Centauri Dreams 15 Feb 2018, 16:43 UTC “Wherever you go, there you are.” So goes an old saw that makes a valid point: You can’t escape yourself by changing locations. Translating the great Greek poet C. P. Cavafy, Lawrence Durrell tweaked the language of “The God Abandons Antony” to come up with these closing lines: Ah! don’t you see Just as you’ve ruined your life in this One plot of ground you’ve ruined its worth Everywhere now — over the whole earth?
NPR 15 Feb 2018, 15:06 UTC As the fox told the prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's wonderful fable The Little Prince: "What is essential is invisible to the eye." If the fox had not been talking about love, she could have been referring to the elementary particles of matter, the building blocks of everything that exists. The poetry here is in knowing that the world is made of tiny, invisible bits of stuff that carry, in them, the story of creation itself.
io9 Space 15 Feb 2018, 15:05 UTC Kepler is the gift that keeps on giving. After suffering a major malfunction five years ago, the rejiggered space-based telescope continues to churn away, scanning the heavens for signs of distant worlds. An international team of astronomers has now released the results of its latest survey, confirming the existence of nearly 100 new exoplanets.
OrbitalHub 15 Feb 2018, 13:00 UTC Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first spectroscopic survey of the Earth-sized planets (d, e, f, and g) within the habitable zone around the nearby star TRAPPIST-1. This study is a follow-up to Hubble observations made in May 2016 of the atmospheres of the inner TRAPPIST-1 planets b and c. Hubble reveals that at least three of the exoplanets (d, e, and f) do not seem to contain puffy, hydrogen-rich atmospheres similar to gaseous planets such as Neptune.
Space Fellowship 15 Feb 2018, 09:15 UTC One of our Solar System’s most tantalizing worlds, Enceladus is backlit by the Sun in this Cassini spacecraft image from November 1, 2009. The dramatic illumination reveals the plumes that continuously spew into space from the south pole of Saturn’s 500 kilometer diameter moon. Discovered by Cassini in 2005, the icy plumes are likely connected to an ocean beneath the ice shell of Enceladus.
Skymania News 15 Feb 2018, 07:46 UTC The Milky Way’s closest big neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, has been cut down to size. An Australian team of astronomers “weighed” it and found it is less than half as massive as had previously been thought.
Spaceflight Now 14 Feb 2018, 21:12 UTC Even though it doesn’t obey any earthly speed limit and has a space-suited mannequin for a driver, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster won’t drive up his insurance rates anytime soon. Researchers say the sports car won’t have a really close encounter with Earth until 2091 and could last millions of years before getting totaled in a planetary crackup.
The Planetary Society Blog 14 Feb 2018, 20:18 UTC The Mars 2020 rover will land in February 2021. Like its predecessors Curiosity, Opportunity, and Spirit, it will need to return most of its data through orbital relays. So it's kind of a problem that there aren't currently any new NASA Mars orbiters planned. The most recently-arrived orbiter is MAVEN, and it's expected to do a great deal of data relay for Mars 2020. But its orbit can't produce the repetitive afternoon communication session that Mars orbiters have come to rely on. My colleagues Casey Dreier and Jason Callahan wrote an article about this problem last year. The Opportunity and Curiosity rovers have been sending data to Earth via the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiters. Both of these workhorse spacecraft are far, far past their warrantied lives (as is Opportunity and the one other orbiter capable of data relay, ESA's Mars Express). Every new year, I predict that we'll finish out the year having seen at least one of these aging spacecraft go silent, and every new year's eve I'm delighted to find out I've been wrong. Through the tender care of their Earth-based engineering teams, these elderly spacecraft have kept going.