Centauri Dreams 3 Aug 2017, 17:04 UTC The Voyagers’ continuing interstellar mission reminds us of how little we know about space just outside our own Solar System. We need to learn a great deal more about the interstellar medium before we venture to send fast spacecraft to other stars. And indeed, part of Breakthrough Starshot’s feasibility check re small payloads and sails will be to assess the medium and determine what losses are acceptable for a fleet of such vehicles.
io9 Space 3 Aug 2017, 15:15 UTC Sometimes, NASA gets to have a bit of fun—with asteroids. This fall, the agency will have a grand ol’ time with one such object called 2012 TC4, which will whizz past us at a comfortable distance of about 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) at its absolute closest. Since the asteroid is pretty small—only about 30 to 100 feet (roughly nine to 30 meters) across—this is the perfect chance for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office to test out its techniques.
One Universe at a Time 3 Aug 2017, 11:00 UTC Dark matter is one of the big mysteries of cosmology. Theoretically it explains cosmic phenomena such as the scale at which galaxies cluster, and observationally we see its effect through things like gravitational lensing, but it hasn’t been observed directly. This means we have a limited understanding its exact nature. As a result, there have been lots of theoretical ideas about what dark matter could be. But we now know that whatever dark matter is, it isn’t warm and fuzzy. There are two broad aspects about dark matter that no one disagrees about (assuming it exists). The first is that it must be dark, meaning that it doesn’t interact much with light. If it did interact with light, we would see its effects through the absorption or scattering of light from stars and distant galaxies. The second is that it must have mass, since the models require that it interacts with regular matter gravitationally. Beyond that, almost anything goes. The most models assume that dark matter is cold. In this case, cold vs warm refers to the speed at which dark matter particles typically move. In cold dark matter models, the particles are relatively heavy, with a mass similar to ...
The Daily Galaxy 2 Aug 2017, 22:50 UTC Scientists have discovered the strongest evidence to date for a stratosphere on a planet outside our solar system, or exoplanet. A stratosphere is a layer of atmosphere in which temperature increases with higher altitudes. "This result is exciting because it shows that a common trait of most of the atmospheres in our solar system -- a warm stratosphere -- also can be found in exoplanet atmospheres," said Mark Marley, study co-author based at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "We can now compare processes in exoplanet atmospheres with the same processes that happen under different sets of conditions in our own solar system." Reporting in the journal Nature, scientists used data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study WASP-121b, a type of exoplanet called a "hot Jupiter." Its mass is 1.2 times that of Jupiter, and its radius is about 1.9 times Jupiter's -- making it puffier. But while Jupiter revolves around our sun once every 12 years, WASP-121b has an orbital period of just 1.3 days. This exoplanet is so close to its star that if it got any closer, the star's gravity would start ripping it apart. It also means that the top of the planet's ...
Universe Today 2 Aug 2017, 21:10 UTC Ever since it was deployed in March of 2009, the Kepler mission has detected thousands of extra-solar planet candidates. In fact, between 2009 and 2012, it detected a total of 4,496 candidates, and confirmed the existence of 2,337 exoplanets. Even after two of its reaction wheels failed, the spacecraft still managed to turn up distant planets as part of its K2 mission, accounting for another 521 candidates and confirming 157. However, according to a new study conducted by a pair of researches from Columbia University and a citizen scientist, Kepler may also have also found evidence of an extra-solar moon. After sifting through data from hundreds of transits detected by the Kepler mission, the researchers found one instance where a transiting planet showed signs of having a satellite.
SpaceFlight Insider 2 Aug 2017, 20:30 UTC A Vega rocket delivered two satellites to orbit at 9:58 p.m. EDT Aug. 1 (01:58 GMT Aug. 2), 2017, from the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Vega launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana. This was the 10th flight of the small, solid-fueled launch vehicle, which included improvements in its payload fairing and launch pad design.
NASA Space Station Blog 2 Aug 2017, 17:36 UTC The crew today researched ways to alleviate headaches and reverse bone loss in space to improve mission performance. Meanwhile, the station’s three newest residents also checked out station emergency gear and systems.