Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one’s bigger than planet Earth.
Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.
The rocky planet, called ‘55 Cancri e’, orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours.
Discovered by a U.S.-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth’s but it is much more dense with a mass eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 Celsius).
READ ON: A diamond bigger than Earth?
An unmanned, privately owned Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Sunday on a mission to restore a U.S. supply line to the International Space Station after the retirement of the space shuttle.
Powered by nine oxygen and kerosene-burning engines, the 157-foot (48-meter) tall rocket, built by Space Exploration Technologies, lifted off from its seaside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT.
“This was a critical event for NASA and the nation tonight,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Just over a year after the retirement of the space shuttle, we have returned space station cargo-resupply missions to U.S. soil.”
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, dispatched to determine if the planet most like Earth in the solar system could have supported microbial life, has taken on a second job - moonlighting as an astronomer.
Last week, Curiosity outfitted its high-resolution camera with protective filters and took pictures of the sun as Phobos, one of Mars’ two small moons, sailed by.
It was a tricky shoot. Phobos and its sister moon Deimos are closer to Mars than our moon is to Earth, so they shoot across the sky relatively quickly. Phobos takes less than eight hours to circle Mars. Deimos takes about 30 hours to make the trip.
Last Thursday, the moons started to cross paths.
U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon, was praised in a NASA memorial service at the National Cathedral on Thursday as a humble hero who led mankind into space.
Mourners who filled the vast Episcopal cathedral to mark Armstrong’s death last month heard him eulogized as a dedicated team player who shunned the limelight for decades after piloting the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
In this image from NASA TV, shot off a video screen, one of the first images from the Curiosity rover is pictured of its wheel after it successfully landed on Mars.
The video screen was inside the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California August 5, 2012. The Curiosity rover landed successfully landed on the surface of Mars. [REUTERS/Courtesy NASA TV/Handout]
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured Space Exploration Technologies’ unmanned Dragon cargo capsule on Friday, the first private ship to reach the orbital outpost.
Using the station’s robot arm, NASA astronaut Don Pettit latched on to the capsule at 9:56 a.m. EDT (1356 GMT) as the two vehicles sailed at 17,500 mph around Earth. Dragon, which is making a test flight under a NASA contract with the company, known as SpaceX, was expected to be attached to a station docking port later on Friday.
SpaceX is one of two firms hired by NASA to fly cargo to the station following the retirement of the space shuttles last year.
READ MORE: Astronauts snare SpaceX Dragon capsule- NASA
A runner makes his way along a trail on a butte in front of the “super Moon” at Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona May 5, 2012. A “super Moon” will light up Saturday’s night sky in a once-a-year cosmic show, overshadowing a meteor shower from remnants of Halley’s Comet, the U.S. space agency NASA said.
The Moon will seem especially big and bright since it will reach its closest spot to Earth at the same time it is in its full phase, NASA said. REUTERS/Darryl Webb