Blog about NASA activities

Illustration of the method to estimate a comet's size (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes a research on long-period comets concluding that they’re more common than expected. A team of researchers led by James Bauer of the University of Maryland used data collected by NASA’s WISE Space Telescope to discover that those at least one kilometer (0.6 miles) across are more common than expected and are, on average, twice as large as those of the Jupiter family.

Maps of Pluto and Charon (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/LPI)

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the New Horizons space probe’s Pluto flyby, NASA has published a map of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon. The American Space Agency has also created two videos that partially reproduce that flight concentrating one on Pluto and one on Charon. They provide a truly unique perspective, giving the impression of being on board a spaceship flying by those celestial bodies.

Exoplanets and binary systems (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article to be published in the “Astronomical Journal” describes a study of possible errors made in the density estimates of the exoplanets discovered using the transit method. Elise Furlan of Caltech/IPAC-NExScl and Steve Howell of NASA’s Ames Research Center analyzed the effect of the presence of a companion star on estimating the density of exoplanets in those systems, concluding that some of them are actually less dense than calculated.

Jupiter seen by the Subaru telescope (Photo NAOJ/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two telescopes in Hawaii were used for new observations of the planet Jupiter and in particular of its famous Great Red Spot. They were conducted to support NASA Juno space probe’s mission, which on July 10 will fly over the giant jovian storm. The Gemini North telescope was used with special near-infrared filters to produce specific colors that can penetrate Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and clouds. The Subaru telescope’s COMICS instrument was used with mid-infrared filters.