Science

ESA decides between Thor, Ariel, and Xipe for next medium mission

ESA decides between Thor, Ariel, and Xipe for next medium mission

It's a battle of the space-gods as the ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) study at ESTEC decides between Xipe, Ariel, and Thor. Each of these names corresponds with a craft, and each craft corresponds with a proposed area of study. Up for grabs are exoplanets, plasma physics and the X-ray Universe, one each to possibly be studied by the the Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (Ariel), the Turbulence Heating ObserveR (Thor) and the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (Xipe). These are the final three missions that'll eventually be cut down to one this upcoming analytical session.

Continue Reading

Rosetta mission extended as Philae wakes from long sleep

Rosetta mission extended as Philae wakes from long sleep

"This is fantastic news for science," said Matt Taylor, ESA's Rosetta Project Scientist, as he speaks on extending the life of their thought-dead research. Rosetta was originally launched in 2004, bringing its lander Philae to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It arrived in August of 2014, did some studies of the environment from up high, and deployed its lander Philae on the 12th of November. From there, things went dark. Just about 57 hours after landing and beginning operations, Philae went dark, and things looked dim.

Continue Reading

Icefin robot could be how NASA explores Europa’s icy oceans

Icefin robot could be how NASA explores Europa’s icy oceans

Georgia Tech has a new robotic vehicle called Icefin, and it is designed to explore the depths of the ocean in icy regions. Previously Icefin was used to explore beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, and in the future it could have a mission that extends beyond Earth. The technology could be key to getting a look at the ocean that (likely) lies beneath the icy shell of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. NASA has been working on plans to explore the frozen moon.

Continue Reading

Neanderthals may be more related to us than we realize

Neanderthals may be more related to us than we realize

Today a study headed by Svante Pääbo has been published with information about a new Neanderthal ancestor connection. An early "modern human" was found in Peştera cu Oase, Romania. This Oase individual's genome was sequenced and found to be between 6 and 9% derived from neanderthals. This is a higher percentage neanderthal than any other modern human sequenced thus far. In our entire history of studying modern humans, we've never seen one with so much neanderthal inside. While this doesn't mean we're necessarily a whole lot more neanderthal than we thought, it changes our perception on when neanderthals died out entirely.

Continue Reading

NASA theorizes how lake depressions on Titan were formed

NASA theorizes how lake depressions on Titan were formed

Titan is one of Saturn's moons and one of the most interesting things about the moon is that it has lots of seas and lakes that are filled with liquid hydrocarbons. One thing that puzzles NASA scientists about the lakes of hydrocarbons on the surface of the moon is what process exactly creates the depression that the hydrocarbon lakes fill. Some of the depressions aren't filled with liquids.

Continue Reading

NASA collects all of its space photos into single image gallery

NASA collects all of its space photos into single image gallery

If your hobbies include browsing various space photos, NASA has just made your day. The agency has unveiled a huge photo library that features every photo from past to present, totaling up to over 138,000 images. Sources include photos taken by the Hubble, JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab), and missions including Apollo. Called the NASA Images collection, the gallery was built by Luna Imaging, and combines over 70 previous galleries into a single, searchable database.

Continue Reading

“Smart” lithium-ion battery warns before it explodes

“Smart” lithium-ion battery warns before it explodes

News of exploding smartphone batteries might be sensational but they are no light matter. Aside from the harm, or even death, that could come from those, they also point to a problem with lithium-ion batteries that exhibited elsewhere. While little can be done for a battery that explodes due to severe damage, in most other cases, accidents could be prevented if users knew that the battery is on the verge of combusting. That is what Stanford associate professor Yi Cui and other professors have sought to accomplish with this new "smart" battery.

Continue Reading

The sixth mass extinction is coming, and man is to blame

The sixth mass extinction is coming, and man is to blame

If the Pope's ominous warnings weren't enough for you, now scientists are chiming in to blame mankind for an imminent sixth mass extinction on Earth. The research, carried out by scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, takes a conservative approach to extinction rates, but concludes that even then biodiversity is dwindling at a pace far greater than would be natural. Meanwhile, there's a possibility for a turnaround, but the window of opportunity is closing.

Continue Reading

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft returns incredible pics of Dione

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft returns incredible pics of Dione

NASA's spacecraft Cassini has returned high-resolution and quite impressive images of Dione, Saturn's moon. The spacecraft took the images during its most recent flyby of the moon (earlier this week), and NASA has made them available as unprocessed RAW images, a more particular selection of which can be found at the CICLOPS website. This isn't the last we'll be getting images of Dione, though, as another flyby will be happening in a couple months with more imaging being planned.

Continue Reading

Philae speaks again: Comet probe “doing very well”

Philae speaks again: Comet probe “doing very well”

The Philae lander has resumed communications with Earth for the second time since the surprise message last Sunday that proved the spacecraft was still functional. Two signals were successfully received today, the European Space Agency (ESA) said, each lasting two minutes and containing 185 packets of data. Although there's no scientific research in among those bytes, Philae has sent back vital information about just how well the distant probe is doing on its unusual comet ride.

Continue Reading