Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration
Phys.org provides the latest news on astronomy and space exploration.
10/20/2017 02:36 PM
Temperature of lunar flashes measured for the first time
When small pieces of rock hit the moon's surface at incredibly high speeds, they produce flashes of light detectable from Earth. Now, astronomers have measured their temperature for the first time, using a telescope funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). The new observations are helping scientists find out more about these flashes and the near-Earth space objects that cause them.
10/20/2017 02:35 PM
Dawn mission extended at Ceres
NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015. The spacecraft will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its hydrazine fuel runs out.
10/20/2017 12:00 PM
Take a walk on Mars—in your own living room
When NASA scientists want to follow the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, they can don a mixed-reality headset and virtually explore the Martian landscape.
10/20/2017 11:59 AM
Image: Jovian moon shadow
Jupiter's moon Amalthea casts a shadow on the gas giant planet in this image captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft. The elongated shape of the shadow is a result of both the location of the moon with relation to Jupiter in this image as well as the irregular shape of the moon itself.
10/20/2017 11:30 AM
Image: Simulating lunar surface operations
ESA and the Canadian Space Agency are probing how to explore the Moon with a robot rover. The teams are investigating the challenges of remotely operating a rover in a representative lunar scenario with teams in several locations during 12–20 October.
10/20/2017 11:16 AM
Mine craft for Mars
If there are habitable conditions on Mars, they may be underground. Scientists from around the world are now testing how to live on other planets by venturing a kilometre beneath the surface in a UK mine. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer has joined the expedition as it looks for life in extreme environments.
10/20/2017 08:09 AM
New Hubble Gallery features objects from popular not-a-comet Messier catalog
In a nod to the global amateur astronomy community, as well as to any space enthusiast who enjoys the beauty of the cosmos, the Hubble Space Telescope mission is releasing its version of the popular Messier catalog, featuring some of Hubble's best images of these celestial objects that were once noted for looking like comets but turned out not to be. This release coincides with the Orionid meteor shower—a spectacle that occurs each year when Earth flies through a debris field left behind by Halley's Comet when it last visited the inner solar system in 1986. The shower will peak during the pre-dawn hours this Saturday, Oct. 21.
10/20/2017 07:04 AM
MAVEN mission finds Mars has a twisted tail
Mars has an invisible magnetic "tail" that is twisted by interaction with the solar wind, according to new research using data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.
10/19/2017 07:34 PM
Self-portrait of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope marks critical test
What appears to be a unique selfie opportunity was actually a critical photo for the cryogenic testing of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in Chamber A at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The photo was used to verify the line of sight (or path light will travel) for the testing configuration.
10/19/2017 03:40 PM
What is space? The 300-year-old philosophical battle that is still raging today
Mountains. Whales. The distant stars. All these things exist in space, and so do we. Our bodies take up a certain amount of space. When we walk to work, we are moving through space. But what is space? Is it even an actual, physical entity? In 1717, a battle was waged over this question. Exactly 300 years later, it continues.
10/19/2017 02:43 PM
A solar flare recorded from Spain in 1886
Satellites have detected powerful solar flares in the last two months, but this phenomenon has been recorded for over a century. On 10 September 1886, at the age of just 17, a young amateur astronomer from Madrid, using a modest telescope, observed one of these sudden flashes in a sunspot. He wrote about what he saw, drew a picture of it, and published the data in a French scientific journal. This is what researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the Universidad de Extremadura have recently found.
10/19/2017 11:33 AM
Image: What lurks below NASA's Chamber A?
Hidden beneath Chamber A at the Johnson Space Center is an area engineers used to test critical contamination control technology that has helped keep our James Webb Space Telescope clean during cryogenic testing.
10/19/2017 11:04 AM
Scientists question assumptions about planet formation
A paper published this week in Astrophysical Journal, led by Open University academics, has examined the exact structure and behaviour of the icy particles that collide and grow at the onset of planet-formation, in a series of revealing experiments at the UK's world-leading neutron source, ISIS.
10/19/2017 11:01 AM
Number of undiscovered near-Earth asteroids revised downward
Fewer large near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) remain to be discovered than astronomers thought, according to a new analysis by planetary scientist Alan W. Harris of MoreData! in La Canada, California. Harris is presenting his results this week at the 49th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in Provo, Utah.
10/18/2017 09:37 PM
Spinning comet observed to rapidly slow down during close approach to Earth
Astronomers at Lowell Observatory observed comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak last spring and noticed that the speed of its rotation was quickly slowing down. A research team led by David Schleicher studied the comet while it was closer to the Earth than it has ever been since its discovery. The comet rotational period became twice as long, going from 24 to more than 48 hours within six weeks, a far greater change than ever observed before in a comet. If it continues to slow down, it might stop completely and then begin rotating in the opposite direction.
10/18/2017 09:35 PM
A solar-powered asteroid nursery at the orbit of Mars
The planet Mars shares its orbit with a handful of small asteroids, the so-called Trojans. Among them, one finds a unique group, all moving in very similar orbits, suggesting that they originated from the same object. But the mechanism that produced this "family" has been a mystery. Now, an international team of astronomers believe they have identified the culprit: sunlight. Their findings, which highlight how small asteroids near the Sun may evolve, are to be presented at the annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at Provo, Utah this week, by Dr. Apostolos Christou, a Research Astronomer at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom and leader of the research team.
10/18/2017 09:19 PM
Scientists dig into the origin of organics on Ceres
Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin. After considering the viability of comet or asteroid delivery, the preponderance of evidence suggests the organics are most likely native to Ceres.
10/18/2017 09:13 PM
ICON satellite explores the boundary between Earth and space
On Dec. 8, 2017, NASA launches the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, a low-Earth orbiting satellite that will give us new information about how Earth's atmosphere interacts with near-Earth space—a give-and-take that plays a major role in the safety of our satellites and reliability of communications signals.
10/18/2017 06:34 PM
Potential human habitat located on the moon
A study published in Geophysical Research Letters confirms the existence of a large open lava tube in the Marius Hills region of the moon, which could be used to protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface.
10/18/2017 06:14 PM
Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons
Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos.