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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



Phys.org provides the latest news on astronomy and space exploration.



 



Europe's comet chaser gets final commands to end its mission

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 04:09:53 EDT

Europe's comet-chasing space probe Rosetta has received its last commands putting it on course to crash-land on the icy surface of the alien world it's been following for more than a decade.



Rosetta spacecraft headed for comet suicide crash

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 04:04:15 EDT

Europe's pioneering spacecraft Rosetta headed for a suicide crash Friday with the comet it has stalked for two years, nearing the end of an audacious quest to unravel the Solar System's mysteries.



Curiosity finds evidence of Mars crust contributing to atmosphere

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:57:23 EDT

NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that chemistry in the surface material on Mars contributed dynamically to the makeup of its atmosphere over time. It's another clue that the history of the Red Planet's atmosphere is more complex and interesting than a simple legacy of loss.



Fermi finds record-breaking binary in galaxy next door

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:19:38 EDT

Using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other facilities, an international team of scientists has found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and the most luminous one ever seen. The dual-star system, dubbed LMC P3, contains a massive star and a crushed stellar core that interact to produce a cyclic flood of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.



Scientists bid farewell to Rosetta space probe before crash

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:30:02 EDT

Scientists began saying their final farewells to the Rosetta space probe Thursday, hours before its planned crash-landing on a comet, but said that data collected during the mission would provide discoveries for many years to come.



Spiral arms: Protoplanetary disk around a young star exhibits spiral structure

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:51:05 EDT

Astronomers have found a distinct structure involving spiral arms in the reservoir of gas and dust disk surrounding the young star Elias 2-27. While spiral features have been observed on the surfaces of protoplanetary disks, these new observations, from the ALMA observatory in Chile, are the first to reveal that such spirals occur at the disk midplane, the region where planet formation takes place. This is of importance for planet formation: structures such as these could either indicate the presence of a newly formed planet, or else create the necessary conditions for a planet to form. As such, these results are a crucial step towards a better understanding how planetary systems like our Solar system came into being.



SwRI's Alice spectrograph completes ESA mission to comet 67P

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:34:22 EDT

After a two-year orbital tour around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft—carrying Southwest Research Institute's Alice ultraviolet spectrograph—will end its mission this week on Sept. 30. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit and escort a comet, and Alice, developed and operated for NASA, is the first instrument to obtain far-ultraviolet observations at a comet.



From Silicon Valley to Valles Marineris—is humanity ready for Elon Musk's Mars vision?

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:42:22 EDT

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has laid out plans for his aerospace company SpaceX to transport human beings to and from Mars. His presentation, held at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico, had been long anticipated, with many expecting a vision for the colonisation of Mars – something Musk has often spoken about in interviews. In the end, he presented something quite different.



Regional solar storm forecasts set to begin

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:25:33 EDT

For the first time beginning next month, forecasts of the regional effects of solar storms will help protect the power grid and communications satellites, thanks to a new tool developed by researchers at the University of Michigan and Rice University.



Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin discusses 'Destination Mars'

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:21:20 EDT

Sending humans on a 'Journey to Mars' and developing strategies and hardware to accomplish the daunting task of getting 'Humans to Mars' is NASA's agency wide goal and the goal of many space enthusiasts – including Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.



Discovery of an extragalactic hot molecular core

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:11:31 EDT

Astronomers have discovered a 'hot molecular core', a cocoon of molecules surrounding a newborn massive star, for the first time outside our Galaxy. The discovery, which marks the first important step for observational studies of extragalactic hot molecular cores and challenges the hidden chemical diversity of our universe, appears in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Volume 827.



Swiss space research reaches for the sky

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:10:36 EDT

The Rosetta mission is coming to an end, but the next expeditions across our solar system are ready for lift-off, carrying with them a number of state-of-the-art devices made in Switzerland.



Rosetta measures production of water at comet over two years

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:06:46 EDT

Over the past two years, Rosetta has kept a close eye on many properties of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, tracking how these changed along the comet's orbit. A very crucial aspect concerns how much water vapour a comet releases into space, and how the water production rate varies at different distances from the Sun. For the first time, Rosetta enabled scientists to monitor this quantity and its evolution in situ over two years.



Launch success for AlSat Nano

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:22:48 EDT

Shortly after launch (04:46 BST on Monday 26 September) and orbital injection, Algerian Space Agency operators established contact with the satellite from the Surrey Space Centre (University of Surrey) ground station in Guildford. A series of spacecraft health checks and in orbit commissioning procedures will now follow, with operations then transitioning to Algeria's newly developed AlSat Nano ground station in Oran.



'Pandora's Cluster' seen by Spitzer

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 06:26:14 EDT

This image of galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also called Pandora's Cluster, was taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The gravity of this galaxy cluster is strong enough that it acts as a lens to magnify images of more distant background galaxies. This technique is called gravitational lensing.



Rosetta: beginning of the end for Europe's comet craft

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 06:20:49 EDT

Europe was poised Thursday to crashland its Rosetta spacecraft on a comet it has stalked for over two years, joining robot lander Philae on the cosmic wanderer's icy surface in a final suicide mission.



The frontier fields: Where primordial galaxies lurk

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:08:26 EDT

In the ongoing hunt for the universe's earliest galaxies, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has wrapped up its observations for the Frontier Fields project. This ambitious project has combined the power of all three of NASA's Great Observatories—Spitzer, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory—to delve as far back in time and space as current technology can allow.



Study may give new respect to our Milky Way neighborhood

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:45:33 EDT

Our corner of the Milky Way galaxy may be a bigger deal than scientists thought.



Rosetta may be crashing, but can still save lives on Earth

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:11:13 EDT

The Rosetta Mission will end with a controlled descent to the surface of Comet 67P on Friday 30 September 2016; however, its legacy will live on in applications on Earth, developed by academics at The Open University, including detecting cancer and sniffing bed bugs.



Research resolves a debate over 'killer electrons' in space

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:38:22 EDT

New findings by a UCLA-led international team of researchers answer a fundamental question about our space environment and will help scientists develop methods to protect valuable telecommunication and navigation satellites. The research is published today in the journal Nature Communications.



Making space rocket fuel from water could drive a power revolution on Earth

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:20:02 EDT

Researchers led by NASA's former chief technologist are hoping to launch a satellite carrying water as the source of its fuel. The team from Cornell University, guided by Mason Peck, want their device to become the first shoebox-sized "CubeSat" to orbit the moon, while demonstrating the potential of water as a source of spacecraft fuel. It's a safe, stable substance that's relatively common even in space, but could also find greater use here on Earth as we search for alternatives to fossil fuels.



Confirming the structure and shape of polar cap patches

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:11:18 EDT

Large-scale patches of enhanced electron density (plasma) are often found in the polar ionosphere - about 80 to 1000 kilometers above the Earth's surface. These 'polar cap patches' can last for hours, cover huge areas and travel quickly, and their presence can disrupt satellite communication links.



Scientists investigate unidentified radio sources

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:10:01 EDT

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers led by Andrea Maselli of the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Palermo, Italy, has conducted an observational campaign of a group of unassociated radio sources with NASA's Swift space observatory. The observations were aimed at revealing the true nature of these so far unidentified sources. The results were published Sept. 23 in a paper on arXiv.org.



Kepler watched a Cepheid star boil

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:42:23 EDT

After four years of continuous monitoring, astronomers detected clear signs of convective cells in a giant pulsating star for the first time using the Kepler space telescope.



Experiment to investigate antibacterial properties of materials in space

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:32:13 EDT

Everybody knows a clean house is a healthy place to live, but what if you live on the International Space Station? Air and water are constantly recycled and waste can only be removed when a spacecraft departs for Earth every few months. For the six astronauts living in humanity's habitat in space, keeping the Station clean is an important part of their life to avoid bacteria and fungus. Every Saturday is cleaning day, when the whole crew wipe surfaces, vacuum and collect waste.



Precision measurements of exoplanet velocities

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:32:04 EDT

The search for exoplanets via the radial velocity technique has been underway for nearly thirty years, measuring the wobbles in a star's motion caused by the presence of orbiting bodies. The method has been very successful and has detected hundreds of exoplanets, but has been overtaken (at least in numbers of detections) by the transit method, which looks for dips in the star's light.



The ultraviolet diversity of supernovae

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:31:38 EDT

Supernovae, the explosive deaths of massive stars, are among the most momentous events in the cosmos because they disburse into space all of the chemical elements that were produced inside their progenitor stars, including the elements essential for making planets and life. One class of supernovae (Type Ia) provides yet another benefit: these objects are considered to be standard distance candles. They result when enough material from an orbiting companion star falls onto the progenitor star to trigger it to explode.



SpaceX chief envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying to Mars

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 03:21:10 EDT

On a personal quest to settle Mars, SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to the red planet well within the next century, "Battlestar Galactica" style.



Yorkshire salt mine could help shed light on Martian life

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:45:52 EDT

A PhD student from the University of Leicester is helping to shed light on life on Mars by exploring similar environments on Earth - including an underground salt mine in North Yorkshire.



Elon Musk envisions 'fun' but dangerous trips to Mars (Update 4)

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:59:49 EDT

SpaceX chief Elon Musk unveiled on Tuesday ambitious plans to establish a Mars colony by sending 100 humans at a time on massive spacecraft, possibly costing as low as $100,000 per person.