Japan’s loses contact with its Astro-H X-ray observatory spacecraft.
Japan is trying to re-establish communication with its ASTRO-H X-ray observatory spacecraft which appears to be tumbling in orbit out of control. Mission managers are also tracking several pieces of what could be debris near the spacecraft - indicating the possibility of the satellite breaking up.
Saturn’s rings may be younger than the Dinosaurs
A new study claims Saturn’s famous rings as well as some of its icy moons may be only a hundred million years old, dating to a time after the reign of the dinosaurs began on Earth. The findings are based on new computer simulations of the orbital history of some of Saturn’s inner moons.
Weird planet discovered with comet like orbit
Astronomers have detected a distant world which orbits its star more like a comet than a planet. While many giant Jupiter like gas planets have been detected orbiting other star systems – none has ever been seen with such an extremely elongated and eccentric orbit.
One of the closest ever cometary flybys of Earth in recorded history
Astronomers have had an opportunity to study two comets up close and personal as they both pass close to Earth. One of the celestial visitors flew just 3.6 million kilometres above Earth – the last comet to come closer to Earth was way back in 1770.
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First ever detection of the binary partner involved in type 1a supernova explosion.
Astronomers have for the first time ever detected a binary companion to a star which exploded as a thermonuclear or type 1a supernova. The discovery provides a deeper understanding of these spectacular stellar blasts which are used as cosmic distance markers and provided the conclusive evidence of the accelerated expansion of the universe due to some unknown force which astronomers have named dark energy.
Glittering globular clusters reveal their stellar secrets.
Scientists have discovered that massive stellar groups known as globular star clusters can produce additional generations of stars by drawing-in fresh supplies of star forming molecular gas and dust from their surrounding galaxy. The findings mean globular star clusters are far more complex than astronomers previously thought.
How solar storms trigger Jupiter's auroral lights.
A new study has revealed that solar storms trigger Jupiter's intense northern and southern auroral lights by generating a new X-ray aurora eight times brighter than normal and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth's aurorae. The findings represent the first time Jupiter's X-ray aurora has been studied as a giant storm from the Sun hit the planet.
Cygnus Cargo ship launched to space station.
An Atlas 5 rocket has successfully blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. The Cygnus -- which is loaded with almost 3.4 tonnes of equipment -- will be captured by the space station’s robotic arm and maneuvered into a docking port tomorrow.
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Supernova secrets revealed
The brilliant flash from the initial blast of a supernova explosion known as a shock breakout, has been captured for the first time. The discovery will improve sciences understanding of these cataclysmic stellar death blasts which are powerful enough to briefly outshine an entire galaxy.
New monster spiral galaxies discovered
A strange new kind of galactic beast has been discovered in the cosmic wilderness – hiding in plain sight. Dubbed "super spirals," these unprecedented galaxies dwarf our own spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, and compete in size and brightness with the largest known galaxies in the universe…the giant elliptical.
Hubble unveils some of the most massive stars ever seen
The Hubble Space Telescope has opened a new vista into a massive star forming region in the Tarantula Nebula which is home to some of the biggest stars in the universe. Astronomers combined images taken by two separate Hubble instruments to dissect the young cluster in unprecedented details.
Expedition 47 blasts off bound for the International Space Station
A Russian Soyuz rocket has blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan carrying three new crew members to the International Space Station. The Expedition 47 crew will spend five months conducting more than 250 experiments aboard the orbiting outpost.
Distant lonely planet no rogue
Astronomers have discovered that a distant planet…long thought to be floating free through space without a host star…has been found to be orbiting a star after all. However, the planet orbits its host star at a distance of a trillion kilometres -- three times greater than any other planetary system ever discovered -- and some seven thousand times further out than Earth's orbit around the Sun.
Unexpected changes in the bright spots on Ceres
Scientists have discovered unexpected changes in the mysterious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres...the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Although Ceres appears as little more than a point of light from the Earth, very careful observations shows evidence that the spots constantly brighten and fade.
Rosetta finds magnetic field-free bubble at comet
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has revealed a surprisingly large region around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which is totally devoid of any magnetic field. The findings have come as a surprise to scientists who didn’t expected to be able to detect such a region.
Close comet flyby threw Mars' magnetic field into chaos
A new study has found that the recent close encounter of Comet Siding Spring with Mars has had a profound impact on both the red planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field. Astronomers found Comet Siding Spring plunged the magnetic field around Mars into chaos -- blowing away part of the Martian upper atmosphere in the same way a strong solar storm would.
A detailed study of the biggest black hole in the known universe
Astronomers study one of the biggest supermassive black holes in the known universe, a monster 18 billion times the mass of our Sun. The supermassive black hole powers a quasar called OJ287 which lies about 3.5 billion light years away from Earth.
Nearest habitable zone Earth like planet discovered
Scientists have discovered the nearest habitable zone planet to our solar system -- a super Earth located just 14 light years away. The planet is orbiting within the star’s so-called 'goldilocks zone' -- the habitable zone where it’s possible for liquid water - and maybe even life - to exist.
ExoMars 2016 blasts off on a mission to search for life on the red planet
The ExoMars 2016 mission has successfully blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan on a Russian Proton -M rocket bound for the red planet Mars. The joint European Space Agency and Roscosmos mission will take seven months to reach Mars where it will begin searching for the origins of the red planet’s seasonal increase in atmospheric methane levels.
Russian Earth imaging satellite launched
Just a day before the launch of the ExoMars mission, a new civilian operated Russian Earth observation satellite was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz 2-1b rocket. The Resurs P3 is on a five year mission providing Moscow with an orbital fleet of three digital remote sensing Earth observation satellites.
India launches new regional navigation satellite
India has successfully launched the latest member of its regional navigation satellite system. The launch was delayed by a minute to avoid orbital debris detected during the countdown phase.
LISA Pathfinder begins its science mission
The LISA Pathfinder gravitational wave space observatory has now commenced its long awaited scientific mission. After completing a long series of tests on the spacecraft and payload, the European Space Agency have now started a six-month program conducting hundreds of experiments to pave the way for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories.
The expansion of the universe simulated
Physicists have developed a new code of numerical simulations that offers a glimpse of the complex process causing both the expansion of the universe and the creation of new structures by the merging of others. Based on Albert Einstein’s equations, they were able to integrate the rotation of space-time into their calculations and determine the amplitude of gravitational waves, whose existence was confirmed for the first time last month.
New explanation for "snowball Earth" events
A new study claims our planet went through a period of extreme freezing – known as snowball Earth -- because of extensive marine volcanism caused by the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent 750 million years ago. The research provides a single mechanism to explain several different aspects of the snowball Earth state, rather than needing a whole bunch of different mechanisms working together.
New Ariane 5 launch prepares the way for the next generation Ariane 6 rocket
An Ariane 5 heavy lift rocket has blasted off from the European Space Agency’s Kourou space port in French Guiana carrying a telecommunications satellite into orbit. The mission will also monitor upper stage systems aboard the launch vehicle ass part of a program to develop a new medium lift Ariane 6 rocket.
Hubble breaks cosmic distance record
Astronomers have shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the distance to the most remote galaxy ever seen in the Universe -- a stellar city that existed just 400 million years after the big bang 13.8 billion years ago. The amazing discovery was achieved by pushing the Hubble Space Telescope to its absolute limits.
Scientists watch the Moon breath
Researchers have watched the Moon's tenuous atmosphere -- known as an exosphere -- change depending on its exposure to the Sun and to meteor showers. The findings help astronomers better understand the physics of exospheres which are one of the most dominate types of atmospheres in the solar system.
How Mars got its tilt
A new study claims the surface of Mars was dramatically tilted around 3 to 3.5 billion years ago by a massive volcanic structure known as the Tharsis dome, which is the largest in the Solar System. Because of its extraordinary mass, the Tharsis dome caused the red planet’s crust and mantle to rotate around its core. The discovery of this huge shift changes our vision of Mars during the first billion years of its history, at a time when life may have emerged on the red planet.
SpaceX finally flies on its fifth attempt
After five launch attempts spanning almost two weeks a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has finally blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force base in Florida, carrying the SES-9 telecommunication satellite into orbit. The Falcon 9 trailed a golden orange plume as it flew over the Atlantic Ocean carrying its Boeing built satellite into geostationary orbit.
Fast Radio Burst mystery deepens
Astronomers for the first time have detected repeating Fast Radio Bursts -- short bursts of radio waves from an enigmatic source located well beyond our Milky Way galaxy. Prior to this discovery, all previously detected Fast Radio Bursts have appeared to be one-off events.
What if E.T. called us and nobody heard?
As scientists step up their search for other life in the universe, two astrophysicists are proposing a way to make sure we don't miss the signal if extraterrestrial observers try to contact us first. The scientists say the best chance for us finding a signal from beyond is to presume that extraterrestrial observers are using the same methods to search for us that we are using to search for life beyond Earth.
Asteroid close encounter
Astronomers around the world will be counting down to the extremely close flyby of asteroid 2013 TX68 which could pass just 17,700 kilometres above the ground tomorrow March 5th. However, scientists admit they won’t know exactly how close the 35-metre-wide space rock will get until after the flyby occurs.
ExoMars prepares for launch
All systems are go for this month’s launch of the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft bound for the red planet. The joint Roscosmos and European Space Agency mission is slated to launch on a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan on March 14.
Where did the Martian moon Phobos come from?
NASA scientists are closer to solving the mystery of how the Martian moon Phobos formed. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN) has made a series of close approaches to the 28-kilometre-wide moon collecting data from within 500 kilometres of its surface.
Expedition 46 crew return to Earth after record breaking space flight
The Russian Soyuz TMA-18M capsule has returned safely to Earth carrying the expedition 46 crew from the International Space Station. Among those aboard the spacecraft as it touched down on the cold Kazakhstan steps was US astronaut Scott Kelly who set a new American record for long duration human space flight of 340 days in orbit.
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The mystery of the IBEX ribbon
Astronomers are a step closer to finally solving the mystery of the IBEX ribbon spotted at the edge of the solar system eight years ago. New computer simulations and data from NASA’s IBEX spacecraft are pointing to ionized solar wind particles streaming back into the solar system after interacting with interstellar space galactic magnetic fields.
Invisible gas clouds appear shaped like dark noodles
Astronomers have been given their best view yet of the giant interstellar gas clouds which make up a significant amount of the Milky Way galaxy’s matter. The invisible structures known as Extreme Scattering Events are high density lumps in the thin electrically charged gas between the stars in our Galaxy and appear to be shaped like noodles, lasagna sheets or possibly even hazelnuts.
New Subatomic particle discovered
Scientists at Fermilab have discovered a new particle—the latest member to be added to the exotic species of particles known as tetraquarks. The new discovery by the DZero experiment is of the first tetraquark candidate composed of four different quark flavours.
Supernova puzzle close to being solved
New observations using the Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed that a supernova which exploded more than three years ago is continuing to shine far brighter than expected. The supernova known as SN 2012cg could have important implications for astronomy’s ability to measure cosmic distances across the universe.
Source of mysterious Fast Radio Bursts finally identified
Scientists have finally pinpointed the source of mysterious celestial events called Fast Radio Bursts. The strong pulse of radio waves lasting just millisecond was identified coming from an elliptical galaxy six billion light years away -- half way across the universe and back through time.
Van Allen Radiation Belts are even stranger than imagined
New data indicates the Earth’s Van Allen Radiation Belts could be very different in shape from what scientists have always thought. It seems the shape of the belts depends on what type of electron you’re looking at.
Giant gas cloud explains galaxy’s missing “star forming” hydrogen
Astronomers have discovered a spectacular plume of gas more than 300,000 light-years across streaming like the tail of a comet from a bright strange looking spiral galaxy. The massive hydrogen cloud is five times longer than the galaxy itself.
Engineers working on new type of polar orbit
Scientists are working to perfect a new type of satellite orbit which can keep a spacecraft above the north or south pole. The research is looking at how a satellite equipped with a large solar sail could partly offset gravity from both the Earth and the Sun with the slight but steady pressure of sunlight, allowing the spacecraft to hover above the Arctic or Antarctic, enabling continuous coverage of high-latitude regions for science and climate observation or for regional communication services.
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