EarthSky Blog 24 Sep 2018, 10:44 UTC Twenty years ago, CubeSats – a class of boxy satellites small enough to fit in a backpack – were used by universities as a teaching aid. Simpler, smaller and cheaper than traditional satellites, they’ve made space more accessible to private companies and science agencies.This summer, NASA has been flying the first two next-generation CubeSats to deep space. They’re currently on their way to Mars, trailing thousands of miles behind the InSight spacecraft. InSight and its CubeSat tag-alongs are already more than halfway to the Red Planet.
David Reneke's World of Space and Astronomy 23 Sep 2018, 05:03 UTC Scientists cannot explain the origin of a mysterious object in deep space. Two telescopes installed in Hawaii, found unnaturally bright explosion in the sky. We’ve seen them before but this one tales the cake!
The Planetary Society Blog 22 Sep 2018, 16:26 UTC Two small spacecraft the size and shape of cheese wheels have made history by sending home pictures of their successful landing on an asteroid. The probes, collectively named MINERVA-II1, were dropped from Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft Friday onto asteroid Ryugu from a height of about 60 meters. Both landed successfully and are transmitting images and data, and at least one is autonomously hopping around the surface as designed.
Centauri Dreams 21 Sep 2018, 17:19 UTC It’s the first image of the Earth and the Moon together taken from a CubeSat, one of a pair of such tiny spacecraft NASA has despatched to Mars as part of a mission called MarCO (Mars Cube One), which will work in conjunction with the InSight lander.
Starts With a Bang! 21 Sep 2018, 14:01 UTC It’s been nearly three years since one of the most exciting proposals concerning our own cosmic backyard came out: far out beyond Neptune, there might be another planet — even more massive than Earth — in our Solar System. Unlike the tiny worlds previously discovered in the Kuiper belt, like Pluto and Eris, this would be a world that was Super-Earth sized, at perhaps ten times the Earth’s mass, responsible for kicking bizarrely-orbiting objects into our view. As Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown proposed, there would be additional pieces of evidence one would expect, and some of them started to come in. But most scientists disagree that this is good evidence at all. Instead, they contend, the data is biased. When you account for that bias, there’s no need for Planet Nine at all.
The New York Times 21 Sep 2018, 00:29 UTC On Monday, astronomers who operate NASA’s new planet-hunting satellite TESS released what they call the satellite’s “first light science image.” Taken last August, it covers a swath of the Southern Sky showing stars and constellations and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which are nearby galaxies in their own right, hanging like extragalactic fruit in nearby space.
Geekwire 20 Sep 2018, 23:43 UTC Stratolaunch Systems, the aerospace company created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says it’s exploring the development of a series of rocket planes that would serve as a testbed for hypersonic flight.
Astro Bob 20 Sep 2018, 22:50 UTC The International Space Station (ISS) has a cycle. For a week or more, it only makes passes during daylight hours, so it’s invisible. Then it comes back into view in the morning sky at dawn for a couple weeks then transitions into the evening sky. After a few weeks of evening passes, it begins a new cycle with a return to daylight-only passes.
Centauri Dreams 20 Sep 2018, 16:38 UTC We’ve only orbited one object in the Solar System known to exhibit cryovolcanism, but Ceres has a lot to teach us about the subject. Unlike the lava-spewing volcanoes of Earth, an ice volcano can erupt with ammonia, water or methane in liquid or vapor form. What appear to be cryovolcanoes can be found not only on Ceres but Titan, and the phenomenon appears likely on Pluto and Charon. Neptune’s moon Triton is a special case, with rugged volcanic terrain in evidence, as opposed to much smoother surfaces without obvious volcanoes elsewhere.