NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 3 May 2018, 14:00 UTC NASA’s decommissioned Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on April 30. Orbiting for more than 22 years, the 6,700-pound satellite operated from 1996 to 2012, providing scientists with an unprecedented look into the extreme environments around neutron stars — also known as pulsars — and black holes.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) 3 May 2018, 12:00 UTC ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, has reached an important milestone with the publication of the 1000th peer-reviewed paper using ALMA data. The first ALMA data paper appeared in 2012, and since then ALMA — the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence — has been instrumental in a wide range of discoveries, including detecting the ingredients of young exoplanetary systems, capturing galaxy assembly in the early Universe, and detecting the formation of the first stars. ALMA can make these discoveries by studying light with wavelengths of around one millimeter. Such light originates from some of the coldest objects in the Universe, such as the earliest and most distant galaxies in the Universe, as well as molecular clouds — dense regions of gas and dust where new stars are born.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory 2 May 2018, 17:00 UTC In some ways, star clusters are like giant families with thousands of stellar siblings. These stars come from the same origins — a common cloud of gas and dust — and are bound to one another by gravity. Astronomers think that our Sun was born in a star cluster about 4.6 billion years ago that quickly dispersed.
Hubble Space Telescope News 2 May 2018, 17:00 UTC Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b. This is the first time this element has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 1 May 2018, 14:00 UTC A new CubeSat mission — GTOSat — will not only provide key observations of the environmentally forbidding radiation belts that encircle Earth, it will provide initial steps of a new technological vision. This mission of firsts will serve as a pathfinder for new radiation-tolerant technologies that could help scientists realize a long-sought dream: deploying a constellation of small satellites beyond low-Earth orbit to gather simultaneous, multi-point measurements of Earth’s ever-changing magnetosphere, which protects the planet from the constant assault of charged particles streaming off the Sun. Furthermore, it will be the first CubeSat to operate in geostationary transfer orbit, or GTO — from which it derives its name — and the first to use the latest, more robust version of the NASA-developed Dellingr spacecraft bus — the Dellingr-X.
NASA Breaking News 30 Apr 2018, 16:55 UTC A pair of new spacecraft that will observe our planet’s ever-changing water cycle, ice sheets, and crust is in final preparations for a California launch no earlier than Saturday, May 19. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), will take over where the first GRACE mission left off when it completed its 15-year mission in 2017.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 30 Apr 2018, 14:43 UTC Far across the solar system, from where Earth appears merely as a pale blue dot, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft spent eight years orbiting Jupiter. During that time, the hearty spacecraft — slightly larger than a full-grown giraffe — sent back spates of discoveries on the gas giant’s moons, including the observation of a magnetic environment around Ganymede that was distinct from Jupiter’s own magnetic field. The mission ended in 2003, but newly resurrected data from Galileo’s first flyby of Ganymede is yielding new insights about the moon’s environment — which is unlike any other in the solar system.
ESA Top News 30 Apr 2018, 08:55 UTC Last week the much-awaited second slew of data from ESA’s Gaia mission was released, providing information on a phenomenal 1.7 billion stars – the richest star catalogue to date. To put that vast number into context, if you were to count ‘only’ to one billion at a rate of one count per second, it would take more than 30 years. The new data will surely keep astronomers busy for even longer. The dataset has already revealed fine details about the make-up of the Milky Way’s stellar population and about how stars move, essential information for investigating the formation and evolution of our home Galaxy. The treasure trove of data also includes information about stars beyond our own Galaxy. One example is illustrated in this image, which focuses on one of the nearest galaxies to our Milky Way, the Large Magellanic Cloud, or LMC.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 27 Apr 2018, 13:03 UTC This pretty, cloud-like object may not look much like a galaxy — it lacks the well-defined arms of a spiral galaxy, or the reddish bulge of an elliptical — but it is in fact something known as a lenticular galaxy. Lenticular galaxies sit somewhere between the spiral and elliptical types; they are disk-shaped, like spirals, but they no longer form large numbers of new stars and thus contain only aging populations of stars, like ellipticals.