Space & Exploration

Australia is still listening to Voyager 2 as NASA confirms the probe is now in interstellar space

Australia is still listening to Voyager 2 as NASA confirms the probe is now in interstellar space

NASA has confirmed that Voyager 2 has joined its twin to become only the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space – where the Sun’s flow of material and magnetic field no longer affect its surroundings. The slightly faster Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in August 2012.

Mercury-Bound BepiColombo is About to Start Using the Most Powerful Ion Engines Ever Sent to Space

Mercury-Bound BepiColombo is About to Start Using the Most Powerful Ion Engines Ever Sent to Space

A handful of spacecraft have used ion engines to reach their destinations, but none have been as powerful as the engines on the BepiColombo spacecraft. BepiColombo is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA.) It was launched on October 20, 2018, and has gone through weeks of in-flight commissioning. On Sunday it turned on its powerful ion thrusters for the first time.

Bizarre ‘dark fluid’ with negative mass could dominate the universe – what my research suggests

Bizarre ‘dark fluid’ with negative mass could dominate the universe – what my research suggests

It’s embarrassing, but astrophysicists are the first to admit it. Our best theoretical model can only explain 5% of the universe. The remaining 95% is famously made up almost entirely of invisible, unknown material dubbed dark energy and dark matter. So even though there are a billion trillion stars in the observable universe, they are actually extremely rare.

New SPECULOOS Telescope Sees First Light. Soon it’ll be Seeing Habitable Planets Around Ultra-Cool Stars

New SPECULOOS Telescope Sees First Light. Soon it’ll be Seeing Habitable Planets Around Ultra-Cool Stars

Our newest planet-hunting telescope is up and running at the ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. SPECULOOS, which stands for Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars, is actually four 1-meter telescopes working together. The first images from the ‘scopes are in, and though it hasn’t found any other Earths yet, the images are still impressive.

Mars New Home 'a Large Sandbox'

Mars New Home 'a Large Sandbox'

With InSight safely on the surface of Mars, the mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is busy learning more about the spacecraft's landing site. They knew when InSight landed on Nov. 26 that the spacecraft had touched down on target, a lava plain named Elysium Planitia. Now they've determined that the vehicle sits slightly tilted (about 4 degrees) in a shallow dust- and sand-filled impact crater known as a "hollow." InSight has been engineered to operate on a surface with an inclination up to 15 degrees.

Worms in space: why we are launching them

Worms in space: why we are launching them

Space launches are some of the most spectacular and nerve wracking events you can witness. And when you are actually involved in one, you realize just how much can go wrong. We are currently in Florida, nervously counting down the hours until we launch our experiment, sending thousands of microscopic worms to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Now that TESS is Operational, Astronomers Estimate it’ll Find 14,000 Planets. 10 Could Be Earthlike Worlds in a Sunlike Star’s Habitable Zone

Now that TESS is Operational, Astronomers Estimate it’ll Find 14,000 Planets. 10 Could Be Earthlike Worlds in a Sunlike Star’s Habitable Zone

How many exoplanets are there? Not that long ago, we didn’t know if there were any. Then we detected a few around pulsars. Then the Kepler spacecraft was launched and it discovered a couple thousand more. Now NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is operational, and a new study predicts its findings.

We May Soon Be Able To See the First, Supergiant Stars in the Universe

We May Soon Be Able To See the First, Supergiant Stars in the Universe

We need to talk about the dark ages. No, not those dark ages after the fall of the western Roman Empire. The cosmological dark ages. The time in our universe, billions of years ago, before the formation of the first stars. And we need to talk about the cosmic dawn: the birth of those first stars, a tumultuous epoch that completely reshaped the face the cosmos into its modern form.

One of the Most Exciting Parts of InSight is Actually the Tiny Cubesats Tagging Along for the Ride and Their Role in the Mission

One of the Most Exciting Parts of InSight is Actually the Tiny Cubesats Tagging Along for the Ride and Their Role in the Mission

Yesterday, NASA’s Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the Martian surface after spending seven long months in space. Over the course of the next few hours, the lander began the surface operations phase of its mission, which involved deploying its solar arrays. The lander also managed to take some pictures of the surface, which showed the region where it will be studying Mars’ interior for the next two years.

Hubble’s First Picture After Returning to Service. The Telescope is Fully Operational Again with Three Working Gyros

Hubble’s First Picture After Returning to Service. The Telescope is Fully Operational Again with Three Working Gyros

The Hubble Space Telescope is a hero in the astronomy world. And when it suffered a malfunctioning gyro on October 5th, it took a heroic effort on the part of the Hubble team to get it working again. Now we have Hubble’s first picture after its return to service.

InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

NASA's InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight's landing site.

How we discovered that supermassive black holes can power enormous ‘galactic fountains’

How we discovered that supermassive black holes can power enormous ‘galactic fountains’

A fountain in a garden pond could shoot a plume of water to roughly three metres in height. By comparison, the famous fountain on Lake Geneva launches a plume of water up to 140m into the air. Now imagine a fountain launched from the centre of a galaxy, with a supermassive black hole acting as the pump. How far do you think this plume would extend? The answer is over 100,000 light years.