Meet SPHEREx – NASA’s Newest Mission to Explore the Early Universe, Launching in 2023

The SPHEREx space telescope will launch in 2023, NASA reports. This orbiting observatory will map 100,000 stars in our galaxy and 300,000 other galaxies over the entire sky. The telescope will record in infrared light, similar to some forms of night vision technology, The robotic mission will examine stellar birthplaces, searching for water. It will also turn its eyes to watch planets form around alien stars.

Read More Meet SPHEREx – NASA’s Newest Mission to Explore the Early Universe, Launching in 2023
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Good Night, Dear Kepler — Planet-Hunting Telescope Sends Last Images to Earth; Is That Tetris?

The Kepler spacecraft has sent its final images to Earth, ending a decade of hunting for planets beyond our solar system. The spacecraft was utilized in the discovery of more than 2,600 of these exoplanets. Just 35 years ago, astronomers did not know of any planets beyond our own stellar family, while today, we know of thousands of such alien worlds, Most of these discoveries were made using the Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009. The observatory ran out of fuel in October 2018, and was placed in a safe orbit prior to shutdown.

Read More Good Night, Dear Kepler — Planet-Hunting Telescope Sends Last Images to Earth; Is That Tetris?

Why Europe is Naming Their Next Mars Rover After Biologist Rosalind Franklin

The European Space Agency announced they are naming their new Mars rover in honor of pioneering biologist Rosalind Franklin. The spacecraft is due for launch in July 2020, and should touch down on Mars in March 2021. The robotic explorer will investigate beneath the Martian crust, looking for evidence of life, past or present, on Mars. Franklin developed groundbreaking research into the study of DNA, work which was used, without credit, by other researchers.

Read More Why Europe is Naming Their Next Mars Rover After Biologist Rosalind Franklin

It’s Not Just You – The Galaxy IS Warped, After All!

The Milky Way Galaxy is typically thought to be a flat, spiral disk. But, new research from astronomers at Macquarie University suggest our home galaxy is warped. By studying the positions of certain well-understood stars, researchers were able to create the first 3D model of our home galaxy. They found that the Milky Way has a slight “s” shape when viewed from the side. Torque caused by the movement of stars closer to the center the galaxy appear to be causing the effect.

Read More It’s Not Just You – The Galaxy IS Warped, After All!

NASA Readies Europa Clipper for First In-Depth Study of Jupiter’s Water Moon Europa

NASA is readying a new spacecraft, the Europa Clipper, for a journey to explore the giant water moon of Jupiter. Europa is believed to have oceans of liquid water deeper than any found on Earth, which are heated by bending and flexing as it orbits its massive companion. The spacecraft, due for launch in 2023, will carry instruments to measure the composition and condition of the oceans of Europa, as well as that world’s atmosphere, surface, and magnetic field. Astronomers believe that Europs may be one of the most likely places in the solar system to find alien life,

Read More NASA Readies Europa Clipper for First In-Depth Study of Jupiter’s Water Moon Europa

Preparing for E.T. – What do Aliens Look Like?

Astronomers at the SETI Institute are estimating that the human race will likely make contact with an alien species sometime in the next 25 years. Science writer James Maynard released a new look on thecosmiccompanion.com seeing what aliens may look like, based on the laws of science and evolution. Such aliens, he finds, are likely to have legs and some form of two or more eyes, and have a kind communication. Other than those features, extraterrestrials may have little in common with life on Earth.

Read More Preparing for E.T. – What do Aliens Look Like?

Hubble Discovers Dwarf Galaxy Playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ in Our Own Backyard

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope accidentally found a previously-unknown galaxy, 28 million light years from Earth. This family of stars was found while researchers photographed the globular star cluster NGC 6752. Dubbed Bedin 1, this small, dim galaxy is believed to be around 13 billion years old, leading astronomers to describe it as a “living fossil” of the ancient Universe.

Read More Hubble Discovers Dwarf Galaxy Playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ in Our Own Backyard

Weee! Parker Solar Probe Completes First Trip Around the Sun

The Parker Solar Probe has just completed its first orbit of the Sun, as it studies the surface and atmosphere of our parent star. This mission was launched in August 2018, as the most ambitious mission ever to study the Sun. The spacecraft will help answer questions about solar science, including the mysteries of why the atmosphere of the Sun is hotter than its surface, and the origin of the solar wind. The mission is scheduled to last seven years, during which time the vehicle will also make seven close passes of the planet Venus.

Read More Weee! Parker Solar Probe Completes First Trip Around the Sun

A Eulogy for the (Likely) Lost Opportunity Rover

After nearly 15 years exploring the surface of Mars, the Opportunity rover may be dead. Despite over 600 attempts, communication still has not been restored with the vehicle, following a loss of power caused by a sandstorm which engulfed the spacecraft last spring. Since 2004, Opportunity traveled 45 kilometers, or 28 miles, exploring the geology and climate of the Red Planet. The golf-cart-sized rover found some of the best evidence yet seen that Mars once had seas of liquid water. It survived an earlier sandstorm in 2014, but has been silent since June 10th.

Read More A Eulogy for the (Likely) Lost Opportunity Rover

Is Titan Baking its Own Atmosphere? Origin of Mysterious Gases Revealed

Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system, and the only one known to possess a thick atmosphere. Since it was first studied in detail by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1980, astronomers have wondered how the atmosphere of the largest moon of Saturn developed. Now, researchers have developed a theory that comets, which are rich in organic materials, may have deposited vast quantities of carbon-based chemicals just beneath the surface of Titan, where they were baked, releasing the nitrogen and methane seen in the atmosphere of Titan today.

Read More Is Titan Baking its Own Atmosphere? Origin of Mysterious Gases Revealed