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Rosetta mission ends with comet touchdown

30 September 2016 Stephen Clark

Europe’s Rosetta mission ended its 12-year mission Friday with a slow-speed belly-flop on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, concluding an interplanetary odyssey that gave humanity a first close-up introduction to a class of objects which has stimulated imaginations for millennia.

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Live coverage: Rosetta’s final hours

30 September 2016 Stephen Clark

Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft will close out a historic 4.9-billion-mile journey Friday with a slow-speed crash into the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the tiny world it has studied for the last two years, capturing some of the mission’s best science data to help unravel the inner workings of the comet. Confirmation of the crash landing should arrive on Earth around 1218 BST.

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Record-breaking extragalactic gamma-ray binary found

30 September 2016 Astronomy Now

Using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other facilities, an international team has found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and the most luminous one ever seen. The dual-star system, dubbed LMC P3, contains a massive star and a crushed stellar core that interact to produce a cyclic flood of gamma rays.

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European Rosetta spacecraft poised for comet crash landing

29 September 2016 William Harwood

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft closed in Thursday for a deliberate crash landing on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Friday, a slow-motion kamikaze plunge to bring the enormously successful mission to an end after more than two years of unprecedented close-range observations.

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The Frontier Fields: where primordial galaxies lurk

29 September 2016 Astronomy Now

In the ongoing hunt for the universe’s earliest galaxies, NASA has wrapped up its observations for the Frontier Fields project. This ambitious venture has combined the power of all three of NASA’s orbital observatories — the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — to delve as far back in time and space as current technology can allow.

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Shrinking Mercury is tectonically active

28 September 2016 Astronomy Now

Images from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft reveal previously undetected cliff-like landforms on Mercury that scientists believe must be geologically young, which means that the innermost planet is still contracting and that Earth is not the only tectonically active planet in our solar system, as previously thought.

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