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Astronomy News

Comet probe 'sniffed' organic molecules: early data

Paris - Mankind's first-ever probe of a comet found traces of organic molecules and a surface much harder than imagined, scientists said Tuesday of initial sample data from robot lab Philae.

Images show Philae's historic comet bounce

Paris - The European Space Agency (ESA)on Sunday unveiled images of the probe Philae after it bounced while making its historic landing on a comet last Wednesday.

Comet probe sends back science treasure in final hours

Paris - Europe's science probe Philae sent home a treasure trove of data from a comet heading towards the Sun before falling silent as its power ran out, mission control said Saturday.

Low-battery probe uploading data from comet: ESA

Paris - Europe's comet probe Philae uploaded a slew of science data to Earth Friday, ending a nailbiting wait by mission controllers who feared it would run out of power before making final contact.

Comet probe in race against time to crown stellar feat

Paris - Europe's deep-space robot lab Philae worked against the clock Friday, attempting to drill into a comet 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth to crown a historic exploration before its battery runs out.

Despite landing fumble, comet probe working well

Paris - Europe's comet probe Philae was "working well" despite a rough-and-tumble touchdown that left it partly shadowed from battery-boosting sunlight, ground controllers said Thursday.

Scientists hope for data after historic but dodgy comet landing

Darmstadt - European scientists were hoping for a stream of data Thursday after a robot lab made the first-ever landing on a comet, a key step in a marathon mission to probe the mysteries of space.

Probe lands on comet in space first: ESA

Darmstadt - The European probe Philae has made the first-ever landing on a comet, a crowning phase in a quest to explore the origins of the Solar System, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

All systems go for historic comet landing

Darmstadt - The European Space Agency (ESA) ordered a probe to attempt Wednesday the first landing on a comet and investigate one of the great mysteries of the Solar System.

Comet-landing mission on track, one last hurdle ahead

Paris - Europe's mission to land the first-ever probe on a comet was on track Wednesday with one final "go" pending for the robot lab to eject from its mothership and start a nail-biting seven-hour descent.

Europe set to make space history with comet landing

Paris - One of the biggest gambles in space history comes to a climax on Wednesday when Europe attempts to make the first-ever landing on a comet.

NASA announces live coverage of European comet landing

Pasadena - NASA television will provide live coverage of the European Space Agency’s comet lander mission scheduled to touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov.12.

Black holes acting as stopcocks shutting off new star formation

Baltimore - Massive black holes at the centre of older galaxies operate as a brake on the formation of new stars, a study has found.

Two families of comets found orbiting nearby star

Paris - Such has been the huge advances in the field of space telescopes in recent years that astronomers are now turning their attention to comets in orbit around stars other than our Sun.

Saturn’s weird wobbly moon, Mimas

Ithaca - Saturn’s moon Mimas is already an oddity, being the most cratered object in the Solar System and likened to the Death Star of Star Wars fame. But new research this week points to Mimas being even weirder than previously thought.

Tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa — another similarity to Earth

Moscow - Planetary geologists report evidence that Jupiter’s moon Europa shows signs of plate tectonics, shaping and moulding the moon’s surface similar to geological activity on Earth.

Europe sees five possible sites for first-ever comet landing

Paris - The European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday said it had drawn up a shortlist of five possible sites for carrying out the first-ever landing on a comet.

Astronomy: Radio waves key to tracking down elusive exomoons

Arlington - Hardly a week passes these days without scientists and astronomers reporting on the discovery of a new exoplanet — a planet outwith our solar system.

Op-Ed: First extra solar particles discovered

Sydney - A NASA spacecraft called Stardust brought back particles from space which are now believed to be the first particles to be identified as originating from outside the solar system.

South Korea's only astronaut quits and ends their space program

Yi So-yeon quit her job as an astronaut to focus on interactions between science and business. As South Korea's first and only astronaut this ends the program for the country at this time.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover to unlock more Martian secrets

Washington - NASA’s successor to the Mars Curiosity rover will head to the red planet in 2020 carrying a payload of scientific instruments that will explore Mars as never before.

Scientific discovery changes how we view the moon

Most of our readers probably think of the moon as a circle, or perhaps as a "big pizza pie" as one song puts it. Researchers have now found that it is actually shaped like a lemon.

NASA tests robotics and laser-powered drills for Europa mission

Anchorage - Jupiter's icy moon Europa is the next target for some NASA scientists. Scientists are testing a robot equipped with a drill powered by laser energy carried through a fiber-optic wire.

Astronomy: Most precise measurement of exoplanet to date

Pasadena - Aided by two NASA telescopes, astronomers have made the most precise calculation yet of the size of an exoplanet — a planet outwith our solar system.

Oceans crucial as search for alien life gathers pace

Norwich - New research published Monday on the role of oceans could help determine whether other planets outwith our solar system are capable of developing and sustaining life.

Scientist wants to use LED light to grow plants on other planets

Ontario - Researcher Mike Dixon with the University of Guelph in Canada has some big plans to amplify Light-Emitting Diode (LED) energy. If these work they could provide an energy source for plants to grow on Mars and other planets throughout the solar system.

Nearby planet has atmosphere very similar to Earth

A new planet may be our best evidence yet that habitable worlds exist near Earth. New findings show that a "super-Earth" may be our ticket to the colonization of this galaxy.

Remarkable discovery of 'Earth-sized diamond' white dwarf star

Charlottesville - A team of US-based astronomers has identified an ancient stellar remnant, a white dwarf star so cool that it’s caused carbon to crystallize effectively producing an Earth-sized diamond in space.

Molecule essential for water found in dying stars

New evidence suggests that some dying stars contain OH+ which can be used as a building block for water. This lends more credibility to the argument for additional life in the universe.

Scientists may have found first TZO

Polish Astrophysicist Anna Zytkow believes she may have found the first evidence of a theoretical star type, the Thorne-Zytkow object (TZO).
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Astronomy Image

Artist s impression of the newly discovered star WISE J085510.83-071442.5  the coldest known brown d...
Artist's impression of the newly discovered star WISE J085510.83-071442.5, the coldest known brown dwarf star. Brown dwarfs are dim star-like bodies that lack the mass to burn nuclear fuel as other stars do.The new star is the fourth closest to our Sun, at 7.2 light-years from Earth.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Penn State University
Artist s conception of HIP-11952 and its two orbiting exoplanets.
Artist's conception of HIP-11952 and its two orbiting exoplanets.
Timotheos Samartzidis
Bridging Cities of Galaxies: Planck has discovered a bridge of hot gas that connects galaxy clusters...
Bridging Cities of Galaxies: Planck has discovered a bridge of hot gas that connects galaxy clusters Abell 399 (lower center) & Abell 401 (top left). The galaxy pair is located about a billion light-years from Earth. The gas bridge extends approximately 10 million light-years between them. The image shows the 2 galaxy clusters as seen at optical wavelengths with ground-based telescopes & through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect (in orange) with the Planck satellite.
NSA/JPL Sunyaev–Zel’dovich effect: ESA Planck Collaboration; optical image: STScI Digitized Sky
The faces of Iowa s next generation of leaders shine with hope on the Silicon Prairie
The faces of Iowa's next generation of leaders shine with hope on the Silicon Prairie
Joe Crimmings Photography
Diagram illustrating the closest star systems to the Sun with dates discovered. 

NASA s Wide-field ...
Diagram illustrating the closest star systems to the Sun with dates discovered. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, found two of the four closest systems: the binary brown dwarf WISE 1049-5319 and the brown dwarf WISE J085510.83-071442.5.
NASA/Penn State University
A false-color image from NASA s Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn s north pole. The ey...
A false-color image from NASA's Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn's north pole. The eye of a hurricane-like storm appears dark red while the fast-moving hexagonal jet stream framing it is a yellowish green.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Artist s impression of Luhman 16B recreated from VLT observations. Luhman 16B is one of a pair of br...
Artist's impression of Luhman 16B recreated from VLT observations. Luhman 16B is one of a pair of brown dwarf objects just 6 light years from the Sun. Astronomers have produced the first maps of Luhman 16B's atmosphere.
ESO / I. Crossfield/N. Risinger
This rendering shows the size of GJ 1214b and another  larger exoplanet compared to Earth and Neptun...
This rendering shows the size of GJ 1214b and another, larger exoplanet compared to Earth and Neptune. Researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on the alien world of GJ 1214b.
NASA & ESA
Elliptical galaxy NGC 1132  as seen by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory; the blue/purple in the im...
Elliptical galaxy NGC 1132, as seen by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory; the blue/purple in the image is the X-ray glow from hot, diffuse gas that is not forming into stars.
NASA, ESA, M. West (ESO, Chile), and CXC/Penn State University/G. Garmire, et al.
The ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) during observations. A reddish laser beam is launched to create a...
The ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) during observations. A reddish laser beam is launched to create an artificial star at an altitude of 90 km in the Earth´s mesosphere. This Laser Guide Star (LGS) allows astronomers to remove the effects of atmospheric turbulence, producing images almost as sharp as if the telescope were in space.
ESO - Serge Brunier.
A schematic of a plasma torus around an exoplanet  which is created by the ions injected from an exo...
A schematic of a plasma torus around an exoplanet, which is created by the ions injected from an exomoon's ionosphere into the planet's magnetosphere.
University of Texas at Arlington
There were several breaks throughout the day  giving attendees time to network meaningfully.
There were several breaks throughout the day, giving attendees time to network meaningfully.
Joe Crimmings Photography
The faces of Iowa s next generation of leaders shine with hope on the Silicon Prairie
The faces of Iowa's next generation of leaders shine with hope on the Silicon Prairie
Joe Crimmings Photography
Diagramatic showing location of Horsehead Nebula in relation to surrounding objects
Diagramatic showing location of Horsehead Nebula in relation to surrounding objects
ESA / Herschel
Michael C. Hall entertains the guests in between speakers
Michael C. Hall entertains the guests in between speakers
Joe Crimmings Photography
Surface map of Luhman 16B recreated from VLT observations. ESO s Very Large Telescope has been used ...
Surface map of Luhman 16B recreated from VLT observations. ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth. The figure shows the object at six equally spaced times as it rotates once on its axis
ESO / I. Crossfield
Picture of the oldest known star.
Picture of the oldest known star.
Space Telescope Science Institute
An artist’s impression of a stretched rocky planet in orbit around a red dwarf star. So close to t...
An artist’s impression of a stretched rocky planet in orbit around a red dwarf star. So close to the star, there is a difference in the strength of the gravitational field on each side of the planet, stretching it significantly.
Royal Astronomical Society - Shivam Sikroria.
Artist’s conception of HIP 13044 and its exoplanet. A previously discovered metal-poor planetary s...
Artist’s conception of HIP 13044 and its exoplanet. A previously discovered metal-poor planetary system, it was formed in another galaxy that our own galaxy engulfed.
ESO/L. Calçada