This week was a disappointing one for NASA and fans of space exploration, as the space agency announced that two pioneering projects, the Kepler Space Telescope, and the Dawn spacecraft asteroid explorer, have run out of fuel and both will be left to drift in space.
UK scientists have made the first observation of gas falling into a black hole at 30% of the speed of light offering support to the theory that misaligned gas discs around black holes can cause material to fall directly into the space-time event liberating huge amounts of energy.
August 11th saw the launch of NASA’s Parker solar probe. A probe with a unique mission; to beam back a record of the plasma that comprises the Sun’s corona and the magnetic fields which shape it. The probe will fly closer to the Sun than any probe has before, facing brutal heat and radiation, even flying through the Sun’s corona, the outermost part of the star’s atmosphere. The research team behind the mission hope that this data will help solve several mysteries surrounding the Sun, such as what heats this plasma to 200 times temperature of the sun’s surface?
These are the Scisco media science dispatches for the second week in July 2018, including Mars’ ‘ghost’ dunes, CERN’s technology leads to colour X-ray breakthrough which may revolutionise disease identification and the development of ammonia s a renewable, carbon-free fuel.
The source of high-energy ‘cosmic neutrinos’ has eluded scientists for decades, that was until last September when such a particle struck a detector buried in ice at the South-Pole, research published in Science reveals. The event was coupled with the detection of a flaring ‘blazar’ by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope giving us a clue as to the origin of high-energy neutrinos. This discovery is not just significant for our knowledge of these particles however, it may help usher in a whole new age of astronomy.
The past month has seen several fairly major developments with regards to the discovery of organic molecules at different locations in the solar system. First NASA announced the discovery of variations in methane concentrations on Mars, followed by the discovery of organic molecules in Martian mudstone. More recently it was revealed that the Cassini probe had observed even more massive organic molecules on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. What is it about these discoveries that point to the possibility of life elsewhere in the Solar-system?
The observation of a planet forming from stellar material, gas and dust surrounding its parent star, has eluded astronomers for decades. Now, in research published in the latest edition of journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, two teams document the discovery of a forming exoplanet finding the process may be more complicated than previously believed.
Following the discovery of methane in rock and soil on Mars earlier this month it would seem that the solar system’s previous most likely seat of life, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, wasn’t quite ready to relinquish its title so soon. Spectral analysis from NASA’s Cassini probe has revealed the presence of complex organic molecules ejected from the moon’s icy surface, it was announced in a press release today. And in the fashion of true one-upmanship, the molecules found on Enceladus are over ten times greater in mass than methane.