News

Mars 2020 rover on track for launch next July

31 July 2019 Stephen Clark

The launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is less than a year away, and the steady pace of work inside the craft’s pristine assembly hall in California is keeping the mission on schedule for liftoff from Cape Canaveral next July, despite growing costs, according to mission managers.

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NASA to shut down Spitzer Space Telescope early next year

1 June 2019 Stephen Clark

After a search for an outside funding source turned up empty, NASA plans to end observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope in January to conclude a 16-year mission that discovered exoplanets, studied galaxies in the ancient universe, and peered at planets and asteroids in our own Solar System.

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Saturn’s clouds run deep, rings may rain organics

6 April 2018 Stephen Clark

Saturn’s clouds have roots deeper inside the planet’s atmosphere than scientists previously thought, and Saturn’s rings — now believed to have formed in the last 200 million years — appear to be raining organic molecules down on the planet, according to observations made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last year in the final weeks of its mission.

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Cassini’s farewell to Saturn

26 November 2017 Stephen Clark

Two days before its final plunge into Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft turned its camera toward the ringed world to take a series of images for a colour mosaic, capturing a last evocative close-up until a new mission reaches the planet.

News

NuSTAR probes black hole mystery

5 November 2017 Astronomy Now

Black holes are famous for being ravenous eaters, but they do not eat everything that falls toward them. A small portion of material gets shot back out in powerful jets of hot gas, called plasma, that can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Along the way, this plasma somehow gets energized enough to strongly radiate light, forming two bright columns along the black hole’s axis of rotation.