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Solar System

Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft, which is set to become the first man-made obj...

Based on the latest data received from Voyager 1, scientists say the venerable spacecraft is now on the very edge of our solar system. The data, which traveled some 17.8 billion kilometers (11 billion miles) on its 16-hour-38 minute journey to NASA’s Deep Space Network on Earth, reveals a marked increase in the intensity of charged particles from beyond our solar system, indicating that Voyager 1 is soon to become the first man-made object to leave our little slice of the universe.  Read More

100YSS will attempt to develop the capabilities needed for human interstellar flight in th...

Voyager 1, which is now in the outermost layer of the heliosphere that forms the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space, is set to be the first man-made object to leave the Solar System. It has taken the car-sized probe over 35 years to reach its current point, but at its current speed of about 3.6 AU (334,640,905 miles) per year it would take over 75,000 years to reach our nearest star, Proxima Centauri. Despite the mind-boggling distances involved, DARPA has just awarded funding to form an organization whose aim is to make human interstellar travel a reality within the next century.  Read More

An edge-on view of our solar system with the dots representing a snapshot of NEAs (blue) a...

Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) are a subset of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) that have the potential to come within five million miles (eight million kilometers) of Earth, and are of a size large enough to make it through Earth’s atmosphere to cause significant damage on a regional, or greater, scale. NASA’s asteroid-hunting NEOWISE mission has now provided the best estimate yet of the number of PHAs in our solar system, along with their origins and the potential dangers they might pose.  Read More

Image showing the south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta obtained by the framing camera on...

After becoming the first probe to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in July 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has spent the last 10 months orbiting said object - the giant asteroid Vesta. During that period it has captured more than 20,000 images of Vesta and a multitude of data from different wavelengths of radiation. What it reveals is an asteroid that in many ways shares more in common with a small planet or Earth’s moon than it does with another asteroid.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) on its mission to study Jupi...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that Jupiter’s icy moons will be the focus of its next Large science mission. Getting the nod over the New Gravitational Wave Observatory (NGO), that would have hunted for gravitational waves, and ATHENA, the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics, the Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2030 with the goal of studying its Galilean moons as potential habitats for life.  Read More

Heliatek has set a world record efficiency with its latest organic solar technology

German solar technology specialist Heliatek has set a new benchmark for the efficiency of organic solar cells. In independent tests, a new world record efficiency of 10.7 percent was achieved for the company's latest tandem organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells ... and 15 percent may be just a few years away.  Read More

A CubeSat with solar sails could be sent on a mission to the Martian moon Phobos (Image: N...

NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program provides funding to study a small number of highly advanced spaceflight concepts, with the goal of understanding the technological possibilities which will guide the development of future space missions. Under this program, a JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) researcher has proposed the use of a pair of CubeSats for an autonomous mission to retrieve samples from Phobos, Mars' larger moon.  Read More

NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has provided a glimpse at the interstellar ma...

Over the course of a year, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) scans the entire sky. During February, its instruments are aligned in the correct direction to intercept atoms that have crossed the boundary from interstellar space into our solar system, become caught by the Sun's gravity and slung around the star. This has now allowed IBEX to capture the most complete glimpse of the material that travels in the galactic wind in the space between star systems. The results indicate this material doesn't look like the same material that makes up our solar system.  Read More

Artist's rendering of Kepler-20e (Image: NASA)

NASA has discovered the first earth-size planets outside of our solar system. The discovery was made as part of NASA's Kepler mission and involves the discovery of two planets currently named after the project: Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f. If the Kepler name sounds familiar, that's because NASA also recently announced the discovery of Kepler-22b, the most Earth-like planet discovered to date. Kepler 22b is orbiting a star similar to our sun, and is capable of possessing liquid water, an essential feature for life to exist on a planet.  Read More

Artist's rendering of Juno orbiting Jupiter (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Last Friday, NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V-551 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida beginning its five-year, 1,740 million mile (2,800 million km) journey to our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter. Juno is due to arrive at Jupiter in July 2016, after which it will orbit the gas giant planet’s poles 33 times over a period of about a year. The spacecraft’s collection of eight science instruments will probe beneath Jupiter’s obscuring cloud cover to reveal more about its origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.  Read More

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