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space

Voyager 2 pierces the heliopause, enters interstellar space

On Nov. 5, 2018, Voyager 2 became the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space, as it passed through the heliosphere’s outer limit, known as the heliopause, NASA announced at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The spacecraft’s twin, Voyager 1, made history as the first man-made object to depart the heliosphere in 2012. Reaching interstellar space is an extraordinary feat for spacecraft that have been traveling for more than 41 years.

11 Dec 2018

Titan's dunes form the same way as Earth's

The mountains of East Xanadu rise high above the windswept plains and dunes of Shangri-La. This fantastical landscape isn’t found in a scene from a Hollywood movie, or even a desert on Earth, but on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. New research looking at the surface topography of Titan — more than a billion kilometers from Earth — reveals it has a lot in common with our planet. The work, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, shows that the dunes likely formed in a process that’s analogous to how dunes form on Earth — through weathering, erosion and deposition.

23 Nov 2018

Astronomers find missing half of the universe

Astronomers recently located half of the ordinary matter in the universe — a detection that has eluded scientists for decades.

29 Oct 2018

Dangers of Van Allen Belts driven by "local acceleration"

Between about 13,500 and 58,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, billions of high-energy particles — predominately electrons — congregate to form the outer Van Allen Belt. Nearly 4,000 kilometers closer to Earth, the outermost boundary of its twin, the second Van Allen Belt, also encircles the planet.

25 Oct 2018

Geomedia: Film: 'First Man' Navigates Neil Armstrong's Journey Between Two Worlds

First Man” is a vivid depiction of Neil Armstrong’s life during NASA’s ambitious and terrifying program to reach the moon. The film uses exquisite cinematography to portray the crowning achievement of the space race — Armstrong becoming the first human to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Directed by Damien Chazelle, who won an Academy Award for his direction of “La La Land,” the film navigates a fine line among the triumphs and tragedies of the Gemini and Apollo missions, while also telling the story of the home lives of the astronauts and their families. The dynamics in this human drama cannot be solely explained by physics.

12 Oct 2018

Pluto's surprising dunes

Images and data sent back by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby mission to Pluto (and beyond) show a series of regularly spaced linear ridges sandwiched between a mountain range and Sputnik Planitia, a vast plain of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ice. “When we first saw the New Horizons images, we thought instantly that these were dunes, but it was really surprising because we know there is not much of an atmosphere [on Pluto],” said Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Young University and co-author of a study in Science announcing the findings, in a statement.

10 Oct 2018

Obliquity and eccentricity determine exoplanet habitability

Finding habitable Earth-like planets may be even more challenging than previously thought, suggests a recent Astronomical Journal study looking at how the planetary obliquity, or tilt relative to an orbital axis, and orbital eccentricity affect the habitability of planets orbiting G-dwarf stars — which are similar to the sun.

05 Sep 2018

Benchmarks: August 27, 1958: Operation Argus creates first anthropogenic space weather

Sixty years ago this month, a fleet of nine U.S. Navy ships with 4,500 people aboard maneuvered into the Atlantic. Eight of these ships continued to the South Atlantic, about 1,800 kilometers southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, while the ninth headed to the North Atlantic, near the Azores. The clandestine military operation — code-named Operation Argus — was not an invasion, but a scientific mission, carried out at a staggering pace and inspired by an unpublished research paper by an elevator engineer with an interest in accelerator physics.

27 Aug 2018

Red Planet Roundup: August 2018

With two rovers patrol­ling the surface of Mars, six spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. 

13 Aug 2018

Comment: Leveraging physical oceanography in exoplanet exploration

Some exoplanets may host oceans, which are key to life on Earth. It’s time for astronomers who assess the potential habitability of other worlds to tap oceanographers’ knowledge of our own planet’s oceans.
03 Aug 2018

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