deep plume dive

Cassini probe makes historical deep dive into Enceladus’ plumes

On Wednesday, NASA’s Cassini probe completed a daring flyby of Enceladus, diving deep into the plume of icy spray on the moon’s south polar region so that it could obtain samples and complete the most accurate measurements to date of its composition, the agency has confirmed. The spacecraft successfully completed the maneuver at approximately 8:22 am PDT (11:22 am EDT), passing to within 30 miles (49 kilometers) of the south polar region. Communication with Cassini...

rosetta comet

Big news! Oxygen found leaking from Rosetta’s comet 67P

Nearly one year after its Philae lander made history by touching down on Comet 67P, the ESA’s Rosetta probe has detected molecular oxygen believed to have been incorporated into the object when it originally formed, according to new research appearing in the journal Nature. While oxygen atoms are abundant throughout the universe, molecular oxygen (O2) had not been detected on a comet before, Fox News and ABC News reported Wednesday. Now, not only have scientists...

Hall thruster

Wall-less Hall thruster could be used to propel deep space missions in the future

Two satellites have recently been launched on an all-electric Hall thruster, leading scientists to believe that electric rocket propulsion could be used not just to adjust orbits but to power full voyages, according to a statement from the American Institute of Physics. While the current lifespan of Hall thrusters is not long enough for a voyage to rely on them entirely, a prototype has been developed that gives researchers hope that Hall thrusters could one...

Whiskey

Suntory distilling company will send whiskey to space

Suntory, a Tokyo-based brewing and distillery company, is going to send six samples of its whisky and other alcohols to the International Space Station (ISS) next month to see how zero gravity will affect the aging process and taste. According to Time, Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was named the best whisky in the world according to Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015, which is “a very highly regarded ranking of fine global whisky." Suntory...

spaceship two crash

How a pilot error caused Virgin spaceship crash

An investigation has revealed the cause behind the deadly Virgin Galactic spaceship crash that took place ten months ago: a structural failure caused by the co-pilot prematurely unlocking the braking system. The investigation, conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), determined the aerodynamic forces that resulted from the brakes being deployed ultimately resulted in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo being torn apart over the Mojave Desert. The accident caused the death of the co-pilot, but the...

asteroid

Unusual asteroid spins unexpectedly fast, researchers find

New video footage of an irregularly-shaped asteroid that passed within 1.5 million miles of the Earth earlier this month shows that the object has an unusually fast spin, suggesting it possesses greater mechanical strength than other asteroids that are of similar size. According to Space.com, images obtained using the Deep Space Network antenna in California and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Green Bank Telescope have been combined to create a one-hour, 45-minute time-lapse video showing Asteroid...

Pulsarpuncheshole

Pulsar tears hole in companion’s gas disk

A fast-moving, super-dense pulsar has torn a hole in the disk of gas surrounding its stellar companion, launching a fragment of the disk outwards at a speed of nearly 4 million mph (6.4 million km/h), or roughly 15 percent the speed of light, according to various reports. As Space.com and Astronomy Magazine explain, the rapidly-spinning neutron star is part of a double star system called PSR B1259-63/LS 2883 (B1259) that is located about 7,500 light...

brown dwarfs

Brown dwarfs are more like stars than we thought

Brown dwarfs are not-quite stars capable of sustaining hydrogen fusion reactions within their cores, and with a mass heavier than a gas giant like Jupiter, but lighter than a proper star. But according to a new report in the Astrophysical Journal, brown dwarfs are formed by the same process that forms stars. The report’s conclusion is based on the investigation of a clutch of still-forming brown dwarfs in a star-forming region some 450 light-years from Earth...

ceres bright spots

Ceres’ bright spots appear to be producing haze

With all of the attention Pluto has been getting over the past week or so, one might forget that NASA is also studying a dwarf planet closer to home, and they may have moved one step closer to determining exactly what those mysterious bright spots of Ceres are made of. According to Discovery News, the US space agency’s Dawn spacecraft has discovered that the bright spots, which are located in a region known as Occator...