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Volunteer 'Disk Detectives' Top 1 Million Classifications of Possible Planetary Habitats

Volunteer 'Disk Detectives' Top 1 Million Classifications of Possible Planetary Habitats

01.06.15 – Combing through objects identified by WISE during its infrared survey of the entire sky, Disk Detective aims to find two types of developing planetary environments. The first, known as a YSO disk, typically is less than 5 million years old, contains large quantities of gas, and often is found in or near young star clusters. The second planetary habitat, known as a debris disk, tends to be older than 5 million years, holds little or no gas, and possesses belts of rocky or icy debris that resemble the asteroid and Kuiper belts found in our own solar system. Vega and Fomalhaut, two of the brightest stars in the sky, host debris disks.

Planets form and grow within disks of gas, dust and icy grains surrounding young stars. The particles absorb the star's light and reradiate it as heat, which makes the stars brighter at infrared wavelengths — in this case, 22 microns — than they would be without a disk.

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Explorers News Continues

11.20.14Swift Marks 10 Years of Game-changing Astrophysics
11.19.14Swift Probes an Exotic Object: ‘Kicked’ Black Hole or Mega Star?
11.07.14TESS Mission Cleared for Next Development Phase
10.31.14NASA Reveals Mysteries of ‘Interstellar’ Space
10.21.14Fermi Finds Starquake Hints in Magnetar ‘Storm’
10.16.14IRIS Helps Explain Heating of Solar Atmosphere
10.15.14Slow-Growing Galaxies Offer Window to Early Universe
10.08.14Suspected Black Hole Unmasked as Ultraluminous Pulsar
09.30.14Swift Mission Observes Mini Star's Mega-Flares
09.16.14Pulse of a Dead Star Powers Intense Gamma Rays

>> Explorers News Archive

Explorers 4 New Missions

NASA Selects Explorer Projects To Probe Earth's Upper Atmosphere
News Release 04.12.13 – NASA has selected a new satellite mission and a new space-based instrument to begin development as part of the agency's Heliophysics Explorer Program.
>> Find more on ICON

NASA Selects Explorer Investigations for Formulation
News Release 04.05.13 – NASA's Astrophysics Explorer Program has selected two missions for launch in 2017: a planet-hunting satellite and an International Space Station instrument to observe X-rays from stars.

NASA Taps the Power of Zombie Stars in Two-in-One Instrument 04.05.13 – NICER will not only reveal why neutron stars are the densest objects in nature, but also demonstrate navigation technology that could revolutionize…
>> Find more on NICER



The mission of the Explorers Program is to provide frequent flight opportunities for world-class scientific investigations from space utilizing innovative, streamlined and efficient management approaches within the heliophysics and astrophysics science areas.



The program seeks to enhance public awareness of, and appreciation for, space science and to incorporate educational and public outreach activities as integral parts of space science investigations.

Explorers Missions Status

  • Astro-H
    Launch Date: November 2015
    Phase C/D: Design & Development
  • GOLD
    Launch Date: 2017
    Phase B: Preliminary Design & Technology Development
  • ICON
    Launch Date: June 2017
    Phase B: Preliminary Design & Technology Development
  • NICER
    Launch Date: August 2016
    Phase B: Preliminary Design & Technology Development
  • TESS
    Launch Date: August 2017
    Phase B: Preliminary Design & Technology Development
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