ESO Announcements 14 Jun 2018, 10:00 UTC ESO is proud to announce the release of Europe to the Stars, a brand new open-source planetarium show that tells the story of ESO’s exploration of the southern sky. This stunning movie takes viewers on an epic journey behind the scenes of the most productive ground-based observatory in the world. Europe to the Stars will be part of the programme at the ESO Supernova from Friday 22 June and is also available to download for free from the ESO website.
Sky and Telescope 13 Jun 2018, 20:25 UTC NASA's Dawn spacecraft is getting closer to Ceres than ever before. This comes as a climax to an amazing 11-year mission, whose goals have included exploring the biggest asteroid, and the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system.
Centauri Dreams 13 Jun 2018, 16:36 UTC Some 4 million years old, the star HD 163296 is about 330 light years out in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. When dealing with stars this young, astronomers have had success with data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), teasing out features in protoplanetary disks filled with gas and dust, the breeding ground of new planets. As seen below, the ALMA imagery can be striking, a closeup look at a stellar system in formation.
Sky and Telescope 13 Jun 2018, 13:00 UTC A few months ago, Sky & Telescope reported on a study of a nearby star-forming region (30 Doradus) forming an unexpected number of massive stars. The region might even contain stars with up to 300 times the mass of the Sun — but that wasn’t the real surprise. Astronomers had thought that the same basic processes ought to shape star formation no matter where it happens, resulting in the same relative numbers of stars everywhere. If that turned out not to be true — and 30 Doradus seemed to be proving the exception — then astronomers would have to rethink everything, from how they classify galaxies to how quickly the universe formed its stars.
Scientific American 13 Jun 2018, 12:00 UTC Much has been written about the Anthropocene—a proposed new division of geologic time in which humans are a dominant force for planetary change: When did it begin? How might it unfold? And can we, the supposed masters of Earth, actually use our powers to make our planet a better place? Understandably, most of the Anthropocene’s literature to date both in the popular press and peer-reviewed publications has been decidedly Earth-centric. But in a recent series of papers and a new book, Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, the astrophysicist Adam Frank argues the Anthropocene’s origins and implications are best understood in the context of astrobiology, the study of life in the universe. The climate change and other environmental effects associated with humankind’s global ascendance, he says, are likely to be universal phenomena manifest for any and every technological civilization that emerges somewhere in the cosmos. Which means the most crucial insights governing the Anthropocene may come less from studying the ground beneath our feet and more from turning our gaze to the heavens.
Geekwire 13 Jun 2018, 05:18 UTC NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars has lost touch with its handlers back on Earth, probably due to a low-power condition brought on by a chokingly thick dust storm. The storm is covering an area of 14 million square miles, or a quarter of the Red Planet, NASA said today in a mission update. The solar-powered rover has been in operation for nearly 15 years — but if its batteries dip below 24 volts of electrical charge, it’s programmed to put nearly all its systems into sleep mode and wait until the batteries are sufficiently charged up. NASA’s other active Mars rover, Curiosity, is better able to cope with the darkening storm because its power comes from a plutonium-fueled generator. Mission managers are scheduled to discuss Opportunity’s prospects during a teleconference at 1:30 p.m. ET (10:30 a.m. PT) Wednesday.
NASA Space Station Blog 12 Jun 2018, 16:53 UTC NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are set to go on their third spacewalk together this year on Thursday at the International Space Station. Their new Expedition 56 crewmates Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are training today to support the two spacewalkers.
The Planetary Society Blog 12 Jun 2018, 15:23 UTC As Hayabusa2 coasts toward Ryugu, a second asteroid sample return mission is nearing its own rendezvous. NASA's OSIRIS-REx will get the first sight of its target Bennu in August and go into orbit in December. It's a bit early to post about what to expect, but Hayabusa2's impending arrival is making a lot of people (including me) ask "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" about OSIRIS-REx.