Centauri Dreams 15 Mar 2018, 17:50 UTC What happens to a spacecraft at the end of its mission depends on where it’s located. We sent Galileo into Jupiter on September 21, 2003 not so much to gather data but because the spacecraft had not been sterilized before launch. A crash into one of the Galilean moons could potentially have compromised our future searches for life there, but a plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere eliminated the problem. Cassini met a similar fate at Saturn, and in both cases, the need to keep a fuel reserve available for that final maneuver was paramount. Now we face a different kind of problem with Kepler, a doughty spacecraft that has more than lived up to its promise despite numerous setbacks, but one that is getting perilously low on fuel. With no nearby world to compromise, Kepler’s challenge is to keep enough fuel in reserve to maximize its scientific potential before its thrusters fail, thus making it impossible for the spacecraft to be aimed at Earth for data transfer. In an Earth-trailing orbit 151 million kilometers from Earth, Kepler’s fuel tank is expected to run dry within a few months, according to this news release from NASA Ames. The balancing act for its ...
Astrobiology Magazine 15 Mar 2018, 16:00 UTC Elements found in the mantles of Earth and Mars could be indicative of giant impacts early in the histories of both planets.
All About Space 15 Mar 2018, 13:47 UTC Ceres, the only dwarf planet in our inner Solar System, appears to have a dynamic body that is constantly changing. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, currently orbiting the small world, has revealed exposed deposits that uncover the evolving material within the crust. Observations taken between April and October 2016 show an increase of ice within the Juling Crater.
SPACE.com 15 Mar 2018, 11:25 UTC NASA is pressing forward on plans to build a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, an outpost for astronauts positioned in the space near Earth's moon. According to NASA, the Gateway will not only be a place to live, learn and work around the moon but will also support an array of missions to the lunar surface. And scientists foresee a host of uses for the station. By making use of a suite of instruments housed on or inside the structure itself, or free-flying nearby, scientists could make Earth and solar observations.They could also carry out astrophysics and fundamental physics experiments as well as human physiology and space biology studies.
ABC 15 Mar 2018, 08:11 UTC Twins separated by outer space are no longer identical.As part of NASA's Twins Study, astronaut Scott Kelly was sent to space, while his brother Mark, also an astronaut, stayed on Earth. NASA created the study to research how one year in space could affect the human body.
Sky and Telescope 14 Mar 2018, 20:45 UTC Storms in the outer solar system have researchers puzzled — and Hubble is here to help. Jupiter's Great Red Spot has been shrinking for decades — yet it’s getting slightly taller even as its reduces in width, a new study revealed Tuesday. The storm’s shape change might also affect its increasingly orange color. And last month, NASA released images of a large storm on Neptune that’s shrinking instead of falling apart; researchers previously thought the storm would dissipate as it moved towards the planet’s equator.
New Scientist 14 Mar 2018, 18:00 UTC The dwarf planet Ceres, once thought to be a dead and static rock, may have water cycles. Observations from the Dawn spacecraft have shown a crater wall becoming icier as the sun’s position changed in the sky over the course of six months, indicating that subsurface ice particles may be lofted up into the air and land on the wall like dew.
Astronomy Now 14 Mar 2018, 14:52 UTC In 1054, some 6,500 years after the fact, light from a bright supernova reached Earth, mystifying Chinese astronomers and others who described a “new star” in the constellation Taurus. Modern astronomers now know the explosion left behind an ultra-dense pulsar at the heart of a vast cloud of stellar debris, a highly-magnetised neutron star that rotates once every 33 milliseconds and shoots out polar jets of matter and antimatter along with powerful solar winds.