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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



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



 



Sunrise II: A second look at the Sun

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:35:03 EDT

scillating fibrils, explosive increases in temperature, and the footprints of coronal loops: 13 articles published today provide an overview of the results of the second flight of the balloon-borne solar observatory Sunrise.



Juno spacecraft set for fifth Jupiter flyby

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:31:27 EDT

NASA's Juno spacecraft will make its fifth flyby over Jupiter's mysterious cloud tops on Monday, March 27, at 1:52 a.m. PDT (4:52 a.m. EDT, 8:52 UTC).



Spacewalk a success for French, US astronauts

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:13:56 EDT

A French and an American astronaut floated outside the International Space Station Friday on a successful spacewalk to upgrade the orbiting outpost for the arrival of future space crews.



Extreme space weather: Protecting our critical infrastructure

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:02:50 EDT

Extreme space weather has a global footprint and the potential to damage critical infrastructure on the ground and in space. A new report from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) calls for bridging knowledge gaps and for better coordination at EU level to reduce the potential impact of space weather events.



OSIRIS-REx asteroid search tests instruments, science team

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:30:09 EDT

During an almost two-week search, NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission team activated the spacecraft's MapCam imager and scanned part of the surrounding space for elusive Earth-Trojan asteroids—objects that scientists believe may exist in one of the stable regions that co-orbits the sun with Earth. Although no Earth-Trojans were discovered, the spacecraft's camera operated flawlessly and demonstrated that it could image objects two magnitudes dimmer than originally expected.



The surprising discovery of a new class of pulsating X-ray stars

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:10:01 EDT

A surprising new class of X-ray pulsating variable stars has been discovered by a team of American and Canadian astronomers led by Villanova University's Scott Engle and Edward Guinan. Part of the Villanova Secret Lives of Cepheids program, the new X-ray observations, obtained by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and published Thursday, March 23rd in the Astrophysical Journal, reveal that the bright prototype of Classical Cepheids, d Cephei, is a periodic pulsed X-ray source.



Curiosity captures gravity wave shaped clouds on Mars

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:00:01 EDT

This week, from March 20th to 24th, the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference will be taking place in The Woodlands, Texas. Every year, this conference brings together international specialists in the fields of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and astronomy to present the latest findings in planetary science. One of the highlights of the conference so far has been a presentation about Mars' weather patterns.



Game-changing balloon technology enables near-global flight

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:58:15 EDT

After over 20 years of tests and development, NASA's Balloon Program team is on the cusp of expanding the envelope in high-altitude, heavylift ballooning with its super pressure balloon (SPB) technology. SMD technology investments that enabled development of SPB, the first totally new balloon design in more than 60 years, include improved film and evolution in the balloon design and fabrication. The pumpkin-shaped, football stadium-size balloon is made from 22-acres of polyethylene film—a material that is similar to a sandwich bag, but is stronger and more durable. The SPB is capable of ascending to a nearly constant float altitude of about 35 km for flights lasting up to 100 days, given the right stratospheric conditions. Flying at mid-latitudes, the balloon must be able to endure the pressure changes that result from the heating and cooling of the day-night cycle. NASA expects the SPB to be capable of circumnavigating the globe once every one to three weeks, depending on wind speeds in the stratosphere.



Astronomers identify purest, most massive brown dwarf

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:40:02 EDT

An international team of astronomers has identified a record breaking brown dwarf (a star too small for nuclear fusion) with the 'purest' composition and the highest mass yet known. The object, known as SDSS J0104+1535, is a member of the so-called halo – the outermost reaches - of our Galaxy, made up of the most ancient stars. The scientists report the discovery in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.



Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new parking spot

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 07:37:10 EDT

Spacewalking astronauts prepped the International Space Station on Friday for a new parking spot reserved for commercial crew capsules.



Designing lunar equipment to survive long periods of sunless cold

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:30:29 EDT

Designers of future moon missions and bases have to contend with a chilling challenge: how might their creations endure the fortnight-long lunar night? ESA has arrived at a low-cost way of surviving.



Andromeda's bright X-ray mystery solved by NuSTAR

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:29:27 EDT

The Milky Way's close neighbor, Andromeda, features a dominant source of high-energy X-ray emission, but its identity was mysterious until now. As reported in a new study, NASA's NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission has pinpointed an object responsible for this high-energy radiation.



Spacewalking French, US astronauts to upgrade orbiting lab

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 02:45:42 EDT

A French and an American astronaut are scheduled to float outside the International Space Station Friday for a spacewalk aimed at upgrading the orbiting outpost for the arrival of future space crews.



Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:12:29 EDT

Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.



Astronomers observe early stages of Milky Way-like galaxies in distant universe

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:00:04 EDT

For decades, astronomers have found distant galaxies by detecting the characteristic way their gas absorbs light from a bright quasar in the background. But efforts to observe the light emitted by these same galaxies have mostly been unsuccessful. Now, a team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile has observed emissions from two distant galaxies initially detected by their quasar absorption signatures, and the results were not what they had expected.



Satellite launch shelved over strikes

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:41:43 EDT

After three days of delays caused by worker strikes in French Guiana, rocket firm Arianespace opted Thursday to postpone indefinitely the launch of satellites for South Korean and Brazilian clients.



Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:35:44 EDT

Pushing the limits of the largest single-aperture millimeter telescope in the world, and coupling it with gravitational lensing, University of Massachusetts Amherst astronomer Alexandra Pope and colleagues report that they have detected a surprising rate of star formation, four times higher than previously detected, in a dust-obscured galaxy behind a Frontier Fields cluster.



Astronomers study a rare multi-eclipsing quintet of stars

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:00:01 EDT

(Phys.org)—A team of astronomers led by Krzysztof Hełminiak of the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center in Toruń, Poland, has investigated an interesting bright quintuple stellar system in which each of the stars is eclipsed. The quintet, designated KIC 4150611 (also known as HD 181469), given its peculiar pulsations, eclipses, and high-order multiplicity, could provide important information on evolution and structure of multiple-star systems. The new research was published Mar. 2 in a paper on arXiv.org.



NASA selects CubeSat, SmallSat mission concept studies

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:50:48 EDT

NASA has selected ten studies under the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program, to develop mission concepts using small satellites to investigate Venus, Earth's moon, asteroids, Mars and the outer planets.



Image: Space Station view of Mount Etna erupting

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:42:01 EDT

The Expedition 50 crew aboard the International Space Station had a nighttime view from orbit of Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna, erupting on March 19, 2017.



Study maps space dust in 3-D, raises new questions about its properties in local and distant reaches of Milky Way

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:29:55 EDT

Consider that the Earth is just a giant cosmic dust bunny—a big bundle of debris amassed from exploded stars. We Earthlings are essentially just little clumps of stardust, too, albeit with very complex chemistry.



Tracing aromatic molecules in the early universe

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:16:55 EDT

A molecule found in car engine exhaust fumes that is thought to have contributed to the origin of life on Earth has made astronomers heavily underestimate the amount of stars that were forming in the early Universe, a University of California, Riverside-led study has found.



Ice in Ceres' shadowed craters linked to tilt history

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:16:44 EDT

Dwarf planet Ceres may be hundreds of millions of miles from Jupiter, and even farther from Saturn, but the tremendous influence of gravity from these gas giants has an appreciable effect on Ceres' orientation. In a new study, researchers from NASA's Dawn mission calculate that the axial tilt of Ceres—the angle at which it spins as it journeys around the sun—varies widely over the course of about 24,500 years. Astronomers consider this to be a surprisingly short period of time for such dramatic deviations.



With Astronomy Rewind, citizen scientists bring zombie astrophotos back to life

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:58:58 EDT

A new citizen-science project will rescue tens of thousands of potentially valuable cosmic images that are mostly dead to science and bring them fully back to life. Called Astronomy Rewind, the effort, which launches today (22 March 2017), will take photographs, radio maps, and other telescopic images that have been scanned from the pages of dusty old journals and place them in context in digital sky atlases and catalogs. Anyone will then be able to find them online and compare them with modern electronic data from ground- and space-based telescopes, making possible new studies of short- and long-term changes in the heavens.



Fledgling stars try to prevent their neighbors from birthing planets

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:26:10 EDT

Newly formed stars are surrounded by a disc of dense gas and dust. This is called the protoplanetary disc, as material sticks together within it to form planets.



NASA taking first steps toward high-speed space 'internet'

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:22:10 EDT

NASA is developing a trailblazing, long-term technology demonstration of what could become the high-speed internet of the sky.



Sand flow theory could explain water-like streaks on Mars

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:50:03 EDT

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from France and the Slovak Republic has proposed a theory to explain the water-like streaks that appear seasonally on the surface of Mars, which do not involve water. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the team describes their theory as instances of sand avalanches caused by sunlight with resulting changes to shadowing.



Novel analytical techniques to detect solar radiation imprints on meteoroids

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:18:21 EDT

When a meteoroid travels in space, solar radiation leaves distinctive imprints on its outer layer. Together with colleagues, ETH researcher Antoine Roth has developed novel analytical techniques to detect these imprints, allowing the team to reconstruct meteorites' space journeys.



Breaks observed in Mars rover wheel treads

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:54:05 EDT

A routine check of the aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found two small breaks on the rover's left middle wheel—the latest sign of wear and tear as the rover continues its journey, now approaching the 10-mile (16 kilometer) mark.



Futuristic clock prepared for space

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:52:53 EDT

No one keeps time quite like NASA.