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Solar System

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
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
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
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
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
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
It's been a busy year in space. In a mixture of triumph and tragedy, space exploration reached new horizons, tested new technologies, and pushed the limits of the possible in 2014. So as the old year draws to close, Gizmag looks back on the space highlights of the past twelve months. Read More
Sit out on a clear summer's night and the odds are that you'll be treated to a meteor shower that's the remnant of a comet's passing. However, such showers are not peculiar to our planet. NASA's unmanned MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) orbiter has uncovered evidence that the planet Mercury is subject to the same sort of periodic meteor showers as the Earth, only instead of a light show, it produces a spike in calcium in the planet's exosphere. Read More
The oceans are a mystery in more ways than one, but you might not expect the answers to come from a pack of electronics and a comet. But that's what the European Space Agency (ESA) says about the unmanned Rosetta probe orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Though 67P is making its first visit to the inner Solar System and won't come closer to the Earth than hundreds of millions of miles, it is throwing new light on one of the fundamental questions in Earth's history: Where did the oceans come from? Read More
The Dawn spacecraft has lifted the veil on another corner of the Solar System by taking its best image yet of the dwarf planet Ceres. The nine-pixel-wide image was taken from a distance of 740,000 mi (1.2 million km) from Ceres as part of the final calibration of Dawn's science camera as the unmanned probe approaches the 590 mi (950 km) wide planetoid, which it will rendezvous with and orbit in March of next year. Read More
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