News

One of NASA’s cleanest spacecraft ever is ready to fly

24 August 2016 Stephen Clark

Five years after winning $1 billion from NASA to mount the first U.S. asteroid sample return mission, scientists and engineers will get their last look at the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft this week as it is closed up inside the nose cone of an Atlas 5 rocket for launch in September.

Observing

See the triple lineup of Antares, Mars and Saturn tonight

24 August 2016 Ade Ashford

Observers in the British Isles with a clear sky one hour after sunset on 24 August should find a location that offers an unobstructed view of the south-southwest horizon. Here you will see first-magnitude star Antares in the constellation Scorpius, Mars and Saturn all in a line easily encompassed by low-power binoculars in the bright twilight.

News

Fossilised rivers suggest warm, wet ancient Mars

24 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Extensive systems of fossilised riverbeds have been discovered on an ancient region of the Martian surface on a northern plain called Arabia Terra, supporting the idea that the now cold and dry Red Planet had a warm and wet climate about 4 billion years ago, according to University College London-led research.

News

World’s biggest telescope meets second-fastest supercomputer

23 August 2016 Astronomy Now

A prototype part of the software system to manage data from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope has run on the world’s second-fastest supercomputer in China. The SKA is arguably the world’s largest science project, with the low-frequency part of the telescope alone set to have more than a quarter of a million antennas facing the sky.

News

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

22 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The search for habitable, alien worlds beyond our Solar System needs to make room for a second “Goldilocks,” according to a Yale University researcher. The new study suggests that simply being in the habitable zone isn’t sufficient to support life.

Picture This

Dione: a moon of contrasts

22 August 2016 Astronomy Now

In this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, Saturn’s moon Dione reveals its past via contrasts. The features visible here are a mixture of tectonics — the bright, linear features — and impact cratering — the round features, which are spread across the entire surface.

News

Astronomers identify a young heavyweight star in the Milky Way

22 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers have identified a young star, located almost 11,000 light-years away, which could help us understand how the most massive stars in the universe are formed. This star, already more than 30 times the mass of our Sun, is still in the process of gathering material from its parent molecular cloud, and may be even more massive when it finally reaches adulthood.

Picture This

Hubble views starbirth in an irregular galaxy

22 August 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the glow of distant stars within NGC 5264, a dwarf galaxy located just over 15 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent). NGC 5264 clearly possesses an irregular shape — unlike the more common spiral or elliptical galaxies — with knots of blue star formation.

News

Watch the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission briefing

21 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Watch as NASA holds a news conference at its Washington, D.C. headquarters to provide a preview of its OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu and back. The mission is scheduled to launch on 8 September, reach the asteroid in 2018, capture a sample of the celestial body in 2020 and bring the specimen back to Earth in a special landing capsule in 2023.