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  • Science Ticker

    OSIRIS-REx snaps first images of asteroid Bennu

    The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has its destination in its sights. On August 17, the probe took its first images of the asteroid 101955 Bennu, marking the beginning of the spacecraft’s approach after a nearly two-year space voyage.

    “I can’t explain enough how much it meant to this team,” mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson...

    08/24/2018 - 17:12 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Here’s where the Hayabusa2 spacecraft will land on the asteroid Ryugu

    Landing sites on the asteroid Ryugu for the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and its hitchhiking landers have been picked out, scientists with Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency announced in a news conference on August 23.

    Hayabusa2 arrived at the 1,000-meter-wide asteroid on June 27, and has been scanning the surface since. More than 100 mission team members met on August 17 to choose the first...

    08/23/2018 - 15:48 Planetary Science
  • News

    New Horizons may have seen a glow at the solar system’s edge

    The New Horizons spacecraft has spotted an ultraviolet glow that seems to emanate from near the edge of the solar system. That glow may come from a long-sought wall of hydrogen that represents where the sun’s influence wanes, the New Horizons team reports online August 7 in Geophysical Research Letters.

    “We’re seeing the threshold between being in the solar neighborhood and being in the...

    08/09/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    What does Mars’ lake mean for the search for life on the Red Planet?

    The search for life on Mars just got a lot more interesting.

    For decades, scientists have looked at the dry and dusty planet and focused on finding regions where life could have taken root billions of years ago, when the Martian climate was warmer and wetter. But on July 25, researchers announced they had spotted signs of a large lake of liquid water hiding beneath thick layers of ice...

    07/27/2018 - 13:56 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water

    A Mars orbiter has detected a wide lake of liquid water hidden below the planet’s southern ice sheets. There have been much-debated hints of tiny, ephemeral amounts of water on Mars before. But if confirmed, this lake marks the first discovery of a long-lasting cache of the liquid.

    “This is potentially a really big deal,” says planetary scientist Briony Horgan of Purdue University in...

    07/25/2018 - 10:00 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    Jupiter has 12 more moons than we knew about — and one is bizarre

    Astronomers have found 12 more moons around Jupiter, and one is really weird. While 11 orbit in the same direction as their nearest neighbors, one doesn’t, potentially putting it on a fatal collision course.

    “It’s driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road,” says planetary scientist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

    Sheppard and...

    07/17/2018 - 10:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    First global maps of Pluto and Charon show the worlds’ highs and lows

    The first global maps of Pluto and its moon Charon are now available, putting a bookend on NASA’s New Horizons mission.

    “From a completionist’s point of view, they are all the good data we have, stitched together into a coherent, complete mosaic,” says planetary scientist Ross Beyer of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

    The charts focus on the 42 percent of Pluto...

    07/13/2018 - 16:50 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Astronomers snap the first baby pictures of a planet

    Behold, the sharpest view yet of a planet-in-progress.

    New infrared telescope observations reveal an exoplanet that appears to be growing inside the disk of gas and dust around a star about 370 light-years away. Astronomers have indirectly identified other exoplanet embryos by observing the paths that these young worlds cleared through the dusty disks around their parent stars (SN Online...

    07/02/2018 - 15:24 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrives at the asteroid Ryugu

    After more than three years’ lonely travel through the solar system, the Japanese spacefaring robot Hayabusa2 has reached its home-away-from-home for the next 18 months: the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.

    The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on June 27 confirmed Hayabusa2's arrival at the kilometer-wide boulder, which circles the sun between Earth and Mars. The spacecraft is now...

    06/27/2018 - 14:58 Astronomy, Planetary Science, Technology
  • News

    Mars got its crust quickly

    Mars was a fully formed planet — crust and all — within just 20 million years of the solar system’s birth. That rapid formation means the Red Planet probably got a 100-million-year jump on Earth in terms of habitability, new research suggests.

    Geochemical analyses of crystals of the mineral zircon extracted from Martian meteorites reveal that Mars had formed its earliest crust by 4.547...

    06/27/2018 - 13:00 Planetary Science, Earth