Scientists' list of verified planets is now more than two dozen planets longer, thanks to NASA's Kepler space telescope team.
The Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 verified planets in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, NASA said Thursday.
This nearly triples the number of verified multiple-planet stars that the Kepler mission has discovered, now standing at 17. And it nearly doubles the number of verified planets it has discovered, which now is 61.
Before the Kepler satellite was launched in 2009, scientists knew about perhaps 500 planets outside our solar system "across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA.
"Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates," Hudgins said in a news release. "This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."
Researchers at Stanford University reported a breakthrough in X-ray laser technology in this week's Nature: a super-powerful free-electron X-ray laser that can be used to measure change in matter over tens of hundredths of a second, faster than they've ever been able to measure before.
X-ray lasers aren't a new thing. In fact, this laser is based on an existing X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford, which has been in operation for two years.
In order to produce this new X-ray laser, researchers focused the light from LCLS through neon gas, which produced a laser that's not quite as bright as the LCLS, but is also a single frequency, unlike the LCLS. What makes this particular laser special is that single frequency, as it makes the laser capable of much more precise measurements than the LCLS, over much shorter spans of time, says physicist Jon Marangos of London's Imperial College.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA personnel, and others, participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration."Source: NASA
"A 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.
Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.
Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS."Source: NASA