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NASA Space Telescopes Find ‘Lego-Block’ Galaxies in Early Universe

Hubble-20070906-BrowseJPL.NASA.GOV: News Releases

NASA has just issued a press release regarding a new discovery. What the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have discovered are small, dense galaxies in the distant universe (meaning we’re looking WAY back in time), that are considered to be building blocks of the Universe, and it contributes to, and confirms, our understanding of the evolution of the Universe.

This press release caught my interest, in part, due to the mentioning of ‘Lego’ the BEST toy EVER, but behind the headline lies yet another important discovery, that, to me, really demonstrates why we need to invest in Space Telescopes, there’s so much to learn.


This is a quote from the NASA press release:

A NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have joined forces to discover nine of the smallest, faintest, most compact galaxies ever observed in the distant universe. Blazing with the brilliance of millions of stars, each of the newly discovered galaxies is 100 to 1,000 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy.

“These are among the lowest mass galaxies ever directly observed in the early universe,” said Nor Pirzkal of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

The conventional model for galaxy evolution predicts that small galaxies in the early universe evolved into the massive galaxies of today by coalescing. These nine Lego-like “building block” galaxies initially detected by Hubble likely contributed to the construction of the universe as we know it.

JPL is the NASA body that manages the majority of the robotic missions to the planets and the solar system, this includes the highly successful Mars Rovers, Voyager, Cassini. You can subscribe to the NASA JPL newsletter by visiting this link

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NASA JPL – The long tail of the star Mira

Long tail of the star Mira 185517Main A-516
Speeding-Bullet Star Leaves Enormous Streak Across Sky

NASA has just released this amazing picture of the star Mira, taken by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer space telescope. Mira is a red giant, that is travelling fast through space, the surprising new discovery is that Mira has a comet like tail, that stretches for 13 light years.

From NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) press release:

NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer has spotted an amazingly long
comet-like tail behind a star streaking through space at
supersonic speeds. The star, named Mira after the Latin word for
“wonderful,” has been a favorite of astronomers for about 400 years.
It is a fast-moving, older star called a red giant that sheds massive
amounts of surface material.

From the NASA Main Website:

Mira appears as a small white dot in the bulb-shaped structure at right, and is moving from left to right in this view. The shed material can be seen in light blue. The dots in the picture are stars and distant galaxies. The large blue dot at left is a star that is closer to us than Mira.

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer discovered Mira’s strange comet-like tail during part of its routine survey of the entire sky at ultraviolet wavelengths. When astronomers first saw the picture, they were shocked because Mira has been studied for over 400 years yet nothing like this has ever been documented before.

Mira’s comet-like tail stretches a startling 13 light-years across the sky. For comparison, the nearest star to our sun, Proxima Centauri, is only about 4 light-years away. Mira’s tail also tells a tale of its history – the material making it up has been slowly blown off over time, with the oldest material at the end of the tail having been released about 30,000 years ago.

JPL is the NASA body that manages the majority of the robotic missions to the planets and the solar system, this includes the highly successful Mars Rovers, Voyager, Cassini. You can subscribe to the NASA JPL newsletter by visiting this link.

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Charles Simonyi – It’s the closest yet to a Dane in space

Soyuz Tma-10 PatchCharles Simonyi is now in space

It’s almost like a Dane is going to space, since Charles Simonyi lived and worked in Denmark before being hired by Microsoft. He frequently visits Denmark in his Yacht Skat, and it’s impressive. I’ve seen Skat – docked at The Copenhagen Royal Castle – Amalienborg, like pictured in the link above. Skat is Danish for “treasure”, but “Skat” is normally used to express affection for your significant other, and it roughly translates to “darling” – it’s also a play on words, since “Skat” also means “Tax”.

Simonyi is best known – at least by g33k5 like me – for inventing the Hungarian notation – a special style of coding, where you indicate the datatype by prefixing the variable name with a type indicator, eg. nCount and intCount to indicate that Count is a variable that is declared as a number or an integer, szTitle to indicate that the variable szTitle is a zero-terminated string.

I’ve been using Hungarian notation since 1987, I believe that the Hungarian notation actually made C a usable language, and it has saved us from many bugs.

These days I still use Hungarian notation, even though it should not be nescessary in object oriented languages, and even Microsoft, that was instrumental in the spread of Hungarian notation, now discourages it’s use.

It’s an inspiration that someone working in my field can do these things, Charles Simonyi seems to be living my dream.

Godspeed Charles.

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Dawn Community

Asteroid Belt 1

Dawn Community

Send your name to the asteroid belt on the Dawn spacecraft. Your name will be recorded onto a microchip that will be placed aboard the spacecraft accompanying it on its mission to the asteroid belt. After entering your name below, you will have the opportunity to print a document that verifies your journey aboard the spacecraft.

My name is travelling on the Dawn mission, a fitting birthday gift. Thank you to NASA.

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JPL.NASA.GOV: Feature Stories: The Spark of a New Era

JPL 70th anniversary banner

JPL.NASA.GOV: Feature Stories: The Spark of a New Era

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is celebrating it’s 70th birthday.

In this feature the early history of JPL is described.

I consider the JPL to be the most succesful NASA subdivision, as the true pioneeers of planetary exploration.

70 years ago my own mother was born and my father was 7. Back then, the things we do today would have been considered so far into the future, that you might have been committed to a closed ward, if you had suggested that humanity could, for instance, visit all the planets in the solar system within a lifetime. Just try to imagine where we can be in another 70 years, what put’s it into perspective is that it might be so amazing, that we can’t even begin to imagine it.

Congratulations to the JPL.

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NASA – ‘McMurdo’ Panorama from Spirit’s ‘Winter Haven’

NASA Spirt Mars Rover banner
NASA – ‘McMurdo’ Panorama from Spirit’s ‘Winter Haven’

To celebrate the 1,000th sol of the Spirit rover Mars mission, NASA has released a panorama.

Congratulations to NASA with this amazing success, makes you wonder what the next generation of rovers will achieve.

Oct. 26, 2006, marks Spirit’s 1,000th sol of what was planned as a 90-sol mission. (A sol is a Martian day, which lasts 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds). The rover has lived through the most challenging part of its second Martian winter. Its solar power levels are rising again. Spring in the southern hemisphere of Mars will begin in early 2007. Before that, the rover team hopes to start driving Spirit again toward scientifically interesting places in the “Inner Basin” and “Columbia Hills” inside Gusev crater. The McMurdo panorama is providing team members with key pieces of scientific and topographic information for choosing where to continue Spirit’s exploration adventure.

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JPL.NASA.GOV: Honey, I Shrunk the Solar System – (ex)Sit Pluto!

Solar system montageJPL.NASA.GOV: Feature Stories – Honey, I Shrunk the Solar System

If you woke up Thursday morning and sensed something was different about the world around you, you’re absolutely right. Pluto is no longer a planet.

As expected the 9th planet Pluto, is no longer considered a planet, but more “the mother of all Kuiper belt objects”, or more precisely Pluto is now considered a “dwarf planet”.

I must admit that I sort of fail to see the importance of this decision, it’s more like “splitting words”. “Planet” is nothing but a word that means “wanderer”, refering to the fact that planets move across the sky unlike stars (well I know that they do, but slowly, so within this definition stars could also be consideres “planets”, so it is actually good to have a somewhat clearer definiton…).

The problem is that within the old definition, the number of objects to consider for planetary status is likely to grow, with the improved observation technology, and the scientific community would potentially be locked in mindless debates, since the discovery and classification of a planet would be significant.

Well…The science books need to be rewritten, or maybe not! Wikipedia has already been updated with detailed information on this subject, and Pluto has already been reclassified in the article on Planets.

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NASA – STS-121 – Shuttle Discovery has landed

Shuttle Mission STS-121Welcome back Discovery. It’s amazing watching the landing procedure as seen from the cockpit, the descend is steep and quick.

It will be interesting to hear the post mission briefings, I hope that the Shuttle is finally considered safe again, so that the construction of the International Space Station can pick up pace.

Congratulations to NASA with a successful mission, but what’s with the constant need to reboot the computers?

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NASA – STS-121 NASA’s Starbangled 4th

Shuttle Mission STS-121Phew…The Shuttle has returned to space, and for the first time a Shuttle Launch on the 4th of July.

It’s always nervewrecking to watch a Shuttle launch, and it’s great to have live coverage by NASA TV that is streaming over the Internet from this address:

NASA – NASA TV Landing Page

Congratulations to NASA with the fitting celebration of Independence Day.

The Shuttle program is nearing it’s end, it’s the end of an era and a too complex program, that so far (touch wood) has resulted in the loss of 2 orbiters and 14 lives.

NASA is now looking back to the Saturn V program for inspiration, and a couple of new launch vehicles will be introduced, ending with the return to the moon by the end of the next decade.

Everytime the Shuttle program seemed to be running smoothly, we encountered a major disaster, making for a rude awakening to the dangers of space exploration.

The space program is the greatest project humanity is currently involved in, and it’s a great inspiration, and space is finally opening up due to the X-Prize and SpaceShipOne.

We’re once again taking baby steps into the final frontier, following the lead of the Apollo pioneers. Earth is too dangerous a place to stay.

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ESA – Venus Express

ESA – Venus Express

OK OK…Since I always comment the NASA robotic missions, it’s sort of a disgrace that I have ignored the successful VOI (Venus Orbital Insertion) manoeuvre of the Venus Express mission last week. Congratulations to ESA on another success – things are shaping up, and I’ve almost forgotten the disappointment of the Beagle 2 Mars mission.

I must admit that I sort of fail to see the need for a mission to Venus. The Venusian surface, below the heavy cloud-cover has already been mapped, in quite a lot of detail, by one of the few NASA missions of the early 90ies.

But I welcome any science, and it is a real mystery why Venus is such a hostile environment, it’s amazing how “sweet a spot” Earth has hit in it’s orbit of the Sun, the “life as we know it” zone seems to be extremely narrow.

ESA has caught the Podcast wave, and Vodcast? That’s the first time I head that term – I guess that it covers Video Podcasts – really just call it a Podcast or maybe V-Cast – I really hope that Vodcast doesn’t catch on – it just sounds bad?