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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



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



 



Large, distant comets more common than previously thought

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:02:53 EDT

Comets that take more than 200 years to make one revolution around the sun are notoriously difficult to study. Because they spend most of their time far from our area of the solar system, many "long-period comets" will never approach the sun in a person's lifetime. In fact, those that travel inward from the Oort Cloud—a group of icy bodies beginning roughly 300 billion kilometers away from the sun—can have periods of thousands or even millions of years.



Team uses airborne telescopes to study Sun and Mercury during total solar eclipse

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 11:50:01 EDT

A team led by Southwest Research Institute will use airborne telescopes aboard NASA research aircraft to study the solar corona and Mercury's surface during this summer's total solar eclipse. The August 21 observations will provide the clearest images to date of the Sun's outer atmosphere and attempt the first-ever "thermal images" of surface temperature variations on Mercury.



Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse from NASA's WB-57F jets

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 11:38:52 EDT

For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.



Venus's turbulent atmosphere

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:43:24 EDT

Venus is often referred to as Earth's twin because both planets share a similar size and sur-face composition. Also, they both have atmospheres with complex weather systems. But that is about where the similarities end: Venus is one the most hostile places in our solar system. Its atmosphere consists of 96.5 percent carbon dioxide, with surface temperatures of con-stantly about 500 degrees Celsius. Venus is a slowly rotating planet—it needs about 243 ter-restrial days to complete one rotation. We would expect its atmosphere to rotate with the same rhythm, but in fact it takes only four days. This phenomenon is called superrotation, and it causes substantial turbulences in the planet's atmosphere. The scientists do not yet fully understand its origin and motor, but are working on an answer to this puzzle. The many waves in the planet's atmosphere may play an important role.



What is the weather like on Mercury?

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 09:30:03 EDT

With the dawning of the Space Age in the 1950s, human beings were no longer confined to studying the Solar planets and other astronomical bodies with Earth-based instruments alone. Instead crewed missions have gone into orbit and to the Moon while robotic missions have traveled to every corner of the solar system. And in the process, we have learned some interesting things about the planets, planetoids, and asteroids in our Solar neighborhood.



New survey suggests far fewer Jupiter sized rogue planets than thought

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 09:25:34 EDT

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Warsaw University Observatory, Ohio State University and the University of Warwick has found evidence that suggests there are far fewer Jupiter-sized rogue planets roaming the Milky Way galaxy than prior surveys have shown. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes using data compiled from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment to analyze light curves of approximately 50 million stars for the period 2010 to 2015 and what they found by doing so.



Cosmologists produce new maps of dark matter dynamics

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:59:46 EDT

New maps of dark matter dynamics in the Universe have been produced by a team of international cosmologists.



Russia's Mayak satellite: crowd-funded cosmic pest or welcome nightly visitor?

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:41:35 EDT

Will we soon see a new bright "star" visiting our evening skies? The crowd-funded Mayak CubeSat was launched along with 72 other satellites aboard a Russian Soyuz Rocket on July 14, 2017.



A final farewell to LISA Pathfinder

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 05:50:02 EDT

With the push of a button, final commands for the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder mission were beamed to space on July 18, a final goodbye before the spacecraft was powered down.



Discovery of a rare quadruple gravitational lens candidate with Pan-STARRS

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 05:44:55 EDT

Astronomers from the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) in conjunction with colleagues from the University of California, Davis, and Rutgers University have discovered the first quadruple gravitational lens candidate within data from the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid



NASA encourages kids to Train Like an Astronaut

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 04:00:20 EDT

Mission X: Train like an Astronaut, since its inception in 2011, has morphed into an international collaboration of physical fitness challenges. The program is an immersive resource that fosters mind, body and spirit in students all around the globe. It's an education unlike any other that has encouraged tens of thousands of young people to take their pulse for the first time and blast off with straightforward exercises that make fitness fun. Equipped with the training and critical thinking necessary for any real astronaut, these future explorers are now more than ready to embark upon Mission X, taking the torch of spaceflight to even deeper reaches of space.



Saturn surprises as Cassini continues its grand finale

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:46:05 EDT

As NASA's Cassini spacecraft makes its unprecedented series of weekly dives between Saturn and its rings, scientists are finding—so far—that the planet's magnetic field has no discernable tilt. This surprising observation, which means the true length of Saturn's day is still unknown, is just one of several early insights from the final phase of Cassini's mission, known as the Grand Finale.



Dark matter is likely 'cold,' not 'fuzzy,' scientists report after new simulations

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:55:24 EDT

Dark matter is the aptly named unseen material that makes up the bulk of matter in our universe. But what dark matter is made of is a matter of debate.



NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:18:39 EDT

The space surrounding our planet is full of restless charged particles and roiling electric and magnetic fields, which create waves around Earth. One type of wave, plasmaspheric hiss, is particularly important for removing charged particles from the Van Allen radiation belts, a seething coil of particles encircling Earth, which can interfere with satellites and telecommunications. A new study published in Journal of Geophysical Research using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes spacecraft has discovered that hiss is more complex than previously understood.



Scientists spy new evidence of water in the Moon's interior

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:01:27 EDT

A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains. The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.



Youngest Mars volcanoes could have supported life, researchers find

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:10:01 EDT

It may seem that Mars was once a much more exciting planet. True, there are dust storms and possible water-seeps occurring today, but billions of years ago it was a dramatic place with huge volcanoes, a giant canyon system and branching river valleys being formed.



Booze in space: how the universe is absolutely drowning in the hard stuff

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:12:13 EDT

A cold beer on a hot day or a whisky nightcap beside a coal fire. A well earned glass can loosen your thinking until you feel able to pierce the mysteries of life, death, love and identity. In moments like these, alcohol and the cosmic can seem intimately entwined.



Researchers studying how to sustain well-being during prolonged space flights

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:10:16 EDT

As humans prepare to venture deeper into outer space, including potential trips to Mars, researchers are hard at work trying to understand and mitigate the effects of low gravity and radiation on space travelers' bodies.



New Type Ia supernova discovered using gravitational lensing

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:10:02 EDT

(Phys.org)—Using gravitational lensing, an international team of astronomers has detected a new Type Ia supernova. The newly discovered lensed supernova was found behind the galaxy cluster known as MOO J1014+0038. The findings were detailed in a paper published July 14 on the arXiv pre-print repository.



Hunting molecules with the Murchison Widefield Array

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:10:02 EDT

Astronomers have used an Australian radio telescope to observe molecular signatures from stars, gas and dust in our galaxy, which could lead to the detection of complex molecules that are precursors to life.



Eclipse science along the path of totality

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:04:26 EDT

Leading U.S. solar scientists today highlighted research activities that will take place across the country during next month's rare solar eclipse, advancing our knowledge of the Sun's complex and mysterious magnetic field and its effect on Earth's atmosphere.



NASA recommends safety tips to view the August solar eclipse

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:03:36 EDT

More than 300 million people in the United States potentially could directly view the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, and NASA wants everyone who will witness this celestial phenomenon to do so safely.



Image: Hubble's galaxy NGC 4242

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:00:02 EDT

Tucked away in the small northern constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs) is the galaxy NGC 4242, shown here as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy lies some 30 million light-years from us. At this distance from Earth, actually not all that far on a cosmic scale, NGC 4242 is visible to anyone armed with even a basic telescope, as British astronomer William Herschel found when he discovered the galaxy in 1788.



Life evolves adaptions to microgravity

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:57:15 EDT

Life has found ways to overcome, and even thrive, in many extreme situations—from super saline pools to the high temperatures of hydrothermal vents. A new experiment has shown that the microgravity found in space is also an environment in which life can adapt.



Mapping dark matter

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:39:06 EDT

About eighty-five percent of the matter in the universe is in the form of dark matter, whose nature remains a mystery. The rest of the matter in the universe is of the kind found in atoms. Astronomers studying the evolution of galaxies in the universe find that dark matter exhibits gravity and, because it is so abundant, it dominates the formation of large-scale structures in the universe like clusters of galaxies. Dark matter is hard to observe directly, needless to say, and it shows no evidence of interacting with itself or other matter other than via gravity, but fortunately it can be traced by modeling sensitive observations of the distributions of galaxies across a range of scales.



Solar eclipse offers millions a chance at citizen science (Update)

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:50:01 EDT

Millions of people, from students to rocket scientists, are poised to contribute to a massive scientific effort to study the total solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States August 21.



'Mystery' signal from space is solved. It's not aliens

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:37:45 EDT

Astronomers have finally solved the mystery of peculiar signals coming from a nearby star, a story that sparked intense public speculation this week that perhaps, finally, alien life had been found.



Superluminous supernova marks the death of a star at cosmic high noon

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:51:29 EDT

The death of a massive star in a distant galaxy 10 billion years ago created a rare superluminous supernova that astronomers say is one of the most distant ever discovered. The brilliant explosion, more than three times as bright as the 100 billion stars of our Milky Way galaxy combined, occurred about 3.5 billion years after the big bang at a period known as "cosmic high noon," when the rate of star formation in the universe reached its peak.



The moon is front and center during a total solar eclipse

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:01:54 EDT

In the lead-up to a total solar eclipse, most of the attention is on the sun, but Earth's moon also has a starring role.



Lockheed Martin to build full-scale prototype of NASA cislunar habitat

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:23:15 EDT

Refurbishing a shuttle-era cargo container used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station, Lockheed Martin is prototyping a deep space habitat for NASA at Kennedy Space Center. This prototype will integrate evolving technologies to keep astronauts safe while onboard and operate the spacecraft autonomously when unoccupied.