The Planetary Society Blog 22 Feb 2019, 00:24 UTC Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the surface of Ryugu! The touchdown happened about 35 minutes earlier than expected, catching even some of the project scientists off-guard. During a live broadcast from JAXA's control room in Sagamihara, cheers suddenly erupted, causing some initial confusion about whether Hayabusa2 had actually touched down. Soon afterward, via a superb Japanese-to-English translator who narrated the broadcast, a JAXA scientist reported, "There was some deviation from the simulation graph, but the results are that everything went according to plan."
Spaceflight Now 21 Feb 2019, 22:23 UTC The Beresheet moon lander will attempt to become the first privately-funded spacecraft to reach the moon, and these photos show the robotic probe’s journey through testing inside a clean room at Israel Aerospace Industries, followed by its attachment to a multi-satellite stack for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 is About to Shoot Up the Surface of Ryugu with Tiny Impactors so they can Collect a Sample21 Feb 2019, 17:54 UTC Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission is about to get down to business. After arriving at asteroid Ryugu at the end of June 2018, and dispatching its tiny rovers to the surface, the spacecraft is about to approach the surface of the asteroid and get some samples.
Starts With a Bang! 21 Feb 2019, 15:01 UTC There are people alive today who can remember a time where no human-made creation had ever crossed the line from Earth’s atmosphere into space. Even today, it’s incredibly costly to launch a device into space, and it requires even more power than that to escape from the gravitational pull of our planet entirely. As the space race unfolded, humanity left the bonds of Earth’s orbit, walked on the surface of the Moon, and sent space probes to every other planet in our Solar System. A couple of those spacecraft sent to the farthest reaches of space have now exited our Solar System: Voyager 1 and 2. On their way out, however, powered by their fading nuclear power sources, one of them took a look back at the planet that spawned its existence. On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 captured this photo of Earth: the Pale Blue Dot. Our view of our home world has never been the same since.
The Planetary Society Blog 20 Feb 2019, 19:49 UTC InSight has placed its second science instrument on the ground and set it free.
Centauri Dreams 20 Feb 2019, 17:35 UTC It seems increasingly clear that the factors that govern what kind of a planet emerges where in a given stellar system are numerous and not always well understood. Beyond the snowline, planets draw themselves together from the ice and other volatiles available in these cold regions, so that we wind up with low-density gas or ice-giants in the outer parts of a stellar system. Sometimes. Rocky worlds are made of silicates and iron, elements that, unlike ice, can withstand the much warmer temperatures inside the snowline. But consider: While we now have 2,000 confirmed exoplanets smaller than three Earth radii, the spread in their densities is all over the map. We’re finding that other processes must be in play, and at no insubstantial level. Low-density giant planets can turn up orbiting close to their stars. Planets not so dissimilar from Earth in terms of their radius may be found with strikingly different densities in the same system, and at no great distance from each other.
Starts With a Bang! 20 Feb 2019, 15:01 UTC When it comes to the elements of the Universe, every one of them has its own unique story. Hydrogen and helium were created in the earliest stages of the Big Bang; light elements like carbon and oxygen are created in Sun-like stars; heavier elements like silicon, sulfur and iron are created in more massive stars; elements beyond iron are made when those massive stars explode in supernovae. But the most massive elements of all at the very high end of the periodic table — including platinum, gold, radon, and even uranium — owe their origins to an even rarer, more energetic process. The heaviest elements of all come from merging neutron stars, a fact that was long suspected but only confirmed in 2017. Here’s the cosmic story of how the Universe got there.