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NASA images show Jupiter apparently hit by object

Jupiter Hit

NASA images show Jupiter apparently hit by object

Astronomers say Jupiter has apparently been struck by an object, possibly a comet. Images taken by NASA early Monday show a scar in the atmosphere near the south pole of the gas giant.

The images, taken by the space agency’s infrared telescope in Hawaii, come on the 15th anniversary of another comet strike.

In 1994, Jupiter was bombarded by pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena captured the new images after receiving a tip from an amateur astronomer the night before.

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The Moon – Ten Things You Don’t Know About Hubble


The Moon – Ten Things You Don’t Know About Hubble

The Moon is not too bright to see with Hubble.

A lot of people claim that some objects are simply too bright to observe with Hubble. For some limited cases this is true — there’s a camera on board Hubble sensitive to ultraviolet light, and at a 2500 Volt potential too many UV photons can fry the instrument.

But that’s not true for most of Hubble’s cameras. Actually, some of the brightest objects in the sky have been observed… including the Moon! The image shown here is of Copernicus, a 90 kilometer wide impact crater on the Moon.

It wasn’t actually Hubble’s primary target; another camera (the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, or STIS, a camera I worked on for many years) was observing reflected sunlight off the Moon’s limb, and Hubble was rotated so that Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) would be able to take snapshots of the crater.

So while the Moon is not too bright to observe with Hubble, it is moving too rapidly across the sky for the ‘scope to track it. So the observations were made in what’s called “ambush mode”: Hubble is pointed at a spot in the sky where the Moon is going to be, and when the right moment arrives the images are taken. It’s a very difficult operation, which is one the reasons why there are so few observations of our nearest neighbor.

Back in 1999 I took part in a set of lunar observations using Hubble; we were hoping to get spectra of water ice splashed up from the Moon’s south pole when the Lunar Prospector probe impacted there at high speed. Unfortunately, the spectra were screwed up; the pointing was off by a bit and we didn’t see anything (it turns out no one saw anything using any telescope, so we didn’t really miss much). Although it failed, that observation run was incredibly exciting, some of the most fun I’ve had using Hubble.

One problem with using digital detectors is knowing exactly what you’re seeing. If a star looks brighter than another, is the star really brighter, or is the electronic chip just a little too sensitive right there? You have to calibrate the chip to know exactly what it’s doing. There are several steps in that process, but one involves using a “flat field”, observing a region of the sky that is perfectly evenly illuminated. That way, if one pixel or another is too sensitive, you can see it in the observation.

With Hubble, though, every patch of sky has some object in it, which would screw up the flat field. Some telescopes have internal illumination; little LEDs or some other method, but using them is notoriously difficult to get an evenly illuminated field. So what can you do when using Hubble?

One method is to observe the Earth! As Hubble orbits at 8 km/sec, the out-of-focus Earth screams by. If you observe for a while, objects will actually leave streaks in the image, and these can be treated mathematically to produce a flat field. The image shown here is just such a “streak flat”. That’s a Hubble observation of our home planet, with objects flying past. It’s hard to say what they are, exactly. It depends on where Hubble was when the image was taken, and where it was pointed. They might be trees, hills, valleys, mountains, or even houses!

But don’t worry, it can’t see people. If the Moon is too fast to track, the Earth is certainly out of the question. But y’know, the company that made Hubble’s mirror had an awful lot of those same sized mirrors lying around, and there are no other astronomical telescopes (you know, telescopes that point away from the Earth) with that same mirror. So what could those mirrors have been for?

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Iowa caucuses: Romney pips Santorum

 He finished just eight votes ahead of former senator Rick Santorum in the Midwest state of Iowa.
Ron Paul came third, while Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann settled into a second tier of candidates.
Rick Perry indicated he was suspending his campaign after finishing fifth.
The caucus meetings were the first time voters had a say in the race to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.

Tuesday’s contest launched months of caucuses and primary elections in 50 states, Washington DC and other territories, culminating in the Republican National Convention in August where the party nominee will be formally anointed.
Iowa was not expected to settle the contest – John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee in 2008, came fourth in the state’s caucuses that year – but it will help shape the race for the White House.

The BBC’s Mark Mardell says that in the end, this result has to be good for Mitt Romney, achieving it in a state he hadn’t bothered to fight until the last few weeks.
‘Game on!’
Hours after caucuses closed, Iowa party chairman Matt Strawn announced that Mr Romney had won by just eight of the 122,255 votes cast.
“Governor Mitt Romney received 30,015 votes and senator Rick Santorum received 30,007 votes. Congratulations to governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 caucuses. Congratulations to senator Rick Santorum for a very close second-place finish,” Mr Strawn said.
Earlier in the evening, Mr Romney kept his sights firmly trained on Mr Obama rather than engaging his Republican rivals or claiming victory.
“The gap between his promises four years ago and his performance is as great as anything I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said, before crying: “On to New Hampshire!”
As early results came out pointing to a close race, Mr Santorum declared “Game on!” He praised his faith and his family in a speech which marked his own entry to the national spotlight.

Mr Paul, a Texas congressman, finished third and vowed to continue onto New Hampshire, which holds a primary election next week.
“This momentum is going to continue,” he told a jubilant crowd of supporters. “We will go on, we will raise the money.”

Negative advertising
Finishing fifth, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he was returning to his home state in order to “determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race”.Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, who saw a brief lead evaporate under a barrage of negative advertising last month, pledged to remain in the race and challenge Mr Romney, “a Massachusetts moderate”.
“We are not going to go out and run nasty ads,” said Mr Gingrich, who finished fourth.
“But I do reserve the right to tell the truth. And if the truth seems negative that may be more of a comment on his record than it is about politics.”
Mrs Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who won the Iowa straw poll last summer, finished sixth, and urged voters not to let the media anoint a Republican nominee based solely on the Iowa results.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman was on the ballot, but did not campaign in Iowa.

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