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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



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



 



Swiss firm acquires Mars One private project

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:15:04 EST

A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 announced Friday that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.



NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:43:58 EST

Data from NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, spacecraft shows the sky over Antarctica is glowing electric blue due to the start of noctilucent, or night-shining, cloud season in the Southern Hemisphere - and an early one at that. Noctilucent clouds are Earth's highest clouds, sandwiched between Earth and space 50 miles above the ground in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere. Seeded by fine debris from disintegrating meteors, these clouds of ice crystals glow a bright, shocking blue when they reflect sunlight.



Europe okays 1.4 bn euros for Mars rover, ISS (Update)

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:37:40 EST

European ministers approved a 1.4-billion-euro ($1.5-billion) lifeline Friday for plans to place a life-seeking rover on Mars and maintain a presence on the International Space Station.



Bethlehem star may not be a star after all

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 06:11:01 EST

It is the nature of astronomers and astrophysicists to look up at the stars with wonder, searching for answers to the still-unsolved mysteries of the universe. The Star of Bethlehem, and its origin, has been one of those mysteries, pondered by scientists for centuries – and something Grant Mathews, professor of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology in the Department of Physics in the University of Notre Dame's College of Science, has studied for more than a decade.



Russia seeks answers on ISS cargo ship crash

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 06:09:51 EST

Russian investigators on Friday were probing the crash shortly after launch of an unmanned spaceship taking cargo to the International Space Station, focusing on the Soyuz carrier rocket.



Russia emergency teams look for debris of crashed spacecraft

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 04:04:51 EST

Russian emergencies workers are combing the mountains near the border with Mongolia for the debris of a cargo spaceship that crashed minutes after its launch.



Could there be life in Pluto's ocean?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:15:52 EST

Pluto is thought to possess a subsurface ocean, which is not so much a sign of water as it is a tremendous clue that other dwarf planets in deep space also may contain similarly exotic oceans, naturally leading to the question of life, said one co-investigator with NASA's New Horizon mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.



SpaceX shooting for mid-December launch, 1st since blast

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:55:36 EST

SpaceX is shooting for a mid-December launch, its first since a dramatic rocket accident on the pad.



Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:00:04 EST

Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago have found that a giant galaxy in the center of the cluster is forming from a surprisingly-dense soup of molecular gas.



NASA's Sun-observing IRIS mission

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:47:30 EST

While it seems static from our vantage point on Earth 93 million miles away, the sun is constantly changing. Under the influence of complex magnetic forces, material moves throughout the solar atmosphere and can burst forth in massive eruptions.



What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:09:39 EST

Machine learning is a powerful tool used for a variety of tasks in modern life, from fraud detection and sorting spam in Google, to making movie recommendations on Netflix.



Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:37:03 EST

Dramatic climate cycles on early Mars, triggered by buildup of greenhouse gases, may be the key to understanding how liquid water left its mark on the planet's surface, according to a team of planetary scientists.



Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:00:26 EST

New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core wrapped in system of dark, swirling, thread-like filaments.



Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin stable after South Pole health scare

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:43:51 EST

Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, was recovering in a New Zealand hospital Friday after being medically evacuated from the South Pole while on a tourist trip, his management said.



Space freighter burns up after launch to to ISS: Russia

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:40:18 EST

An unmanned cargo ship travelling to the International Space Station burned up in the atmosphere shortly after launch on Thursday, Russia's space agency said.



The mystery of coronal heating

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:20:01 EST

Imagine standing around a roaring campfire, roasting s'mores. You feel the warmth of the flames as the marshmallows crackle. Now back away. You get cooler, right?



New observations confirm long-standing theory that stars are copious producers of heavy elements

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:50:24 EST

Galaxies are often thought of as sparkling with stars, but they also contain gas and dust. Now, a team led by UCLA astronomers has used new data to show that stars are responsible for producing dust on galactic scales, a finding consistent with long-standing theory. Dust is important because it is a key component of rocky planets such as Earth.



Japanese company plans artificial meteor shower

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:43:49 EST

A company named Sky Canvas plans to launch a colorful artificial meteor shower barrage via micro-satellite.



Image: NASA's Webb Telescope clean room 'transporter'

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 07:37:48 EST

What looks like a teleporter from science fiction being draped over NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, is actually a "clean tent."



NASA spacecraft embarks on ring-skimming mission at Saturn

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:34:34 EST

Consider it a cosmic carousel with countless rings up for grabs.



Smallest known asteroid characterized using Earth-based telescopes

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:29:38 EST

Astronomers have obtained observations of the smallest asteroid ever characterized in detail. At 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter, the tiny space rock is small enough to be straddled by a person in a hypothetical space-themed sequel to the iconic bomb-riding scene in the movie "Dr. Strangelove."



Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:12 EST

Pluto's "icy heart" is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery by the NASA New Horizons team in 2015. Of particular interest is the heart's western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, a deep basin containing three kinds of ices—frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide—and appearing opposite Charon, Pluto's tidally locked moon. Sputnik Planitia's unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin, a depression created by a smaller body striking Pluto at extremely high speed.



Data from ISS Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer suggests possibility of unknown source of positrons

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:40:01 EST

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) Collaboration has found evidence of a possible unknown source of positrons making their way through the universe to Earth. In their paper published in Physical Review Letters, the team offers a report on cosmic ray strikes that have been reported by the AMS aboard the International Space Station and why they believe the data suggests that some of the recorded strikes could not be attributed to primary cosmic rays colliding with gas atoms in space.



Image: Saturn's icy moon Mimas

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:40:01 EST

Saturn's icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet's enormous rings.



NASA radio on Europe's new Mars Orbiter aces relay test

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:20:02 EST

Data from each of the two rovers active on Mars reached Earth last week in the successful first relay test of a NASA radio aboard Europe's new Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).



Image: Fiery south Atlantic sunset

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:13:15 EST

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth's surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights.



First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:10:26 EST

By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetized neutron star using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarization of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence.



Image: The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System for astronauts

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 06:40:02 EST

The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES for short, is a three-in-one muscle-measurement machine on the International Space Station to monitor astronauts' muscles as they work out.



'Thank the aliens': Thousands displaced for China's huge telescope

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 03:18:52 EST

Humanity's best bet at detecting aliens is a giant silver Chinese dish the size of 30 football fields—one that simultaneously showcases Beijing's abilities to deploy cutting-edge technologies and ignore objectors' rights as it seeks global prominence.



IAU formally approves 227 star names

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:55:58 EST

The creation of a specialised IAU Working Group, the Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), was approved by the IAU Executive Committee in May 2016 to formalise star names that have been used colloquially for centuries. WGSN has now established a new catalogue of IAU star names, with the first set of 227 approved names published on the IAU website.