More than 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, at least 10 times as many as we thought


In the 1990s, Hubble surprised astronomers by revealing just how packed the universe is with galaxies: they estimated some 200 billion of them based on its observations. But now we know these estimates were wrong. There are at least 2 trillion.

Conselice and his team reached this conclusion using deep-space images from Hubble and the already published data from other teams. They painstakingly converted the images into 3-D, in order to make accurate measurements of the number of galaxies at different epochs in the universe's history. In addition, they used new mathematical models, which allowed them to infer the existence of galaxies that the current generation of telescopes cannot observe. This led to the surprising conclusion that in order for the numbers of galaxies we now see and their masses to add up, there must be a further 90 percent of galaxies in the observable universe that are too faint and too far away to be seen with present-day telescopes. These myriad small faint galaxies from the early universe merged over time into the larger galaxies we can now observe.

"It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied. Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we discover these galaxies with future generations of telescopes? In the near future, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to study these ultra-faint galaxies, said Conselice.

That's good for about 700 billion trillion stars, and heaven knows how many planets. (Previously) Read the rest

'Voyage of Time,' Terrence Malick IMAX film with Brad Pitt narration, is an awesome cosmic meditation


You know what America needs right now? A little perspective.

For that, I recommend you head to your local IMAX theater and see Terrence Malick’s “Voyage of Time: The Imax Experience.” It's a psychedelic meditation on the history of the cosmos that's very kid-friendly, and a wonderful reminder of the big, big picture.

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NASA's forgotten 3mm gauge movie camera


Dino Everett of USC's Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive shows off a nifty little gadget: a working 3mm movie camera developed by Eric Berndt in 1960 for NASA's Mercury missions. Read the rest

George Pendle on the death of space art


The always-engaging George Pendle (Strange Angel, The Remarkable Millard Fillmore) has a fascinating piece on Atlas Obscura on the history of space art and NASA's (and the government's at large) current awkward relationship with the art world.

Yet when the NASA scientists asked the attendant artists to refrain from posting pictures of the meeting on social media, it seemed to sum up both a generational and a temperamental mismatch. (In an email, a NASA spokesperson said that "participating artists are free to discuss their attendance.")

From a NASA perspective, the secrecy was a budgetary imperative. In 2003, the renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson was appointed NASA’s first “artist-in-residence” with the remit of creating art about the agency’s exploration of space. Republican congressmen quickly seized on the move as a sign of wanton profligacy. “Mr. Chairman,” sputtered Representative Chris Chocola of Indiana on the floor of Congress, “nowhere in NASA's mission does it say anything about advancing fine arts or hiring a performance artist.” There has been no artist-in-residence since and the reverberations were no doubt part of the reason why NASA’s workshop at Grace Farms seemed tentative and vague.

In the not-so-distant past, though, space and art intermingled happily. Artists were crucial to NASA’s development, at times outpacing the science of space travel itself. What happened?

The above illustration is NASA concept art of a moon landing, from 1959. Read the rest

NASA’s Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

Astronomers working with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope have captured images of what might be water vapor plumes erupting from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. “This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes,” reports NASA. “ The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.”

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Grace Potter rocks out with NASA in new video on the women of America's space program

Share this inspiring video with every kid or teen you know who dreams of space. John Streeter of NASA Television has sent us some wonderful NASA TV videos over the years. I love this new one with Vermont-born rock and roll star Grace Potter, about some of the amazing women in the history of the American space program. I hope it inspires a little girl out there to become an astronaut.

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When "computers" were young, brilliant black women mathematicians


Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures recovers the lost history of the young African American women who did the heavy computational work of the Apollo missions, given the job title of "computer" -- her compelling book has been made into a new motion picture. Read the rest

NASA Begins Study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Bleached and stressed coral on the Great Barrier Reef [NASA/JPL]

“A NASA airborne mission designed to transform our understanding of Earth's valuable and ecologically sensitive coral reefs has set up shop in Australia for a two-month investigation of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest reef ecosystem,” reports NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory today.

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations of “Murray Buttes”

This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an outcrop with finely layered rocks within the "Murray Buttes" region on lower Mount Sharp.

Reports NASA today, “The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the 'Murray Buttes' region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.”

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NASA launches OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample mission now speeding toward Bennu rendezvous

Image: NASA

NASA reports that its first ever asteroid sampling mission launched into space at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, “beginning a journey that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system.”

OSIRIS-REx, which is short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, is headed to the near-Earth asteroid called Bennu.

The probe's job: Touch the asteroid (after asking consent first, and with a platonic vibe) so we can bring a small sample back to Earth for study. If all goes as planned after today's launch, the spacecraft will reach Bennu in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

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Images from Saturn Cassini probe reveal Titan's dunes and frigid landscape in new detail


“Frigid alien landscapes” are coming to light in new radar images of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, captured from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

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Hurricane Hermine to Hit Florida's Gulf Coast with 'Life Threatening' Force

NASA's Aqua satellite captured tropical storm, now Hurricane Hermine as it continued to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico. NASA Goddard image.
Tropical Storm Hermine officially reached hurricane status on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, reported NASA and NOAA's National Hurricane Center earlier today. When it makes landfall, it will be the first hurricane to hit Florida since Wilma in 2005. Hermine will probably touch down along the state's eastern Panhandle in the wee hours of Friday morning, and NOAA predicts that its force and the associated water surges will be “life-threatening.”

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SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

Image from NASA's live coverage: SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft departing the ISS at 6:10 am EDT Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, after successfully delivering almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on its ninth resupply mission to the orbiting lab.
Another successful SpaceX mission to resupply the ISS ended today with a splashdown in the Pacific, southwest of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Here's an update from NASA.

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NASA's Juno to Soar Closest to Jupiter This Saturday

This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA's Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

An update on the Juno mission, from NASA.

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NASA: 35 Years On, Voyager's Legacy Continues at Saturn

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An update on the Voyager exploration program of Saturn from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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Test for Damp Ground at Mars' Seasonal Streaks Finds None, Reports NASA JPL

A Mars science news update from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.

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California Blue Cut wildfire captured by JPL’s MISR instrument on NASA Terra satellite


A striking new image of massive wildfires raging through Southern California, captured by JPL’s MISR instrument on the NASA Terra satellite. The image was taken at about noon Pacific time today, and shows the destructive rage of the Blue Cut wildfire, east of Los Angeles.

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