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The Discovery Channel’s New Privately Funded Telescope Opens Its Doors

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Space, the private frontier. It looks like private corporations are pushing forward not only space travel these days, but astronomy as well. Last Saturday night, the Discovery Channel opened the doors on its brand-new, privately funded telescope in Happy Jack, Arizona. The First Light Gala event featured a keynote speech by none other than Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, and the telescope is already getting some great pictures. The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) is the culmination of a partnership between Discovery Communications and the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The 4.3 meter mirror on the DCT makes it 5thlargest optical telescope in the continental U.S., proving that you can still get something for your $53 million these days. The primary goals of the new scope are to study the Kuiper Belt, a region littered with left-overs from our solar system’s formation outside the orbit of Neptune that stretches up to 50 AUs out from the sun, and small dwarf galaxies. Discovery News Space Producer, Ian O’Neill is particularly excited by this new privately funded powerhouse:

I’m excited by the outreach opportunities that the Lowell/Discovery Channel combo will bring. Bringing hardcore research astronomy to the mainstream will be particularly exciting. But as far as research is concerned, I really hope that the DCT will give an insight to the mysteries of star formation inside dwarf galaxies, thereby helping to evolve galaxy formation models. Plus, it’s a freakin’ HUGE telescope, it’s just cool to know I’ll have a ringside seat to see what this monster can do!

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Astronomers May Have Found A Planet Habitable For Humans

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Astronomers have re-considered the possibilities of two exoplanets orbiting the red dwarf known as Gliese 581. They believe there’s a chance that these worlds may have properties for human habitability. These would-be “second and third Earths” are only 20 light years outside of our solar system and could be targets for a potential interstellar space mission, some day.

Gliese 581 has six planets in its orbit. Scientists say two of those planets are in the “habitable zone,” which means their water could be in liquid-form and their temperatures could be friendly to humans. One of the planets, known as Gilese 581g, receives about the same amount of sunlight as Earth and is 1.5 the size of our world. It’s also “tidal locked,” which means it doesn’t rotate. So one side always faces its sun while the other side remains in darkness.

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This Is Our Planet: Time-Lapse Of Images From The ISS Will Take Your Breath Away

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Look around you right now. Is there an oxygen tank within easy reach? No? You might want to run down to the nearest medical-supply store before you watch the video below, because this sucker will absolutely take your breath away.

Editor Tomislav Safundzic raided NASA’s Image Science & Analysis Laboratory and pieced this gorgeous time-lapse video together from images taken aboard the International Space Station. And sure, it’s easy to make shots of our planet look beautiful, because Mother Earth is a real looker. But Tomislav has done a marvelous job compiling the footage, and the results put any special effects Hollywood has ever created to shame. Words can’t do it justice. Just watch.

 

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Rocket Porn: ISS Expedition 32 Launches From The Baikonur Cosmodrome

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The space program is dead. Long live the space program! The United States may not be launching any manned missions to space from inside its borders anymore, but that doesn’t stop NASA from sending people up to the International Space Station aboard Russia’s rockets. This past Saturday, while thousands of Americans were waiting to hear the latest Iron Man 3 news out of Comic-Con, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko along with JAXA Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and NASA Astronaut Sunita Williams launched into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-05M rocket.

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Take A Tour Of The Lunar Surface Courtesy Of NASA

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To this day, mankind’s forays to the Moon remain some of our species’ greatest accomplishments. And while it’s been several decades since we last stepped foot on the lunar surface, organizations such as NASA have continued observing and studying our nearest neighbor, and we now have a better sense of the Moon’s overall surface than ever before. And while we probably won’t see commercial spaceflight advance far enough in our lifetime that we’ll be able to take a lunar expedition over vacation, we can at least get a virtual tour courtesy of NASA.

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X-COR Aerospace Moves To Texas And Lets Rick Perry Play With Their Spaceship

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Yesterday, X-COR Aerospace announced a deal to open a new research facility in Midland,Texas, for the purposes of developing and testing X-COR’s new Lynx suborbital spacecraft. At the announcement ceremony Governor Rick Perry was on hand to grope a mockup of the new space plane.