Space & Time

  • Astronauts to patch up NASA’s NICER telescope
    on 2024-04-17 at 21:02

    NASA is planning to repair NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer), an X-ray telescope on the International Space Station, during a spacewalk later this year. It will be the fourth science observatory in orbit serviced by astronauts.

  • NASA to hoist its sail: Solar sail mission gets ready for launch
    on 2024-04-17 at 20:34

    A NASA mission testing a new way of navigating our solar system is ready to hoist its sail into space—not to catch the wind, but the propulsive power of sunlight. The Advanced Composite Solar Sail System is targeting launch on Tuesday, April 23 (Wednesday, April 24 in New Zealand) aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.

  • NASA’s Roman space telescope’s ‘eyes’ pass first vision test
    on 2024-04-17 at 20:30

    Engineers at L3Harris Technologies in Rochester, New York, have combined all 10 mirrors for NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Preliminary tests show the newly aligned optics, collectively called the IOA (Imaging Optics Assembly), will direct light into Roman’s science instruments extremely precisely. This will yield crisp images of space once the observatory launches.

  • NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s moon Titan confirmed
    on 2024-04-17 at 19:44

    NASA has confirmed its Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s organic-rich moon Titan. The decision allows the mission to progress to the completion of the final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science instruments.

  • NASA’s near space network enables PACE climate mission to ‘phone home’
    on 2024-04-17 at 19:21

    The PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) mission has delivered its first operational data back to researchers, a feat made possible in part by innovative, data-storing technology from NASA’s Near Space Network, which introduced two key enhancements for PACE and other upcoming science missions.

  • Peptides on interstellar ice: Study finds presence of water molecules not a major obstacle for formation
    on 2024-04-17 at 18:50

    A research team led by Dr. Serge Krasnokutski from the Astrophysics Laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at the University of Jena had already demonstrated that simple peptides can form on cosmic dust particles. However, it was previously assumed that this would not be possible if molecular ice, which covers the dust particle, contains water—which is usually the case.

  • On-demand nutrient production system for long-duration space missions
    on 2024-04-17 at 18:36

    When astronauts embark on long space missions, they’ll need to grow their own food because pre-packaged meals from Earth lose their nutritional value over time. The BioNutrients project at Ames Research Center’s Space Biosciences Division has solved this problem by using genetic engineering to create microbially-based food that can produce nutrients and compounds, such as medicines, with minimal resources.

  • ‘Tube map’ around planets and moons made possible by knot theory
    on 2024-04-17 at 17:35

    Just as sat-nav did away with the need to argue over the best route home, scientists from the University of Surrey have developed a new method to find the optimal routes for future space missions without the need to waste fuel. The paper is published in the journal Astrodynamics.

  • NASA Goddard to build quake detector for Artemis III moon landing
    on 2024-04-17 at 17:13

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will build a moonquake detector for astronauts to deploy on the moon in 2026 during the Artemis III mission, which will return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in more than 50 years.

  • Studying spaceflight atrophy with machine learning
    on 2024-04-17 at 17:12

    Even intense exercise by astronauts cannot compensate for muscle atrophy caused by microgravity. Atrophy occurs, in part, by way of an underlying mechanism that regulates calcium uptake. Recent research has shown exposure to spaceflight alters the uptake of calcium in muscles. However, the molecular mechanisms that drive these changes are not well studied.

  • A clinical decision support system for Earth-independent medical operations
    on 2024-04-17 at 17:12

    Deep space exploration requires a paradigm shift in astronaut medical support toward Earth-independent medical operations. Currently, astronauts rely on real-time communication with ground-based medical providers. However, as the distance from Earth increases, so do communication delays and disruptions. Deep space exploration crews will need to autonomously detect, diagnose, treat, and prevent medical conditions.

  • Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus could support life—researchers are working out how to detect extraterrestrial cells there
    on 2024-04-17 at 17:10

    Saturn has 146 confirmed moons—more than any other planet in the solar system—but one called Enceladus stands out. It appears to have the ingredients for life.

  • The rising flood of space junk is a risk to us on Earth—and governments are on the hook
    on 2024-04-17 at 15:57

    A piece of space junk recently crashed through the roof and floor of a man’s home in Florida. Nasa later confirmed that the object had come from unwanted hardware released from the international space station.

  • Researchers unveil unique tidal disruption event with pronounced early optical bump
    on 2024-04-17 at 15:41

    A research team from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) presented a detailed analysis of a tidal disruption event (TDE) with unique characteristics, providing new insights into the behavior of TDEs and their multiwavelength emissions. The study was published online in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

  • Next up is launch, as Boeing’s Starliner takes trek to Cape Canaveral
    on 2024-04-17 at 15:10

    Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, set to take its first humans on board during the Crew Flight Test mission next month, was transported from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a 10-mile trip to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

  • NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter team says goodbye—for now
    on 2024-04-17 at 15:02

    The final downlink shift by the Ingenuity team was a time to reflect on a highly successful mission—and to prepare the first aircraft on another world for its new role.

  • James Webb Space Telescope data pinpoint possible aurorae on a cold brown dwarf
    on 2024-04-17 at 15:00

    Using new observations from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers have discovered methane emission on a brown dwarf, an unexpected finding for such a cold and isolated world. Published in the journal Nature, the findings suggest that this brown dwarf might generate aurorae similar to those seen on our own planet as well as on Jupiter and Saturn.

  • Researchers propose new formation model for massive hot subdwarfs
    on 2024-04-17 at 14:24

    In a new study published in the The Astrophysical Journal, Dr. Li Zhenwei and his collaborators from Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Dr. Zhang Yangyang from the Zhoukou Normal University, proposed a new formation model for massive hot subdwarfs, offering explanations for a subset of helium-rich hot subdwarfs observed in the cosmos.

  • NASA observations find what helps heat roots of ‘moss’ on sun
    on 2024-04-17 at 13:03

    Did you know the sun has moss? Due to its resemblance to the earthly plants, scientists have named a small-scale, bright, patchy structure made of plasma in the solar atmosphere “moss.” This moss, which was first identified in 1999 by NASA’s TRACE mission, blossoms around the center of a sunspot group, where magnetic conditions are strong. It straddles two atmospheric layers known as the chromosphere and corona and hides below the long feathery ropes of plasma known as coronal loops.

  • Astronomers discover the most metal-poor extreme helium star
    on 2024-04-17 at 12:53

    Using the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), astronomers have performed high-resolution observations of a recently detected extreme helium star designated EC 19529–4430. It turned out that EC 19529–4430 is the most metal deficient among the population of known extreme helium stars. The finding was reported in a research paper published April 5 on the pre-print server arXiv.

  • ESA selects four new Earth Explorer mission ideas
    on 2024-04-17 at 12:00

    As humans exert greater pressure on natural processes, understanding the intricate workings of our Earth system is increasingly vital for effective action on mitigation and adaption strategies. ESA’s Earth Explorer missions yield a wealth of astonishing findings, serving as the bedrock of scientific research in this field. Now, four new concepts have been selected to undergo assessment study, one of which is destined to be the twelfth in this family of world-leading satellite missions.

  • ‘Nanostitches’ enable lighter and tougher composite materials
    on 2024-04-17 at 01:46

    In an approach they call ‘nanostitching,’ engineers used carbon nanotubes to prevent cracking in multilayered composites. The advance could lead to next-generation airplanes and spacecraft.

  • NASA’s VIPER moon rover gets its head and neck
    on 2024-04-16 at 20:41

    In this image from Feb. 12, 2024, engineers lift a mast into place on NASA’s VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) robotic moon rover. VIPER’s mast and the suite of instruments affixed to it look a lot like the rover’s “neck” and “head.” The mast instruments are designed to help the team of rover drivers and real-time scientists send commands and receive data while the rover navigates around hazardous crater slopes, boulders, and places that risk communications blackouts.

  • The history of the young cold traps of the asteroid Ceres
    on 2024-04-16 at 19:41

    Ceres, the largest asteroid in our solar system, harbors a dark secret: extremely young ice deposits in permanently shadowed craters near its poles. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because our moon and planet Mercury also have such polar ice deposits, which have been studied for decades.

  • New book gives insider’s view of cosmic search for life
    on 2024-04-16 at 18:45

    Whether life exists anywhere besides Earth is a burning question that, at long last, may soon be answered.

  • Dating the solar system’s giant planet orbital instability using enstatite meteorites
    on 2024-04-16 at 17:14

    Evidence from the fragments of a destroyed asteroid suggests that the shift in the positions of the giant planets in our solar system billions of years ago happened between 60–100 million years after the solar system’s formation and could have been key to the formation of our moon.

  • No gamma rays seen coming from nearby supernova
    on 2024-04-16 at 16:53

    A nearby supernova in 2023 offered astrophysicists an excellent opportunity to test ideas about how these types of explosions boost particles, called cosmic rays, to near light-speed. But surprisingly, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected none of the high-energy gamma-ray light those particles should produce.

  • NASA’s Fermi mission sees no gamma rays from nearby supernova
    on 2024-04-16 at 16:51

    A nearby supernova in 2023 offered astrophysicists an excellent opportunity to test ideas about how these types of explosions boost particles, called cosmic rays, to near light-speed. But surprisingly, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected none of the high-energy gamma-ray light those particles should produce.

  • Citizen science project classifying gamma-ray bursts
    on 2024-04-16 at 16:30

    When faraway stars explode, they send out flashes of energy called gamma-ray bursts that are bright enough that telescopes back on Earth can detect them. Studying these pulses, which can also come from mergers of some exotic astronomical objects such as black holes and neutron stars, can help astronomers like me understand the history of the universe.

  • Most massive stellar black hole in our galaxy found
    on 2024-04-16 at 15:59

    Astronomers have identified the most massive stellar black hole yet discovered in the Milky Way galaxy. This black hole was spotted in data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission because it imposes an odd ‘wobbling’ motion on the companion star orbiting it. Astronomers have verified the mass of the black hole, putting it at an impressive 33 times that of the Sun.

  • Space exploration: A luxury or a necessity?
    on 2024-04-16 at 15:51

    “Oh, come on Daniel, space travel is so expensive, and pointless!” These were the words of my friend Max, during a Christmas party where I was discussing my thesis project: studying places on Earth where the living conditions are so extreme, they could hold lessons for future space missions.

  • A solar neighborhood census, thanks to NASA citizen science
    on 2024-04-16 at 15:27

    To take a census of nearby cosmic objects, sending out a survey won’t work. Scientists need to use many telescopes with different specializations to chart what is in the general neighborhood of the sun.

  • In search for alien life, purple may be the new green
    on 2024-04-16 at 14:31

    From house plants and gardens to fields and forests, green is the color we most associate with surface life on Earth, where conditions favored the evolution of organisms that perform oxygen-producing photosynthesis using the green pigment chlorophyll a.

  • Ariane 6 launches: is it a plane? Aircraft spotting with ISTSat
    on 2024-04-16 at 13:23
  • Why figuring out how potassium is destroyed in stars is important to understanding the universe
    on 2024-04-16 at 13:19

    If you want to know where elements come from, look to the stars. Almost every element heavier than helium is formed through nuclear reactions in stars. But which stellar processes are responsible for these elements? Can we find patterns in how much of each element we observe in different astrophysical environments, like stars, galaxies or globular clusters?

  • EarthCARE out of the box
    on 2024-04-16 at 07:00

    After being packed up in Germany, a long voyage to the US and then a month in storage, ESA’s EarthCARE satellite has been carefully lifted out of its transport container so that the team at the launch site can start getting it ready for its big day in May.

  • Sleeping giant surprises Gaia scientists
    on 2024-04-16 at 07:00

    Wading through the wealth of data from ESA’s Gaia mission, scientists have uncovered a ‘sleeping giant’. A large black hole, with a mass of nearly 33 times the mass of the Sun, was hiding in the constellation Aquila, less than 2000 light-years from Earth. This is the first time a black hole of stellar origin this big has been spotted within the Milky Way. So far, black holes of this type have only been observed in very distant galaxies. The discovery challenges our understanding of how massive stars develop and evolve. 

  • How Pluto got its heart
    on 2024-04-15 at 20:37

    The mystery of how Pluto got a giant heart-shaped feature on its surface has finally been solved by an international team of astrophysicists. The team is the first to successfully reproduce the unusual shape with numerical simulations, attributing it to a giant and slow oblique-angle impact.

  • Physicists solve puzzle about ancient galaxy found by Webb telescope
    on 2024-04-15 at 15:04

    Physicists solve a puzzle linked to JWST-ER1g, a massive ancient galaxy that formed when the universe was just a quarter of its current age.

  • Planetary defenders assemble!
    on 2024-04-15 at 14:05

    Image: Planetary defenders assemble!

  • ESA accelerates the race towards clean energy from space
    on 2024-04-15 at 12:54

    ESA accelerates the race towards clean energy from space

  • The Incredible Adventures of the Hera mission – The Missing Puzzle Piece
    on 2024-04-15 at 08:00

    Video: 00:02:35 Meet Hera, our very own asteroid detective. Together with two CubeSats – Milani the rock decoder and Juventas the radar visionary – Hera is off on an adventure to explore Didymos, a double asteroid system that is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to planet Earth.In September 2022 NASA’s DART spacecraft tested if it was possible to divert an asteroid by giving it a shove – and found out that it was! Important knowledge, should we wish to avoid going the same way as the dinosaurs. Astronomers can observe from afar how the smaller asteroid’s orbit has shifted since DART’s impact, but there is still a missing piece of the puzzle if we want to fully understand how ‘kinetic impacting’ works in practice. Suitable for kids and adults alike, this episode of ‘The Incredible Adventures of Hera’ explains why ESA’s asteroid detective and its CubeSat assistants need to get up close and personal to shine light on this cosmic mystery.Watch the other episodes of The Incredible Adventures of the Hera Mission

  • Brightest gamma-ray burst of all time came from the collapse of a massive star
    on 2024-04-12 at 15:34

    In 2022, astronomers discovered the brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) of all time. Now, astronomers confirm that a ‘normal’ supernova, the telltale sign of a stellar collapse, accompanied the GRB. The team also looked for signatures of heavy elements like gold and platinum in the supernova. They found no evidence of such elements, deepening the mystery of their origins.

  • Stellar winds of three sun-like stars detected for the first time
    on 2024-04-12 at 15:34

    An international research team has for the first time directly detected stellar winds from three Sun-like stars by recording the X-ray emission from their astrospheres, and placed constraints on the mass loss rate of the stars via their stellar winds.

  • Exoplanets true to size
    on 2024-04-12 at 15:33

    A star’s magnetic field must be considered in order to correctly determine the characteristics of exoplanets from observations by space telescopes such as Kepler, James Webb, or PLATO. Researchers show that the distribution of the star’s brightness over its disk depends on the star’s level of magnetic activity. This, in turn, affects the signature of an exoplanet in observational data. The new model must be used in order to properly interpret the data from the latest generation of space telescopes pointed at distant worlds outside our Solar System.

  • EarthCARE mission card for portal
    on 2024-04-12 at 13:10

    EarthCARE – ESA’s cloud and aerosol mission

  • Beautiful nebula, violent history: Clash of stars solves stellar mystery
    on 2024-04-11 at 20:59

    When astronomers looked at a stellar pair at the heart of a stunning cloud of gas and dust, they were in for a surprise. Star pairs are typically very similar, like twins, but in HD 148937, one star appears younger and, unlike the other, is magnetic. New data suggest there were originally three stars in the system, until two of them clashed and merged. This violent event created the surrounding cloud and forever altered the system’s fate.

  • Twinkle twinkle baby star, ‘sneezes’ tell us how you are
    on 2024-04-11 at 17:02

    Researchers have found that baby stars discharge plumes of gas, dust, and magnetic flux from their protostellar disk. The protostellar disk that surrounds developing stars are constantly penetrated by magnetic flux, and if too much magnetic flux remained, the resulting object would generate a magnetic field stronger than any observed protostar. These newly discovered discharges of magnetic flux, or ‘sneezes’ as the researchers describes them, may be a vital step in proper star formation.

  • The hidden role of the Milky Way in ancient Egyptian mythology
    on 2024-04-10 at 22:11

    Astrophysicists shed light on the relationship between the Milky Way and the Egyptian sky-goddess Nut. The paper draws on ancient Egyptian texts and simulations to argue that the Milky Way might have shone a spotlight, as it were, on Nut’s role as the sky. It proposes that in winter, the Milky Way highlighted Nut’s outstretched arms, while in summer, it traced her backbone across the heavens.

  • Study shedding new light on Earth’s global carbon cycle could help assess liveability of other planets
    on 2024-04-10 at 15:27

    Research has uncovered important new insights into the evolution of oxygen, carbon, and other vital elements over the entire history of Earth — and it could help assess which other planets can develop life, ranging from plants to animals and humans.

  • Inexplicable flying fox found in Hydra galaxy cluster
    on 2024-04-08 at 17:08

    High sensitivity radio observations have discovered a cloud of magnetized plasma in the Hydra galaxy cluster. The odd location and shape of this plasma defy all conventional explanations. Dubbed the Flying Fox based on its silhouette, this plasma will remain a mystery until additional observations can provide more insight.

  • How the moon turned itself inside out
    on 2024-04-08 at 17:06

    Linking analyses of the moon’s gravity field with models of its earliest evolution, scientists tell a story of the moon turning itself inside out after it solidified from a primordial magma ocean. The process left behind a vestige of dense, titanium-rich material beneath its Earth-facing side that makes its presence known by gravity anomalies.

  • Climate change threatens Antarctic meteorites
    on 2024-04-08 at 17:06

    Antarctica harbors a large concentration of meteorites imbuing the icy continent with an unparalleled wealth of information on our solar system. However, these precious meteorites are rapidly disappearing from the ice sheet surface due to global warming, according to a new study.

  • Telescope detects unprecedented behavior from nearby magnetar
    on 2024-04-08 at 17:01

    Captured by cutting-edge radio telescope technology, a chance reactivation of a magnetar — the Universe’s most powerful magnets — has revealed an unexpectedly complex environment.

  • Chemical reactions can scramble quantum information as well as black holes
    on 2024-04-05 at 17:05

    A team of researchers has shown that molecules can be as formidable at scrambling quantum information as black holes by combining mathematical tools from black hole physics and chemical physics and testing their theory in chemical reactions.

  • Neutron stars are key to understanding elusive dark matter
    on 2024-04-05 at 17:04

    Scientists may be one step closer to unlocking one of the great mysteries of the universe after calculating that neutron stars might hold a key to helping us understand elusive dark matter.

  • Astronomy: How do brown dwarfs form?
    on 2024-04-05 at 17:04

    New observations provide insights into whether the birth of the giant planets takes a similar course to that of stars.

  • CHEOPS detects a ‘rainbow’ on an exoplanet
    on 2024-04-05 at 17:04

    The CHEOPS space telescope is providing new information on the mysterious exoplanet WASP-76b. This ultra-hot giant is characterized by an asymmetry between the amount of light observed on its eastern terminator — the fictitious line that separates its night side from its day side — and that observed on its western terminator. This peculiarity is thought to be due to a ‘glory’, a luminous phenomenon similar to a rainbow, which occurs if the light from the star — the ‘sun’ around which the exoplanet orbits — is reflected by clouds made up of a perfectly uniform substance. If this hypothesis is confirmed, this would be the first detection of this phenomenon outside our solar system.

  • Stellar collisions produce strange, zombie-like survivors
    on 2024-04-04 at 23:07

    Densely packed, fast-moving stars at the Milky Way’s center can collide with each other. New research uses simulations to explore the outcomes of these collisions. Some collisions are more like ‘violent high fives’ while others are full-on mergers.

  • First results from DESI make the most precise measurement of our expanding universe
    on 2024-04-04 at 15:35

    Researchers have used the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument to make the largest 3D map of our universe and world-leading measurements of dark energy, the mysterious cause of its accelerating expansion.