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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....

Amateur astronomers using backyard telescopes were the first to detect two small objects that burned up in Jupiter’s atmosphere on June 3 and Aug. 20.

Professional astronomers at NASA and other institutions followed up on the discovery and gathered detailed information on the objects, which produced bright spots on Jupiter. The object that caused the June 3 fireball was estimated to be 30 to 40 feet in diameter - comparable in size to asteroid 2010 RF12 that flew by Earth on Sept. 8.

The June 3 fireball released five to 10 times less energy than the 1908 Tunguska meteoroid, which exploded 4-6 miles above Earth’s surface with a powerful burst that knocked down millions of trees in a remote part of Russia. Scientists continue to analyze the Aug. 20 fireball, but think it was comparable to the June 3 object.

“Jupiter is a big gravitational vacuum cleaner,” said Glenn Orton, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., and co-author of a paper that will appear online Thursday in Astrophysical Journal Letters. “It is clear now that relatively small objects that are remnants from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago still hit Jupiter frequently. Scientists are trying to figure out just how frequently.”

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