Astronomers discover youngest fully formed exoplanet ever known

Illustration: K2-33b is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission, as well as the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, have discovered the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever detected. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

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World's largest telescope in jeopardy

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Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory is the world's largest radio telescope. Arecibo is an icon of science. It's where scientists proved the existence of neutron stars was proven, discovered the first binary pulsar, made the first direct image of an asteroid, made the first discovery of extrasolar planets, and of course transmitted the Arecibo Message, an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. And right now, the Arecibo Observatory is facing demolition due to budget cuts. Nadia Drake attended meetings this month in Puerto Rico to where scientists, staff, students, and the National Science Foundation discussed the telescope's fate and why it needs to be saved. From Natalie's wondrous "No Place Like Home" blog at National Geographic:

Science isn’t the only concern at Arecibo. In fact, the majority of people at the meetings discussed the role the observatory plays in inspiring and training Puerto Rican students, some 20,000 of whom visit the site every year.

Though it’s hard to quantify, the value of inspiration and education is not insignificant, especially considering how underrepresented Hispanic students are in the sciences.

As evidence, several students involved in the Arecibo Observatory Space Academy spoke about how important their time at the observatory was, and how this pre-college program gave them hands-on research experience that continues to affect their lives.

“I can say that AOSA has had a great impact on my life,” said Adriana Lopez, a 14-year-old space academy alum. “Always, in my life, I’ve been fascinated with space, and it has led me to join several camps, but none of them have affected me like AOSA.

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SpaceX launched 2 satellites into orbit, but its Falcon 9 rocket crashed

As seen from VAB roof at NASA Kennedy, Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 10:29 a.m. EDT with Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS 2A comms satellites. Photo: SpaceFlightNow.
SpaceX successfully deployed two satellites on Wednesday, but the Falcon 9 rocket that carried them into orbit then crashed into its drone ship while touching down in the Atlantic Ocean.

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft will brave Jupiter’s fireworks this 4th of July for Science

Artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech
On July 4, NASA plans to fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops. It's part of the JUNO mission, and Boing Boing plans to cover the big event live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory——so, watch this space, because we are fascinated by all things space.

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This small asteroid is Earth's constant cosmic companion

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA announced today that a small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around our Sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. And it'll stay that way for centuries to come.

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere

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“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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NASA telescopes spot clues for how Giant Black Holes formed so quickly

NASA Illustration of evidence that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early Universe.
NASA today announced that astronomers studying data from NASA’s Great Observatories have found the best evidence yet for “cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.”

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Transport for London blames Tube delays on "wrong type of sun"

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The agency says that the angle of the sunlight that strikes its tracks creates glare that blinds the CCTVs that train-drivers use to ensure that the platform is clear before pulling out of the station. Read the rest

NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

This artist's concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA's Kepler space telescope. NASA/W. Stenzel

NASA announced today that the Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets -- the single largest finding of planets to date.

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What happens when you look at the sun through a telescope

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TV astronomer and author Mark Thompson uses a pig eye he got from his local butcher to demonstrate what happens to people who make the mistake of looking at the sun through a telescope. Read the rest

Look up in the sky! Eta Aquarids meteor shower expected to peak through May 6

An Eta Aquarid meteor streaks over northern Georgia on 29 April 2012. (NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke)

For amateur astronomers, tonight is an exciting night.

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SpaceX plans to send unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars by 2018, with humans to follow

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By way of tweets and Facebook posts, SpaceX this week announced plans to send its unmanned “Red Dragon” spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018. Sending this privately-funded craft on a bold, brave, risky trip like this could bring SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk closer to his goal of getting humans to Mars.

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NASA releases 4K high-def video of a recent solar flare, and it's pretty awesome

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Our solar system is awesome.

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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

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A topographically accurate lunar globe designed with data From NASA

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Oscar Lhermitte and Kudu's MOON lunar globe eclipses every other Kickstarter project currently underway.

MOON is the most accurate lunar globe, using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter topographic data combined with electronic and mechanical engineering alongside careful craftsmanship in mold making.

MOON is unlike traditional lunar globes that uses 2D photographs or illustrations of the Moon.

1. it is a truly accurate 1/20 million replica of the Moon featuring all the craters, elevation and ridges in accurate 3D.

2. it has a ring of LED lights that revolves around the globe, constantly illuminating the correct face of the moon and recreating the lunar phases as seen from Earth.

The combination of the 3D terrain with a light source is what makes it unique. By projecting the light onto the Moon, all the craters, ridges and elevations are brought into relief by their shadows. This recreates the lunar features as we see them from Earth.

For the first time, MOON allows you to see the side not visible from Earth ("dark side of the Moon" or "far side" to be scientifically correct).

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Scientists create the exotic ices of Pluto

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Tom writes, "Scientists at Northern Arizona U. use a home-made machine to create 'exotic ices.' They're simulating the surface of Pluto to help explain data and pictures sent to Earth by the New Horizons spacecraft." Read the rest

Something just struck Jupiter, and two amateur astronomers captured it on video

665 million km away from Earth something hit Jupiter (arrow). 3 moons L-R, Europa, Ganymede, Io.
Two amateur astronomers in different countries captured space images that astronomers say depicts an amazing cosmic event: something basically crashing into the planet Jupiter.

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