News

NASA spacecraft to get bonus time studying Mercury

29 December 2014 Stephen Clark

Running low on fuel after completing the first global survey of Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft could get an extra month of time at the solar system’s innermost planet thanks to a crafty new way of using helium gas to temporarily forestall the mission’s end next year.

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Scientific riches await Philae comet lander, if it wakes up

25 December 2014 Stephen Clark

Optimistic Europe’s hibernating Philae comet lander can be revived, mission controllers plan to try and contact the spacecraft as soon as January as the search narrows for the probe’s final resting place — a site within arm’s reach of pristine ice and organic matter ripe for analysis if the mission gets a new lease on life.

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Sun sizzles in high-energy X-rays

23 December 2014 Astronomy Now

Designed to study black holes, supernova remnants and other extreme objects beyond our Solar System, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured the most sensitive portrait of the Sun ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

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The Milky Way’s new neighbour

22 December 2014 Astronomy Now

The Local Group of galaxies has just grown in number with the Hubble Space Telescope discovery of KKs 3 — a dwarf spheroidal some 7 million light-years away in the far southern constellation of Hydrus.

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft proves it can still find planets

19 December 2014 Astronomy Now

When the primary mission of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft ended in May 2013 due to a failure of its stabilisation system, a team of scientists and engineers developed an ingenious strategy to control the spacecraft. The resulting second mission, K2, has a newfound planet — HIP 116454b

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Carnegie hosts Mercury crater-naming contest

16 December 2014 Astronomy Now

To celebrate MESSENGER’s highly successful ten-year mission, you’re invited to immortalise five famous artists, composers or writers by naming craters on Mercury in their honour — but hurry, the contest closes 15th January 2015!