A Sunny Outlook for NASA Kepler’s Second Light

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This conception illustration depicts how solar pressure can be used to balance NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, keeping the telescope stable enough to continue searching for transiting planets around distant stars.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel

You may have thought that NASA’s Kepler spacecraft was finished. Well, think again. A repurposed Kepler Space telescope may soon start searching the sky again.

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NASA Launches First Exo-Brake Parachute from International Space Station

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TechEdSat-3p deploys from the Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA

Mission controllers have confirmed that a small satellite launched from the International Space Station last week has successfully entered its orbit. Soon it will demonstrate two new technologies including an “exo-brake” device to demonstrate a new de-orbit technique as well as a communications system to provide precise information about the spacecraft’s position.

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Comet ISON Streams Toward the Sun

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In the early hours of Nov. 27, 2013, Comet ISON entered the field of view of the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. In this picture, called a coronagraph, the bright light of the sun itself is blocked so the structures around it are visible. The comet is seen in the lower right; a giant cloud of solar material, called a coronal mass ejection or CME, is seen billowing out under the sun.

Comet ISON, which began its trip from the Oort cloud region of our solar system, will reach its closest approach to the sun on Thanksgiving Day, skimming just 730,000 miles above the sun’s surface.

NASA is tracking Comet ISON’s journey and hosting events to discuss what the public worldwide may see as the comet traverses the sun. For the latest news and information, visit www.nasa.gov/ison.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO

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Hubble Sees Anemic Spiral NGC 4921

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How far away is spiral galaxy NGC 4921? Although presently estimated to be about 310 million light years distant, a more precise determination could be coupled with its known recession speed to help humanity better calibrate the expansion rate of the entire visible universe. Toward this goal, several images were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in order to help identify key stellar distance markers known as Cepheid variable stars. Since NGC 4921 is a member of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies, refining its distance would also allow a better distance determination to one of the largest nearby clusters in the local universe. The magnificent spiral NGC 4921 has been informally dubbed anemic because of its low rate of star formation and low surface brightness. Visible in the above image are, from the center, a bright nucleus, a bright central bar, a prominent ring of dark dust, blue clusters of recently formed stars, several smaller companion galaxies, unrelated galaxies in the far distant universe, and unrelated stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA

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Cubesats Released From Space Station

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Cubesats Released From Space Station

ISS038-E-003872 (19 Nov. 2013) — Three nanosatellites, known as Cubesats, are deployed fr

om a Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) attached to the Kibo laboratory’s robotic arm at 7:10 a.m. (EST) on Nov. 19, 2013. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, Expedition 38 flight engineer, monitored the satellite deployment while operating the Japanese robotic arm from inside Kibo. The Cubesats were delivered to the International Space Station Aug. 9, aboard Japan’s fourth H-II Transfer Vehicle, Kounotori-4.

Image Credit: NASA

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LADEE Project Manager Update: Commissioning Complete

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NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) has completed the commissioning phase, and now is ready to begin the mission’s primary science phase. After the successful Orbit Lowering Maneuver (OLM-3) on Nov. 10, LADEE was in an elliptic pre-science orbit. The first six days in this orbit were dedicated to completing the science instrument commissioning, doing opportunistic science measurements in coordination with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, and taking measurements of the impact of the Leonids meteor shower on the lunar environment.

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NASA Delivers Precipitation Satellite to Japan for 2014 Launch

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A U.S. Air Force C-5 transport aircraft carrying the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory landed at Kitakyushu Airport in Japan at approximately 10:30 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 23. (Credit: JAXA)

An international satellite that will set a new standard for global precipitation measurements from space has completed a 7,300-mile journey from the United States to Japan, where it now will undergo launch preparations.

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Cultures of complaint: International study points to transatlantic customer service differences

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Omnibus research for KANA finds americans are more comfortable vocalising concerns and complaining publicly; americans and the British pursue fast-track electronic complaints

 

British consumers spend three times more effort making complaints than US consumers, according to international opmnibus polling for customer service specialists KANA Software. The study found that Americans make one and a half times more complaints than the British do each year, yet Britons get bogged down in time-consuming repetition and queuing when trying to get their complaints resolved.

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