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News

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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kepler proves it can still find planets

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of the Kepler spacecraft’s death was greatly exaggerated. Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, Kepler is still alive and working. The evidence comes from the discovery of a new s...

Signs of Europa plumes remain elusive in search of Cassini data

A fresh look at data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its 2001 flyby of Jupiter shows that Europa’s tenuous atmosphere is even thinner than previously thought and also suggests that the thin hot gas around the moon does not s...
Thursday, December 18, 2014

“Perfect storm” quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole

High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy’s star-forming fuel, resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet containing little or no hydrogen gas to create new ones....

Chandra weighs most massive galaxy cluster in distant universe

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have made the first determination of the mass and other properties of a young distant galaxy cluster. The Chandra study shows that the galaxy cluster, seen at the comparatively young age of a...
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Venus Express goes gently into the night

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express has ended its eight-year mission after far exceeding its planned life. The spacecraft exhausted its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low-altitude aerob...
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NASA’s MAVEN mission identifies links in chain leading to atmospheric loss

Early discoveries by NASA’s newest Mars orbiter are starting to reveal key features about the loss of the planet’s atmosphere to space over time. The findings are among the first returns from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evo...

“Tsunami wave” still flies through interstellar space

The “tsunami wave” that NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft began experiencing earlier this year is still propagating outward, according to new results. It is the longest-lasting shock wave that researchers have seen in interstellar space. ...

Rover finds active and ancient organic chemistry on Mars

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill. “This t...
Monday, December 15, 2014

Rosetta’s comet: shades of gray

Like many small bodies in space such as most asteroids, Rosetta’s comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, appears gray. This can be seen in images obtained by Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS after careful processing. To create an ima...
Friday, December 12, 2014

Swarms of Pluto-sized objects kick up dust round adolescent Sun-like star

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) may have detected the dusty hallmarks of an entire family of Pluto-size objects swarming around an adolescent version of our Sun. By making detailed observations of the protop...

Galactic get-together has impressive light display

At this time of year, there are lots of gatherings often decorated with festive lights. When galaxies get together, there is the chance of a spectacular light show, as is the case with NGC 2207 and IC 2163. Located about 130 million light-years from...
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rosetta fuels debate on origin of Earth’s oceans

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapor from its target comet to be significantly different from that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet’s oceans. The measur...
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Astronomers identify gas spirals as a nursery of twin stars through ALMA observation

With the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observation, astronomers led by Shigehisa Takakuwa from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica (ASIAA), Taiwan, found spiral arms of molecular gas and dust around the ...
Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dunes on Saturn's moon Titan need firm winds to move, experiments show

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is one of the few solar system bodies — and the only planetary moon — known to have fields of wind-blown dunes on its surface. (The others are Venus, Earth, and Mars.) New research, using experimental ...

NASA's Curiosity rover finds clues to how water helped shape martian landscape

Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate that Mars’ Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lakebed over tens of millions of years. This interpretation of Curiosity’s finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mar...
Monday, December 08, 2014

On Pluto’s doorstep, NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft awakens for encounter

After a voyage of nearly nine years and 3 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) — the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation December 6 for it...

Warm gas pours “cold water” on galaxy's star-making

Some like it hot, but for creating new stars, a cool cosmic environment is ideal. As a new study suggests, a surge of warm gas into a nearby galaxy — left over from the devouring of a separate galaxy — has extinguished star formation by a...
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