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Space

ESA sets date for dramatic end to Rosetta's mission

ESA has announced the date upon which mission operators will crash the Rosetta spacecraft into the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Unlike its now-sleeping companion, the Philae lander, there is no hope that once the spacecraft touches down on the surface of 67P, the science team will be able to re-establish contact with the legendary probe.Read More

Space

Hubble captures aurora bigger than Earth swirling at Jupiter's north pole

Last year might have belonged to Pluto, but by all accounts this is going to be the year of Jupiter. That's because the Juno spacecraft is completing its nearly five-year journey to reach the giant planet on July 4, where it will enter orbit to study the Jovian atmosphere. In preparation, astronomers have been training their telescopes on Jupiter to assist Juno in its mission – and the Hubble just caught a beautiful light show at the planet's north pole.Read More

Space

Monster electric wind on Venus sends oxygen "kicking and screaming into space"

Although you could bake a pizza on its surface today, popular thinking is that Venus was once cool enough to hold water on its surface. Of course, as the planet heated, that water turned to vapor and should now be trapped in the planet's dense atmosphere – but it's not. So where did the water go? According to new research, the likely culprit is likely a super-strong "electric wind" that blows off the surface of Venus carrying ions with it into space.Read More

Space

ESA's potential space garbage collector nets itself a drone

ESA has provided a preview of its plan to net space debris by unveiling a prototype net gun designed to envelope and capture tumbling dead satellites. Wojtek Gołebiowski of Poland's SKA Polska, which is developing the gun under a contract with the space agency, used a small version to target and take down a low-flying drone at the Industry Days event for ESA's Clean Space initiative.Read More

Space

Supermassive black hole devours cold cloud clumps

Unless you are an astrophysicist, you'd likely think that a black hole isn't too fussy about the kind of material it devours. Light? Check. Hydrogen? Yum! But for years researchers have believed that supermassive black holes only subsisted on a diet of hot gas. New observations of a galaxy about a billion light years away though, show that cold, clumpy cosmic rain will do just fine to fill a black hole's gaping maw.Read More

Space

Gravitational-wave hunter LISA turns out to be a true high performer

The mark of a very fine scientific instrument isn't usually how well it can fall, but in the case of the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, that one metric could help astrophysicists decode the very fabric of the universe. Fortunately after just two months of testing, the tech aboard LISA has done exceptionally well in free falling – performing much better than expected and boosting hopes that we can soon have a powerful tool to capture gravitational waves.Read More

Space

Take a narrated 3D tour of the International Space Station from your desk

Even though the International Space Station (ISS) has been in orbit around our planet since 1998, and has lapped our world 100,000 times, it's only held a total of 230 people in its tube-shaped pods. That means the rest of us have to find other ways to look inside the orbiting home and lab. The European Space Agency (ESA) has just obliged by making available an online video that takes you on a narrated tour of the ISS. Even better, it's in 3D.Read More

Space

Rosetta discovers building blocks of life in comet atmosphere

How exactly life got started here on Earth is a great mystery that has spawned countless scientific theories. The possibility that at least some of the vital building blocks for life were delivered by comets is one such line of thinking, and is also one of the reasons the Rosetta spacecraft has been circling comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since 2014. The probe has now discovered evidence that key amino acids and molecules do indeed exist in the comet's atmosphere, throwing further weight behind the idea that these icy trailblazers can double as life-giving space couriers. Read More

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