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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



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



 



Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:10:11 EST

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto—starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon—and leading up to an eventual ride in for a "landing" on the shoreline of Pluto's informally named Sputnik Planitia.



Amazing SpaceX images highlight perfect Falcon 9 landing

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:20:37 EST

SpaceX was able to celebrate a successful return to flight this week with a picture-perfect launch of the Falcon 9 rocket on January 14, 2017 that successfully delivered a fleet of ten advanced Iridium NEXT mobile voice and data relay satellites to orbit. But the icing on the cake was the dead-center landing and recovery of the Falcon 9 booster on their drone barge (named "Just Read The Instructions") in the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of California.



What is the Alcubierre "warp" drive?

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:20:04 EST

It's always a welcome thing to learn that ideas that are commonplace in science fiction have a basis in science fact. Cryogenic freezers, laser guns, robots, silicate implants… and let's not forget the warp drive! Believe it or not, this concept – alternately known as FTL (Faster-Than-Light) travel, Hyperspace, Lightspeed, etc. – actually has one foot in the world of real science.



The evolution of massive galaxy clusters

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:30:14 EST

Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, like the South Pole Telescope (SPT), has made it possible to identify faint galaxy clusters over large fractions of the sky using an effect first recognized by Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich in 1969: When hot electrons in the cluster gas interact with light from the ubiquitous cosmic microwave background they increase its brightness very slightly.



STO2 landed and data secured

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:30:01 EST

The STO2 telescope with Dutch detectors on board that circled around the South Pole in December 2016 to investigate gas clouds between the stars landed safely on 30 December.



Researchers produce vital component in search for earth-like planets

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:21:30 EST

Researchers at Uppsala University plan to manufacture a new type of coronagraph for the VLT, the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The coronagraph is a key component of the telescope which will be used to search for planets in the neighbouring star system Alpha Centauri.



Image: ISS transits the moon

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:20:01 EST

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is the International Space Station as it flies in front of the moon as seen from ESA's space science centre near Madrid, Spain, on 14 January.



Auto-Gopher—drilling deep to explore the solar system

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:59:40 EST

The ability to penetrate subsurfaces and collect pristine samples from depths of tens of meters to kilometers is critical for future exploration of bodies in our solar system. SMD is supporting development of a deep-drill sampler called the Auto-Gopher for potential deployment in future space exploration missions.



Public to choose Jupiter picture sites for NASA Juno

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:56:15 EST

Where should NASA's Juno spacecraft aim its camera during its next close pass of Jupiter on Feb. 2? You can now play a part in the decision. For the first time, members of the public can vote to participate in selecting all pictures to be taken of Jupiter during a Juno flyby. Voting begins Thursday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) and concludes on Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. PST (noon EST).



eROSITA travels to Russia for launch into deep space in 2018

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:53:43 EST

On 20 January 2017, the completed eROSITA X-ray telescope boarded a cargo plane and was transported from Munich, where it had been built at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, to Moscow. Like any other passenger, it had to pass customs before journeying onwards towards the premises of Lavochkin Association, in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, where it is expected to arrive on 25 January. There it will be further tested and integrated with the 'SRG' spacecraft in preparation for launch in spring 2018. It will then take another three months to arrive at its final destination, about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. From there, eROSITA will produce a new map of the Universe in X-rays, revealing how the largest cosmic structures evolve.



NASA reviewing proposal for next-generation lunar astrophysics mission

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:20:01 EST

Next-generation astrophysics research using the moon as home base and The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as its world-class data center are the goals of a multiyear, $237 million NASA satellite mission proposed by a UAH astrophysicist's collaborative group.



Image: Hubble's slice of Sagittarius

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:46:43 EST

This stunning image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), shows part of the sky in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). The region is rendered in exquisite detail—deep red and bright blue stars are scattered across the frame, set against a background of thousands of more distant stars and galaxies. Two features are particularly striking: the colors of the stars, and the dramatic crosses that burst from the centers of the brightest bodies.



Work begins in Palo Alto on NASA's dark energy hunter

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 06:59:04 EST

Lockheed Martin is helping NASA begin the hunt for dark energy, a mysterious force powering the universe's accelerating expansion. An instrument assembly the company is developing, if selected by NASA for production, will be the core of the primary scientific instrument aboard the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), whose mission aims to uncover hundreds of millions more galaxies and reveal the physics that shapes them.



Observations of Ceres indicate that asteroids might be camouflaged

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:51:30 EST

The appearance of small bodies in the outer solar system could be deceiving. Asteroids and dwarf planets may be camouflaged with an outer layer of material that actually comes from somewhere else.



Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:50:03 EST

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small moon obtained yet.



Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 04:18:51 EST

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.



Scientists will live in a dome for 8 months to simulate Mars

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:16:44 EST

Six carefully selected scientists have entered a man-made dome on a remote Hawaii volcano as part of a human-behavior study that could help NASA as it draws up plans for sending astronauts on long missions to Mars.



Astronomers search for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:28:29 EST

Is there anybody out there? The question of whether Earthlings are alone in the universe has puzzled everyone from biologists and physicists to philosophers and filmmakers. It's also the driving force behind San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane's research into exoplanets—planets that exist outside Earth's solar system.



Six cosmic catastrophes that could wipe out life on Earth

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:50:01 EST

If you ask yourself what the biggest threat to human existence is you'd probably think of nuclear war, global warming or a large-scale pandemic disease. But assuming we can overcome such challenges, are we really safe?



Europe's Galileo satellites hit by anomalies

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 04:52:50 EST

The European Space Agency opened an investigation on Thursday into anomalies that have affected five of the first 18 Galileo satellites in orbit.



NASA study in Hawaii paving way for human travel to Mars

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 03:21:53 EST

A group of NASA-funded researchers is poised to enter an isolated geodesic dome on a remote Hawaii volcano to study human behavior in long-term space exploration, including a planned voyage to Mars.



NTU successfully launches its 7th satellite into space

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:50:05 EST

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has successfully launched its 7th satellite into space from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday evening (16 Jan).



Extreme space weather-induced blackouts could cost US more than $40 billion daily

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:40:44 EST

The daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars, with more than half the loss from indirect costs outside the blackout zone, according to a new study.



Contracts signed for ELT mirrors and sensors

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:37:15 EST

At a ceremony today at ESO's Headquarters four contracts were signed for major components of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) that ESO is building. These were for: the casting of the telescope's giant secondary and tertiary mirrors, awarded to SCHOTT; the supply of mirror cells to support these two mirrors, awarded to the SENER Group; and the supply of the edge sensors that form a vital part of the ELT's huge segmented primary mirror control system, awarded to the FAMES consortium.



Image: e.Deorbit's robotic arm

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:30:01 EST

ESA's proposed e.Deorbit mission, shown left, using a robotic arm to catch a derelict satellite – the baseline capture method for what would be the world's first active space debris removal mission, in 2024.



Three new gas giant exoplanets discovered by SuperWASP-South

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:00:01 EST

(Phys.org)—Astronomers report the discovery of three new gas giant planets using the SuperWASP-South Observatory in South Africa. Two of the newly detected alien worlds were classified as the so-called "warm Jupiters," while one of them is most likely a super-Neptune or a sub-Saturn planet. The findings were presented in a paper published Jan. 13 on the arXiv preprint server.



Successful deep space maneuver for NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:07:17 EST

New tracking data confirms that NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aced its first Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-1) on Dec. 28, 2016. The engine burn sets up the spacecraft for an Earth gravity assist this fall as it continues its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu.



Image: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet's first spacewalk

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 06:20:01 EST

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet completed his first spacewalk last Friday together with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough to complete a battery upgrade to the outpost's power system.



A catalog of habitable zone exoplanets

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 06:10:05 EST

The last two decades have seen an explosion of detections of exoplanets, as the sensitivity to smaller planets has dramatically improved thanks especially to the Kepler mission. These discoveries have found that the frequency of planets increases to smaller sizes: terrestrial planets are more common than gas giants. The significance of a universe rich in terrestrial sized planets naturally leads to the question about the "habitable zone (HZ)" – the region around a star where a suitable planet could sustain the conditions necessary for life. In this zone, the balance between stellar radiation onto the planet and radiative cooling from the planet allows water on the surface to be a liquid. (The definition also includes consideration of the planet's atmosphere and solid surface.)



Mars rover Curiosity examines possible mud cracks

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 05:54:56 EST

Scientists used NASA's Curiosity Mars rover in recent weeks to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.