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Solar System

Space

Magnetic anomaly that cast doubt on Voyager 1's entry of interstellar space explained

One question that has been vexing space scientists for the past three years is whether NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is or isn't in interstellar space. The unmanned explorer was supposed to have passed out of the sphere of the Sun's influence and into galactic space in August 2012, but a magnetic anomaly threw a question mark over the event. Using data from other space missions, a team led by the University of New Hampshire (UHN) has found a clue as to what may have caused the anomaly and produces new insights into the nature of the region where the Solar System and the outer Universe meet.Read More

Space

Astronomers discover Jupiter's twin orbiting a distant Sun-like star

A team of international astronomers has discovered a gas giant orbiting a distant star with characteristics remarkably similar to those of our own Jovian planet, Jupiter. The significance of the discovery is that the gas giant was found to orbit roughly the same distance from its host star HIP 11915, as Jupiter does from the Sun. This positioning may have profound implications for creating conditions favorable to the development of a habitable Earth-like planet in HIP 11915's inner solar system.Read More

Space

NASA settles on its toolkit for mission to explore Europa

Even though it is around the same size as our own Moon and a whole lot farther from the Sun, Jupiter's moon Europa is considered one of our solar system's most likely candidates for harboring extraterrestrial life. A deep and mysterious ocean is thought to exist below its icy crust and has beckoned scientists for more than a decade. NASA is in the process of conceptualizing a future mission to explore Europa, and has now confirmed which scientific instruments it will send along to do the job.Read More

Space

Rocks reveal secret of Moon's formation

There are a number of ideas about where the Moon came from, but, based on orbital mechanics, the accepted theory is that about 150 million years after the Solar System formed some 4.6 billion years ago, the primordial Earth was struck by an object the size of Mars called Theia. Out of the debris of this massive impact, the Moon was formed. Scientists at the University of Maryland (UMD) have for the first time found evidence to support this theory by analyzing the isotopic “fingerprints” of rock samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts. Read More

Space

MIT scientists detect possible ring system around minor planet Chiron

A team of astronomers from MIT have detected signs of a possible ring system around the minor planet Chiron. First discovered in 1977, Chiron belongs to a class of minor planets known as centaurs. These bodies share some of the characteristics exhibited by both comets and asteroids, hence their classification as Centaurs, which in ancient mythology denoted a creature with the traits of both man and horse.Read More

Space

Saturnian moon may have deep-ocean vents that harbor life

In science, it's often the case that solving one mystery just raises more questions. Take Saturn's moon Enceladus. For almost a decade, scientists have been puzzled by the gossamer plumes that waft up from its surface. Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft now indicates that these may might be due to present-day hydrothermal activity in the vast ocean beneath the crust of the frozen moon, raising the possibility that Enceladus may harbor life.Read More

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