Satellite News

Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

For years, researchers have known that the solar system is bounded by a vast bubble of magnetism. Called the "heliosphere," it springs from the sun and extends far beyond the orbit of Pluto, providing a first line of defense against cosmic rays and interstellar clouds that try to enter our local space. Although the heliosphere is huge and literally fills the sky, it emits no light and no one has actually seen it.

NASA's IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spaceship has made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere and the results have taken researchers by surprise. The maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin:

Although the ribbon looks bright in the IBEX map, it does not shine in any conventional sense. The ribbon is not a source of light, but rather a source of particles--energetic neutral atoms or ENAs. IBEX's sensors can detect these particles, which are produced in the outer heliosphere where the solar wind begins to slow down and mix with interstellar matter from outside the solar system.

"IBEX is now making a next all-sky map, and we're eager to see if the ribbon is changing," says McComas. "Watching the ribbon evolve--if it is evolving--could yield more clues."

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