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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



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



 



Astronomers discover 'super-Earth' planet orbiting nearby star

Mon, 29 May 2017 09:30:01 EDT

(Phys.org)—European astronomers report the detection of a new extrasolar world several times more massive than Earth. The newly found exoplanet, classified as a so-called "super-Earth," is circling a nearby star designated GJ 625. The researchers detailed their finding in a paper published May 18 on arXiv.org.



Image: Close-up view of neutron star mission's X-ray concentrator optics

Mon, 29 May 2017 06:20:03 EDT

A new NASA mission, the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), is headed for the International Space Station next month to observe one of the strangest observable objects in the universe. Launching aboard SpaceX's CRS-11 commercial resupply mission, NICER will be installed aboard the orbiting laboratory as the first mission dedicated to studying neutron stars, a type of collapsed star that is so dense scientists are unsure how matter behaves deep inside it.



Construction begins on the world's first super telescope

Fri, 26 May 2017 17:23:40 EDT

Scientists are a step closer to understanding the inner-workings of the universe following the laying of the first stone, and construction starting on the world's largest optical and infrared telescope.



Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:00:02 EDT

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small object in space.



'Tiny clocks' crystallize understanding of meteorite crashes

Fri, 26 May 2017 13:54:22 EDT

Almost two billion years ago, a 10-kilometre-wide chunk of space slammed down into rock near what is now the city of Sudbury. Now, scientists from Western University and the University of Portsmouth are marrying details of that meteorite impact with technology that measures surrounding crystal fragments as a way to date other ancient meteorite strikes.



SDO sees partial eclipse in space

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:33:23 EDT

On May 25, 2017, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, saw a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, with the moon covering about 89 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey across the sun's face. The moon's crisp horizon can be seen from this view because the moon has no atmosphere to distort the sunlight.



Image: Sequence of Juno spacecraft's close approach to Jupiter

Fri, 26 May 2017 07:10:02 EDT

This sequence of enhanced-color images shows how quickly the viewing geometry changes for NASA's Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter. The images were obtained by JunoCam.



Australian satellite in orbit

Fri, 26 May 2017 06:48:43 EDT

The first Australian satellite in 15 years, UNSW-EC0, was successfully deployed from the International Space Station, and UNSW engineers are working to make contact when it next passes above Sydney.



New Horizons deploys global team for rare look at next flyby target

Fri, 26 May 2017 06:37:33 EDT

On New Year's Day 2019, more than 4 billion miles from home, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will race past a small Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69 – making this rocky remnant of planetary formation the farthest object ever encountered by any spacecraft.



First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:03:46 EDT

New observations about the extreme conditions of Jupiter's weather and magnetic fields by University of Leicester astronomers have contributed to the revelations and insights coming from the first close passes of Jupiter by NASA's Juno mission, announced today (25 May).



Jupiter's complex transient auroras

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:58:22 EDT

Combined observations from three spacecraft show that Jupiter's brightest auroral features recorded to date are powered by both the volcanic moon Io and interaction with the solar wind.



Juno mission to Jupiter delivers first science results

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:00:08 EDT

NASA's Juno mission, led by Southwest Research Institute's Dr. Scott Bolton, is rewriting what scientists thought they knew about Jupiter specifically, and gas giants in general, according to a pair of Science papers released today. The Juno spacecraft has been in orbit around Jupiter since July 2016, passing within 3,000 miles of the equatorial cloudtops.



Collapsing star gives birth to a black hole

Thu, 25 May 2017 13:31:36 EDT

Astronomers have watched as a massive, dying star was likely reborn as a black hole. It took the combined power of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), and NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to go looking for remnants of the vanquished star, only to find that it disappeared out of sight.



New Neliota project detects flashes from lunar impacts

Thu, 25 May 2017 08:00:03 EDT

Using a system developed under an ESA contract, the Greek NELIOTA project has begun to detect flashes of light caused by small pieces of rock striking the moon's surface. NELIOTA is the first system that can determine the temperature of these impact flashes.



Methanol detected for first time around young star

Thu, 25 May 2017 08:00:01 EDT

Methanol, a key building block for the complex organic compounds that comprise life, has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star. This finding could help scientists better understand the chemistry occurring during a planet's formation that could ultimately lead to the emergence of life.



NASA moves up launch of Psyche mission to a metal asteroid

Thu, 25 May 2017 07:50:01 EDT

Psyche, NASA's Discovery Mission to a unique metal asteroid, has been moved up one year with launch in the summer of 2022, and with a planned arrival at the main belt asteroid in 2026—four years earlier than the original timeline.



Schiaparelli landing investigation completed

Thu, 25 May 2017 06:40:02 EDT

The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.



Image: Silicon carbide mirror subjected to thermal-vacuum testing

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:51:53 EDT

A strong but lightweight mirror for space, made from silicon carbide ceramic, is being subjected to the temperature levels and vacuum encountered in orbit.



Cassini looks on as solstice arrives at Saturn

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:38:57 EDT

NASA's Cassini spacecraft still has a few months to go before it completes its mission in September, but the veteran Saturn explorer reaches a new milestone today. Saturn's solstice—that is, the longest day of summer in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day of winter in the southern hemisphere—arrives today for the planet and its moons. The Saturnian solstice occurs about every 15 Earth years as the planet and its entourage slowly orbit the sun, with the north and south hemispheres alternating their roles as the summer and winter poles.



New Zealand test rocket makes it to space but not to orbit

Thu, 25 May 2017 03:20:01 EDT

California-based company Rocket Lab said Thursday it had launched a test rocket into space from its New Zealand launch pad, although the rocket didn't reach orbit as hoped.



Understanding star formation in the nucleus of galaxy IC 342

Wed, 24 May 2017 17:07:21 EDT

An international team of researchers used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, to make maps of the ring of molecular clouds that encircles the nucleus of galaxy IC 342. The maps determined the proportion of hot gas surrounding young stars as well as cooler gas available for future star formation. The SOFIA maps indicate that most of the gas in the central zone of IC 342, like the gas in a similar region of our Milky Way Galaxy, is heated by already-formed stars, and relatively little is in dormant clouds of raw material.



Discovered: Fast-growing galaxies from early universe

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:00:03 EDT

A team of astronomers including Carnegie's Eduardo Bañados and led by Roberto Decarli of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has discovered a new kind of galaxy which, although extremely old—formed less than a billion years after the Big Bang—creates stars more than a hundred times faster than our own Milky Way.



Crash report: Confused by spin, Mars probe failed to brake

Wed, 24 May 2017 12:27:57 EDT

An independent report has concluded that Europe's Schiaparelli probe crash-landed on Mars last year because its systems couldn't cope with a brief, wild rotation during its descent.



Volunteers help astronomers find star that exploded 970 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs

Wed, 24 May 2017 10:33:19 EDT

Online volunteers, including a woman from Belgium and a Scottish man, have helped astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) find a star that exploded 970 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs' time on Earth.



Here's how we can detect plants on extrasolar planets

Wed, 24 May 2017 09:10:01 EDT

The past year has been an exciting time for those engaged in the hunt for extra-solar planets and potentially habitable worlds. In August of 2016, researchers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) confirmed the existence of the closest exoplanet to Earth (Proxima b) yet discovered. This was followed a few months later (February of 2017) with the announcement of a seven-planet system around TRAPPIST-1.



Largest-ever simulations help uncover the history of the galaxy

Wed, 24 May 2017 07:48:38 EDT

Thousands of processors, terabytes of data, and months of computing time have helped a group of researchers in Germany create some of the largest and highest resolution simulations ever made of galaxies like our Milky Way.



Gravitational waves data suggest Goldilocks black holes are rare

Wed, 24 May 2017 07:38:32 EDT

Black holes can be divided into three classes according to mass. On the low end are those with masses 10 times that of the sun. Examples are the two black holes whose merger generated the first gravitational wave to be detected, by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), an international team including researchers in the School of Physics' Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (CRA). LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, a facility based in the U.S.



Mouse sperm survives in space, but could human babies?

Wed, 24 May 2017 03:20:01 EDT

Freeze-dried mouse sperm that spent nine months in space has been used to produce healthy rodent offspring back on Earth, Japanese researchers said this week.



VLA reveals new object near supermassive black hole in famous galaxy

Tue, 23 May 2017 13:55:08 EDT

Pointing the Very Large Array (VLA) at a famous galaxy for the first time in two decades, a team of astronomers got a big surprise, finding that a bright new object had appeared near the galaxy's core. The object, the scientists concluded, is either a very rare type of supernova explosion or, more likely, an outburst from a second supermassive black hole closely orbiting the galaxy's primary, central supermassive black hole.



NASA scientist parlays experience to build ocean worlds instrument

Tue, 23 May 2017 11:05:09 EDT

An instrument originally developed to search for organic molecules on Mars is being repurposed to potentially hunt for life on a handful of moons in the outer solar system that appear to host oceans, geysers and vents of ice volcanoes.