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NanoSail D has spontaneously ejected from FASTSAT - and deployed the solar sail!

NASA Updates of Jan. 24, Jan. 21 and Jan. 19, S@N of Feb. 1 and Jan. 24, SARC PR of Jan. 19, chat transcript of Jan. 27, images taken Jan. 30 [alt.] (another [alt.], another and another one), Jan. 27 (next to Moon) and Jan. 21 (unconfirmed), a collection, a voltage plot and coverage of Feb. 4: CD. Feb. 3: Nat., WGBH. Feb. 2: AsB, Tw. Jan. 31: AsB. Jan. 29: Tw. (reply, follow-up, dito). Jan. 28: DM, CEA. APOD. Jan. 27: SpW, CD. Jan. 26: Tw. (other), AI. Jan. 25: SaO, ST, KL, AsN. Jan. 24: SC, Tw. (earlier). Jan. 23: SaO (more), AI. Jan. 22: Tw. (earlier); SN, Asb. Jan. 21: SW; VE8EV; USAT, SC, PSB, UT, Tw. (earlier). Jan. 20: CSM, CNN, DK3WN, CD, PSB. Jan. 19: HT, WA4NZD, DK3WN, UT, Tw. Akatsuki investigation coverage of Jan. 6: UPI. Jan. 5: MDN, SC, PSB, UT.. Jan. 4: Asahi. Dec. 28: Yom. Dec. 27: MDN, PSB. Dec. 25: JT. Hayabusa 2 planning: Yom.. Hayabusa 1 results: S@N, Tw. (more). Stardust NeXT NASA/JPL Releases of Feb. 1, Jan. 26 and Jan. 19 (visuals) [JPL] and coverage of Feb. 3: TwP. Jan. 26: PSB. Jan. 25: AN. Jan. 22: PSB. Jan. 21: T., CD. Jan. 20: Sp. Jan. 19: PSB, NwS. Jan. 10: UT. Jan. 7: PSB. Dec. 23: SN.
Update # 340 of Saturday, February 5, 2011
Kepler's latest exoplanet haul (grown since Dec. 24, 2010)

Total count of Kepler's planet candidates jumps to 1235

Small rate of false positives expected after improved vetting procedures / 68 have diameters < 1.25 Earth's, smallest are Mars-sized / 54 are in habitable zones, one of them smaller than Earth, 4 only a bit larger than Earth

The Kepler project gone from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone - a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water, and 5 of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars. Planet candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets, but it seems now that the rate of false positives is far smaller than 50%, thanks to improved vetting procedures. Among the few systems confirmed and studied in detail is a densely packed one around Kepler 11 - with no fewer than six planets transiting.

The newly released findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size - up to twice the size of Earth - to larger than Jupiter. The findings are based on the results of observations conducted May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009 of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler.s field of view, which covers approximately 1/400 of the sky.

"The fact that found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting stars like our sun in our galaxy," said Kepler lead scientist William Borucki: "Kepler can find only a small fraction of the planets around the stars it looks at because the orbits aren't aligned properly. If you account for those two factors, our results indicate there must be millions of planets orbiting the stars that surround our sun." Kepler has already found all the 'easy' one: close to their stars, so they transit frequently. In the future discoveries - at larger distances - will be rarer but also more interesting.

Data release & Kepler-11: papers on the new data and their meaning (more and more) and Kepler 11, NASA Release (visuals {previous version of key diagram} and presser pics; another one [Kepler, JPL]), UCSB, UF, UCSC and PS Releases; press conference (shorter) and summary videos.
Nat. (more, OpEd), SB [CD], S&T, PW, ScN, Wir. (more), Sci., NYT, CSM, SN, WP, NG, CNN), CBC, T, PS, AT, Eco., SC (more), HuP ScAm, NwS (more), BBC SCP, AW&ST, (earlier), BB (more, follow-up), AMNHB, TMJ, PrA, asb, SpO, PoS, WAB, NSG, ST, WdP, DLF, Sp.
Earlier: NYT (graphics, more), CL, KSJ. And a paper on Kepler's false positives being not a big problem.

Kepler-10b, the 1st clearly rocky exoplanet

which is more reliably called so than CoRoT-7b: paper by Batalha & al.. Earlier: SW has key links; also NASA Release [alt.; JPL], Batalha chat, PW, Nat., S&T, ScN, CNN (w/video), BBC, DlC, AW&ST, NYT, T., SN, AT, McN, CD, Dsc. (more), other CD (earlier, later), AsB, PSB, SpW, ST, KL, SB.
Planethunters successes, papers on KOI 428 and KOI 126, a triple star system (mehr). Plus Mission Manager Updates of Feb. 1, Jan. 7 and Dec. 30.

Mars Update

MER JPL Releases of Jan. 20 and Jan. 4 (more). and coverage of Jan. 29: APOD. Jan. 27: R2E. Jan. 25: R2E (other post). Jan. 23: R2E. Jan. 17: R2E. Jan. 15: R2E (more). Jan. 13: R2E Jan. 12: R2E. Jan. 9: R2E, MV. Jan. 7: UT. Jan. 6: R2E. Jan. 4: S&T, PSB, R2E, CbS. Jan. 2: UT. Jan. 1: SC (more). Dec. 31: PS. Dec. 30: BBC, UT. Dec. 29: TMJ, SC. Dec. 28: R2E. Dec. 27: R2E. Dec. 24: R2E. Mars Express Phobos Blog, ESA Releases of Feb. 4 and Jan. 21, DLR PMn vom 21.1. und 10.1., VMC blog of Jan. 19 and coverage of Jan. 25: YT, PSB. Jan. 21: PSB, Sp. Jan. 9: FB. Dec. 24: . MRO JPL Release of Feb. 3, PSI Release of Feb. 2, Uni Bern PM vom 3.2. Mars Odyssey ASU PR of Feb. 3. Fobos coverage of AFP. MSL coverage of Jan. 31: NaB. Jan. 28: SpN. Rare meteorites reveal Mars collision caused water flow: U. Leicester PR. Methane confusion: Eco. Viking confusion: SC.

Saturn Update

JPL/CICLOPS/NASA Releases of Feb. 3 (more), Jan. 13, Jan. 12 (pics), Jan. 10, Dec. 29 and Dec. 27 (earlier), S@N of Jan. 26 and Dec. 30 and coverage of Feb. 1: ScAm. Jan. 31: 365DoA. Jan. 28: Dsc., Jan. 20: PSB. Jan. 13: PSB. Jan. 5: FB. Dec. 28: BAB. Dec. 27 UT, Eur. Dec. 25: SC. Joint plans for Europa Jupiter System Mission detailled: JPL Release (and ESA docs, Nat., BBCB, SN, NZZ, DLF on other ESA choices, too).

ISS etc. Update

NASA Releases of Feb. 4, Jan. 19, Jan. 13 and Jan. 8, ESA Releases of Feb. 3, Jan. 26, Jan. 14 and Jan. 13, Algol outburst MAXI obs., ISS Blog (Russian), Energia Release of Dec. 31, paper on MAXI, S@N of Jan. 31, Bolden Blog of Jan. 25 and Jan. 20, a paper on potential asteroid targets, how to cook on the ISS, HTV-2 launch pics and coverage of Feb. 5: ST. Feb. 1: BBC, SpO, ST, TBl. Jan. 31: DMN, BBC, SpR. Jan. 30: HCB. ST. Jan. 29: NYT, Atl. Jan. 28: BG, CNN, NaT, SpN, AW&ST, Ind., MOB (old), PSB, PrA, HAB, ArP, ST, TAZ, Z, Foc., ORF, TS, AwF. Jan. 27: SN, ST, StZ. Jan. 26: TwP. Jan. 25: HC, PbA, UT. Jan. 24: NYT. Jan. 22: Dsc., UT, ST (earlier). Jan. 20: PbA, SpP, WaH, ST (earlier). Jan. 19: NwS, SpP, UT. Jan. 18: SI. Jan. 17: SpR, UT. Jan. 16: OS, ST. Jan. 15: CBS. FT, SpP, RFN. Jan. 14: SN, ST. Jan. 13: NYT, SpP (earlier), SpO, ST (earlier), Sp. Jan. 12: SN, ST, KL, Sp. Jan. 11: SpN, SN, SpP. Jan. 10: SN. Jan. 9: SC, ST. Jan. 8: SN, HC, OS, AW&ST, SC, CL, Dsc. Jan. 7: SC, MSNBC, ST. Jan. 6: OS. Jan. 3: SpP, ZDF. Jan. 2: Dsc., SpP. Jan. 1: UT. Dec. 31: SC, ST. Dec. 30: SN, LAT, SpP, UT, Dec. 27: LAT. Dec. 24: SN.

Distant Universe distorted heavily by foreground lensing

HUDF affected, JWST even more so: SW, OSU, Uni Melb., JB Releases, NaB. One HUDF09 z=10 candidate makes it into Nature: SW; Nat. N&V, ESA Science, UCSC and HST Releases, NASA TV, Nat., ScN, WP, SN, T., BBC, S&T, NwS, Wir., SpO, SFG, Tel., NPR, NYT, LAT, SMN, Dsc., CD, BAB, ST, TS, DLF, BdW, Sp., FTD, KL.

Proto-galaxy cluster with z=5.3 characterized by 3 space and many ground telescopes: Keck, Spitzer, UCR, NASA, JHU, JPL Releases, TJG, S&T, LS. First stars: McD Obs. PR, HD Univ. PR [D], ScN. Cosmologists explore Universe with new supercomputer: HPC. Universe size: aXb. Brian Greene cosmology thoughts: NYT.

SMBH in Dwarf Galaxy

Finding a black hole a million times more massive than the Sun in a star-forming dwarf galaxy is a strong indication that supermassive black holes formed before the buildup of galaxies: paper by Reines & al., NRAO and Chandra Releases, PW, S&T, NoA, SC. SMHBs do not correlate with dark matter halos of galaxies: paper by Kormendy & Bender, MPE PR, MPG PM. SMBH pairs: paper by Fu & al., Caltech and Keck Releases, more. M 87 SMBH weighed: McDonald, Gemini Releases.

DIBs in other galaxies detected: NASA Feature. DM in galaxies detected through Chandra anomaly / Milky Way companion predicted: SW, SwB, CL. Aquarius Stream: AIP PM. Possible missing link between young and old galaxies: Berkeley Release, PC slide.

Big flares from small stars

Tiny red dwarf stars can unleash powerful flares that may release the energy of more than 100 million atomic bombs: HST Release. Brown Dwarfs with Pan-STARRS: PS1B.

Cepheids with nebulae - and changing: SW, NASA PR, UT. Cas A n* state: Nat. Workings of GRS 1915+105: NASA Release.

Rosetta performs long deep-space maneuver, suffers safe mode

while doing it; ESA doesn't tell for weeks: Feb. 4, Jan. 18 and Jan. 17 Rosetta blog stories and coverage of Feb. 4: PSB. Jan. 18: PSB. Testing BepiColombo: ESA Release. MESSENGER close to Mercury orbit insertion: PW. New Horizons meeting report: PSB.

LRO instrument on strike, Mini-RF stops doing science: Jan. 18 status. The nature of lunar volatiles as revealed by Mini-RF observations of the LCROSS impact site: paper. Moon has an Earth-like core, seismometers showed: ASU PR, NASA Feature [alt.], SC, Sp. Moon water from comets? U TN PR, TDB, UT, SC. "First ever complete Moon map" in the making: Bha. Modelling Venus & solar wind: ESA PR.

The mission of WISE has ended

and the IR satellite is going into hibernation after an extended solar system survey: WISE and JPL Releases, KL.

Planck Early Release Compact Source Catalogue out: SW, UBC, Manch. and UoT Releases, aXb, ScN, PW, CBC, NwS, Ast., ST, BBC video, DLF. Earlier: Jan. 4. One year of Herschel science: HSO PR. JWST hardware deliveries: SN.

Early observations with ALMA to begin late this year

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) expects to start Early Science observations on a best effort basis late in 2011 - and a call for proposals will be issued at the end of the first quarter of 2011: Announcement. ALMA antenna affair: Nat. Antenna surfaces: ESA PR. LOFAR now multi-national: ASTRON and STFC Releases. LOFA @ LOFAR: paper. SKA split rumors: ENZ. LWA: JPL Release. FAST: X. X/Y ranking of radio telescopes: MkG. Brazil joins ESO: ESO PR, Nat. SDSS big map: SW, BBC, Dsc. Also in WikiSky: Blog.

Pan-STARRS calibration by NIST: PR. Outer Solar System Pipeline successes: SW. Gemini MCAO demonstration: Gemini PR, S&T. CANARY at WHT demonstrates MOAO: ING PR. VIRUS-W First Light: MPE PR. BigBOSS at Mayall: LBL PR, SFG. Magellan observing story: asb. E-ELT engineering aspects: Eng. China gets time on foreign scopes: SI. New scope at Armagh: PR.

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