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Space

Juno snaps images of Jupiter's moons as rendezvous approaches

Like any tourist, Juno is sending back snaps of its journey. The unmanned spacecraft was 6.8 million mi (10.9 million km) from Jupiter when it captured an image of the banded giant planet and its four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto on June 21. The image was taken by the probe's JunoCam, which NASA describes as an "outreach instrument" to increase public participation in the US$1.1 billion mission.Read More

"Lucky imaging" creates fiery composite of Jupiter

At this moment, the Juno spacecraft is hurtling towards Jupiter where it is set to take up orbit on July 4. To help map the planet for that rendezvous, the European Southern Observatory has used an instrument on its Very Large Telescope to create a stunning image of the solar system's largest planet. To bring the image to life, the space agency relied on a technique known as "lucky imaging."Read More

Astronomers set out to unravel creation of first supermassive black holes

An international team of astronomers is planning to use gravitational wave data to unravel the formation processes that created the first supermassive black holes. These gargantuan black holes lurk at the centre of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way, playing a pivotal role in galaxy formation and evolution.Read More

Hubble investigates dark spot on Neptune

If Neptune seems a bit blemished of late, it's because NASA has confirmed that a dark spot has shown up in its bluish atmosphere. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope taken in May show that a dark vortex has appeared in the southern hemisphere. This high-pressure system is accompanied by brighter "companion clouds" and is the first such dark spot to be seen this century.Read More

Feature

Surprise package: Juno nears rendezvous with Jupiter

On July 4, Americans usually celebrate Independence Day with parades, fireworks and picnics, but this year NASA is adding its own contribution to festivities as the Juno deep space probe becomes just the second spacecraft in history to orbit Jupiter. After a five-year journey, the solar-powered unmanned explorer will autonomously fire its main engine for 35 minutes as it starts a 20-month mission to study the gas giant. What will be found remains to be seen, but if history is any indicator, it's likely to be very unexpected.Read More

Does Pluto have an ocean hiding beneath its surface?

If there's one place in our solar system you would expect to be as frozen solid as a box of forgotten ice lollies, it would be Pluto. However, PhD student Noah Hammond at Brown University says that data returned in 2015 by NASA's unmanned New Horizons deep-space probe indicates that the dwarf planet may have a subsurface ocean similar to those suspected to exist on some moons of Jupiter and may be responsible for the unusual surface features.Read More

Astronomers discover youngest exoplanet to date

Astronomers have detected the youngest exoplanet ever discovered, orbiting incredibly close to a distant star. The discovery of the infant planet, known as K2-33b, could allow astronomers to gain a clearer understanding of the earlier stages of planetary formation.Read More

Japan wants to take autonomous construction extraterrestrial

With one eye on its aging population, Japan is already starting to test the waters with automated construction technologies. Members of its robotic workforce currently in action include remotely-controlled bulldozers, AI-assisted control systems and even drones. Now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is looking to take this technology to a place where there are even less able-bodied workers, the undeveloped plains of the Moon and Mars.Read More

DARPA seeks to develop command and control center for outer space

The area in the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere is a swarm of manmade objects, moving at tens of thousands of miles per hour and traversing a region hundreds of thousands of times larger than all of Earth's oceans combined. This complicates the operation of satellites for military use. DARPA has just announced its plans to come to grips with this chaotic region with the launch of a project aimed at revolutionizing the US military's command and control capabilities in space.Read More

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