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Dawn approaching Vesta, pics sharpen - and in orbit around big asteroid July 16th

Dawn News (incl. a June 20 movie and June 14 Vesta picture), the mission homepage, a detailled timeline, Vesta's oppositions, JPL & NASA Releases of June 23, June 13, May 11 and May 3, MPS PR of June 23, June 13, UCLA PR of June 9, DLR PRs/PMn of/vom June 14, 13.6. and 11. Mai, Dawn Journal of June 23, May 27, May 3 (archive), paper by Coradini & al. and coverage of June 24: VoA, PSB, DPA, Sp. June 23: CSM, SC, PSB. June 18: CbS. June 17: PSB. June 13: Dsc., SC, PSB, SpW. June 3: PSB. May 12: S&T, CD, ST, Sp. May 11: PSB. May 10: T. May 3: SpO. Asteroid sample return OSIRIS-REx chosen as NASA's 3rd New Frontiers mission - launch in 2016, 2 kg sample back in 2023: NASA (more), U of A, Boulder, ASU, UCF and PS Releases, UA video and Factsheet, ASN (OpEd), BaS, StP, LAT, SN, AW&ST, SC (more), NG, CD, PSB, SI, SRC, SpW, FtP, G (Hayabusa-ignoring OpEd), KSJ, ST, Eur. Earlier: old document; AZZ. Hayabusa findings: Nikkei. Rosetta is in hibernation now, this 2014: Blog, ESA Releases of June 8, June 3 and May 31 (more), MPS Release of June 8, DLR PM vom 8.6. and coverage of June 15: SpN. June 14: PSB. June 7: Tw. June 6: BR. EPOXI DI paper about Hartley 2: UMD, UAF and JPL [alt.] Releases, ABC, SC. Non-DI Hartley papers: NASA PR, CD, BdW. EPOXI role in microlensing exoplanet discovery: paper by Muraki & al. EPOXI & Earth: paper by Robinson & al. EPOXI June 18 status, Tw.
Update # 342 of Saturday, June 25, 2011
Gravity Probe B's final result (grown since April 24)

After five decades of work: Gravity Probe B finds no deviation from General Relativity

Was that worth it (i.e. time, brainpower, money)? Roughly 50 years after the original idea was hatched, the final result of the NASA fundamental space physics mission Gravity Probe B is in - and it is a null result in a way as the two effects measured on drag-free spinning gyroscopes match exactly what General Relativity predicts, not a hint of a deviation that may have smelled of New Physics. At an embarassingly self-congratulatory NASA news conference on May 4 the actual science result was hardly mentioned at all (and nothing said about how it actually limits physicists' freedom to extend or vary General Relativity); the talk was mostly about the engineering and management challenges and how they were overcome eventually. In particular three sources of noise were discovered - only after launch, of course - and successfully taken out in 5 years of work. And so in the end the geodetic effect (the warping of Earth's local space-time due to Earth's mass) has been confirmed to 0.28% accuracy. And the frame-dragging effect (the dragging or twisting of Earth's local space-time due to planet's rotation) has been confirmed to 19% accuracy.

The principle behind the Gravity Probe B measurement is that ideal rotating gyroscopes, free of disturbing forces, always point in the same direction in inertial space. But this principle is where Einstein and Newton differ: In Newton's physics, a perfect gyroscope pointed at a star should stay aligned forever. In Einstein's physics, the direction of the spin axis of the gyroscope would gradually change due to the mass and rotation of the Earth by an amount that could be exactly predicted. Relativists call the first of the two Einstein effects the 'geodetic effect'. The second is called the 'frame-dragging effect'. Small as the two effects measured by Gravity Probe B are, "their measurement has provided an extremely important advance by testing previously unproven predictions of Einstein's theory," the official word goes. When the experiment was first conceived around the beginnings of spaceflight, when General Relativity was mainly a theoretical physics thing, this would have been a sensation. But by now many aspects of GR have been demonstrated by astronomy or lab experiments, and its equations are actually used in the Global Positioning System which otherwise would place your car hundred of meters off the track ...

Paper by Everitt & al.; Stanford, LockMart and NASA Releases and Science@NASA; Status.
Coverage by APS, S&T, Nat., ScN, NwS, BBC, NYT, Wir., SN, NaB, NPR, UT, SwB, ST, KSJ, BdW, Sp., SB.

Mars Update

MER JPL Releases of June 8, June 2, May 25 (Blog), May 24, May 4, S@N of June 3, PhotoJ of May 18 and coverage of June 25: R2E. June 11: R2E. June 5: SN. June 4: Tw. May 31: CL, R2E. May 28: SC, NYT. May 27: S&T, PBS, R2E (earlier). May 26: PS, NwSB, PWB, SZ, AwF. May 25: PSB, LAT, AGU, NaB, UT, CbS, TR, ST, MaP, Sp. May 24: NYT, SC, Rtr, PSB, Dsc., SpW, UT. May 15: R2E (more). May 11: R2E. May 8: R2E. May 5: R2E. May 1: R2E. April 30: PS. MRO coverage of June 13: Dsc. May 19: SB. May 18: UT.
Mars Express ESA Releases of June 17, June 7 and May 6 and coverage of June 20: PSB. June 17: PSB. MSL LockMart Release of May 13, JPL & NASA Releases of June 24, June 23, June 21, May 31, May 24 and May 13, a NASA pic and coverage of June 24: UT, ST. June 23: Nat., PSB, MaP, YF. June 17: PSB. June 9: NwSB, ST. June 8: SpN, FT, SC, NaB, SpO. June 7: LAT, AW&ST. June 5: G. May 25: SB. May 24: UT. May 19: NwS. May 18: SN, PSB. May 15: AP. May 3: AB (Graphic Novel!). Fobos-Grunt Roskosmos PR of June 3, developments in 2011 and coverage of June 19: MaP. June 6: PbA. June 2: June 2. ExoMars ESA Release of June 10 and coverage of June 24: SpN. June 22: SpN. June 21: SpN. May 27: SpN. China is Potential Partner in Future U.S. Mars Exploration: ScN. Mars crash landings revisited: ViS. Mars' fast formation / migration: U. Chicago, SwRI, RSMAS, NASA and PSI Releases, SC, ST, WdP, Sp., BdW. Volcanism timeline: PSRD.

Saturn Update

Paper by Levison & al. on Iapetus, ESA Release of June 22 [alt.] (see also this comference slide from early 2010), U CO Release of June 22, ESO Release of May 19, JPL Releases of June 22 [alt.], June 20, June 15 [alt.] and May 19, a new oval on Saturn, UCF PR of June 24, MPG PM vom 22. Juni, MPK PM vom 22. Juni, Uni HD PM vom 22. Juni, Uni Potsdam PM vom 23. Juni, AGU Highlights of May 12, S@N of May 19 and coverage of June 24: S&T, CNN, LiD, BdW. June 23: PWB, ST, FB, WdP, Sp. June 22: ScAm, SC, CSM, SpW, Dsc. June 20: PSB, LiD, YT, UT. June 8: Dsc. May 31: Nat. May 23: UT, PSB. May 20: S&T, May 19: SC, PSB. May 9: NwS, AT. May 8: NwS. April 28: PSB. Juno JPL Releases of June 24 and May 27, MSSS Release of May 16 and coverage of May 29: SN. Old Galileo data - new insights on Io: JPL Release, GBT [EvN], AT, ST, BdW. OSS idea: axb. Voyagers nearing the edge: JPL (earlier), JHUAPL Releases, Nat., S@N, PW, SC (earlier), PS. Voyager insights: NASA PR, S@N. Voyager 1 animation: PSB.

ISS etc. Update

One STS launch to go ... STS-135 rollout pics, STS-134 Status (FB), Quest4Space News, CollectSpace Journal, launch pics (more, more, more), disappearance, remains, more via map, shadow panorama (another one), HDR movie, airplane view (later; short video), balloon views (linked thru cropped pics), NASA HQ pics, selected pics, ESA video, ISS/OV-105 pics, DLR Blog, experiment w/spider, AMS-02 home & news stories, ISS Ron Blog, NASA Releases & Blog entries of June 7 (earlier), May 30, May 24 (earlier), May 16, May 6, May 3, May 1, Apr. 28, Apr. 27, ESA Releases of/vom June 21, June 20, June 17, June 10, June 9, June 1, May 30, May 27, May 24, May 21, May 19 (more), May 18, 16. Mai, May 10, May 4 and Apr. 29 (Deutsch), JAXA Release of June 15, CAS PR of May 19, APL PR of May 16, Cornell PR of Apr. 27, CERN Release of Apr. 27, DLR Releases of/vom 22. Juni, 16. Mai, 11. Mai and Apr. 26, RWTH PMn vom 20.5. und 26.4., Planetary Soc. PR of May 13, Giffords PR of May 11, Bolden Blog of May 16 and May 5 and coverage of June 24: AW&ST, SN, DgJ [PoS], SB, SpP, TP. June 23: PoS, CgH, OSB, WSJ. June 22: BBC, Soc., ST, JW, DPA. June 21: BBC, SC, CFN, ST. June 19: SN, BBC. June 17: SpN, OS (more), SpO, ST. June 16: NSF. June 14: SpN. June 13: G.
June 9: PS, SpP. June 8: NaB, CL, UT, ST, Sp. (andere Story). June 7: SW (w/links), WFTV, SC, CL, UT. June 5: SpP. June 3: CL, Sp. June 2: SpW, SpR, ST. June 1: SW (w/many links), SC, OS, Dsc., TDP, NaB, ST. May 31: SC, WP. May 30: SN, ST. May 28: SC (moew), NSF, ST. May 27: SC, TAZ. May 26: SpP, SpW, ST, Sp. May 25: SpP, T, CL, ST, Sp. May 24: SN, CBS, SC, SPO, ST. May 23: NSF, SN, Rtr, Dsc., SC, PNc, SPO, SpR, ST, BdW, Sp. May 22: SC, UT. May 21: CBS (more), NPR, SC (earlier; more), ST. May 20: KQED, SN, NaB, SpP, SI, SpW, ST (earlier), Ori. May 19: SN, SC (more), BBC, CNET, FT, Eco., UT, CW, OSB, SpP, ST, Tw. May 18: SN, X, Rtr, SC (more), Dsc., UT, ST, FT cartoon (explanation), Sp. May 17: ABC, CBS, BBC (more), TBT SIC, ACES, SpP, KL, Eur. May 16: SW w/many pics, Nat., PW NPR (more), SN, ScAm, G, NaB, SC (more and more), 365, Dsc., CSM, ABCB, UT, LATB, NYT, S&T, SpW, SIB, ErE, NwSB, kwd, fyi, UT, Dsc. (more), AP, AFP, ST, Sp., PhB, TS, AI, Eur. May 15: OS, SC (more), CNN, BBC, SLN, FB, TwP. (another one). May 14: SN, OS, ST. May 13: CBS. May 12: SN. May 10: ST. May 9: CL. May 7: ST. May 6: SN (earlier), PSB. May 5: BBC, Atl., SC, SZ. May 4: SN, Nat. (other story), SC, RLB, ST. May 3: CBS, VoA, UT. May 2: SN, CL, SpR, Sp. May 1: ScAm, SN, NSF, MSNBC, SFX, DSc, RPg, F140, ST. April 30: Cnd., SN, BBC, SpP, BBB, ST. April 29: SN (esrlier), LAT, SC (earlier), HC, MSNBC, ScN, CNN, NaB, CT, AP, CL, SyB, ScAm, ST, 360°, Tw., Sp. (mehr), DLF, SZ, AwF. April 28: Nat., SC, CD, CL, HCB, WdP, RP. April 27: SpO, S&T, ScAm, SN, BBC, SC, Rtr, ST (earlier), PhS. April 26: CAS, CBS, BBC (more), G, SC, FAZ, PrP. April 25: UT, PbA, SB, AT, SpW, Sp., YT. April 24: NYM.

MESSENGER delivers science surprises from orbit

Esp. regarding a not so hot past of the innermost planet: June 16 (presser visuals; summary) [alt., alt.], June 15, June 13 and May 6 Mission News, 16. Juni DLR PM; SW, PSB, ScN, S&T, CSM, Rtr, BaS, NaJ, NYT, SC, NwSB, BBC, MSNBC, ST, WdP, Sp., BdW.

The LRO has delivered 192 TB science data to the PDS: NASA PR (telecon transcript and visuals). Chang'e 2 leaves lunar orbit: CD, X, SC, AW&ST, PSB (earlier). ARTEMIS to reach Moon soon: NASA Feature. Indian Moon planning: MD.

Allen Array sent into 'hibernation'

as funds run out: April 22 status letter, NaB, ScAm, S&T, AT, NwS, UT, BBC, CNN, HP, ABC, Wir., CD, other CD, KSJ (earlier), ST, BdW, TS, W, Sp., TAZ. Arecibo crisis: NaB, CBP, ScI, UPI. SPT repair: AnS. EVLA achievements: NRAO PR, Dsc. LOFAR deeper: ASTRON PR, CNN. Prize for LOFAR man: ASTRON PR and picture. LOFAR ET babble: Irish Times. ALMA progress: NwSB. Earlier: NAO PR. FAST introduction: paper by Nan & al., Giz., Dsc., Foc. Earlier: CAS PR. SKA visions: ScAm, AAP.

Better AO at the VLT with SPHERE: ESO Ann. Keck Double AO: DrV, Dsc. Gemini GeMS AO: PR. Ottobeuren(!) AO: ESO Ann. VLTI goes deeper: ESO PR. VLT Survey telescope ready: ESO and STFC Releases, Uni Goettingen PM. The Lyman-alpha forest in three dimensions w/BOSS: paper by Slosar % al., LBL PR, asb, DLF. BigBOSS: paper by Schlegel & al. HETDEX: NYT.

E-ELT "only" 39 meters now - but affordable, it seems: ESO Ann. (follow-up, earlier), SI. Was know for months: Tw. Another TX donation for the GMT: Carnegie and TAMU Releases, HC, NaB. ATST polishing: UA News. Subaru achievements: NAOJ PR. PS1 vs. Milky Way structure: PS1SC Blog. Fermi all-sky: BBC. No DM in Fermi data: axb. Indian gamma scope: Hin. Tibet CR scope: X. Einstein Obs. plans: details, Int., PW, NaB.

400 billion free-floating planets in the Milky Way extrapolated

from galactic bulge microlensing hits: paper by Sumi & al., Nat., JPL, NoD and NASA Releases, S@N, PW, S&T, BBC, Dsc., NwS, NYT, ScAm, AT, KSZ, ST, BdW, Sp., KL, BR, Eur. Alternative way to detect those: CD. A Super-Earth Transiting a Naked-Eye Star, 55 Cnc e: papers by Winn & al. and Demory & al., CfA Release, asb, LfU, S&T, UT, AsB. GJ 581g real after all? Revised paper by Anglada-Escude & Dawson. Strange spin explained? AFP, BdW, Sp.

Kepler planets findings & census: slides, CfA Release, NaB, asb (earlier), ScAm (more), BG, NwS, Dsc. GBT SETI on Kepler planets: Berkeley Release. Kepler Mission update of May 4. Kepler planet hunters May 22 update. Kepler star ages, surprises: CfA Release, ScN, BdW. Kepler + Spitzer = Kepler-10c: paper by Fressin & al., asb, slides, Spitzer PR. CoRoT discoveries: ESA Release. ExoPlanetSat: ABi. Why no bigger sats? AB. UZ For: SAAO PR. Planet growth: PW, Gliese 581d habitable? CNRS PR, PW, BBC, AFP, SC.

A new class of superbright supernovae

has been identified (6 cases so far) but not really been explained yet: Nat., Caltech and ING Releases, PrA, AN, PW, S&T, NwS, ScAm, SC, SoSD, BdW, DLF, Sp., WdP. SN 1987A lights up: CfA and Sweden RC Releases, HST pic, AT. Neutron star interior: U. Wash. PR. Earliest stars may have been fast spinners: AIP PM, ESO Ann., NwS, SC, Sp. Strong gamma flare in Crab: papers by Striani & al. and Tavani, NASA (more) = Chandra (more) Releases, asb, BBC, PWB. Structure of Radio Source from a Pulsar Orbiting a Massive Star: Barcelona Univ. PR. Chandra & Tycho's SNR: paper by Lu & al., Chandra Release (pic), S&T. Cas A speculations: S&T.

Bright solitary star in the LMC: paper by Bestenlehner & al., ESO PR. Blue stragglers in bulge: HST PR, CD. He dwarf pair: paper by Parsons & al., Warwick, Gemini Releases. Circumbinary disk: Subaru PR. Olivine near star: JPL Release. Interstellar chemistry in lab: Ames PR. Carina stars: Chandra PR.

Milky Way arm structure: the latest view

from radio astronomers tracking a distant spiral arm: paper by Dame & Thaddeus, CfA note, ScN, S&T, ScAm, SC. MW state: paper by Mutch & al., Swinburne PR, WdP. MW rare w/2 MC: NSF PR. A 100-parsec elliptical and twisted ring of cold and dense molecular clouds around the Galactic Center: paper by Molinari & al., UT. Oddball star cluster: JHU PR. Star formation trigger: axb. Galactic Center BHC: ING PR.

Spiral density wave model check less than convincing in galaxy sample: UT. Small galaxies -> small stars: NwS. Galaxies awake/asleep: paper by Whitaker & al., Yale PR. Tuning fork ideas: ING, U Toronto and ASTRON Releases. Undead galaxies: U Mich. PR Galaxy LF: asb. Galactic outflows: ESA PR, BdW. Terzan 5 H.E.S.S. action: paper by H.E.S.S. Collab., MPK PR. That non-GRB: Gemini, NASA, Berkeley and Warwick Releases, NYT, BdW, DLF, Sp. Cen A jet in hi-res: MPIfR und Uni Erlangen PMn, NASA PR, CL. BH in mergers: NAOJ PR. Monster BHs: NASA PR. What's a Galaxy? Talk, Swinburne PR, NwSB.

Photometric redshift of 9.4 for a GRB

in 2009 might make it most distant object known: paper by Cucchiara & al., PSU, Warwick Gemini and NASA Releases, NaB, BBC, KSJ, Sp., BdW. Earlier: 2010 AAS abstract. Lensing distant galaxy: Keck PR. Distant SMBHs: Yale, Rutgers, IfA and NASA Releases, Chandra pic, SC, ScAm, S&T, DLF, Sp.

DE from CMB alone: asb. DE for real: AAO and JPL Releases, BBC, SMH, SwB. Gruber Prize: Gruber, IAU and Berkeley Releases. Cosmology speculation history: Wir. Largest structures problem? NwS.

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