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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 18 Feb 2020, 21:52 UTC NASA's Juno mission has provided its first science results on the amount of water in Jupiter's atmosphere. Published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy, the Juno results estimate that at the equator, water makes up about 0.25% of the molecules in Jupiter's atmosphere - almost three times that of the Sun. These are also the first findings on the gas giant's abundance of water since the agency's 1995 Galileo mission suggested Jupiter might be extremely dry compared to the Sun (the comparison is based not on liquid water but on the presence of its components, oxygen and hydrogen, present in the Sun).
New Horizons 18 Feb 2020, 19:00 UTC Ninety years ago today, Clyde Tombaugh, a young astronomer working at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered Pluto. In doing so he unknowingly opened the door to the vast "third zone" of the solar system we now know as the Kuiper Belt, containing countless planetesimals and dwarf planets—the third class of planets in our solar system.
NASA's Ames Research Center News and Features 14 Feb 2020, 15:00 UTC Over a year ago, the New Horizons spacecraft flew by a strange object at the edge of our solar system. Just a hazy form resembling a snowman on the day of the spacecraft’s closest approach, Arrokoth is now taking shape to be a fascinating and revelatory member of the region of the solar system beyond Neptune's orbit known as the Kuiper Belt. Untouched by the usual turmoil and impacts of most small objects, this pristinely preserved world could tell us about the earliest years of our solar system's formation.
ESA Space Science 13 Feb 2020, 10:00 UTC This image shows a region of Mars’ surface named Nilosyrtis Mensae. It comprises data gathered on 29 September 2019 during orbit 19908. The ground resolution is approximately 15 m/pixel and the images are centred at about 69°E/31°N. This image was created using data from the nadir and colour channels of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). The nadir channel is aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, as if looking straight down at the surface. This perspective looks over the region from north to south.
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Scientific American 20 Feb 2020, 14:22 UTC Not that long ago, it seemed the glory days of NASA’s New Horizons mission were in the rearview mirror, left behind with its historic Pluto encounter in 2015. Then, early last year, the spacecraft streaked by Arrokoth, a bit of flotsam drifting through the Kuiper Belt—the diffuse ring of primitive icy bodies beyond Neptune, of which Pluto is the largest member.
Sky and Telescope 19 Feb 2020, 15:32 UTC With the February dark of the Moon upon us, we have a fine opportunity to enjoy some winter sights. Perhaps most appealing for naked-eye observers is an impressive collection of stellar luminaries. Face south at nightfall, and no fewer than seven stars of first magnitude or brighter can be taken in with a single view. Most are included in the Winter Hexagon, as shown in the chart above.
Bad Astronomy 19 Feb 2020, 14:00 UTC A team of astronomers has just announced they may have found a planet orbiting the red dwarf star GJ 1151, but the technique is entirely novel: The planet is interacting with the star magnetically, creating an aurora not on the planet but on the star itself!
Centauri Dreams 18 Feb 2020, 17:25 UTC The 30th anniversary of the famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ image of Earth, which took place on February 14, is an appropriate occasion for the newly updated image below, which brings the latest methods to bear on the data Voyager 1 presented us. Our planet takes up less than a single pixel and for that reason is not fully resolved. The rays of sunlight due to scattering within the camera optics intersect with Earth, reminding us that from Voyager’s position 6 billion kilometers from home, the Earth/Sun separation was only a matter of a few degrees.
Bad Astronomy 18 Feb 2020, 14:00 UTC On January 1, 2019 — just three and half years after it passed Pluto — the new Horizons spacecraft zipped past the Kuiper Belt Object called (at that time) 2014 MU69. We knew a little about it before the encounter, like that it traveled around the Sun in a fairly circular path 6.6 billion kilometers away, and that it was either a binary object or bilobed; two objects connected together like the comet 67P. But then New Horizons sailed past it at a distance of only 3,500 kilometers — after traveling more than 6 billion — and we learned a lot more.