Centauri Dreams 25 Apr 2018, 13:18 UTC The detection of hydrogen sulfide just above the upper cloud deck of Uranus has received the nods you might expect to rotten eggs, H2S having the odor of such unappetizing objects. But this corrosive, flammable gas is quite an interesting find even if it makes a whiff of Uranian air more off-putting than it already was. Not that you’d live long enough to notice the scent if you happened to be there, as Patrick Irwin (University of Oxford, UK) is quick to note: “If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’s clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions. Suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius atmosphere made of mostly hydrogen, helium, and methane would take its toll long before the smell.”
NPR 25 Apr 2018, 13:03 UTC Wednesday was the day astronomers said goodbye to the old Milky Way they had known and loved and hello to a new view of our home galaxy.A European Space Agency mission called Gaia just released a long-awaited treasure trove of data: precise measurements of 1.7 billion stars.
Astronomy Now 24 Apr 2018, 19:50 UTC Supermassive black holes, SMBHs, are thought to lurk at the hearts of many, if not all, large galaxies, including Earth’s Milky Way. But when galaxies merge, the smaller galaxy may leave its own SMBH in a wide orbit within the new host.
NASA Space Station Blog 24 Apr 2018, 17:23 UTC The six Expedition 55 crew members are not only space scientists but also space plumbers who periodically work on the International Space Station’s toilet. Aside from today’s science and bathroom work, the crew also installed computer networking gear and inspected spacewalk equipment.
Centauri Dreams 24 Apr 2018, 12:54 UTC The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has been featured often in these pages, usually in terms of brown dwarfs and the possibility of uncovering a small star or brown dwarf closer than Proxima Centauri. But while we still have no evidence of such, we do have abundant data on brown dwarfs, as well as a useful compendium of objects that come close to the Earth. For WISE, launched in 2009 and placed into hibernation in 2011 upon completion of its primary mission, was reactivated in 2013 as NEOWISE. The goal is now the observation of asteroids and comets both near and far by way of characterizing their size and composition.
Scientific American 24 Apr 2018, 10:45 UTC In an eagerly anticipated development, astronomers have created the largest and most precise 3-D map of the Milky Way galaxy. The European Space Agency’s $1-billion Gaia mission released its newest data set in April, detailing the positions and motions of more than a billion stars.
Cosmic Diary 23 Apr 2018, 23:31 UTC The wind on Mars is an artist, or at least it tries really hard to be one. It flutters up and down mountains, winding along valleys, dragging its wings in the sand and building up really amazing structures that could win any sand sculpture award.