Centauri Dreams 9 Feb 2018, 15:13 UTC The search for life in the solar system has been one of the guiding goals of space exploration since its conception. The recent discoveries that the icy moons of the giant planets in our solar system contain vast oceans, has made them prime targets for that search. In particular, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus (Figure 1) are currently the most promising candidates among the icy moons, as they appear to fulfill the basic requirements for them to host life: the heat that is generated by the tidal pull of the parent planet maintains a subglacial ocean in the liquid state and in direct contact with the rocky core of the moon, through which reactions critical for the creation of the building blocks of basic life as we understand it can occur. Exchange processes through the thick ice shells covering those moons, much like in the polar regions of Earth, mean that further chemicals needed for life are transported from the surface where they have been delivered by e.g. micrometeoroids, all the way down to the ocean. The chemical makeup of plume jets found to emanate from the south pole of Enceladus by the recently decommissioned Cassini spacecraft further ...
ESO Blog 9 Feb 2018, 11:00 UTC Over the centuries, astronomers have learned that stars are not just static pinpricks of light in the sky — they are dynamic and evolving objects that go through life cycles. Stars of different sizes evolve in different ways, and many processes of stellar evolution are still poorly understood. In a recent paper that appeared in Astronomy & Astrophysics, ESO astronomer Markus Wittkowski and his team imaged a star belonging to a particular group of old stars called AGB stars. We chatted to Markus to find out more.
Space Fellowship 9 Feb 2018, 09:22 UTC This digitally processed and composited picture creatively compares two famous eclipses in one; the total lunar eclipse (left) of January 31, and the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. The Moon appears near mid-totality in both the back-to-back total eclipses. In the lunar eclipse, its surface remains faintly illuminated in Earth’s dark reddened shadow. But in the solar eclipse the Moon is in silhouette against the Sun’s bright disk, where the otherwise dark lunar surface is just visible due to earthshine.
Geekwire 9 Feb 2018, 02:58 UTC Two and a half years after becoming the first probe to study Pluto up close, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is gaining more fame for possessing the solar system’s farthest-out camera in operation. New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager looked at two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects that New Horizons has been traveling through in the wake of its Pluto encounter. The two false-color images, showing the objects known as 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, are what gave LORRI its record as the farthest-out camera.
The Planetary Society Blog 8 Feb 2018, 22:10 UTC There has been a lot of discussion regarding the ability of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket to carry big things into space. But the Falcon Heavy is not just for big things, it can also throw light things into space very fast. And that has significant implications for the exploration of heretofore hard-to-reach places in our outer solar system—particularly the ocean moons of the giant planets.
io9 Space 8 Feb 2018, 20:40 UTC You may remember that, as a publicity stunt, SpaceX propelled a red Tesla, driven by a dummy in a spacesuit named Starman with the words “DON’T PANIC” written on the control panel, into space using its Falcon Heavy rocket. That car is now a permanent advertisement on the NASA HORIZONS directory of solar system bodies.
Centauri Dreams 8 Feb 2018, 18:00 UTC It was in 1775 that Pierre-Simon Laplace developed his theories of tidal dynamics, formulating in the following year a set of equations to explain the phenomenon at a greater level of detail than ever before. Looking at the Moon on a frosty winter night, it’s pleasing to realize that there is a mountainous region at the end of Montes Jura in Mare Imbrium that is called Promontorium Laplace. Surely the French astronomer and mathematician would have been pleased.
All About Space 8 Feb 2018, 15:46 UTC How the Solar System formed, and evolved into what we see today, is a topic that is ever changing after the release of new information. The latest research in this case is a study conducted by the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder, United States, which focused on the Moon’s equatorial bulge. The new results suggest that the Moon solidified after its formation over four billion years ago, before gradually moving away from Earth that, at the time, had all its surface water frozen.