EarthSky Blog 9 Aug 2018, 09:46 UTC Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are one of the most recent, and puzzling, discoveries yet in astronomy. They are powerful, but very brief, bursts of radio waves from deep space. They’ve been relatively rare so far, but astronomers continue to study them as they’re discovered. On August 1, 2018, astronomers used the Astronomer’s Telegram to report on another FRB, just detected, which is a little different from previous ones studied by astronomers.
Preparing for Liftoff 9 Aug 2018, 08:49 UTC As preparations for the launch of ESA’s latest Earth Explorer continue on track, the team at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana has bid farewell to the Aeolus satellite as it was sealed from view in its Vega rocket fairing – always an emotional moment for the team.
Geekwire 9 Aug 2018, 06:48 UTC Thirteen companies, including Boeing and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, will be doing studies for NASA on the future of commercial human spaceflight in low Earth orbit. All of the studies are due in December, and are supposed to cost no more than $1 million each. NASA still has to negotiate the contract amounts with the study groups, but it expects the total cost of the effort to come in at around $11 million.
Centauri Dreams 8 Aug 2018, 17:11 UTC Just how important is plate tectonics for the development of complex life? We’ve learned that its continual churn, with material pushing up from ocean rifts and being subducted as it meets continental shelves, can moderate the Earth’s climate. Increasing temperatures are tamped down through the capture of excess carbon dioxide in rocks, which reduces potential greenhouse conditions. Lowering temperatures will produce the reverse effect. The result is a mechanism for maintaining stable temperatures that some have seen as necessary for life.
Starts With a Bang! 8 Aug 2018, 14:01 UTC In the earliest stages of the hot Big Bang, the Universe was filled with all the particles, antiparticles, and quanta of radiation it had the energy to create. As the Universe expanded, it cooled: the stretching fabric of space also stretched the wavelengths of all the radiation within it to longer wavelengths, which equates to lower energies. If there are any particles (and antiparticles) that exist at higher energies that are yet to be discovered, they were likely created in the hot Big Bang, so long as there was enough energy (E) available to create a massive (m) particle via Einstein’s E = mc². It’s possible that a slew of puzzles about our Universe, including the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry and the creation of dark matter, are solved by new physics at these early times. But the massive particles we know today are foreign to us. At these early stages, they have no mass.
io9 Space 7 Aug 2018, 17:05 UTC NASA doesn’t just randomly decide what telescopes and satellites to shoot into space and what planet to study next. Instead, a committee of outside scientists drafts a set of goals and recommendations in what’s called a decadal survey. And though it notes some financial setbacks, a midterm review of the last decadal survey report says NASA has done a pretty good job hitting the goals set by the 2013-2022 Planetary Science survey. But there’s work left to do, especially when it comes to bringing a sample of Martian dust to Earth.