billion km) from the sun.

Extraterrestrial neutrinos found in Antarctica

Physicists in Antarctica found the first evidence of cosmic rays from
outside the solar system. The energetic rays themselves are difficult
to detect, so scientists rely on the discovery of neutrinos produced
as the cosmic rays interact with their surroundings. Of the billions
of neutrinos that pass through a square centimeter of Earth each
second, only a few actually interact with matter.

But using the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, an instrument buried in a
cubic kilometer of ice beneath the South Pole, physicists were able to
detect two neutrino events that originated beyond the solar system,
the first definitive detections since 1987 (and events a million times
more powerful than their predecessor). Although the event was too
small to pinpoint the origin of the cosmic rays — suspects include
supernovas, gamma ray bursts, and black holes — the detection opened
the door to a greater understanding of some of the powerful events in
the universe.

Ancient Mars could have supported life

Only seven months after its spectacular landing on Mars, NASA's
Curiosity rover discovered signs that ancient Mars could have
supported life in the form of primitive microbes. The determination
was made after instruments on the rover identified some of the key
ingredients necessary for life in the rocks of Mars. Curiosity isn't
searching for current life on Mars, only for signs of the Red Planet's
potentially habitable environments in the past.

In December, the Curiosity team announced evidence of a freshwater
Martian lake near the planet's equator that could have supported life
for extended periods of time. The lake likely existed about 3.7
billion years ago, far more recently than scientists previously
thought habitable environments existed on the Mars.

More recently, scientists have used NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
to determine that dark seasonal streaks near the equator could
indicate the presence today of flowing salt water on Mars during the
planet's warmer months. Previous signs of existing flowing water on
the planet were limited to the poles, while the equatorial regions
were considered completely dry.

Altogether, Mars is shaping up to be a far more habitable place after
the discoveries of 2013.

Earth's almost-twin

At the end of October, scientists announced the discovery of Earth's
closest exoplanet twin, in terms of size and composition. The planet,
called Kepler-78b, is just 20 percent wider and 80 percent more
massive than Earth, and boasts a similar density. But don't look for a
twin environment on the rocky planet; it orbits its sun once every 8.5
hours, at a distance of about 900,000 miles (1.5 million km), with
surface temperatures reaching more than 3,680 degrees Fahrenheit
(2,000 degrees Celsius).

This discovery came shortly after the confirmed extrasolar planet
count reached 1,000, a significant milestone since the first planet
outside of the solar system was found 20 years ago. But the number of
these planets is sure to increase. Of the almost 3,600 planetary
candidates announced by NASA'sKepler spacecraft, just over 150 have
been confirmed. [Related: Biggest Alien Planet Discoveries of 2013]

But astronomers aren't simply content with increasing the number of
extrasolar planets; they want to know more about the alien bodies. In
early October, scientists announced that they had produced the first
cloud map of a planet outside the solar system. Scientists used the
Kepler spacecraft and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope to study
Kepler 7-b, a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting near its sun.

The death of the comet of the century

Hailed as the "comet of the century" throughout 2013, Comet ISON
passed by the sun on Nov. 28 before breaking apart. Discovered in
September 2012, the orbit of the comet bore striking similarities to
the Great Comet of 1680, which was visible in the daylight. From a
distance, the comet's brightness suggested it had a large nucleus,
which could provide an amazing show in 2013.

Skywatchers around the world tracked the comet as it came into view.
[Amazing Photos of Comet ISON by Stargazers]

Comet ISON buzzed the sun on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). But as the
comet passed only 684,000 miles (1.1 million km) from the sun, the
gravitational pull and intense heat of the star stripped the comet of
its dust and gas, ultimately disintegrating it to the point where only
telescopes such as Hubble were able to continue observing it.

Scientists determined that the comet's nucleus was smaller than was
previously estimated, which contributed to its rapid destruction. But
while the comet of the century may not have put on a great show, its
long approach allowed professional and amateur astronomers alike time
to prepare and capture a wealth of information, which will improve
understanding of the composition and behavior of comets in the solar

The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion

On Feb. 15, 2013, a meteor exploded over Russia's Chelyabinsk region,
detonating about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow. Known as
a bolide, the exploding fireball injured hundreds of people and
damaged hundreds of buildings. The 56-foot (17-meter) rock generated
the explosive power of more than 470 kilotons of TNT. [Photos: Meteor
Streaks Over Russia, Explodes]

While most of the injuries from the unexpected explosion came from
falling glass, the event focused the attention of the world on
potential threats from rocky bodies in space. Because smaller
asteroids such as the one that caused the Russian explosion are both
numerous and challenging to detect, most research to date has focused
on larger bodies that would do far more damage if they collided with

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Original article on
5 Most Watched Space Events Of 2013 | Video Potentially Dangerous
Asteroids (Images) The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery) Copyright
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These are NOT science. They are observations, only!

Jerry, 37 mins ago

Did NASA have an extended warranty on Voyager 1? Wish earthly things
would last that long.

doormouse, 4 hrs ago

It would be really cool if it were still taking pictures so that we
could what it looks like out there

Terry, 2 hrs ago

Try conjecture. Tuura's book "Physics is readable at last" surmises
that light is DARK MATTER, having accumulated at the gravitational
fields of galaxies after twelve billion years of continuous emission
from zillions of stars. As a by-product of hydrogen fusion, light is
mass and cannot be destroyed.

Ken, 2 hrs ago

YouTube Channel:
***Online Time: 15H30-20H00, heure de Montréal.***Fuseau horaire
domestique: heure normale de la côte Est des Etats-Unis et Canada

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