The NASA probe Juno successfully enters orbit around Jupiter. Its mission: unravel mysteries, explore how the gas giant formed, uncover the secrets of its violent storms -- and glimpse the origin of our Solar System.
NASA's Juno probe has been orbiting the largest planet on our Solar System, the gas giant Jupiter, since July 4, 2016. As the February 2017 closest-to-the-planet flyby approaches, what secrets has its moon, Juno, revealed thus far and how has a simple valve altered a decade of planning?
2017 • Astronomy
Today Phil helps keep you from ticking off an astronomer in your life by making sure you know the difference between a meteor, meteorite, and meteoroid. When the Earth plows through the stream emitted by a comet we get a meteor shower. Meteors burn up about 100 km above the Earth, but some survive to hit the ground. Most of these meteorites are rocky, some are metallic, and a few are a mix of the two. Very big meteorites can be a very big problem, but there are plans in the works to prevent us from going the way of the dinosaurs.
In order to understand how we study the universe, we need to talk a little bit about light. Light is a form of energy. Its wavelength tells us its energy and color. Spectroscopy allows us to analyze those colors and determine an object’s temperature, density, spin, motion, and chemical composition.
Recent discoveries could explain how supermassive black holes grow so big, one of the universe's most mysterious questions. Neither dark matter nor cannibalism can fully explain these monsters, but the latest science might finally provide an answer.
For many years our place in the universe was the subject of theologians and philosophers, not scientists, but in 1960 one man changed all that. Dr Frank Drake was one of the leading lights in the new science of radio astronomy when he did something that was not only revolutionary, but could have cost him his career. Working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenback in Virginia, he pointed one of their new 25-metre radio telescopes at a star called Tau Ceti twelve light years from earth, hoping for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.