Archive | Space


Hubble images provide farthest-ever montage of early Universe

Using multiple images from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Universe. Called the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the hybrid image contains around 5,000 galaxies – some from a time when the Universe was only a few hundred million years old. Garth Illingworth, principal investigator […]

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Sugar molecules observed in distant planet formation

For the first time, astronomers have identified molecules of glycolaldehyde – a simple form of sugar – in the gas surrounding a distant young star. The discovery shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this relatively young solar system at the time of planet formation. The new findings, appearing in […]

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Binary star has multiple orbiting planets

Astronomers have found the first multi-planet solar system orbiting a binary star (artist’s impression appears right). Importantly, the discovery shows that planetary systems can form and survive even in the chaotic environment around a binary star. The system, known as Kepler-47, is roughly 5000 light-years away. The discovery was detailed this week at the International […]

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Curiosity zaps first Martian rock

The rover Curiosity has zapped a fist-sized Martian rock with its laser, producing a cloud of ionized plasma that will be analyzed by Curiosity’s spectrometers. The rock – christened “Coronation” by NASA scientists – was subjected to 30 laser pulses over 10-second period. Each laser pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for […]

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First 3-D images from Curiosity

On its first Martian day, the rover has been self-checking its health and so far all activities appear to be completely nominal. Approximately five megabytes of data were successfully relayed back to Earth from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter during its overpass today. Activities planned for the mission’s approximately one-month characterization activity phase include deploying Curiosity’s […]

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Orbiter captures Curiosity’s descent

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted to Earth an astounding picture of the rover Curiosity as it descends by parachute towards the surface of Mars. The rover was still encased in its protective shell when the picture was taken. Moments later, the shell and parachute were jettisoned and the rover began its powered descent into […]

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Live! Curiosity: countdown to Mars landing

Curiosity Transmitting… The first thumbnail pics have been transmitted from its low-res hazcams. The rover’s shadow can be seen in the picture. Control of the mission will now be passed to the surface team. “Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover […]

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Titan’s rivers create a puzzle for geologists

Titan’s thick, methane- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere has for many years kept astronomers from seeing what lies beneath. Saturn’s largest moon appeared through telescopes as a frustratingly hazy orange orb, in contrast to other heavily cratered moons in the solar system. But in 2004, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft penetrated Titan’s haze, providing scientists with their first detailed […]

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Earliest spiral galaxy “astounding”

Looking back 11 billion years, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have observed for the first time a spiral galaxy in the early universe, billions of years before other comparable spiral galaxies formed. Current astronomical theories suggest that such “grand-design” spiral galaxies – those with prominent, well-formed spiral arms – simply didn’t exist at such […]

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New moon discovery adds to Pluto’s mystery

The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a fifth moon – dubbed P5 – orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The new-found moon, visible as a speck of light in Hubble images, is irregular in shape and estimated to be between 10-25 kilometres across. It is in a 95,000 kilometre-diameter circular orbit around Pluto and is […]

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