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Happy New Year!

If you are outside this New Year's Eve, look up - you will see an unusual sight: a "blue moon". No, the moon isn't actually blue. It means that it's the second full moon in a calendar month (or the third  in a season of four full moons). That happens about once every 2½ years. But a blue moon on New Year's Eve? That hasn't happened since 1990, and won't happen again until 2028.
NASA Image from the Cassini-Huygens Team

So, let's hope that 2010 is better than 2009, and that someday, someone will be celebrating on the lunar surface, looking back down on Earth.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Today's Astronomy Picture Of The Day is kinda ghostly. And NASA has an article about the "horrible" conditions expected on some of the planets discovered outside our solar system - exoplanets.

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Spectacular New Images From the Hubble Telescope: Celestial Butterfly

Celestial Butterfly
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in action following a much-needed upgrade after astronauts repaired its intricate machinery from space in a daring mission in May. NASA has provided an array of marvelous images showing off the telescope's new capabilities.

New Technique Could Find Water on Earth-Like Planets

Since the early 1990s, astronomers have discovered more than 300 planets orbiting stars other than our sun, nearly all of them gas giants like Jupiter. Powerful space telescopes, such as the one that is central to NASA's recently launched Kepler Mission, will make it easier to spot much smaller rocky extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, more similar to Earth.

STS-125: Landing Stats

Atlantis is on the ground at Edwards, and the post-flight News Conference is underway. Was this the last non-ISS shuttle flight? STS-125 was Atlantis' 30th trip, the 126th Space Shuttle mission, & the 53rd Shuttle landing at Edwards (not including Enterprise).

NASA reports:

Landing times in Eastern Daylight Time and Mission Elapsed Time:
Main Gear Touchdown 11:39:05 a.m. EDT
Nose Gear Touchdown 11:39:15 a.m. EDT
Wheels Stop 11:40:15 a.m. EDT

MET: 12 days, 21 hours, 37 minutes, 9 seconds
Number of Orbits: 197
Total Distance: 5276000 miles/8490899 kilometers

Atlantis Lands in California

Space shuttle Atlantis landing at Edwards
Image above: Space shuttle Atlantis lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA TV

With Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Gregory C. Johnson at the controls, space shuttle Atlantis descended to a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The STS-125 astronauts concluded their successful mission to the Hubble Space Telescope when the shuttle touched down at 11:39 a.m. EDT.

Atlantis arrived at the Hubble Space Telescope on May 13, and the STS-125 crew performed five spacewalks on five consecutive days to repair and upgrade the telescope.

Landing blog at NASA. Landing pics and video will be at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Live video at SFN. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-125: TOUCHDOWN!

Atlantis is home! Fox News covered the landing live, and they are chatting with former astronaut Paul Lockhart about the new NASA Administrator nominee Charlie Bolden. NASA reports:

Touchdown: Atlantis, STS-125 Crew are Back on Earth

Atlantis lands in the California desert at Edwards Air Force Base.
Image above: Atlantis touches down in the California desert at Edwards Air Force Base. NASA Image credit: NASA

Space shuttle Atlantis and the STS-125 astronauts are safely on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California, capping a bold mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope for the final time. The orbiter landed at Edwards on Sunday, May 24, at 11:39 a.m. EDT.

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 11. During the 13-day mission, astronauts performed five challenging spacewalks over five consecutive days, improving Hubble's discovery power by 10 to 70 times and extending the 19-year-old observatory's lifespan by at least five more years.

Landing blog at NASA. Landing pics and video will be at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Live video at SFN. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-125: Deorbit Burn Complete

Atlantis is flying at Mach 15 over the Pacific ocean, heading for a west coast landing at Edwards AFB. NASA reports:

Atlantis to Land at Edwards Air Force Base

T-38 jet aircraft
Image above: Conditions are favorable at Edwards Air Force Base in California as a T-38 jet aircraft monitors the weather for the secondary landing site: NASA TV

Space shuttle Atlantis will land on orbit 197 at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 11:39 a.m. EDT with a deorbit burn performed at 10:24 a.m. The burn slowed Atlantis to begin its descent.

Weather conditions forced flight controllers to pass on STS-125’s first landing opportunity at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Landing blog at NASA. Landing pics and video will be at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Live video at SFN. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-125: California It Is!

Mission managers were not feeling comfortable with weather conditions at Kennedy, so they have decided to take the next landing opportunity for Edwards AFB in California. Deorbit burn would start at 10:24AM EDT, putting Atlantis on the runway at 11:39AM EDT. NASA's earlier report:

First Landing Opportunity Waved Off Due to Weather

Mission Control in Houston
Image above: Houston's Mission Control Center's weather monitors show the poor weather conditions at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA

› STS-125 Landing Ground Tracks

Mission managers have waved off today's first opportunity to land space shuttle Atlantis at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Uncooperative weather has plagued the Florida spaceport for several days, foiling previous attempts on Friday and Saturday.

Both Edwards and Kennedy will be considered for the next landing opportunities: Edward's next attempt is at 11:39 a.m. EDT and Kennedy's next attempt is at 11:48 a.m.

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy on May 11. During the 13-day mission, astronauts performed five challenging spacewalks over five consecutive days, improving Hubble's discovery power by 10 to 70 times and extending the 19-year-old observatory's lifespan by at least five more years.

Landing blog at NASA. Landing pics and video will be at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Live video at SFN. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.