Royal Observatory Belgium 14 May 2018, 08:32 UTC The planetary scientists at the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB) are delighted to announce the signing of a contract between the European Space Agency’s PRODEX (PROgramme for the Development of scientific Experiments) programme and Antwerp Space for the delivery of LaRa (Lander Radioscience), a ‘martian’ instrument onboard ExoMars 2020.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 11 May 2018, 20:51 UTC NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars. The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 11 May 2018, 14:39 UTC In the darkness of the distant universe, these galaxies resemble glowing fireflies, flickering candles, charred embers floating up from a bonfire, and light bulbs softly shining. This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a massive group of galaxies bound together by gravity: a cluster named RXC J0032.1+1808.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 10 May 2018, 17:00 UTC Scientists analysing the first data from the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission have found two stars that revolve around each other every 38 minutes. One of the stars in the system is a rapidly spinning, superdense star called a pulsar. The discovery bestows the stellar pair with the record for the shortest-known orbital period for a certain class of pulsar binary system.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey 10 May 2018, 02:18 UTC This week marks the twentieth anniversary of “first light” for the telescope behind the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which has gone on to create by far the largest three-dimensional map of the Universe ever made. Early in the morning of May 10th, 1998, the observers and engineers pointed the Sloan Foundation Telescope to the celestial equator and light went through to the survey’s exquisitely sensitive camera. When dawn broke after a long night’s work, SDSS observer Dan Long emailed his usual observer’s log summarizing what happened. After describing the technical details of the observations, and before noting a series of newly identified problems to fix, he wrote: “Wow; What a night!”
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory 9 May 2018, 15:00 UTC Astronomers have discovered evidence for thousands of black holes located near the center of our Milky Way galaxy using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This black hole bounty consists of stellar-mass black holes, which typically weigh between five to 30 times the mass of the Sun. These newly identified black holes were found within three light years — a relatively short distance on cosmic scales — of the supermassive black hole at our Galaxy's center known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).
ESO Top News 9 May 2018, 10:00 UTC An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. This curious object likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory 7 May 2018, 15:00 UTC The U.S. Department of Energy has approved funding and start of construction for the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment, which will begin operations in the early 2020s to hunt for hypothetical dark matter particles called weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. The experiment will be at least 50 times more sensitive than its predecessor, exploring WIMP properties that can’t be probed by other experiments and giving researchers a powerful new tool to understand one of the biggest mysteries of modern physics.
ESA Top News 7 May 2018, 09:15 UTC A high-energy survey of the early Universe, an infrared observatory to study the formation of stars, planets and galaxies, and a Venus orbiter are to be considered for ESA’s fifth medium class mission in its Cosmic Vision science programme, with a planned launch date in 2032.