1. DearAstronomer -Nearly a year ago, the Pluto-Charon Dwarf Planet system made headlines with the announcement that a fourth moon had been detected. Today, Alan Stern (SWRI) has announced via twitter ( @alanstern ) that a fifth moon has been detected in orbit around Pluto.
This image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7. The observations will help scientists in their planning for the July 2015 flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. P4 was uncovered in Hubble imagery in 2011. (Credit: NASA; ESA; M. Showalter, SETI Institute)
3. Nextbigfuture – A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of a fifth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.
New Horizon spacecraft, launched in 2006, will fly by Pluto in July, 2015
11. Nextbigfuture – SpaceX’s Grasshopper testbed for a reusable rocket booster could fly soon from the company’s Texas test facility on a short hop designed to demonstrate its ability to take off and land under thrust on a launch pad. The Grasshopper test vehicle stands 106 feet tall, and its initial
flights will reach 240 feet and last about 45 seconds to check the design of the rocket’s landing system.
SpaceX’s Grasshopper vehicle in McGregor, Texas. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
12. Nextbigfuture – Virgin Galactic today announced plans to launch small satellites to orbit by 2016 from the same carrier aircraft it has designed for space tourism missions. Richard Branson today set out the roadmap for Virgin Galactic’s immediate future by announcing that he will be taking his children along for the ride when the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) makes its inaugural flight next year (should all go to plan). As expected, Branson also confirmed plans for a commercial service to put satellites in orbit at a tenth of today’s costs, marking the resumption of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne program. The company’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft would take off from a runway with a rocket, called LauncherOne, able to deliver payloads up to 500 pounds to orbit for under $10 million
13. Nextbigfuture – In this paper we propose a novel type of dark matter detector: detectors made of DNA could provide nanometer resolution for tracking, an energy threshold of 0.5 keV, and can operate at room temperature. When a WIMP from the Galactic Halo elastically scatters off of a nucleus in the detector, the recoiling nucleus then traverses thousands of strings of single stranded DNA (ssDNA) (all with known base sequences) and severs those ssDNA strands it hits. The location of the break can be identified by amplifying and identifying the segments of cut ssDNA using techniques well known to biologists. Thus the path of the recoiling nucleus can be tracked to nanometer accuracy. In one such detector concept, the transducers are a few nanometer-thick Au-foils of 1meter by 1meter, and the direction of recoiling nuclei is measured by “DNA Tracking Chamber” consisting of ordered array of ssDNA strands. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and ssDNA sequencing are used to read-out the detector. The detector consists of 1 kg of gold and 0.1 kg of DNA packed into 1 cubic meter. By leveraging advances in molecular biology, we aim to achieve about 1,000-fold better spatial resolution than in conventional WIMP detectors at reasonable cost.
16. Peter Lake delivers a classic talk about Citizen Science and Astronomy 3.0 to a melbourne cafe. It details his own personal journey re-connecting with Astronomy through a citizen science project, and covers many projects people can participate in today.