We’re about to learn a lot more about exoplanets. The ESA has just approved the construction of its Ariel mission, which will give us our first large survey of exoplanet atmospheres. The space telescope will help us answer fundamental questions about how planets form and evolve.Continue reading “ESA’s Ariel Mission is Approved to Begin Construction”
Private and military organizations are tracking some of the 170 million pieces of space junk orbiting the planet, but they’re limited to how small an object they can detect. Only chunks larger than a softball can be tracked with radar or optical systems, and that only accounts for less than 1% of the junk out there.
But a new technique is being developed to resolve space junk to pieces smaller than one millimeter in diameter.Continue reading “99% of Space Junk is Undetectable. That Could Change Soon”
Astronomers know of about 60 rocky exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zones of their stars. When they try to determine how habitable these planets might be, detecting water in their atmospheres plays a huge role. But what if there was another way of measuring the water content in these worlds?
Researchers are developing a way of modelling these worlds to determine how much water they have.Continue reading “Astronomers Calculate Which Exoplanets Are Most Likely to Have Water”
Famous Halley’s Comet reaches a distant milestone this coming weekend.
It’s lonely out there in the frozen outer solar system. On Saturday, December 9th, that most famous of all comets 1P/Halley reaches a hallmark point on its 75-year journey through the solar system, reaching aphelion or its most distant point from the Sun.Continue reading “Famed Halley’s Comet Passes Aphelion This Weekend”
If nothing else catches your attention in the title then surely ‘hypernebula’ does! There are some amazing processes scattered around the cosmos, of particular interest are the fast radio bursts (FRB). These brief flashes of radiation happen without warning…until now. A team in the Netherlands have identified a second FRB as coming from within a hyper nebula – a dense and highly magnetised cloud of plasma that is illuminated by a powerful but unknown source!Continue reading “Another Fast Radio Burst is Coming from a Hypernebula. Also, Hypernebulae are a Thing”
Scientists love outliers. Outliers are nature’s way of telling us what its boundaries are and where its limits lie. Rather than being upset when an outlier disrupts their understanding, scientists feed on the curiosity that outliers inspire.
It’s true in the case of a new discovery of a massive planet orbiting a small star. That goes against our understanding of how planets form, meaning our planet-formation model needs an update.Continue reading “This Planet is Way Too Big for its Star”
Planet Earth is full of some truly awe-inspiring spectacles, but few are as intriguing as a sprite, which are officially known as a Transient Luminous Event (TLE) and consist of large-scale electric discharges that shoot upwards while occurring above the cloud tops in the Earth’s mesosphere at approximate altitudes of 50-90 km (31-56 mi). In October 2023, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Dr. Andreas Mogensen, who is currently onboard the International Space Station (ISS) as Commander of the Expedition 70 mission, took an incredible image of a red sprite with the Davis camera as part of the Thor-Davis experiment and his Huginn mission.Continue reading “Red Sprites are Best Seen from Space”
Decades of research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) have shown that long-duration stays in microgravity will take a toll on human physiology. Among the most notable effects are muscle atrophy and bone density loss and effects on eyesight, blood flow, and cardiovascular health. However, as research like NASA’s Twin Study showed, the effects extend to organ function, psychological effects, and gene expression. Mitigating these effects is vital for future missions to the Moon, Mars, and other deep-space destinations.
To reduce the impact of microgravity, astronauts aboard the ISS rely on a strict regiment of resistance training, proper diet, and cardiovascular exercise to engage their muscles, bones, and other connective tissues that comprise their musculoskeletal systems. Unfortunately, the machines aboard the ISS are too large and heavy to bring aboard spacecraft for long-duration spaceflights, where space and mass requirements are limited. To address this, NASA is investigating whether exercise regimens that rely on minimal or no equipment could provide adequate physical activity.Continue reading “How Can Astronauts Maintain Their Bodies With Minimal Equipment?”
It’s a fact that many of us have churned out during public engagement events; that at least 50% of all stars are part of binary star systems. Some of them are simply stunning to look at, others present headaches with complex orbits in multiple star systems. Now it seems wide binary stars are starting to shake the foundations of physics as they question the very theory of gravity.Continue reading “Will Wide Binaries Be the End of MOND?”
Since 1979, when the Voyager probes flew past Jupiter and its system of moons, scientists have speculated about the possibility of life within Europa. Based on planetary modeling, Europa is believed to be differentiated between a rocky and metallic core, an icy crust and mantle, and a liquid-water ocean that could be 100 to 200 km (62 to 124 mi) deep. Scientists theorize that this ocean is maintained by tidal flexing, where interaction with Jupiter’s powerful gravitational field leads to geological activity in Europa’s core and hydrothermal vents at the core-mantle boundary.
Investigating the potential habitability of Europa is the main purpose of NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which will launch on October 10th, 2024, and arrive around Jupiter in April 2030. However, this presents a challenge for astrobiologists since the habitability of Europa is dependent on many interrelated parameters that require collaborative investigation. In a recent paper, a team of NASA-led researchers reviewed the objectives of the Europa Clipper mission and anticipated what it could reveal regarding the moon’s interior, composition, and geology.Continue reading “Europa Clipper Could Help Discover if Jupiter's Moon is Habitable”