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cancer constellation: facts about the crab

cancer, which is latin for crab, is the dimmest of the 13 constellations of the zodiac, having only two stars above the fourth magnitude.the small faint constellation cancer is rich in open clusters and double stars. credit: starry night software locating cancer the crab cancer lies between leo, the lion, and gemini, the twins. it is almost impossible to see cancer as a crab with the naked eye or even binoculars. it looks more like a faint, upside-down y. cancer is visible in the northern hemisphere in the early spring. it can be seen in the southern hemisphere during autumn. the cancer constellation occupies an area of 506 square degrees. right ascension: 9 hours declination: 20 degrees best seen between latitudes 90 degrees and minus 60degrees visibility is best during march at 9 p.m. cancer contains two messier objects, a set of astronomical objects first in 1771 by french astronomer charles messier in 1771. cancer's most famous messier object is m44, also known as the beehive cluster, which is a small star cluster that resembles a swarm of bees. m44 contains about 50 stars, the brightest of which are of the sixth magnitude. ε cnc is the brightest member at magnitude 6.3. praesepe is also one of the larger visible open clusters with an area of 1.5 square degrees, or three times the size of the full moon. the constellation's other messier object, m67, is another open star cluster. β cnc is the brightest star in cancer at mag...

nasa could reach mars faster with public-private partnerships, companies tell congress

space companies today (july 13) urged legislators to extend nasa's successful public-private partnerships for international space station transportation to future programs, including human missions to mars.

president trump appoints executive secretary of national space council

scott pace will run the reinstated national space council, president donald trump announced yesterday (july 13).

asteroids might start as giant mud balls

the most common asteroids in the solar system may have started out as giant balls of mud, rather than as rocks, as scientists previously thought, a new study finds.

the sun's 'quiet' regions are surprisingly active

never judge a quiet sun by its boring name. a trove of data from a nasa mission finds that the seemingly low-activity areas of the sun are not as dormant as the name might suggest.

flashback: 'guitar god' joe satriani’s pluto fly-by impressions | music + video

satriani is well known to lean on space and science themes in creating his instrumental guitar-driven music. video producer @stevespaleta reached out to 'satch,' combining joe’s verbal reactions with some of the amazing pluto imagery.

orbital loses bid to stop darpa satellite-servicing project

spaceflight provider orbital atk lost a bid to stop darpa from partnering with a competing company to demonstrate in-space satellite-servicing technology.

ready, aim, blast! nasa engineer creates world's largest super soaker

if you're going to challenge someone to a water gun fight this summer, it's best you don't take up arms against mark rober, a former nasa engineer who has created the world's largest super soaker.

hwasong-14 missile test: can north korea's rockets reach the us?

are north korean rockets capable of reaching american shores?

see the new trillion-ton antarctic iceberg in image from space

a new view from space shows antarctica's newest bouncing baby iceberg. and it's huge.

new horizons flies by pluto

ready, aim, blast! nasa engineer creates world's largest super soaker

ready, aim, blast! nasa engineer creates world's largest super soaker

if you're going to challenge someone to a water gun fight this summer, it's best you don't take up arms against mark rober, a former nasa engineer who has created the world's largest super soaker. rober's 7-foot-long (2.1 meters) super soaker can blast out water at 272 mph (437 km/h), according to his youtube video, posted july 11. (to date, the video has already amassed 1.2 million views.) "when the super soaker was first invented, it was an absolute game changer in my neighborhood," rober said in the video. "so now that i'm a dad and i know how to engineer, i decided to once again level up my water-fighting capabilities." [top 10 inventions that changed the world]  any avid engineer can make an enormous water pistol, but rober — who spent nine years at nasa's jet propulsion laboratory (jpl), seven of which were spent working on the mars rover curiosity — went above and beyond by doing his water weapon homework. he called up super soaker inventor lonnie johnson, an engineer originally from mobile, alabama. johnson recalled how he thought of the idea for the super soaker in 1982, while working at jpl on galileo, an uncrewed spacecraft that was sent into outer space to study jupiter and its moons. "i was experimenting in the bathroom in the evenings," johnson said in rober's video. "i had made these nozzles that i had hooked up to the sink, and as i shot this stream of water across the bathroom, and i saw how powerful it was and how sa...

can north korea's rockets reach the us?

north korea's latest missile test has brought simmering tensions between the notoriously reclusive country and the united states to a head. but are fears of nuclear war premature? are north korean rockets capable of reaching american shores? it's possible, according to john schilling, an american aerospace engineer and north korea analyst. schilling, whose experience includes developing rockets for the u.s. air force, said the latest north korean missile is the first with sufficient range and payload capacity to deliver a single nuclear warhead into united states territory. [north korea: a hermit country from above (photos)] the july 4 test launch was "definitely unprecedented," schilling told live science. "they've used bits of technology that they've been testing in smaller missiles, but this is the first time they've tested a missile of this scale." schilling is a consultant for 38 north, a website devoted to expert analysis of north korea, run by the us-korea institute at the johns hopkins school of advanced international studies in washington, d.c. the north korean news agency kcna broadcast a video of the launch and reported that the missile reached a maximum altitude of 1,741 miles (2,802 kilometers) and flew for 39 minutes before it impacted in the sea of japan "more than 930 km" (580 miles) from its launch site near kusong, in the northwest of the a blog post, david wright, director of the global security program for the...

see the new trillion-ton antarctic iceberg in image from space

a new view from space shows antarctica's newest bouncing baby iceberg. this baby's a behemoth: at approximately 2,200 square miles (5,800 square kilometers), the iceberg represents about 10 percent of the larsen c ice shelf, which it was a part of until it broke off this week. the 'berg is slightly bigger than delaware in area and similarly proportioned: while the blue hen state is 96 miles (154 km) long, the larsen c iceberg measures about 99 miles (159 km) from end to end, meaning it would take a little over an hour and a half to traverse it by car, assuming you had a car that could manage 60 mph (nearly 100 km/h) on uneven, floating sea ice. [in photos: antarctica's larsen c ice shelf through time] an instrument aboard nasa's aqua satellite snapped one of the first images of this new iceberg on july 12, 2017, using thermal measurements to distinguish between ice and open water. the image shows the iceberg floating between the rest of the larsen c ice shelf off the antarctic peninsula and the fractured sea ice floating on the weddell sea. the rift that led to the iceberg's calving has existed since the 1960s, according to nasa, but it didn't start growing until 2014. scientists have been monitoring the crack closely since then. by april 2017, only 10 miles (16 km) of ice connected the iceberg to the main ice sheet, according to the u.k.-based research group project midas. in late june, the same group reported that the speed of the ice was increasing ...

flashback: 'guitar god' joe satriani’s pluto fly-by impressions

satriani is well known to lean on space and science themes in creating his instrumental guitar-driven music. video producer @stevespaleta reached out to ’satch,’ combining joe’s verbal reactions with some of the amazing nasa's new horizon’s imagery that inspired them, over a track from satriani’s album 'shockwave supernova.' the new horizons spacecraft flew by pluto two years ago, but we're still learning about the dwarf planet from the data it gathered july 14, 2015.guitar god joe satriani 'awestruck' by pluto imagery ( interview) listen to the full song "shockwave supernova" on joe satriani's youtube channel.

orbital loses bid to stop darpa satellite-servicing project

spaceflight provider orbital atk this week lost its bid to stop the defense advanced research projects agency (darpa) from moving ahead with a partnership with a competing company, space systems loral, to demonstrate in-space satellite servicing, federal court documents show.  in february, orbital atk filed suit in u.s. district court for the eastern district of virginia to stop the program, known as robotic servicing of geosynchronous satellites, or rsgs, on grounds that it violates provisions of the 2010 u.s. national space policy.  darpa had selected california-based space systems loral (ssl) as the agency's commercial partner for rsgs, with the goal of building a spacecraft to inspect, capture, reposition, repair and upgrade satellites in geosynchronous orbits. ssl also intends to demonstrate satellite refueling. [darpa's futuristic satellite-servicing plan in images] upon completion of the work for darpa, ssl can sell rsgs services to commercial and government satellite operators, work that orbital atk said will compete with its own satellite-servicing business. orbital atk filed suit on grounds that the rsgs program violates u.s. space policy, which in part bans the government from building or buying systems that "preclude, discourage or compete with commercial systems."orbital atk last year unveiled designs for a fleet of robotic service satellites it calls mission extension vehicles and signed intelsat as its first customer. in a ruling issu...

space camp lands nasa shuttle training aircraft for display

huntsville, ala. — a nasa aircraft that astronauts used to learn how to land from orbit has touched down on display at the alabama home of u.s. space camp, in the shadow of a winged orbiter like the type it emulated in flight. nasa 945, one of four grumman gulfstream ii business jets that were modified to become shuttle training aircraft (sta), was dedicated thursday (july 13) in shuttle park at the u.s. space & rocket center in huntsville. the sta is mounted behind pathfinder, a full-scale display of a space shuttle in its launch configuration. "the stas were a marvelous, wondrous machine for us to fly because the first the time you landed a space shuttle, you felt like you had done it hundreds of times — because indeed you had," said hoot gibson, a former space shuttle commander who flew on nasa 945 "a couple of thousand times," speaking at thursday's ribbon cutting. "this is such a wonderful addition to space camp for us to have an sta here." [nasa's space shuttle - from top to bottom (infographic)] the sta was configured to perform in flight as the shuttle did during the final minutes of its descent to the ground, and half of its cockpit controls were replaced with the same instruments found on the orbiter's flight deck. shuttle commanders and pilots would fly hundreds of approaches in the sta leading up to their launch. "we would take it up to 35,000 feet, put it into simulation mode, spool it up in reverse and we would fly the approach...

happy anniversary, new horizons! probe flew by pluto 2 years ago today

it's hard to believe that it's already been two years. on july 14, 2015, nasa's new horizons spacecraft zoomed within 7,800 miles (12,550 kilometers) of pluto, capturing the first-ever up-close looks at the dwarf planet system. since its 1930 discovery, pluto had remained but a blur of pixels in even the best imagery, so the flyby was a revelation. new horizons' photos revealed pluto to be a diverse world with a stunning variety of features, including a 620-mile-wide (1,000 km) plain of nitrogen ice and water-ice mountains that rise 2 miles (3.2 km) into the dwarf planet's exotic sky. [pluto flyby anniversary: new horizons' most amazing photos] "i think the most surprising thing is how complex that little planet is," new horizons principal investigator alan stern, of the southwest research institute in boulder, colorado, told via email. "it outstripped everyone’s expectations, and i am certain that we’re going to need an orbiter follow-up to make sense of pluto," stern added. "fortunately, now we know how to do that and what new instruments to bring to bear." the flyby also revealed, among many other things, that pluto is slightly larger than scientists had thought; that its many-layered atmosphere is blue; that an ocean of liquid water might slosh beneath the dwarf planet's surface; and that all five of its moons are the same age (and therefore were probably all formed by a colossal impact between pluto and another object b...

8-legged extremophile freaks will outlive humanity (& maybe the sun)

the eight-legged micro-animal called a tardigrade could survive nearly all the way until the death of the sun, a new study suggests — long after humans are history. the study, from harvard and oxford universities, detailed the threats to life on earth over billions of years, finding that earth-pummeling asteroids, nearby supernova blasts and gamma-ray bursts would be unlikely to completely sterilize earth (taking out the little tardigrades in the process). tardigrades, which are usually less than a millimeter long (0.04 inches), are nearly indestructible, some of the most resilient forms of life on earth. they can survive for up to 30 years without eating, and can be frozen, boiled, squished under intense pressure, and exposed to the vacuum and radiation of space without ill effect. the animal, which lives in water (and is also known as a "water bear") can survive for up to 60 years, according to a statement from the university of oxford. [earth's 'alien' creatures may reveal clues about extraterrestrial life] "'a lot of previous work has focused on 'doomsday' scenarios on earth — astrophysical events like supernovas that could wipe out the human race," david sloan, a co-author on the new work and researcher at oxford, said in the statement. "our study instead considered the hardiest species — the tardigrade. as we are now entering a stage of astronomy where we have seen exoplanets and are hoping to soon perform spectroscopy [on those planet...

the most amazing photos from nasa's new horizons

in this high-resolution image from nasa’s new horizons spacecraft, great blocks of pluto’s water-ice crust appear jammed together in the informally named al-idrisi mountains. some mountainsides appear coated in dark material, while other sides are bright. several sheer faces appear to show crustal layering, perhaps related to the layers seen in some of pluto’s crater walls. other materials appear crushed between the mountains, as if these great blocks of water ice, some standing as much as 1.5 miles high, were jostled back and forth. the mountains end abruptly at the shoreline of sputnik planum, where soft, nitrogen-rich ices form a nearly level surface, broken only by the fine trace work of striking, cellular boundaries and the textured surface of the plain’s ices (which is possibly related to sunlight-driven ice sublimation).