A new science satellite, the ASTRO-H X-ray Observatory, will blast into Earth orbit this month. The project, led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims to collect a wealth of new data on everything from the formation of galaxy clusters to the warping of space and time around black holes. ASTRO-H boasts a sensitivity level that is orders of magnitude better than previous technology.
Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft got another shot at Venus after a main engine failure during a crucial orbital-insertion burn meant it zipped past the planet on its first attempt in December 2010. The probe spent five years orbiting the Sun so it could catch up with Venus to try again on 7 December. The successful nail-biting manoeuvre is being celebrated by NASA scientists, eager to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Earth’s enigmatic sister planet.
NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite, or IRIS, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA)/NASA’s Hinode solar observatory, have just made a significant step towards understanding why the corona — the outermost, wispy layer of the Sun’s atmosphere — is hundreds of times hotter than the lower photosphere, which is the Sun’s visible surface.
In his third report from the Royal Astronomical Society’s NAM2015, Kulvinder Singh Chadha examines the Sun in X-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths from three different spacecraft, dons a virtual reality planetarium headset, and investigates if the proposed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could discern Earth-sized worlds that are habitable.