The Planetary Society Blog 10 Nov 2017, 12:00 UTC As someone who writes about space, I am often asked by friends, family and occasionally media representatives to rattle off a list of exciting future space things. If given time to think about it, I usually settle on something tied to the search for life beyond Earth. Whether it's the discovery of microbes in Europa's subsurface ocean or signs of photosynthesis on an exoplanet, I hope I live to see the day when we figure out we're not alone in the universe.
ESO Announcements 10 Nov 2017, 12:00 UTC The latest release of ESO’s Virtual Tours includes the option to view them in virtual reality mode as well as 360-degree panoramic mode. You can now use a cell phone with either a standard cardboard virtual reality headset or oculus rift glasses, to experience tours of ESO’s facilities in an exciting new way. This latest release also includes new and updated virtual tours of ESO’s observatories and facilities, bringing with them better functionality on computers and new panoramic views taken during the recent fulldome expedition.
ESO Blog 10 Nov 2017, 11:00 UTC ESO telescopes give us amazing glimpses of the Universe, but they’re not the only way for us Earth-bound humans to travel to the stars. The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cutting-edge free astronomy centre at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, made possible by a substantial donation from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung. It will open its doors in April 2018, but in the meantime we chatted with Tania Johnston, ESO Supernova Coordinator, to find out what it’s like to build the first open-source planetarium in the world.
Tom's Astronomy Blog 10 Nov 2017, 04:23 UTC Just look at this beautiful view of Earth from 10,000 miles / 16,100 km — taken in 1967! As is usually the case you can click the image for a larger version; however in this case you should go to NASA’s Image of the Day and get the REALLY large version. NASA — On November 9, 1967, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. A 70mm camera was programmed to look out a window toward Earth, and take a series of photographs from “high apogee.” Seen looking west are coastal Brazil, the Atlantic Ocean, West Africa and Antarctica. This photograph was made as the Apollo 4 spacecraft, still attached to the S-IVB (third) stage, orbited Earth at an altitude of 9,544 miles. Credit: NASA/Yvette Smith BTW: There will be launch of a Cygnus cargo spaceship to the International Space Station on Saturday. Orbital ATK is planning on launching the CRS-8 mission from NASA’s Whallops Flight Facility.
AmericaSpace 10 Nov 2017, 00:00 UTC Is there life on Enceladus? Are there any Enceladan bacteria or other little critters swimming in that alien ocean on this tiny moon of Saturn? We don’t know yet, but there is compelling evidence from the Cassini mission for at least a habitable environment in the dark waters below the icy crust. What’s needed now is to return to Enceladus with new and better instruments, designed especially to search for signs of active biology, which Cassini couldn’t do. Now, a new instrument has been designed by NASA which would further study the water vapor plumes erupting from the moon’s south pole and analyze what’s in them in more detail than previously possible. Those plumes are tantalizingly connected to the salty subsurface ocean below the surface ice.
Astro Bob 9 Nov 2017, 22:04 UTC NASA’s Juno probe took its 9th set of unbelievable images during it most recent close flyby of Jupiter on Oct. 24. The spacecraft travels in a highly elongated orbit around Jupiter once every 53 days. For just two hours during that time, it loops in close to the planet’s polar regions to grab data and new images. That closest point is called perijove, when Juno skims just 2,100 miles above Jupiter’s cloud tops while ripping by at 129,000 miles an hour (57.8 km/sec).
Universe Today 9 Nov 2017, 19:37 UTC The weather on Venus is like something out of Dante’s Inferno. The average surface temperature – 737 K (462 °C; 864 °F) – is hot enough to melt lead and the atmospheric pressure is 92 times that of Earth’s at sea level (9.2 Mbar). For this reason, very few robotic missions have ever made it to the surface of Venus, and those that have did not last long – ranging from about 20 minutes to just over two hours.