A surprise meteorite hit the moon during Monday's total lunar eclipse

During Monday's super wolf blood moon lunar eclipse, some observers noticed a tiny flash on the surface. Turns out that was a football-sized meteorite smashing into the western surface of the moon. This was the first time a meteorite impact was spotted during a total lunar eclipse. Now, scientists will study images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to hopefully find the new crater, perhaps as large as 33 feet across. From National Geographic:

An eagle-eyed viewer on Reddit spotted the potential impact during the eclipse and reached out to the r/space community to see if others could weigh in. The news spread quickly on social media, as people from across the path of totality posted their images and video of this tiny flicker of light...

“The Earth and the moon are in such close proximity that observing the impacts on the moon can help us learn a lot more about the frequency of impacts on Earth,” explains (University of Toronto planetary scientist Sara) Mazrouei, who recently authored a study detailing an ancient spike in large meteor bombardment on the moon, and thus on our planet.

...Seeing the aftermath of smaller impacts on airless worlds like the moon can help scientists learn about the effects of larger strikes on all kinds of worlds—including our own, Madiedo says.

“By knowing what happens with smaller impacts, you could know what could happen with larger impacts without really studying a large impact on Earth.”

Read the rest

Crazy unearthly planetary phenomena described

22,000 mile per hour winds, magma clouds that rain rocks, and planets where you could fly by flapping your arms in a wingsuit. These are some of the remarkable phenomena scientists believe are possible on nearby planetary bodies. Read the rest

Dark Side of the Pluto

"There is no dark side of the Pluto really. Matter of fact it's all dark."

Dark Side of the Pluto revealed in new NASA image from New Horizons mission

Pluto haze! In my brain. Lately, things, they don't seem the same.

How to name an exoplanet, by XKCD

XKCD's hot take on the recent space news around Kepler 452-B and Pluto.

NASA unveils gorgeous new false-color image of Pluto

It may be 'shopped, and we can tell by the pixels, but it's just the most beautiful image of Pluto mankind has ever seen.

First near-Earth-size planet in “habitable zone” around sun-like star confirmed by NASA

Space truth, more awesome than fiction.

National Geographic's Pluto issue, autographed by NASA's New Horizons team

“How cool is this?”

Fly over Pluto in animated New Horizons video. Here are the amazing images NASA released from Pluto Fly By today.

NASA released more amazing space imagery and scientific data, slowly and steadily coming down to earth from the New Horizons space probe after its historic fly-by of Pluto.

NASA Ground team stands by for Pluto fly-by confirmation signal from New Horizons

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is expected to radio home any minute now. We're watching on NASA TV. The moment will end a nearly 22-hour radio blackout as the probe focused on a series of close-up observations of Pluto and its moons.

From SpaceFlight Now:

Engineers expect to lock on to a carrier signal, then start receiving housekeeping data on the status of the New Horizons spacecraft. No science data will come down during Tuesday night’s pass.

“The reason why you’re not seeing more things immediately is because the spacecraft is spending all its time making the observations of the Pluto system,” says Hal Weaver, New Horizons’ project sciences from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “That’s what we wanted to do. Of course, you want to optimize the scientific return from the mission.

A signal from New Horizons will be a celebratory moment for the hundreds of engineers and scientists working on the mission. The cessation of communications was part of the plan going into the flyby because New Horizons carries a fixed antenna, meaning mission managers have to choose between contacting Earth and conducting scientific work at Pluto.

Watch live: Ground team standing by for New Horizons signal

Read the rest

Pluto and other known “not-planets” in our solar system mapped in scale image montage

“Their non-planetary status is a handicap because these are the worlds that we need to get Earthlings excited about exploring.”

Space probe Voyager 1 reaches outer edges of solar system

Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Voyager 1 space craft, which was launched in 1977 to explore outer planets, has entered a new region on its way out of our solar system.

It's now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion km) away from Earth and it detected "two distinct and related changes in its environment on August 25, 2012," according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters today and reported by Reuters earlier this week. "The probe detected dramatic changes in the levels of two types of radiation, one that stays inside the solar system, the other which comes from interstellar space." Read the rest

Searching the universe for habitable planets (video)

Filmmaker Matt Checkowski sends word of two cool new documentary shorts he produced for the University of California video series "Onward California." These episodes focus on the work of a UC Santa Cruz astrophysicist who has discovered two potentially human-inhabitable planets.

Most of the universe is incredibly hostile, it's a vacuum, it's freezing-cold space or you're burning hot near a star. The first habitable planet found outside our solar system is in a habitable-zone orbit; it's a place of refuge from the unbelievable harshness of the universe. This episode of Onward California follows Steve Vogt, a UC Santa Cruz professor of astronomy and astrophysics, into the Lick Observatory, where he has devoted years of research to find earth-like planets.

Watch: An Incredibly Hostile Universe and How To Discover Habitable Planets.

Read the rest