Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration

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

04/20/2018 03:50 PM
Mysterious red spots on Mercury get names – but what are they?
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, but far from being a dull cinder of a world, it has instead turned out to be a real eye opener for geologists. Among the revelations by NASA's MESSENGER probe, which first flew past Mercury in 2008 and orbited it between 2011 and 2015, is the discovery of a hundred or so bright red spots scattered across the globe. Now they are at last being named.

04/20/2018 02:56 PM
Is dark matter made of primordial black holes?
Astronomers studying the motions of galaxies and the character of the cosmic microwave background radiation came to realize in the last century that most of the matter in the universe was not visible. About 84 percent of the matter in the cosmos is dark matter, much of it located in halos around galaxies. It was dubbed dark matter because it does not emit light, but it is also mysterious: it is not composed of atoms or their usual constituents like electrons and protons.

04/20/2018 02:54 PM
Stars are born in loose groupings
Based on previously published data from the Gaia Mission, researchers at Heidelberg University have derived the conditions under which stars form. The Gaia satellite is measuring the three-dimensional positions and motions of stars in the Milky Way with unprecedented accuracy. Using these data, Dr. Jacob Ward and Dr. Diederik Kruijssen determined the positions, distances and speeds of a large number of young massive stars within 18 nearby loose stellar groupings. The researchers were able to demonstrate that there is no evidence whatsoever that these associations are expanding. They therefore could not have originated as a dense cluster and then expanded to their current size.

04/20/2018 02:40 PM
The challenges of an alien spaceflight program—escaping super-Earths and red dwarf stars
Since the beginning of the Space Age, humans have relied on chemical rockets to get into space. While this method is certainly effective, it is also very expensive and requires a considerable amount of resources. As we look to more efficient means of getting out into space, one has to wonder if similarly advanced species on other planets (where conditions would be different) would rely on similar methods.

04/20/2018 12:50 PM
Simulations suggest Saturn may have helped create Jupiter's big moons
A team of researchers from France and the U.S. has created a computer simulation of the development of the solar system focusing on Jupiter and the origins of its moons. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server, the group describes the simulation showing that Saturn may have played a role in the creation of Jupiter's largest moons.

04/20/2018 11:21 AM
NASA engineers dream big with small spacecraft
Many of NASA's most iconic spacecraft towered over the engineers who built them: think Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini or Galileo—all large machines that could measure up to a school bus.

04/20/2018 11:21 AM
Unveiling the secrets of the Milky Way galaxy
A multinational team of astronomers involving the University of Adelaide has catalogued over 70 sources of very high energy gamma rays, including 16 previously undiscovered ones, in a survey of the Milky Way using gamma ray telescopes.

04/20/2018 07:00 AM
US Senate narrowly confirms Trump's new NASA chief
The US Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to head the space agency NASA, over objections from Democrats who warned he lacked a technical background.

04/19/2018 08:28 PM
Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars
As Curiosity rover marches across Mars, the red planet's watery past comes into clearer focus.

04/19/2018 08:04 PM
Trump's divisive pick to run NASA wins narrow confirmation
NASA's latest nail-biting drama was far from orbit as the Senate narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump's choice of a tea party congressman to run the space agency in an unprecedented party-line vote.

04/19/2018 07:09 PM
Los Angeles port commission approves SpaceX rocket facility
Los Angeles harbor commissioners have approved a permit for Space Exploration Technologies to build a facility on 19 acres of port land to manufacture a Mars rocket that will be so big it will require an oceangoing barge for transport to launch sites.

04/19/2018 03:50 PM
Image: Lagoon Nebula (visible-light view)
This mayhem is all happening at the heart of the Lagoon Nebula, a vast stellar nursery located 4,000 light-years away and visible in binoculars simply as a smudge of light with a bright core.

04/19/2018 03:08 PM
Two Hubble views of the same stellar nursery
These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble's 28th anniversary in space.

04/19/2018 02:21 PM
Musk says that SpaceX will use a giant party balloon to bring an upper stage back
When Elon Musk of SpaceX tweets something interesting, it generates a wave of excitement. So when he tweeted recently that SpaceX might be working on a way to retrieve upper stages of their rockets, it set off a chain of intrigued responses.

04/19/2018 02:06 PM
Where is the universe's missing matter?
Astronomers using ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory have probed the gas-filled haloes around galaxies in a quest to find 'missing' matter thought to reside there, but have come up empty-handed – so where is it?

04/19/2018 06:05 AM
NASA's Tess spacecraft embarks on quest to find new planets
NASA's Tess spacecraft embarked Wednesday on a quest to find new worlds around neighboring stars that could support life.

04/18/2018 08:41 PM
New research seeks to optimize space travel efficiency
Sending a human into space and doing it efficiently presents a galaxy of challenges. Koki Ho, University of Illinois assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and his graduate students, Hao Chen and Bindu Jagannatha, explored ways to integrate the logistics of space travel by looking at a campaign of lunar missions, spacecraft design, and creating a framework to optimize fuel and other resources.

04/18/2018 06:00 PM
Martian moons model indicates formation following large impact
Southwest Research Institute scientists posit a violent birth of the tiny Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, but on a much smaller scale than the giant impact thought to have resulted in the Earth-Moon system. Their work shows that an impact between proto-Mars and a dwarf-planet-sized object likely produced the two moons, as detailed in a paper published today in Science Advances.

04/18/2018 05:48 PM
SpaceX poised to blast off NASA's new planet-hunter, TESS
SpaceX was poised Wednesday to try again to blast off NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft after a two-day delay to check out the Falcon 9 rocket's navigation systems.

04/18/2018 05:00 PM
Black hole and stellar winds form giant butterfly, shut down star formation in galaxy
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have completed an unprecedented "dissection" of twin galaxies in the final stages of merging.

04/18/2018 01:57 PM
Extreme environment of Danakil Depression sheds light on Mars, Titan and nuclear waste
The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is a spectacular, hostile environment that may resemble conditions encountered on Mars and Titan – as well as in sites containing nuclear waste. From 20-28 January 2018, five teams of researchers and more than 30 support staff visited two locations in the region to study the microbiology, geology and chemistry at the Dallol hydrothermal outcrop and the saline Lake Afrera.

04/18/2018 11:44 AM
Image: Sounding rocket launches CHESS mission to study the matter between stars
The Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph, or CHESS 4, was successfully launched on a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket at 12:47 p.m. EDT, April 16 (4:47 a.m. local, April 17) from the Kwajalein Atoll in The Republic of the Marshall Islands.

04/18/2018 11:44 AM
NASA's new space 'botanist' arrives at launch site
A new instrument that will provide a unique, space-based measurement of how plants respond to changes in water availability has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin final preparations for launch to the International Space Station this summer aboard a cargo resupply mission.

04/18/2018 11:38 AM
Image: First light from HyperScout imager
This first-light image from the miniature HyperScout instrument aboard ESA's newly launched GomX-4B CubeSat, shows the southern coast of Cuba.

04/18/2018 06:48 AM
Thinking about hitching a ride on a mission to Mars? One hazard you haven't considered
The hazards of space flight are well known: freezing temperatures, the vacuum of space, radiation, isolation. But there's a lesser-known risk getting the attention of researchers - a possible danger to vision. Retired NASA astronaut David Wolf, M.D., will provide insight into how space flight affects the eye on Thursday, April 19, when he gives the keynote address during a conference attended by many of the nation's leading eye physicians and surgeons, hosted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Washington, D.C.

04/18/2018 06:32 AM
350,000 stars' DNA interrogated in search for sun's lost siblings
An Australian-led group of astronomers working with European collaborators has revealed the "DNA" of more than 340,000 stars in the Milky Way, which should help them find the siblings of the Sun, now scattered across the sky.

04/17/2018 03:06 PM
Study: Diamond from the sky may have come from 'lost planet'
Fragments of a meteorite that fell to Earth about a decade ago provide compelling evidence of a lost planet that once roamed our solar system, according to a study published Tuesday.

04/17/2018 02:40 PM
An astronomical myth—astronaut ice cream
Astronaut ice cream's failed mission and the snacks you can get up in space.

04/17/2018 02:38 PM
Walking on the moon – underwater
It's one of the deepest 'swimming pools' in Europe, but for three years has been helping preparations for a human return to the moon. ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Centre has been the site of the 'moondive' study, using specially weighted spacesuits to simulate lunar gravity, which is just one sixth that of Earth.

04/17/2018 02:30 PM
Could we detect an ancient industrial civilization in the geological record?
As a species, we humans tend to take it for granted that we are the only ones that live in sedentary communities, use tools, and alter our landscape to meet our needs. It is also a foregone conclusion that in the history of planet Earth, humans are the only species to develop machinery, automation, electricity, and mass communications – the hallmarks of industrial civilization.