PlanetJon

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Welcome to PlanetJon

PlanetJon was originally established in 1999 and provided free multiplayer gaming servers and other video game related services. Now though, after those games faded away and spare time became limited, the website is devoted to my interest in all things space related - the planets, solar activity, the exploration of planet Mars, the solar system and beyond - and provides a collection of news and information from around the web.

Somewhere out there, in another galaxy, far, far, away, is a planet called Jon.

  • NASA Studies Whether to Add Crew to 1st SLS Megarocket Moon Launch in 2019

    25 Feb 2017 | 4:51 pm

    NASA Studies Whether to Add Crew to 1st SLS Megarocket Moon Launch in 2019 KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – At the request of the new Trump Administration, NASA has initiated a month long study to determine the feasibility of converting the first integrated unmanned launch of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion capsule into a crewed mission that would propel two astronauts to the Moon and back by 2019 – 50 years after the first human lunar landing. Top NASA officials outlined the details of the study at a hastily arranged media teleconference briefing on Friday, Feb 24. It will examine the feasibility of what it would take to add a crew of 2 astronauts to significantly modified maiden SLS/Orion mission hardware and whether a launch could be accomplished technically and safely by the end of 2019. On Feb. 15, Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced that he had asked Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, to start detailed studies of what it would take to host astronauts inside the Orion capsule on what the agency calls Exploration Mission-1, or EM-1. Gerstenmaier, joined by Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development in Washington, at the briefing said a team was quickly assembled and the study is already underway. They expect the study to be completed in early spring, possibly by late March and it will focus on assessing the possibilities – but not making a conclusion on whether to actually implement changes to the current uncrewed EM-1 flight profile targeted for[…]

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  • SETI Has Already Tried Listening to TRAPPIST-1 for Aliens

    25 Feb 2017 | 3:33 pm

    SETI Has Already Tried Listening to TRAPPIST-1 for Aliens The Trappist-1 system has been featured in the news quite a bit lately. In May of 2016, it appeared in the headlines after researchers announced the discovery of three exoplanets orbiting around the red dwarf star. And then there was the news earlier this week of how follow-up examinations from ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that there were actually seven planets in this system. And now it seems that there is more news to be had from this star system. As it turns out, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute was already monitoring this system with their Allen Telescope Array (ATA), looking for signs of life even before the multi-planet system was announced. And while the survey did not detect any telltale signs of radio traffic, further surveys are expected. Given its proximity to our own Solar System, and the fact that this system contains seven planets that are similar in size and mass to Earth, it is both tempting and plausible to think that life could be flourishing in the TRAPPIST-1 system. As Seth Shostak, a Senior Astronomer at SETI, explained: “[T]he opportunities for life in the Trappist 1 system make our own solar system look fourth-rate.  And if even a single planet eventually produced technically competent beings, that species could quickly disperse its kind to all the rest… Typical travel time between worlds in the Trappist 1 system, even assuming rockets no speedier than those built by NASA, would be pleasantly short.  Our best[…]

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  • Supernova Blast Wave Still Visible After 30 Years

    24 Feb 2017 | 1:04 pm

    Supernova Blast Wave Still Visible After 30 Years 30 years ago today, a supernova explosion was spotted in the southern hemisphere skies. The exploding star was located in the Large Magellanic Cloud — a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way – and Supernova 1987A was the brightest and nearest supernova explosion for modern astronomers to observe. This has provided an amazing opportunity to study the death of a star. Telescopes around the world and in space have been keeping an eye on this event, and the latest images show the blast wave from the original explosion is still expanding, and it has plowed into a ring expelled by the pre-supernova star. The latest images and data reveal the blast is now moving past the ring. Got a 3-D printer? You can print out your own version of SN1987A! Find the plans here. Below is the latest image of this supernova, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. You can see it in the center of the image among a backdrop of stars, and the supernova is surrounded by gas clouds. Hubble launched in 1990, just three years after the supernova was detected, so Hubble has a long history of observations. In addition, the Chandra X-ray telescope – launched in 1999 – has been keeping an eye on the explosion too. Here are a few animations and images of SN1987A over the years: Here’s a link to the original astronomer’s telegram announcing the detection. Astronomers estimate that the ring material was was ejected about 20,000 years before the actual[…]

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  • Weekly Space Hangout – February 24, 2017: 7 New Exoplanets Around TRAPPIST-1 and More!

    24 Feb 2017 | 1:00 pm

    Weekly Space Hangout – February 24, 2017: 7 New Exoplanets Around TRAPPIST-1 and More! Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Guests: Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter) Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg) Their stories this week: Discovery of 7 exoplanet system TRAPPIST-1 Alan Stern proposes a new definition of a planet Juno to stay in longer orbit We use a tool called Trello to submit and vote on stories we would like to see covered each week, and then Fraser will be selecting the stories from there. Here is the link to the Trello WSH page (http://bit.ly/WSHVote), which you can see without logging in. If you’d like to vote, just create a login and help us decide what to cover! If you would like to join the Weekly Space Hangout Crew, visit their site here and sign up. They’re a great team who can help you join our online discussions! If you would like to sign up for the AstronomyCast Solar Eclipse Escape, where you can meet Fraser and Pamela, plus WSH Crew and other fans, visit our site linked above and sign up! We record the Weekly Space Hangout every Friday at 12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern. You can watch us live on Universe Today, or the Universe Today YouTube page< The post Weekly Space Hangout – February 24, 2017: 7 New Exoplanets Around TRAPPIST-1 and More! appeared first on Universe Today.

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  • Wow, Mars Sure Can Be Pretty

    24 Feb 2017 | 12:52 pm

    Wow, Mars Sure Can Be Pretty For a supposedly dead world, Mars sure provides a lot of eye candy. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is our candy store for stunning images of Mars. Recently, HiRise gave us this stunning image (above) of colorful, layered bedrock on the surface of Mars. Notice the dunes in the center. The colors are enhanced, which makes the images more useful scientifically, but it’s still amazing. HiRise has done it before, of course. It’s keen vision has fed us a steady stream of downright jaw-dropping images of Elon Musk’s favorite planet. Check out this image of Gale Crater taken by HiRise to celebrate its 10 year anniversary orbiting Mars. This image was captured in March 2016. The MRO is approaching its 11 year anniversary around Mars. It has completed over 45,000 orbits and has taken over 216,000 images. The next image is of a fresh impact crater on the Martian surface that struck the planet sometime between July 2010 and May 2012. The impact was in a dusty area, and in this color-enhanced image the fresh crater looks blue because the impact removed the red dust. These landforms on the surface of Mars are still a bit of a mystery. It’s possible that they formed in the presence of an ancient Martian ocean, or perhaps glaciers. Whatever the case, they are mesmerizing to look at. Many images of the Martian surface have confounded scientists, and some of them still do. But some, though[…]

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