News

Engineers seek to stabilise radio link with comet lander

16 June 2015 Stephen Clark

Emboldened by renewed contact with Europe’s comet lander, engineers are repositioning the mission’s Rosetta mothership this week to establish a reliable a communications link with the dishwasher-sized Philae landing craft, a prerequisite for resuming a science campaign abbreviated by a power shortfall last year.

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Delta Cephei’s secret companion and intriguing past

13 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Delta (δ) Cephei, prototype of Cepheids, which has given its name to all similar variable stars, was discovered 230 years ago by the English astronomer John Goodricke. The Cepheids role as distance calibrators for more than a century means δ Cephei is one of the most studied stars, but astronomers were shocked to discover that they lacked an essential piece of information…

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NASA invites ESA to build Europa piggyback probe

11 April 2015 Stephen Clark

After walking away from a previously planned joint mission to Jupiter, NASA has asked the European Space Agency if it can furnish a lander or ice-penetrating probe for a rejuvenated U.S.-led robotic spacecraft to visit Jupiter’s moon Europa.

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Aurora over Icelandic lake

9 April 2015 Astronomy Now

On 15th March, a coronal mass ejection from the Sun launched a torrent of charged particles in the direction of Earth. The gaseous cloud collided with our planet’s magnetic field two days later, generating this glorious, shimmering auroral curtain over Iceland photographed by Carlos Gauna.

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Supermassive black hole blasts star-making gas from galaxy’s core

26 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Many galaxies blast huge, wide-angled flows of material outward from their centres, pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year that otherwise would have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our Sun. A team led by University of Maryland scientists has found the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows.

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Photos from Rosetta’s Valentine’s Day comet close-up

17 February 2015 Stephen Clark

Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft — six months into its research mission at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — made its closest flyby of the comet’s boulder-strewn nucleus Saturday, capturing new photos and measurements to help scientists unravel how the duck-shaped body is evolving on its orbit around the sun.