At 9:16 p.m. local time--that was at 9:16 a.m. eastern time here in the U.S.--China successfully lofted its first inhabitable space station module into orbit on the back of a Long March 2F launch vehicle, marking a milestone for both the People's space program and for the Party's geopolitical ambitions. China--the third nation (behind the U.S.A. and Russia) to independently launch manned missions into space aboard homegrown technology--now joins the old Cold War powers as the third nation to put a space station into orbit.
One of the fun things about astronomy is that we can only know so much through empirical observation, yet we can "know" so much more through enlightened, mathematical guesswork. Such is the nature of the most interesting new science paper I've come across on the Internet today. In it, Wesley Traub of CalTech crunches some Kepler data and makes a tantalising mathematical prediction: one-third of sun-like stars have at least one earth-like terrestrial planet orbiting in their habitable zones.
NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has finally returned home after two decades in orbit, and it couldn't have crash-landed in a better place: a 800-km-wide swath of the South Pacific. The falling 5.4-tonne satellite - which had been expected to re-enter the atmosphere for a couple of weeks, causing some degree of worry - plunged into a part of the world that is virtually uninhabited, mere minutes after reports said it might come crashing down in North America, NASA officials said yesterday.
That gigantic solar flare that lashed out toward Earth on Saturday is "the geomagnetic storm that just won't go away," the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colo., said via its Facebook page today. And that appears to be true. Active Region 1302, pictured above, continues to pummel earth with solar energy and could disrupt satellite communications as it continues turning toward us in the days to come.
On September 15th, StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson's space-and-science-focused radio show, taped its first ever live show at the Bell House, in Brooklyn, New York. I was there to watch, and tweet about it, and drink tall cans of Tecate while tweeting about it. It was great! And now you can listen to the first part, for free.