The Swan Glowing in Flight
May 14th, 2012
10:29 AM ET

The Swan Glowing in Flight

"Best known as a swan winging its way across the night, the constellation Cygnus is easily seen in the northern hemisphere's summertime sky. This new view of the Cygnus-X star-forming region by the Herschel Telescope highlights chaotic networks of dust and gas that point to sites of massive star formation. This image combines far-infrared data acquired at 70 micron (corresponding to the blue channel); 160 micron (corresponding to the green channel); and 250 micron (corresponding to the red channel). The observations were made on May 24, 2010, and Dec. 18, 2010.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA."

Source: NASA

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ESA's next stop: Jupiter’s icy moons
An artist's impression shows the JUICE spacecraft near Jupiter and one of its moons.
May 14th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

ESA's next stop: Jupiter’s icy moons

From the volatile landscape of Io, pockmarked by eons of volcanic activity, to Ganymede’s saltwater oceans sandwiched between hundreds of miles of ice and rock, Jupiter’s so-called Galilean moons are uniquely diverse and act like a miniature solar system.

“Jupiter is an archetype of gas giants,” says Werner Magnes from the Space Research Institute at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Graz, Austria. “It’s a kind of mini-solar system, which means Jupiter acts like a star in a minisystem with its moons acting like planets.”

That’s why the European Space Agency chose the distant gas giant’s icy moons as the target of its next big scientific mission. The 19-member group opted this month to send a spacecraft to explore and investigate the satellites, which are located some 500 million miles away from Earth. The plan is to launch the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or JUICE, in 2022.

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