astrobites 8 May 2018, 17:28 UTC The type of matter that makes up humans, the Earth, and all of the stars in the Universe is only a fraction of the matter that exists. The rest is made up of a mysterious dark matter that light passes straight through, leaving it invisible. Although we cannot see this dark matter, we know that it exists because of the effect that it has on things that we can see. For example, just like the wind reveals its presence by blowing the leaves on trees, dark matter gives itself away by its gravitational pull on stars and galaxies. Today’s paper explores how we might use future telescopes to study this gravitational pull on stellar systems to describe the dark matter in our Universe. One type of astronomical system that is particularly susceptible to the effects of dark matter is stellar streams
io9 Space 8 May 2018, 15:50 UTC Jupiter is in opposition today, meaning it’s exactly opposite the sun in the sky, like the Moon when it’s full. The gas giant will be brighter than any star in the sky. I was able to see the bands of gas and dust and the four brightest moons, Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io, with a small telescope.
Centauri Dreams 8 May 2018, 13:01 UTC The SETI effort run by Breakthrough Listen is beginning to hit on all cylinders. Yesterday came news that observations at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales have been extended. You may recall that work at the site began in November of 2016, when Parkes joined the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, USA, and the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at Lick Observatory in California in Breakthrough’s search for extraterrestrial signals.
The Planetary Society Blog 7 May 2018, 21:04 UTC A few years ago, I ran across a copy of NASA Special Publication 441, Viking Orbiter Views of Mars, at the Prairie Archives in Springfield, IL. This book was originally published in 1978 to highlight the discoveries that the Viking program was in the process of making. As I flipped through the pages, I saw hundreds of spectacular images ranging from birds’ eye views of the entire planet, to the weather, and to the seasonal heartbeat of the polar ice caps. And I wondered to myself – why hadn’t many of these images been reprocessed? They were fuzzy, grainy and oversaturated. Mosaics, painstakingly and lovingly constructed with paper and scissors, showed seams that often made interpretation of details difficult. These were postcards from the Solar System – a tourist’s idea of what other planets were like, but clearly not the experience of being there.
NASA Space Station Blog 7 May 2018, 18:18 UTC International Space Station officials will preview a pair of upcoming spacewalks live on NASA TV Tuesday. Meanwhile, Orbital ATK is getting its Cygnus resupply ship ready for launch in less than two weeks while the Expedition 55 crew focuses on biomedical studies today. Two NASA astronauts are going out for a spacewalk May 16 to swap out thermal control gear that circulates ammonia to keep station systems cool. Station experts will be on NASA TV beginning at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday to preview next week’s spacewalk including a second spacewalk planned for June 14. Both excursions will be conducted by veteran spacewalkers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel.
Astronomy Now 7 May 2018, 15:56 UTC Making a fiery climb into a foggy sky Saturday over California’s Central Coast, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket dispatched NASA’s InSight lander on a 484-million-kilometre voyage to Mars with a package of European-built instruments to probe the inside of the Red Planet. The billion-dollar robotic mission took off at 1105 GMT (4:05 a.m. PDT) Saturday from Space Launch Complex 3-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, a secure military post northwest of Los Angeles that had never before hosted a launch to another planet.
Sky and Telescope 7 May 2018, 14:36 UTC Mars season is here. This summer sees the Red Planet make a fine opposition pass on July 31, 2018, one that's nearly as favorable as the historic opposition of 2003. This alignment means it's the season for Mars-bound missions. NASA launched its Mars Insight mission on Saturday, May 5th — the only mission making the trip from Mars to Earth this season. But Mars Insight has company: twin Mars Cube One satellites launched with the larger mission.
ESO Announcements 7 May 2018, 13:00 UTC The digging of the foundations for the dome and telescope structure of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has begun on Cerro Armazones — at an altitude of over 3000 metres in Chile's Atacama Desert. The work is being carried out by the ACe Consortium, consisting of Astaldi and Cimolai. These dramatic pictures were taken to mark this event by ESO photo ambassador Gerhard Hüdepohl, who used a drone to gaze down on Cerro Armazones.
Parabolic Arc 5 May 2018, 20:01 UTC PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Starting next year, scientists will get their first look deep below the surface of Mars. That’s when NASA will send the first robotic lander dedicated to exploring the planet’s subsurface. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, will study marsquakes to learn about the Martian crust, mantle and core.