The Planetary Society Blog 5 Jun 2019, 09:00 UTC While LightSail 1 and 2 look nearly identical at a glance, there are a few important hardware differences between the two spacecraft. LightSail 2 contains numerous small improvements thanks to lessons learned during the LightSail 1 test mission, and most importantly, there's a big difference in where LightSail 2 will go and what it will do.
Universe Today 4 Jun 2019, 20:49 UTC We’ve learned a lot about Mars in recent years. Multiple orbiters and hugely-successful rover missions have delivered a cascade of discoveries about our neighbouring planet. But to take the next step in unlocking Mars’ secrets, we need to get Martian samples back to Earth.
The Planetary Society Blog 4 Jun 2019, 19:18 UTC Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully dropped a second target marker on Ryugu. The reflective softball-sized sphere, which contains the names of Planetary Society members and other supporters, will give the spacecraft a visual guide if mission planners send it back to the surface to attempt a second sample collection.
Centauri Dreams 4 Jun 2019, 17:36 UTC Did huge fires several million years ago force a transition from forest to savanna in northeast Africa? It’s a tantalizing thought, as such fires have been seen as a possible factor in driving the emergence of bipedalism in our remote ancestors. Andrew Melott (University of Kansas), who looks at the question in a new paper in the Journal of Geology, notes that our precursors would have adapted to such massive changes to their habitat, evolving to support life amidst the abundant grasslands that had replaced their former tree-filled environments.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Blog 4 Jun 2019, 16:46 UTC This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and a chance to celebrate its many and diverse accomplishments. A critical aspect of Chandra's impact on astrophysics is its synergies with observations of phenomena throughout the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and through other channels like gravity waves and neutrinos. Our study highlights how studies of the X-ray emission of a rare type of galaxy complement and augment what has been learned from observations of the stellar light at longer wavelengths.
New Scientist 4 Jun 2019, 08:00 UTC The power of planetary alignments is normally reserved for unscientific horoscopes, but it turns out they might have some importance after all. The sun has an 11-year cycle of activity, and it may be shepherded by alignments of Venus, Earth, and Jupiter.
Universe Today 3 Jun 2019, 20:56 UTC Japanese astronomers have captured images of an astonishing 1800 supernovae. 58 of these supernovae are the scientifically-important Type 1a supernovae located 8 billion light years away. Type 1a supernovae are known as ‘standard candles’ in astronomy.