Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Space

Artist's impression of Schulz's Star (Image: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

An international team of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile, and South Africa have identified a star system that most likely passed through the outer edge of our solar system at a distance of 0.8 light years some 70,000 years ago. The rogue system, nicknamed Scholz's star, is comprised of a red dwarf with a mass of roughly eight percent of our parent star, while its partner, a brown dwarf, was found to be only six percent as massive as the Sun.  Read More

The data was collected by NASA's Van Allen Probes, seen here in an artist's rendition (Ima...

Back in October 2013, two NASA probes were in the perfect position to observe a solar wave as it hit Earth’s magnetic field, gathering data on the event. That data has now been analyzed by teams of scientists at MIT’s Haystack Observatory and the University of Colorado, revealing the process by which harmful, high-speed particles are generated in Earth’s radiation belts.  Read More

Ceres as shot from NASA's Dawn spacecraft (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured the sharpest image yet of the dwarf planet Ceres. The picture was snapped at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 km), as the probe readies itself for orbital insertion slated for March 6.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Mars One spacecraft to bring the colonists to the settlement

The Mars One project, aimed at starting the first permanent human settlement on the Red Planet, has reduced its pool of prospective colonists to 100 candidates. According to the non-profit company, the selection was winnowed down from the original pool of 202,586 applicants of people from all walks of life from all over the world. However, questions remain about the viability of the project.  Read More

The SPHERE instrument, which can be seen here in black, was used to search for the brown d...

The ESO has turned the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research instrument (SPHERE) towards an unusual double star with the expectation of finding an orbiting brown dwarf. However, the observations didn’t quite go according to plan, with the instrument – which is the latest addition to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) – coming up short. The findings have led to an ongoing re-examination of the cause of the binary stars’ unusual behaviour.  Read More

Voyager 1's iconic pale blue dot, with Earth featured as a tiny spec to the right of the i...

25 years ago Voyager 1 turned back towards our planet, and captured one of the most profound images ever taken – the pale blue dot. On the face of it, the little blue dot to screen-right appears insignificant. Yet, in its scope, it captured every human being that has ever lived and ever died, every wonder and every labor that mankind had then achieved in the relatively short history of our race.  Read More

The plume was discovered by telescopic observations (Image: W. Jaeschke and D. Parker)

Astronomers are scratching their heads over mysterious plumes that have been sighted in the atmosphere of Mars. First seen by amateur astronomers using Earthbound telescopes, the plumes are at an altitude much higher than that of any clouds yet seen on the Red Planet, and may not even be clouds.  Read More

The time-lapse comprises images taken over 6.4 Earth days (Image: NASA/APL/Southwest Resea...

Following the release of the first image of Pluto and its moon Charon from New Horizons, NASA has provided an even closer look at the distant objects. The time-lapse aggregates numerous pictures transmitted back home from the deep space probe, showing a full day cycle.  Read More

Sunrise at the DKIST construction site on December 3, 2014 (Photo: Brett Simison)

The US$344 million Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is designed to image the surface of the Sun in unprecedented detail and help scientists address fundamental questions about solar physics when it opens sometime in 2019. The DKIST has just entered the next phase in its construction, with a consortium of eight UK universities and businesses tasked with producing the telescope's all-important cameras. Once complete, it will be the biggest solar telescope in the world – dwarfing current titleholder Big Bear Solar Observatory in California and edging out the 4.07 m (13.12 ft) European Solar Telescope that's also currently under construction.  Read More

The TGALS one-third scale prototype on its first test flight (Photo: NASA / Tom Tschida)

Recently, DARPA unveiled its ALASA system for launching satellites from fighter planes. Now NASA is upping the ante with its Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS), which is designed to launch satellites from a twin-fuselage towed glider. Under development by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, it's designed as an economical method for putting spacecraft into low-Earth orbit with the first test flight of a scale prototype having already been conducted.  Read More

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