Astronomy Now 22 May 2019, 19:51 UTC Scientists have discovered remnants of ancient ice sheets buried in sand a mile beneath Mars’s north pole, they report in a new study. The findings show conclusive evidence of the waxing and waning of polar ice on the red planet due to changes in its orbit and tilt, according to the study’s authors.
Universe Today 22 May 2019, 17:27 UTC NASA has chosen 11 American companies to help them build the next lunar landers that will carry humans to the surface of the Moon. The 11 companies will conduct studies and work on prototype landers in the coming years. It’s all part of NASA’s Artemis mission, and the mission’s 2024 date with the surface of the Moon.
Physics World Blog 22 May 2019, 15:56 UTC In the May edition of the Physics World Stories podcast, Andrew Glester reflects on the biggest astronomy story of the year – the first ever image of a black hole and its “shadow.” Unless you’ve been living in a black hole yourself, you will have seen the glowing donut/eye of Sauron/smiley face, which is actually the supermassive black hole at the centre of the M87 elliptical galaxy, some 55 million light-years from Earth. The image represents an incredible feat of science and engineering, produced from petabytes of data captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of individual radio telescopes and telescopic arrays scattered across the globe.
Starts With a Bang! 21 May 2019, 14:01 UTC Imagine the early days of our Solar System, going back billions of years. The Sun was cooler and less luminous, but there were (at least) two planets — Earth and Mars — with liquid water covering large portions of their surfaces. Neither world was completely frozen over owing to the substantial presence of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Both may have even had primitive life forms in their young oceans, paving the way for a bright, biology-friendly future. Over the past few billion years, both planets have undergone dramatic changes. Yet, for some reason, while Earth became oxygen-rich, remained temperate, and saw life explode on its surface, Mars simply died. Its oceans disappeared; it lost its atmosphere; and no life signs have yet been found there. There must be a reason why Mars died while Earth survived. It took decades, but science has finally figured it out.
Bad Astronomy 21 May 2019, 13:00 UTC Mars has fascinated humans for, well, forever. A bloodshot, baleful eye in the heavens… telescopic observations furthered its allure, with straight lines across the surface that looked like canals, and barely glimpsed features that changed with season, hinting at perhaps Earth-like conditions.