A Look Back at Cassini’s Incredible Mission to Saturn before Final Plunge into the Planet

An illustration of Cassini diving between Saturn and the planet’s innermost ring. NASA/JPL-Caltech By Dr. Tanya Hill / 09.04.2017 Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne Senior Curator, Astronomy Museums Victoria The Cassini space probe mission came to an end this month when the probe made its final destructive plunge in to Saturn. It spent the past thirteen years studying the planet,[…]

Dwarf Planetary Systems Will Transform the Hunt for Extraterrestrial Life

Detail from an impressionistic poster of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. / Amanda Smith, IoA    By Dr. Amaury Triaud and Dr. Michaël Gillon / 05.02.2017 Triaud: Kavli Institute Fellow in Exoplanets, University of Cambridge Gillon: FNRS Researcher, University of Liège Written speculation about life beyond the confines of Earth dates back thousands of years, to the time of the Greek philosophers[…]

Mars Rover Opportunity on Walkabout Near Rim

The Pancam on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took the component images of this enhanced-color scene during the mission’s “walkabout” survey of an area just above the top of “Perseverance Valley,” in preparation for driving down the valley. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ. 06.23.2017 NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater[…]

Astronomers Find Planet Hotter Than Most Stars

This artist’s concept shows planet KELT-9b orbiting its host star, KELT-9. It is the hottest gas giant planet discovered so far. / NASA, JPL-Caltech A newly discovered Jupiter-like world is so hot, it’s being vaporized by its own star. With a dayside temperature of more than 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,600 Kelvin), KELT-9b is a planet[…]

LIGO Detects More Gravitational Waves, from Even More Ancient and Distant Black Hole Collisions

Artist’s conception of two merging black holes, spinning in a nonaligned fashion. LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet) By Dr. Sean McWilliams / 06.01.2017 Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy West Virginia State University For the third time in a year and a half, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory has detected gravitational waves. Hypothesized by[…]

Cassini Finds Saturn Moon May Have Tipped Over

Working with image data from NASA’s Cassini mission, researchers have found evidence that Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have tipped over, reorienting itself so that terrain closer to its original equator was relocated to the poles. This phenomenon is known as true polar wander. / NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Cornell University 05.30.2017 Saturn’s icy, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus may have[…]

Hubble Catches Black Hole Born from Collapsing Star

A team of astronomers at The Ohio State University watched a star disappear and possibly become a black hole. Instead of becoming a black hole through the expected process of a supernova, the black hole candidate formed through a “failed supernova.” / Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson “Massive fails” like this one in a[…]