Mission Update: A Successful First Juno Flyby

Juno captures a glimpse of Jupiter's North Pole. 
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

On August 27th, NASA’s Juno spacecraft made its closest scheduled approach to Jupiter during the first of 36 flybys.  Traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour), the spacecraft collected data from an altitude of 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the planet’s cloudy surface. During the flyby, all of Juno’s …

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The Closest Possible Exoplanet to Earth Unveiled

Image credit: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser

Today, the scientific journal Nature released what could amount as the most important astronomical discovery of the century.  Scientists confirm an Earth-like planet orbits the closest star to our Sun. Dreams of Earth 2.0 Our closest existing exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b, orbits the star Proxima Centauri, a faint red dwarf …

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Oxygen May Not Always Lead to Life

image_3949e-CoRoT-24b

The search for alien worlds has expanded into its own branch of astronomical research.  The prospect of finding “Earth Proxima” or Earth 2.0 not only excites the imagination, but also represents a tangible possibility in what could be the near future.  According the NASA’s Exoplanet Archive, as of August 18th, …

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Inside Our Solar System: Planet Mercury

Planet Mercury. Image credit and copyright: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Surface:  The first planet from the Sun, Mercury’s small size (4,879 kilometers in diameter- the smallest planet in the Solar System) deceptively hides its extreme nature.  Surface temperatures can reach a scorching 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius) during the day, only to drop 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to a nighttime …

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