The fundraiser for the solar sail LightSail™ designed by The Planetary Society really started with a bang: in a few days $499.032 were pledged. The goal was to collect $200,000 so it was already possible to achieve the second stretch goal to support operations in orbit for four months. The Kickstarter campaign will continue until June 26, 2015.
A new radio telescope was recently activated in California, based at Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO). It’s the Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array (OV-LWA), a set of 256 small antennas developed by a consortium led by Caltech that includes NASA’s JPL, Harvard University, the University of New Mexico, Virginia Tech, and the Naval Research Laboratory. Its purpose is to observe the entire sky 24/7 at long radio wavelengths.
The schedule for the International Space Station crew rotation has been officially changed. Following the mishap with the Russian spacecraft Progress M-27M it was decided to postpone the launch of the next three members so the three ones of the Expedition 42/43 – Samantha Cristoforetti, Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov – will remain on the Station at least until the beginning of June.
A team of scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the extent of the halo of the gas surrounds the Andromeda galaxy. It turned out to be much larger than expected stretching for about a million light-years from the galaxy. This means it reaches out to about half the distance that separates it from the Milky Way so if it was visible to the naked eye its size would be about a hundred times that of the full Moon. The results of this research were published in “Astrophysical Journal”.
An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a study of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. It claims that on its surface there’s and extremely violent volcanic activity. The consequence is that the temperature is not only very high but has swings ranging from 1,000° to 2,700° Celsius (from 1800° to 4900° Fahrenheit). Among the authors of the article there’s Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan of British Institute of Astronomy of the British University of Cambridge, who has been studying 55 Cancri e for some time and has already published a study in which he argues that this exoplanet may contain a diamond large three times the Earth.