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In the News – Year 2016

12.30.16 – Space Timekeeping: NASA’s SDO Adds Leap Second to Master Clock
On Dec. 31, 2016, official clocks around the world will add a leap second just before midnight Coordinated Universal Time – which corresponds to 6:59:59 p.m. EST.

12.29.16 – NASA’s NEOWISE Mission Spies One Comet, Maybe Two
NASA’s NEOWISE mission has recently discovered some celestial objects traveling through our neighborhood, including one on the blurry line between asteroid and comet.

12.14.16 – Revolutions in Understanding the Ionosphere, Earth’s Interface to Space
Scientists from NASA and three universities have presented new discoveries about the way heat and energy move and manifest in the ionosphere, a region of Earth’s atmosphere that reacts to changes from both space above and Earth below.

12.07.16 – TIMED: 15 Years Exploring Our Interface to Space
Launched Dec. 7, 2001, NASA’s TIMED spacecraft has spent 15 years observing the dynamics of the upper regions of Earth’s atmosphere – comprising the mesosphere, thermosphere and ionosphere.

12.01.16 – NASA’s Sun-Observing IRIS Mission
While it seems static from our vantage point on Earth 93 million miles away, the sun is constantly changing.

11.14.16 – NASA Finds Unusual Origins of High-Energy Electrons
High above the surface, Earth’s magnetic field constantly deflects incoming supersonic particles from the sun.

11.04.16 – NASA’s MMS Breaks Guinness World Record
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, is breaking records. MMS now holds the Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal.

11.03.16 – NASA’s SDO Performs Calibration Maneuvers
On Oct. 19, 2016, operators instructed NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, to look up and down and then side to side over the course of six hours, as if tracing a great plus sign in space.

10.31.16 – Rains of Terror on Exoplanet HD 189733b
This Halloween, take a tour with NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration site of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy.

10.31.16 – NASA’s SDO Catches a Lunar Transit
On Oct. 30, 2016, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, experienced a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun.

10.27.16 – NASA Missions Harvest a Passel of ‘Pumpkin’ Stars
Astronomers using observations from NASA’s Kepler and Swift missions have discovered a batch of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than 100 times the peak levels ever seen from the sun.

10.25.16 – Study: Planet Orbiting Nearest Star Could be Habitable
A rocky extrasolar planet with a mass similar to Earth’s was recently detected around Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun.

10.25.16 – How to Read a STEREO Image
In the same way that two eyes give humans a three-dimensional perception of the world around us, the twin spacecraft of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission, or STEREO, enable us to understand the sun in 3-D.

10.25.16 – STEREO: 10 Years of Revolutionary Solar Views
Launched 10 years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA’s STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun, including the first-ever simultaneous view of the entire star at once.

10.21.16 – NASA, Citizen Scientists Discover Potential New Hunting Ground for Exoplanets
Via a NASA-led citizen science project, eight people with no formal training in astrophysics helped discover what could be a fruitful new place to search for planets outside our solar system – a large disk of gas and dust encircling a star known as a circumstellar disk.

10.20.16 – Tracking Waves from Sunspots Gives New Solar Insight
While it often seems unvarying from our viewpoint on Earth, the sun is constantly changing. Material courses through not only the star itself, but throughout its expansive atmosphere.

10.17.16 – Wayward Field Lines Challenge Solar Radiation Models
In addition to the constant emission of warmth and light, our sun sends out occasional bursts of solar radiation that propel high-energy particles toward Earth.

10.07.16 – MinXSS CubeSat Brings New Information to Study of Solar Flares
Along with the visible light and warmth constantly emitted by our sun comes a whole spectrum of X-ray and ultraviolet radiation that streams toward Earth.

10.05.16 – NASA’s TESS Mission Will Provide Exciting Exoplanet Targets for Years to Come
NASA’s search for planets outside of our solar system has mostly involved very distant, faint stars. NASA’s upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), by contrast, will look at the brightest stars in our solar neighborhood.

10.05.16 – NASA's SDO Watches Magnetic Arches Tower Over Sun’s Surface
Massive arches of solar material brighten and stream over an active region on the sun’s surface in this animation of imagery captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, on Sept. 29, 2016. Active regions are areas of particularly strong and complex magnetic fields.

09.28.16 – NASA’s Van Allen Probes Spot Electron Rainfall in Atmosphere
Our planet is nestled in the center of two doughnut-shaped regions of powerful, dynamic radiation: the Van Allen belts, where high-energy particles are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field.

09.23.16 – NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Solves One Cosmic Mystery, Reveals Another
In the last century, humans realized that space is filled with types of light we can’t see – from infrared signals released by hot stars and galaxies, to the cosmic microwave background that comes from every corner of the universe.

09.22.16 – Highlights from a Decade of JAXA and NASA’s Hinode Solar Observatory
Since its launch on Sept. 22, 2006, Hinode, a joint mission of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA, has been watching the sun nearly non-stop, providing valuable insight into our star – and others throughout the universe.

09.22.16 – NASA Scientist to Discuss “A Space Weather Report” at Library of Congress Lecture
The public is invited to a free talk called “A Space Weather Report: Preparing Space Explorers for Bad Weather throughout the Solar System” with NASA Solar Scientist C. Alex Young in the Pickford Theater, sixth floor, Dining Room A, Madison Building, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT.

09.21.16 – NASA’s MMS Achieves Closest-Ever Flying Formation
On Sept. 15, 2016, NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission achieved a new record: Its four spacecraft are flying only four-and-a-half miles apart, the closest separation ever of any multi-spacecraft formation.

09.16.16 – NASA-Funded Scientific Ballooners Wrap Up Fourth and Final Campaign
The scientists of the BARREL team sent their last balloon soaring toward the stratosphere over Sweden on Aug. 30, 2016, capping off four years of launches to study how electrons precipitate into Earth’s atmosphere.

09.15.16 – Studies Find Echoes of Black Holes Eating Stars
Supermassive black holes, with their immense gravitational pull, are notoriously good at clearing out their immediate surroundings by eating nearby objects.

09.12.16 – NASA’s THEMIS Sees Auroras Move to the Rhythm of Earth’s Magnetic Field
The majestic auroras have captivated humans for thousands of years, but their nature – the fact that the lights are electromagnetic and respond to solar activity – was only realized in the last 150 years.

09.02.16 – NASA’s SDO Witnesses a Double Eclipse
Early in the morning of Sept. 1, 2016, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, caught both Earth and the moon crossing in front of the sun.

09.01.16 – Images From Sun’s Edge Reveal Origins of Solar Wind
Ever since the 1950s discovery of the solar wind – the constant flow of charged particles from the sun – there’s been a stark disconnect between this outpouring and the sun itself.

08.24.16 – ESO Discovers Earth-Size Planet in Habitable Zone of Nearest Star
A newly discovered, roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star might be habitable, according to a team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile, along with other telescopes around the world.

08.24.16 – NASA’s WISE, Fermi Missions Reveal a Surprising Blazar Connection
Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays.

08.22.16 – NASA Establishes Contact With STEREO Mission
On Aug. 21, 2016, contact was reestablished with one of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories, known as the STEREO-B spacecraft, after communications were lost on Oct. 1, 2014.

08.17.16 – NASA-Funded Balloon Mission Begins Fourth Campaign
The BARREL team is at Esrange Space Center near Kiruna, Sweden, launching a series of six scientific payloads on miniature scientific balloons.

08.15.16 – NASA’s Van Allen Probes Catch Rare Glimpse of Supercharged Radiation Belt
Our planet is nestled in the center of two immense, concentric doughnuts of powerful radiation: the Van Allen radiation belts, which harbor swarms of charged particles that are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field.

08.10.16 – SDO Status Update
UPDATE, Aug. 10, 2016 (1:58 p.m. EDT) - All three of SDO’s instruments are now online and sending science data back to Earth.

08.05.16 – IRIS Spots Plasma Rain on Sun’s Surface
On July 24, 2016, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, captured a mid-level solar flare: a sudden flash of bright light on the solar limb – the horizon of the sun – as seen at the beginning of this video.

08.04.16 – ESA, NASA’s SOHO Sees Bright Sungrazer Comet
ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, saw a bright comet plunge toward the sun on Aug. 3-4, 2016, at nearly 1.3 million miles per hour.

07.29.16 – NASA’s Solar Probe Plus Mission Moves One Step Closer to Launch
NASA’s Solar Probe Plus – the first mission that will fly into sun’s upper atmosphere and “touch” the sun – has passed a design review, an important milestone leading to its anticipated summer 2018 launch.

07.28.16 – Chorus of Black Holes Sings in X-Rays
Supermassive black holes in the universe are like a raucous choir singing in the language of X-rays.

07.27.16 – NASA’s Next Planet Hunter Will Look Closer to Home
As the search for life on distant planets heats up, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is bringing this hunt closer to home.

07.27.16 – Astronomers Gain New Insight into Magnetic Field Of Sun and Its Kin
Astronomers have used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make a discovery that may have profound implications for understanding how the magnetic field in the Sun and stars like it are generated.

07.27.16 – Loneliest Young Star Seen by Spitzer and WISE
Alone on the cosmic road, far from any known celestial object, a young, independent star is going through a tremendous growth spurt.

07.23.16 – SDO Sees Trio of Mid-Level Flares
The sun emitted three mid-level solar flares on July 22-23, 2016, the strongest peaking at 1:16 am EDT on July 23.

07.22.16 – NASA’s SDO Watches Bursts of Solar Material
Solar material repeatedly bursts from the sun in this close-up captured on July 9-10, 2016, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO.

07.20.16 – The Magnetosphere Has a Large Intake of Solar Wind Energy
Solar wind forms the energy source for aurora explosions. How does the Earth’s magnetosphere take in the energy of the solar wind?

07.19.16 – Hi-C to Show the Sun’s Corona in Sharp Detail
UPDATE (9:30 a.m. EDT, July 28, 2016): The NASA Hi-C payload was launched on a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket at 12:26 p.m. MDT (3:26 p.m. EDT) July 27 from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

07.19.16 – X Marks the Spot for Milky Way Formation
A new understanding of our galaxy’s structure began in an unlikely way: on Twitter. A research effort sparked by tweets led scientists to confirm that the Milky Way’s central bulge of stars forms an “X” shape.

07.15.16 – NASA’s SDO Takes a Spin
On July 6, 2016, engineers instructed NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, to roll 360 degrees on one axis.

07.12.16 – Black Hole Makes Material Wobble Around It
The European Space Agency’s orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a “gravitational vortex” around a black hole.

07.11.16 – ‘Frankenstein’ Galaxy Surprises Astronomers
About 250 million light-years away, there’s a neighborhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable. But now, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies.

07.06.16 – Hitomi Mission Charts Hot Winds of a Galaxy Cluster for the First Time
Measurements of unprecedented detail returned by Japan’s Hitomi satellite have allowed scientists to track the motion of X-ray-emitting gas at the heart of the Perseus cluster of galaxies for the first time.

06.27.16 – SDO Watches Twisting Solar Material Over the Sun’s Surface
Solar material twists above the sun’s surface in this close-up captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7-8, 2016, showcasing the turbulence caused by combative magnetic forces on the sun.

06.22.16 – X-ray Echoes of a Shredded Star Provide Close-up of ‘Killer’ Black Hole
Some 3.9 billion years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, the intense tidal pull of a monster black hole shredded a star that passed too close.

06.21.16 – Astronomers Find the First ‘Wind Nebula’ Around a Magnetar
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time.

06.08.16 – NASA’s NICER Mission Arrives at Kennedy Space Center
An upcoming NASA astrophysics mission will uncover the physics governing the ultra-dense interiors of neutron stars. Using the same platform, the mission will demonstrate trailblazing space navigation technology.

05.26.16 – NASA’s SDO Peers Into Huge Coronal Hole
This imagery of the sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory from May 17-19, 2016, shows a giant dark area on the star’s upper half, known as a coronal hole.

05.23.16 – NASA: Solar Storms May Have Been Key to Life on Earth
Our sun’s adolescence was stormy—and new evidence shows that these tempests may have been just the key to seeding life as we know it.

05.19.16 – NASA Mini-Balloon Mission Maps Migratory Magnetic Boundary
During the Antarctic summer of 2013-2014, a team of researchers released a series of translucent scientific balloons, one by one.

05.19.16 – NASA’s Van Allen Probes Reveal Long-term Behavior of Earth’s Ring Current
New findings based on a year’s worth of observations from NASA’s Van Allen Probes have revealed that the ring current — an electrical current carried by energetic ions that encircles our planet — behaves in a much different way than previously understood.

05.18.16 – IRIS Releases New Imagery of Mercury Transit
On May 9, 2016, a NASA solar telescope called the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, observed Mercury crossing in front of the sun — an astronomical phenomenon known as a Mercury transit. During the transit, IRIS focused on Mercury in order to help calibrate its telescope.

05.12.16 – NASA Directly Observes Fundamental Process of Nature for 1st Time
Like sending sensors up into a hurricane, NASA has flown four spacecraft through an invisible maelstrom in space, called magnetic reconnection.

05.12.16 – Magnetic Reconnection Throughout the Universe (Infographic)
Magnetic fields go in, energy comes out.

05.10.16 – Mercury Transit (Composite Image)
On May 9, 2016, Mercury passed directly between the sun and Earth.

05.10.16 – Swept Up in the Solar Wind
From our vantage point on the ground, the sun seems like a still ball of light, but in reality, it teems with activity.

05.06.16 – Hubble Spies the Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 4394
Discovered in 1784 by the German—British astronomer William Herschel, NGC 4394 is a barred spiral galaxy situated about 55 million light-years from Earth.

05.03.16 – Satellites to See Mercury Enter Spotlight on May 9
It happens only a little more than once a decade — and the next chance to see it is Monday, May 9.

05.03.16 – NASA's Marshall Center Simulates the Solar and Space Environment to Further Exploration
Inside inconspicuous Building 4605 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Todd Schneider is preparing to switch on the sun.

05.03.16 – NASA to Provide Coverage of May 9 Mercury Transit of the Sun
NASA is inviting media and viewers around the world to see a relatively rare celestial event, with coverage of the Monday, May 9 transit of the sun by the planet Mercury.

05.03.16 – NASA’s SDO Watches Glowing Solar Material Arch Up and Out
An elongated, streaming arch of solar material rose up at the sun’s edge before breaking apart in this animation of imagery captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 28, 2016.

04.26.16 – SDO Captures Stunning View of April 17 Solar Flare
On April 17, 2016, an active region on the sun’s right side released a mid-level solar flare, which can be seen in this movie as a bright flash of light.

04.21.16 – Microscopic “Timers” Reveal Likely Source of Galactic Space Radiation
Most of the cosmic rays that we detect at Earth originated relatively recently in nearby clusters of massive stars, according to new results from NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft.

04.19.16 – Lone Planetary-Mass Object Found In Family of Stars
In 2011, astronomers announced that our galaxy is likely teeming with free-floating planets.

04.19.16 – Seeing Double: NASA Missions Measure Solar Flare from 2 Spots in Space
Solar flares are intense bursts of light from the sun.

04.18.16 – NASA’s SDO Captures Images of a Mid-Level Solar Flare
The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:29 pm EDT on April 17, 2016.

04.15.16 – Towering Magnetic Arches Seen by NASA’s SDO
Arches of magnetic field lines towered over the sun’s edge as a pair of active regions began to rotate into view in this video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 5-6, 2016.

04.08.16 – NASA’s SDO Spies an Elongated Coronal Hole
A long coronal hole can be seen right down the middle of the sun in this video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 23-25, 2016.

04.07.16 – NASA Celebrates 25 Years of Breakthrough Gamma-ray Science
Twenty-five years ago this week, NASA launched the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, an astronomical satellite that transformed our knowledge of the high-energy sky.

04.05.2016 – Asteroid-Hunting Spacecraft Delivers a Second Year of Data
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its second year of survey data.

03.22.16 – NASA’s SDO Sees Circular Outburst
A round solar prominence burst from the sun on March 13, 2016, shortly after it rotated into the view of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO.

03.17.16 – Astronomers Discover Colossal ‘Super Spiral’ Galaxies
A strange new kind of galactic beast has been spotted in the cosmic wilderness.

03.15.16 – Picturing the Sun's Magnetic Field
This illustration lays a depiction of the sun's magnetic fields over an image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 12, 2016.

03.14.2016 – MMS Celebrates a Year in Space
NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission on March 12, 2015.

03.07.2016 – Citizen Scientists Help NASA Researchers Understand Auroras
Space weather scientist Liz MacDonald has seen auroras more than five times in her life, but it was the aurora she didn’t see that affected her the most.

03.03.2016 – A Moment in the Sun’s Atmosphere: NASA’s Science During the March 2016 Total Solar Eclipse
As the moon slowly covers the face of the sun on the morning of March 9, 2016, in Indonesia, a team of NASA scientists will be anxiously awaiting the start of totality — because at that moment, their countdown clock begins.

02.29.2016 – Eclipse Season Begins for NASA’s SDO
The 2016 spring eclipse season of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory began Feb. 19, 2016.

02.26.2016 – NASA’s IBEX Observations Pin Down Interstellar Magnetic Field
Immediately after its 2008 launch, NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spotted a curiosity in a thin slice of space: More particles streamed in through a long, skinny swath in the sky than anywhere else.

01.15.16 – Most Luminous Galaxy Is Ripping Itself Apart
In a far-off galaxy, 12.4 billion light-years from Earth, a ravenous black hole is devouring galactic grub. Its feeding frenzy produces so much energy, it stirs up gas across its entire galaxy.

01.15.16 – NASA’s SDO Captures Cascading Magnetic Arches
A dark solar filament above the sun’s surface became unstable and erupted on Dec. 16-17, 2015, generating a cascade of magnetic arches.

01.05.16 – Runaway Stars Leave Infrared Waves in Space
Astronomers are finding dozens of the fastest stars in our galaxy with the help of images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

01.05.16 – Andromeda Galaxy Scanned with High-Energy X-ray Vision
NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured the best high-energy X-ray view yet of a portion of our nearest large, neighboring galaxy, Andromeda.