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Solar System

Research carried out by New York University points towards dark matter as a driving force ...

A new study carried out by Professor Michael Rampino of New York University suggests that dark matter may have had a part to play in the periodic mass extinction events that are known to have taken place throughout Earth's history. It takes our planet roughly 250 million years to circle the Milky Way, and around every 30 million years the Sun's orbit takes us through what is known as the galactic disk. The galactic disk is where the majority of the mass in our galaxy resides, and alongside it a thin disk of dark matter.  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

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 Titan submarine would use a large dorsal fin as an antenna (Image: NASA)

Now that NASA has got the hang of planetary rovers, the space agency is looking at sending submarines into space around the year 2040. At the recent 2015 NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Florida, NASA scientists and engineers presented a study of the Titan Submarine Phase I Conceptual Design, which outlines a possible mission to Saturn's largest moon, Titan, where the unmanned submersible would explore the seas of liquid hydrocarbons at the Titanian poles.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Europa Clipper (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Another celestial body has been added to NASA's bucket list as the space agency officially asks the US Congress for US$30 million for the first mission aimed at exploring Jupiter’s moon Europa. Part of the FY 2015 NASA Planetary Science budget, it would fund further development of an unmanned probe to study place in the Solar System outside of Earth where life may exist.  Read More

Artist's impression of the ancient solar system (Image: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine)

A team led by scientists from the University of Birmingham, UK, have discovered an ancient solar system dating back to the dawn of the Milky Way. What makes the system truly fascinating is the confirmed existence of five Earth-sized planets, which may have profound implications for the presence of ancient life existing from an early point in our galaxy's 13.8 billion year history.  Read More

Roscosmos has released a series of videos that replace our Moon and Sun with well known pl...

At some point in their lives, who hasn't looked up at the sky and gazed in wonder at Earth's closest companion? Hanging a dizzying 384,400 km (238, 606 miles) above us, the Moon has stood like a silent sentinel throughout our species' short existence. It has enticed some to visit and inspired others to look to the universe beyond. The Russian space agency Roscosmos recently released series of videos shot from the perspective of Earth, showing us what it would look like if other planets and stars took the place of our Moon and Sun.  Read More

Artist's impression of two protoplanets colliding (Image: NASA/California Institute of Tec...

Until now, it has been generally accepted that a meteor constitutes a time capsule – a relic of the early creation of the solar system that has fallen to Earth, allowing us to delve into the distant past by looking at the composition of the essentially unchanged material that formed the basis of planetary formation. However, a new study carried out by researchers from MIT and Purdue University seeks to challenge the established belief, asserting that rather than representing the kernel of planetary creation, that they are instead a by-product of the violent and often cataclysmic process.  Read More

Artist's impression of Dawn approaching the dwarf planet Ceres (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is currently in the final stages of its historic mission to place a satellite in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. The primary mission will take 16 months and will see the robotic explorer capture detailed images and measurements of Ceres, greatly improving our knowledge of the solar system.  Read More

The KOI-3158 system compared to other known planets (Image credit: Tiago Campante)

A team of scientists has found what they claim is the oldest Earth-sized planet in the Milky Way, hinting at the possibility of ancient life elsewhere in our galaxy. Located about 117 light years from us in the constellation Lyra, the star KOI-3158 is estimated to be 11.2 billion years old, give or take 900 million years or so. For some perspective, our own sun and solar system is believed to be less than 5 billion years old.  Read More

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