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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Strange ripples found on Mars

Mars, which is known to be a dusty and sandy world, has a newly discovered type of wind-blown sand ripple never before seen in the solar system. Utilizing NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, Mathieu Lapotre...

Rosetta finale set for September 30

Rosetta is set to complete its mission in a controlled descent to the surface of its comet on September 30, 2016. The mission is coming to an end as a result of the spacecraft’s ever-increasing distance from the Sun and Earth. It is heading ou...

Ultra-Deep Survey unveils observations of largest ever swath of deep universe

Astrophysicists have released images of the largest swath of the deep universe ever observed. The images gaze 13 billion years back in time and cover an area of the sky four times the size of the full moon. Omar Almaini, at the University of Notting...

Hubble captures vivid aurorae in Jupiter’s atmosphere

Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study aurorae — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. This observation program is supported by m...

Five things to know about NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter

On Monday, after a five year journey, NASA's Juno probe will finally enter orbit around Jupiter, becoming the first orbiter to Jupiter since 2003. The craft will study the planet for two years in a very eccentric orbit to protect it from Jupiter's ha...
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Scientists recreate Mercury's surface and find it looks more like a mantle

If you walked into a home and the kitchen was strewn with dusty old copies of National Geographic, you’d probably wonder where they came from. That’s basically what Mercury looks like. Well, except instead of magazines, it’s a stran...

New findings compound Ceres' mystery

The asteroid belt hides lots of mysteries of the solar system’s past, but perhaps no place holds more mysteries than Ceres. It’s an oddball place — a dwarf planet in the midst of our solar system’s belt of smaller debris. And ...

How a planet's age could confirm if it has water

Water is necessary for life as we know it, but too much water is bad for habitability. Therefore, to study the habitability of extrasolar planets, determining the abundance of water is a key element. Yann Alibert from the University of Bern shows tha...
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

These chemicals could be the calling card for extraterrestrial life

Is there life beyond our planet? Astronomers have asked that question ever since we realized that there actually was something beyond our planet. Given the vastness of the universe, however, we’re not likely to journey out and meet it for ourse...

When it comes to brown dwarfs, “how far?” is a key question

Brown dwarfs are sometimes called failed stars. They’re the dim, low-mass siblings of stars that fade in brightness over time. They’re fascinating to astronomers for a variety of reasons, but much about them remains unknown. New work from...

Hubble nets a cosmic tadpole

A new image from the NASA and ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows a cosmic tadpole, with its bright head and elongated tail, wriggling through the inky black pool of space. Tadpole galaxies are rare and difficult to find in the nearby universe. ...

Find out how the first galaxies came together in three minutes

The Milky Way is just one of 100 billion galaxies in the universe, and each one is a bit of a time capsule. Thanks to their immense distance, we see them as they were milions or even billions of years ago, and keep pushing it back towards a time know...
Monday, June 27, 2016

NASA rover findings point to a more Earth-like martian past

Chemicals found in martian rocks by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover suggest the Red Planet once had more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does now. Researchers found high levels of manganese oxides by using a laser-firing instrument on the rover. This h...

How researchers used a simulated universe to learn more about real black holes

Scientists led by Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology ran the huge cosmological simulations that can be used to predict the rate at which gravitational waves caused by collisions between the monster black holes might be detected...
Friday, June 24, 2016

NASA extends Hubble Space Telescope science operations contract

NASA will keep the Hubble Space Telescope on an additional five years. The agency awarded a sole source contract extension June 23 to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for continued Hubble science operations support at the Spa...
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Here's why Juno is taking a deep, dangerous dive into Jupiter's magnetic fields

A sturdy little spacecraft called Juno is about to fall into the tight grip of Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, to begin a 20-month, 37-orbit mission. On the evening of July 4, Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, placing it...

New dark spots appear on Neptune's cloud layers

It's not every day that a planet sprouts a new feature, but Hubble seems to have found a brand new "spot" on the blue ice giant Neptune. Neptune's "Great Dark Spot" discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 revealed a storm battering around the ...

Qatar exoplanet project announces the discovery of three new exoplanets

The Qatar Exoplanet Survey announced the discovery of three new exoplanets in a paper accepted for publication at the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The three planets are called Qatar-3b, Qatar-4b, and Qatar-5b. All three are "ho...
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Astronomers watched a black hole gobble a star in unprecedented detail

We can’t — yet — directly see black holes, making finding one of these elusive beasts hard, especially since a great majority of them are dormant. But researchers at the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard, and the University of Mi...

We now know a little about the stars that made gravitational wave black holes

Gravitational waves made big rumbles through the astronomy community earlier this year when it was revealed that these ripples in time-space itself had been detected. While we knew the source of the waves — the merger of two 30 solar mass black...

An ocean for Pluto and a thinner ice shell on Enceladus

Once, we thought earth was the only planet with oceans. But now, we're seemingly finding them everywhere in our solar system, including possibly the last place on anybody's mind: Pluto. New evidence published in Geophysical Research Letters shows tha...
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Salts on Mars could pose unseen hazards to explorers

It’s a major component of solid rocket propellants. It allows water to exist as liquid on Mars, despite atmospheric pressure at the Martian surface being roughly 0.6 percent that on Earth. It also can be broken down to release oxygen that astro...

Electric winds turn Venus into even more of a hellscape

A new study from the European Space Agency suggests one culprit for why Venus remains a dry, hot hellscape: electric winds in the upper atmosphere zaps even the smallest hint of water vapor out of its skies. While Venus lies in the habitable zone of...

A never-before-seen magnetar nebula was just discovered

For the first time, a magnetar has been found with a wind nebula around it, adding on to the wild nature of these ultra-powerful stellar remnants. Magnetars are a type of pulsar that has an intense magnetic field around it, making these supernova rem...
Monday, June 20, 2016

A young super-Neptune offers clues to the origin of close-in exoplanets

A team of astronomers has confirmed the existence of a young planet, only 11 million years old that orbits close to its star — at 0.05 AU — with an orbital period of 5.4 days. Approximately 5 times the size of Earth, the new planet is a "...

Astrophysicists release new study of one of the first stars

No one has yet observed the first stars that formed in the Milky Way. In all likelihood, they will never be directly observed, because the first stars are massive, ending their lives only a few million years after their birth. But, astronomers can ...
Friday, June 17, 2016

A bevy of unexpected gas giants hide in a nearby star cluster

An international team of astronomers has found that there are far more “hot Jupiters” than expected in a cluster of stars called Messier 67 (M67). This surprising result was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments, including...
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