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Solar System

Space

How to view the upcoming Mercury transit

On Monday the 9th of May, the planet Mercury will make a rare transit of our Sun. The event is a precious opportunity to observe firsthand the ordinarily hidden celestial mechanics that govern our solar system. A tortured ball of rock less than half the size of Earth, Mercury represents the innermost planet in our Solar System, orbiting a mere 36 million miles from our Sun.Read More

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

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