Articles about space

Skylab (pic: NASA)

America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Two NASA anniversaries rolled around this week, but you would be forgiven for missing them. The first was the 45th anniversary of the launch of the United States' only solo Space Station, Skylab, designed to host astronauts for months at a time. The second big day, yesterday, marked 55 years since the space agency launched the …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018

Astroboffins spy the most greedy black hole yet gobbling a Sun a day

Astronomers have spotted the greediest supermassive black hole going through the fastest growth spurt some 12 billion years ago. The humongous hole, codenamed QSO SMSS J215728.21-360215.1, is the staggering size of about 20 billion suns, and grows at a rate of 200 million suns over a million years. It has a voracious appetite …
Katyanna Quach, 15 May 2018
Milky Way photo via Shutterstock

Get over yourselves: Life in the multiverse could be commonplace

A universe containing life like ours is probably more common in the multiverse than previously thought, according to new theoretical studies. The idea of multiple universes existing in parallel has gained traction in the last few decades and boffins are throwing large chunks of computing power at the problem, testing out …
Katyanna Quach, 14 May 2018
Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. If you haven't seen it, it's about a man forced to endure reliving the same day over and over. Pic: Columbia Pictures

It's Galileo Groundhog Day! You can keep asking the same question, but it won't change the answer

As the imagined strains of Sonny and Cher’s hit "I Got You, Babe"* died down, the UK Parliament’s Exiting the European Union Committee spent a chunk of yesterday morning asking the UK space industry the same old questions. Youtube Video Patrick Norris of UK Space, Colin Paynter of Airbus and Dr Belddyn Bowen of the University …
Richard Speed, 10 May 2018

Astroboffins spot the first perfect exoplanet free of clouds

Astronomers have discovered the first exoplanet completely devoid of clouds, according to a paper published on Monday in Nature. WASP-96b described as a “hot Saturn” for its toasty temperature of 1,300 Kelvin (1,027 degrees Celcius or 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit) and a similar mass to Saturn, is located about 980 light years away …

The Sun will blow up into a huge, glowing bubble of gas during its death

The Sun will shed a large chunk of its mass to turn into a planetary nebula, a gigantic globe of luminous gas, as it nears the end of its life cycle. Low mass stars like the Sun will become red giants and then white dwarves when they die. Now, a paper published in Nature Astronomy predicts that in between those stages, the Sun …
NASA depiction of Mars InSight entering the Martian atmosphere. Image: NASA

Put November 26 in your diary: That’s when Mars InSight lands. Hopefully

VID NASA’s successfully launched Mars InSight, the probe it hopes will help us to understand the interior of the Red Planet and therefore a little more about how rocky planets form. Mars InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) was supposed to be on Mars already, but missed its 2016 …

Lakes on the moon? Boffins think they've found the evidence

A team of physicists have uncovered evidence that the Moon may have had liquid water on its surface at one point. The team of Japanese and German researchers probed 13 different lunar meteorites using micro-Raman spectrometry, electron microscopy, and synchrotron angle-dispersive x-ray diffraction to work out the different …

European Space Agency wants in on quantum comms satellites

The European Space Agency is looking to build a communications satellite to send data securely using quantum key distribution. On Thursday, it signed a contract with SES Techcom S.A, a satellite communications company based in Luxembourg, to develop QUARTZ (Quantum Cryptography Telecommunication System). Quantum entanglement …

Astroboffins score a first by spotting traces of helium on an exoplanet

Astronomers have detected helium floating around in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time, according to a paper published in Nature on Wednesday. The discovery was made after a team of scientists probed WASP-107b with the Hubble Space Telescope. It's an exoplanet located about 200 light-years away from Earth that …
Sentinel-3B Lift Off  (pic: ESA)

It's not rocket science! Actually it is, and it's been a busy frickin week

Russia and China celebrated a pair of successful launches this week, with a Rockot booster placing Sentinel-3B into orbit while China's Long March 11 lobbed five imaging sats into space. The launch for the European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday evening from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome added to the growing Copernicus fleet with a …
Richard Speed, 27 Apr 2018

Astroboffins peep at the largest orgy of galaxies banging into each other

Astronomers have spotted a whopping 14 galaxies on the verge of merging to create what could be the densest and most massive galactic cluster in the universe. The discovery was made after the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica scanned the night sky and found a population of rare, extremely bright objects nicknamed SPT2349-56. …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Apr 2018
ESA's Gaia star map

Incredible Euro space agency data leak... just as planned: 1.7bn stars in our galaxy mapped

The European Space Agency (ESA) has emitted a huge dump of data from its Gaia mission to 3D map the Milky Way. Wednesday's mega-release, containing high precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars, dwarfs the first release of data in 2016, which pinned down the position of 1.14 billion stars and the distances and motion …
Richard Speed, 26 Apr 2018

That's no moon... er, that's an asteroid. And it'll be your next and final home, spacefarer

Students and eggheads are designing a futuristic spaceship from an empty asteroid shell capable of housing astronaut crews as they slowly move between stars on trips that could last hundreds of years. The TU Delft Starship Team (DSTART) – based at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands – are working on a project …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Apr 2018

Cosmic prang probe: Euro space boffins to smash sats, virtually

The European Space Agency is launching a new research project to study satellite collisions in space. “We want to understand what happens when two satellites collide,” said Tiziana Cardone, an ESA structural engineer leading the project, on Tuesday. “Up until now a lot of assumptions have been made about how the very high …
Katyanna Quach, 25 Apr 2018
NGC 3972 (pic: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU))

Astroboffins build AI to chase galactic blue nuggets in space

AI systems can be trained to help astronomers identify if galaxies are still active in producing new stars, according to a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal. A team of researchers have built a convolutional neural network to identify galaxies at various evolutionary stages. Galaxies are mostly massive blobs of …
Katyanna Quach, 24 Apr 2018
Four years of NEOWISE collection

Scratch Earth-killer asteroid off your list of existential threats

Video NASA's fourth release of data from its NEOWISE asteroid-hunter may well come as a relief, as it's again failed to spot a rock worthy of Bruce Willis' attention. The new data dump, (downloadable here), brings the mission's total to 29,246 objects. Those objects were observed in the four years since NASA mission scientists …

Astroboffins discover the stink of eggy farts wafting from Uranus

Scientists have solved a pressing mystery about our Solar System. Does Uranus smell like farts? Yes, yes it does. A paper published on Monday in Nature confirms that Uranus contains clouds of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs. "If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus' clouds, they would …
Katyanna Quach, 23 Apr 2018

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