Press Releases

MOUNTAIN VIEW – It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  They can do this by observing a blue tint in the light from far-off objects caused by the way in which small particles, no more than a micron in size (one-thousandth of a millimeter) scatter light.

MOUNTAIN VIEW – The SETI Institute has been chosen as a key partner to support scientific and technical mission and project services at NASA Ames Research Center. On July 24, NASA awarded the Fully Integrated Mission Support Services (FILMSS) contract to Wyle Incorporated as the prime contractor.

MOUNTAIN VIEW – The weak display of last month’s Camelopardalids meteor shower, the result of the close passage of comet 209P/LINEAR, may have disappointed backyard observers, but this never-before-seen shower now has scientists excited.  An analysis of airborne and ground-based observations published in the latest issue of the Journal of the International Meteor Organization finds that this comet's dust was unusually fragile, and had fallen apart into undersized meteors that were largely invisible.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – A team of researchers in the U.S. and Germany has measured the highest level of ultraviolet radiation ever recorded on the Earth’s surface.  The extraordinary UV fluxes, observed in the Bolivian Andes only 1,500 miles from the equator, are far above those normally considered to be harmful to both terrestrial and aquatic life.

kepler 715The artist concept depicts multiple-transiting planet systems, which are stars with more than one planet. The planets eclipse or transit their host star from the vantage point of the observer. This angle is called edge-on. Image credit: NASA

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – For the first time, an Earth-sized planet has been found in the habitable zone of its star.  This discovery not only proves the existence of worlds that might be similar to our own, but will undoubtedly shape future investigations of exoplanets that could have terrestrial surface environments.

The new-found body, orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186 and designated Kepler-186f, is the fifth – and outermost – world to be discovered in this system.  The results are described in an article appearing in Science.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – The SETI Institute has announced the selection of Dr. David Black as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.  Black, who is President and CEO Emeritus of the Universities Space Research Association and Visiting Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, is a widely recognized researcher in the fields of star and planet formation, and the search for exoplanets.  Black also served as the Chief Scientist for the Space Station and Deputy Chief for the Space Science Division at NASA Ames Research Center.

After 8 years of observations, scientists from the SETI Institute have found an exotic orbit for the largest Trojan asteroid, (624) Hektor — the only one known to possess a moon. The formation of this system made of a dual primary and a small moon is still a mystery, but they found the asteroid could be a captured Kuiper body product of the reshuffling of giant planets in our solar system. The results are being published today in Astrophysical Letters.

NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system. 

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