Astro Bob 10 Jun 2018, 13:39 UTC After we welcome in the new year at midnight December 31, we’ll wake up (or stay up) to witness another milestone on the first day of 2019: the farthest planetary encounter in history. At 12:33 a.m., with many a New Year’s party still in progress, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest approach to asteroid 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule , nearly 3½ years after its historic pass of Pluto.
Astrobiology Magazine 8 Jun 2018, 16:00 UTC A team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Shaunna Morrison and including Bob Hazen have revealed the mineralogy of Mars at an unprecedented scale, which will help them understand the planet’s geologic history and habitability. Their findings are published in two American Mineralogist papers.
ESO Blog 8 Jun 2018, 10:00 UTC ESO is the most productive ground-based observatory in the world and operates a suite of the world's most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes, but how much of ESO’s telescope time actually leads to published science? This week we catch up with Nando Patat, an astronomer based at ESO Headquarters in Germany, who has been investigating how much telescope time at ESO’s Very Large Telescope goes unused.
Many Worlds 7 Jun 2018, 18:21 UTC A decades-long quest for incontrovertible and complex Martian organics — the chemical building blocks of life — is over. After almost six years of searching, drilling and analyzing on Mars, the Curiosity rover team has conclusively detected three types of naturally-occurring organics that had not been identified before on the planet.
NASA Space Station Blog 7 Jun 2018, 15:51 UTC Two astronauts and a cosmonaut are racing toward the International Space Station today inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The new Expedition 56-57 trio comprising Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are due to arrive Friday at 9:07 a.m. EDT when they dock to the Rassvet module.
Centauri Dreams 7 Jun 2018, 12:58 UTC One of the benefits of having Alpha Centauri as our closest stellar neighbor is that this system comprises three different kinds of star. We have the familiar Centauri A, a G-class star much like our Sun, along with the smaller Centauri B, a K-class star with about 90 percent of the Sun’s mass. Proxima Centauri gives us an M-dwarf, along with the (so far) only known planet in the system, Proxima b. Questions of habitability here are numerous. Along with possible tidal locking, another major issue is radiation, since M-dwarfs are known for their flare activity.
Aeon 7 Jun 2018, 10:00 UTC We have a problem. In a 10-billion-year-old galaxy there should have been ample opportunity for at least one species to escape its own mess, and to spread across the stars, filling every niche. That this species doesn’t seem to have come calling leads to Fermi’s Paradox – if life isn’t impossibly rare, then where is everyone? Efforts to scan the skies for signs of intelligent life have come up blank too, adding to the puzzle. Perhaps the vast gulfs of interstellar space and the narrow windows of time for communicative species to exist within shouting distance of each other are to blame. Intelligences might be like small ships passing in the night in a vast ocean. Actual close encounters of any kind could be exceedingly unusual.
io9 Space 6 Jun 2018, 17:00 UTC As unearthly as it may be, Jupiter shares a phenomenon with our own planet that you might find very familiar: lightning strikes. And lightning on Jupiter is somehow both more (and less) like the lightning on Earth than scientists previously thought.