Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which arrived at the near-Earth asteroid on June 27 after a journey of more than three years, released the MINERVA-II1 container from a height of about 60 meters (SN Online: 6/27/18). The container then released two 18-centimeter-wide, cylindrical rovers. Because Ryugu’s gravity is so weak, the rovers can hop using rotating motors that generate a torque and send them airborne for about 15 minutes.
Astronomers have finally found the last of the missing universe. It’s been hiding since the mid-1990s, when researchers decided to inventory all the “ordinary” matter in the cosmos--stars and planets and gas, anything made out of atomic parts. (This isn’t “dark matter,” which remains a wholly separate enigma.)
A massive number of new signals have been discovered coming from the notorious repeating fast radio source FRB 121102 - and we can thank artificial intelligence for these findings. Researchers at the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project Breakthrough Listen applied machine learning to comb through existing data, and found 72 fast radio bursts that had previously been missed.
Evidence for Planet Nine continues to mount, but there may be a good reason why scientists have yet to find it - it may be hiding. In October 2017, NASA released a statement saying that Planet Nine may be 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune is, going so far as to say "it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one."
Daisies who pursue the Space Science Explorer badge will observe the sun, moon and sky, while Brownies tackling the Space Science Adventurer badge will delve into the planets, moon phases and constellations. Juniors, aka Space Science Investigators, will explore the celestial motion, the dimensions of constellations, and the size and scale of the solar system.
The US community faces a daunting task. Each generation of facilities is getting more expensive and harder to build. Operational costs are mounting. Meanwhile, the research budgets of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA have remained more or less flat since the 1990s (see ‘Astronomical costs’). Hard decisions have been made to close old but still-productive telescopes, which has proved insufficient to pay for new ones. And these pressures will only get worse as more big projects come online.
Researchers have detected a rogue planet traveling the void between stars some 20 light years away. Rogue planets or brown dwarfs (which this might be) aren’t exactly rare, cosmologically speaking, but they tend to be very difficult to see. And yet, the way we found this particular planet/brown dwarf suggests we might locate other similar stellar objects through an application of the same technique.
NASA's Parker Solar Probe will be the first spacecraft to "touch" the sun, hurtling through the sizzling solar atmosphere and coming within just 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the surface. It's designed to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that's capable of withstanding 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius).
Astronomers have calculated that Mars will be a mere 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) next Tuesday, July 31. That’s practically in our backyard by some measures. The following week on Friday, August 11, Mars will be in opposition to the sun. That means the two objects will be on the exact opposite sides of the Earth.
Famed astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered the first four moons of Jupiter way back in the early 1600s. More than 400 years later, astronomers are still finding moons orbiting the solar system’s largest planet.