Institute of Astronomy

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Venus Express goes gently into the night

Astronomy News - 16 December 2014 - 5:34pm

ESA's Venus Express has ended its eight-year mission after far exceeding its planned life. The spacecraft exhausted its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low-altitude aerobraking earlier this year.

Voyager Buffeted by Interstellar 'Tsunami Waves'

Astronomy News - 16 December 2014 - 4:47pm
Since 2012, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced three 'tsunami waves' in interstellar space. The most recent, which reached the spacecraft earlier this year, is still propagating outward according to new data.

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

Astronomy News - 16 December 2014 - 4:00pm
NASA has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. TESS will launch aboard a Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle, with liftoff targeted for August 2017 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA Rover Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

Astronomy News - 16 December 2014 - 4:00pm

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics

Astronomy News - 16 December 2014 - 12:00am

Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics

Nature 516, 7531 (2014). doi:10.1038/516321a

Authors: George Ellis & Joe Silk

Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science, argue George Ellis and Joe Silk.

Rosetta Reignites Debate on Earth's Oceans

Astronomy News - 14 December 2014 - 6:03pm
A popular theory holds that ocean water was brought to Earth by the ancient impacts of comets and asteroids. However, new data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Mars Mountain was All Wet

Astronomy News - 14 December 2014 - 8:31am
Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years. This suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

Embers from a Rock Comet

Astronomy News - 12 December 2014 - 9:29pm
Earth is passing through a stream of debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Forecasters expect as many as 120 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Dec. 13-14.

Even in colour, Comet 67P is grey

Astronomy News - 12 December 2014 - 6:50pm

The first colour image from the Rosetta spacecraft shows that Comet 67P is even more dark and monochrome than expected.

Cosmic collision sparks blinding x-ray light show

Astronomy News - 12 December 2014 - 5:30pm
As a pair of colliding galaxies merges, a flurry of forming stars produce ultra-bright x-ray bursts






Cosmic collision sparks blinding x-ray light show

Astronomy News - 12 December 2014 - 5:30pm

As a pair of colliding galaxies merges, a flurry of forming stars produce ultra-bright x-ray bursts






Soggy space rocks brought water to young moon

Astronomy News - 11 December 2014 - 3:47pm
The scorching impact that formed the moon should have left it completely dry, but a rain of meteorites may have delivered water






Comets 'not source of Earth's water'

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 7:05pm

Data from the Rosetta probe suggests that water on Earth may not have come from comets, scientists conclude.

Rosetta fuels debate on origin of Earth's oceans

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 7:00pm
ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet's oceans.

#RosettaWatch: Comet water is not like Earth's

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 7:00pm

The idea that comets brought water to the young Earth has taken a blow after the discovery that comet 67P's water is very different to that of our planet






Young, hotheaded stars could host habitable worlds

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 5:10pm
"Infant Earths" could expand the search for alien life – but there's a warning note for supposedly habitable planets orbiting mature stars






Cosmic rays drive the galactic pottery wheel

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 4:06pm

The flat disc shape of the Milky Way galaxy had been a mystery. Now simulations suggest it could be thanks to winds driven by charged particles






The sun and Jupiter could reveal space-time ripples

Astronomy News - 10 December 2014 - 3:41pm
The wobbles caused by gigantic gravitational waves have never been measured directly, but we could use the sun and Jupiter as a huge wave detector






Curiosity rover finds ancient lake in Martian crater

Astronomy News - 8 December 2014 - 9:05pm

The crater that NASA's Curiosity rover is exploring was once a wide, shallow lake that may have lasted for tens of millions of years






NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to How Water Helped Shape Martian Landscape

Astronomy News - 8 December 2014 - 4:00pm

Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years.