ESA Space Science 21 Feb 2018, 10:00 UTC Slowed by skimming through the very top of the upper atmosphere, ESA’s ExoMars has lowered itself into a planet-hugging orbit and is about ready to begin sniffing the Red Planet for methane. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrived at Mars in October 2016 to investigate the potentially biological or geological origin of trace gases in the atmosphere. It will also serve as a relay, connecting rovers on the surface with their controllers on Earth. But before any of this could get underway, the spacecraft had to transform its initial, highly elliptical four-day orbit of about 98 000 x 200 km into the final, much lower and circular path at about 400 km.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Feb 2018, 19:00 UTC Sometimes on a dark night near the poles, the sky pulses a diffuse glow of green, purple and red. Unlike the long, shimmering veils of typical auroral displays, these pulsating auroras are much dimmer and less common. While scientists have long known auroras to be associated with solar activity, the precise mechanism of pulsating auroras was unknown. Now, new research, using data from NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms — or THEMIS — mission and Japan’s Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace — shortened to ERG, or also known as Arase — satellite, has finally captured the missing link thought responsible for these auroras. The answer lies in chirping waves that rhythmically pulse the particles that create the auroras.
ESA Top News 20 Feb 2018, 15:55 UTC The Franco-Italian Antarctic research base of Concordia sits 1670 km from the South Pole. On the plateau some 3200 m high, the air is so thin that inhabitants live in a permanent state of hypoxia – lack of oxygen. The closest humans are 600 km away at Russia’s Vostok base. Average temperatures range from –30°C in the summer months to –60°C in the winter. The ‘winterover’ crew who stay during the long cold winter to conduct research do not see the Sun rise above the horizon for four months. The crew learn to cope and live with the threats of cold, darkness, monotony, danger and no possibility of rescue.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Feb 2018, 14:31 UTC The planet Mars has fascinated scientists for over a century. Today, it is a frigid desert world with a carbon dioxide atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth’s. But evidence suggests that in the early history of our solar system, Mars had an ocean’s worth of water. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study Mars to learn more about the planet’s transition from wet to dry, and what that means about its past and present habitability.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 16 Feb 2018, 14:28 UTC This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster PLCK G004.5-19.5. It was discovered by the ESA Planck satellite through the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect — the distortion of the cosmic microwave background radiation in the direction of the galaxy cluster by high-energy electrons in the intracluster gas. The large galaxy at the center is the brightest galaxy in the cluster, and above it a thin, curved gravitational lens arc is visible. This arc is caused by the gravitational forces of the cluster bending the path of light from stars and galaxies behind it, in a similar way to how a glass lens bends light.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 15 Feb 2018, 18:00 UTC Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, dark storm – once big enough to stretch across the Atlantic Ocean from Boston to Portugal – is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory 15 Feb 2018, 16:10 UTC The biggest black holes in the Universe are growing faster than the rate of stars being formed in their galaxies, according to two new studies using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.
ESA Top News 15 Feb 2018, 08:15 UTC Vapour cloud trail left by the Chelyabinsk asteroid as seen by M. Ahmetvaleev on 15 February 2013.
ESA Top News 15 Feb 2018, 08:10 UTC A new international accelerator, the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), now under construction near Darmstadt, Germany, at the existing GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI), will provide particle beams like the ones that exist in space and make them available to scientists for studies that will be used to make spacecraft more robust and help humans survive the rigours of spaceflight.
Hubble Space Telescope News 14 Feb 2018, 15:00 UTC Beauty, grace, mystery — this magnificent spiral galaxy has all the qualities of a perfect galactic Valentine. Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 3344 presents itself face-on, allowing astronomers a detailed look at its intricate and elegant structure. And Hubble’s ability to observe objects over a wide range of different wavelengths reveals features that would otherwise remain invisible.