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Two moons of Uranus may have active subsurface oceans

The Uranus moons Ariel and Miranda may have active oceans blasting plumes of particles into space, a new look at data collected by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft suggests.

Remnants of a Relict Glacier Found Near the Equator on Mars

New results presented at the 54th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference could change our approach to Mars exploration. Scientists studying the surface of Mars discovered a relict glacier near the planet’s equator. The relict glacier could signal the presence of buried water ice at the planet’s mid-latitudes.

Some areas of the Martian surface are known for light-toned deposits (LTDs.) NASA’s Viking spacecraft spotted them in the late 1970s. Since then, scientists have found them in Valles Marineris, Hebes Chasma, and in other locations on Mars. Their unusual features have captured the attention of researchers who want to understand how they formed.

This image shows Hebes Chasma, an isolated part of the Valles Marineris. It’s an enclosed trough almost 8000 metres deep that contains light-toned deposits. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

While LTDs are named for their colour, that’s not the only way they differ. Their surfaces can set them apart from their surroundings, too. The top of LTDs can be rough, in contrast to their smooth-surfaced surroundings.

This is a High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) image of an LTD in Aureum Chaos, another part of Valles Marineris. The top of the LTD appears rough, while the surroundings are smooth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

As scientists have worked to piece together Mars’ geological history, they’ve tried to understand what exactly LTDs are and where they fit in the timeline. In a 2008 paper, researchers presented evidence that some LTDs are vestiges of large-scale spring deposits.

Different teams of researchers have examined the LTDs and reached different conclusions. Some concluded that they’re lacustrine deposits, some suggested they’re made of deposits eroded from walls, some thought they’re aeolian deposits, and some even suggested that they’re volcanic deposits.

This is a High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) image of an LTD in Aureum Chaos, another part of Valles Marineris. The top of the LTD appears rough, while the surroundings are smooth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This figure from the 2008 paper shows LTDs in three different terrain types: yellow shows LTDs in Valles Marineris, green shows LTDs in chaotic terrain, and red shows LTDs in crater bulges. Image Credit: Rossi et al. 2008.
This image shows the authors' interpretation of the features in the LTD in Eastern Noctis Labyrinthus. According to the researchers, the LTD is a relict glacier. Image Credit: NASA MRO HiRISE and CRISM false colour composite. Lee et al. 2023
This is the Quisquiro salt flat in South America's Altiplano. The salt flats, or salars, in the Altiplano contain thick layers of bright salt that have protected glacier ice buried underneath. The Altiplano is often considered an analog of ancient Mars. Image Credit: NASA/Maksym Bocharov
This image from the research shows the unofficially-named Noctis Landing region and the Relict Glacier. Image Credit: Lee et al. 2023
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Win a free copy of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 in this Facebook giveaway! and Paramount are teaming together to offer a chance to win a free Blu-Ray Steelbook edition of the critically-acclaimed first season.

How much water lurks beneath an exoplanet's surface? New tool could help astronomers tell

A new method could allow astronomers to assess exoplanets' likely subsurface water stores, aiding the search for worlds capable of supporting life as we know it.

1st map of moon water could help Artemis astronauts live at the lunar south pole

Astronomers have completed the first map of water distribution on the moon, including that more water is found in shaded lunar regions than in sunlit ones.

Sci-Fi Christmas is Ruined! Planet Vulcan Doesn’t Exist

Fans of Star Trek were over the Moon when, in 2018, astronomers with the Dharma Planet Survey (DPS) announced the possible detection of 40 Eridani b, an extrasolar planet in the star system 40 Eridani. Located just 16.3 light-years away, this triple-star system happens to be where the planet Vulcan was located in the popular franchise. Based on radial velocity measurements of the system’s primary star (40 Eridani A), the discovery team estimated that “Vulcan” was a rocky planet several times the mass of Earth (a Super-Earth) with an orbital period of 42 days or so.

The existence of this exoplanet has remained a controversial subject ever since. A study released in 2021 concluded that the signal was a false positive, but the debate remained open. Now, according to a new study by an international team of researchers, the detection of 40 Eridani b was a false positive that astronomers mistook for an exoplanet. The study was part of an archival review of exoplanets to identify promising candidates for follow-up studies. So while “Vulcan” is currently off the table, these results could lead to other exciting discoveries in the coming years.

The study, which was recently accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal, was conducted by researchers from the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the UCO/Lick Observatory, the Hamburg Observatory, the Cahill Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics, the Tsung-Dao Lee Institute, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, and multiple universities and research institutes in the U.S., Australia, and China.

An artist’s illustration of the LUVOIR-A telescope concept. Image Credit: NASA

The study focused on exoplanet candidates identified through the Radial Velocity Method (RV) that were part of the list maintained by the NASA/NSF Extreme Precision Radial Velocity Working Group. This method consists of monitoring stars for signs of motion back and forth, a possible indication of orbiting planets that are gravitationally interacting with them. The purpose was to identify exoplanets for follow-up observations by next-generation space telescopes like the Habital Explonet Observatory (HabEx), the Large UV/Optical/IR Surveyor (LUVOIR), and Starshade Rendezvous missions.

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Virgin Orbit eyes options as it works to generate cash flow: report

Launch company Virgin Orbit is engaging companies for discussions after furloughing most of its staff last week, according to media reports.

Bad news for alien life? Even calm red dwarf stars rage more violently than the sun

Even quiet red dwarfs are prone to extreme outbursts that put our sun to shame, with significant implications on the search for alien life.

Here’s Where Artemis III Might Land. It Looks… Inviting

Where on the Moon will the first crewed Artemis mission Land? While NASA is still deliberating on the exact location, they’ve chosen several candidate landing sites near the lunar south pole. This new image captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals what the astronauts might see out the window as they approach their destination.

The region shown here is called Malapert massif, and one of the Artemis III candidate landing sites is the relatively flat spot above a 5,000-meter (16,400 feet) cliff. Another 3,500-meter (11,480 feet) cliff would be visible from this vantage point. It would be a spectacular place to visit, but the terrain could pose a challenge for landing – especially for the first human mission to land on the Moon in over 50 years.

“Imagine the view from the summit,” wrote LROC principal investigator Mark Robinson, on the LRCO website. “One could argue that the sheer grandeur of this region makes it a prime candidate. But then again, a landing here might be too exciting?”

The high-resolution camera on board LRO, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) took this photo on March 3, 2023 when the spacecraft was about 170 kilometers (105 miles) beyond Shackleton crater looking towards the nearside. From this viewpoint, we see the back side of Malapert massif. The Artemis III candidate landing region is partially visible from this viewpoint. Shackleton is the crater near the top left. The relatively flat area above the “5000” in the image below is the heart of the Artemis 3 landing region, which continues down the slope toward the Earth-facing side of the Moon, as seen here.

Full panorama (M1432398306LR) showing the context of the Malapert Massif candidate landing region (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University).

NASA has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole. Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

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Joby Compact Advanced tripod review

The Joby Compact Advanced tripod is small and compact, but is its small payload worth the price?

Facts about Uranus

Here are some interesting facts about Uranus:

  1. Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and is classified as an ice giant.

  2. It was discovered in 1781 by the British astronomer William Herschel.

  3. Uranus has the third-largest diameter of all the planets in our solar system.

  4. Its axis of rotation is tilted at an extreme angle of 98 degrees, which means that it rotates on its side compared to the other planets in our solar system.

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Earth observation supports latest UN climate report

The final instalment of the sixth assessment report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released today. The report warns that the planet has already warmed 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, resulting in more frequent and intense extreme weather events that are causing increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world. 

The report includes a greater contribution of Earth observation data than its previous iterations in providing the physical evidence of Earth’s changing climate system – from sea-level rise, growing greenhouse-gas emissions and melting sea ice.

Europa Clipper: A guide to NASA's new astrobiology mission

The Europa Clipper is NASA's mission to explore Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Explore the mission in more detail with our ultimate guide.

Ariane 5 rocket decorated with winning Juice artwork

Image: A close up of an Ariane 5 rocket surrounded by scaffolding. In the centre of the Ariane 5 is the sticker showing the artwork (blue background with Jupiter, three icy moons, Earth and Juice. All are smiling and Jupiter is holding Juice in its hands). Below the artwork is an ESA logo and the Juice mission patch (a round design with an outline of the spacecraft).

William Shatner reflects on his new film, 'Star Trek,' space travel and not attending Leonard Nimoy's funeral

Variety interviewed William Shatner for his new life-spanning documentary 'You Can Call Me Bill.'

Hubble Space Telescope spies 'irregular' spiral galaxy in Ursa Major (photo)

An image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures an irregular spiral galaxy known as NGC 5486, which lies close to the much larger and well-known Pinwheel Galaxy.

Monster black hole may have killed this galaxy's star-forming power, James Webb Telescope reveals

New James Webb Space Telescope observations reveal that the galaxy GS-9209 had its star-forming power abruptly “quenched” by mysterious forces after millions of years of productivity.

Rosalind Franklin Rover Targeting 2028 Launch to Mars

The European Space Agency is working to get its ambitious Mars rover back on track after complex delays.

The post Rosalind Franklin Rover Targeting 2028 Launch to Mars appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

March equinox 2023 brings spring to the Northern Hemisphere with a not-so-equal timing twist

On March 20 at 5:24 p.m. EDT (2:24 p.m. PDT) the spring (or vernal) equinox occurs as the sun's rays shine directly down on the equator.

This epic NASA map shows where to see US solar eclipses in 2023 and 2024 (photos)

A new NASA eclipse map shows where and when the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, and the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, will be visible.