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Your search has returned 931 articles:
  • News

    Ultima Thule may be a frankenworld

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Ultima Thule’s history may be written in the sum of its parts.

    New analyses suggest that the tiny space rock formed from a rotating cloud of even smaller rocks that collapsed into two individual objects. Those objects then gently collided in the early days of the solar system, creating the distant double-lobed world studied by the passing New Horizons spacecraft,...

    03/18/2019 - 17:35 Planetary Science
  • News

    3 explanations for ‘Oumuamua that aren’t alien spaceships

    The first known interstellar visitor to the solar system is keeping astronomers guessing.

    Ever since it was spotted in October 2017, major mysteries have dogged the object, known as ‘Oumuamua (SN Online: 10/27/17). Astronomers don’t know where it came from in the galaxy. And they’ve disagreed over whether ‘Oumuamua is an asteroid, a comet or something else entirely.

    One of the...

    02/27/2019 - 11:18 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Hayabusa2 just tried to collect asteroid dust for the first time

    The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has quickly tapped the surface of asteroid Ryugu, making the first of three planned attempts to grab a pinch of dust. Analysis of the sample could shed light on the origins of planets or even on the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system.

    But scientists won’t know for sure how much dust Hayabusa2 succeeded in grabbing until the craft returns to Earth...

    02/22/2019 - 15:07 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chip off another moon

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chunk of a neighboring moon that was knocked off by a comet.

    One of seven moons that orbit closer to Neptune than the planet’s largest moon, Triton, the newly dubbed Hippocamp is just roughly 34 kilometers across, researchers report in the Feb. 21 Nature. The second-largest moon, Proteus, is Hippocamp’s nearest neighbor, orbiting about 12,000 kilometers...

    02/20/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Mars’ lake may need an underground volcano to exist

    If Mars conceals a lake beneath its south polar ice cap, the planet must also have a hidden chamber of magma to keep the water liquid, a new analysis suggests.

    Signs of a 20-kilometer-wide lake, buried beneath about a kilometer and a half of ice near Mars’ south pole, were first reported in 2018 by a team led by planetary scientist Roberto Orosei (SN: 8/18/18, p. 6). The discovery kicked...

    02/19/2019 - 13:04 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    After 15 years on Mars, it’s the end of the road for Opportunity

    Opportunity has finally run out of, well, opportunities. After weeks of trying to revive the veteran Mars rover in the wake of a blinding dust storm, NASA has given up on ever hearing from it again.

    After one last failed attempt to reach Opportunity February 12, NASA officials announced the end on February 13. “I was there with the team as these commands went out into the deep sky,”...

    02/13/2019 - 14:16 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    A basketball-sized rock hit the moon during the last lunar eclipse

    Thousands of people were watching the total lunar eclipse on January 21 when something suddenly smacked into the moon, creating a flash of light. Now professional and amateur astronomers have used fortuitous photographs of the strike to estimate the object’s size.

    Astronomer Jorge Zuluaga and his colleagues gathered images taken by amateurs in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, plus a...

    02/05/2019 - 12:01 Planetary Science
  • News

    A space rock collision may explain how this exoplanet was born

    Cataclysmic collisions between space rocks have helped explain some of the solar system’s biggest mysteries, from how the moon formed to how Uranus got its lopsided rotation. But convincing evidence for such events happening outside of the solar system is scant.

    Now scientists think that they have found the first known example of a near head-on collision between two massive worlds in...

    02/04/2019 - 13:40 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Titan’s oddly thick atmosphere may come from cooked organic compounds

    Titan may have a home-baked atmosphere.

    Saturn’s largest moon gets some of its thick atmosphere by cooking organic molecules in a warm core, a new study suggests.

    The decay of radioactive elements may warm Titan’s core from within, splitting nitrogen and carbon off from complex organic molecules. Once free, those elements can recombine into nitrogen and methane molecules and escape...

    02/01/2019 - 07:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover weighed the mountain it’s climbing

    For the first time, a Mars rover has measured the mass of the rocks beneath its wheels. By taking gravity measurements as it climbed a Martian mountain, Curiosity discovered something surprising: Mount Sharp appears to have been built in two phases — one soggy, one dry.

    The rover found that the rocks it is driving over are less densely packed than scientists expected. That suggests the...

    01/31/2019 - 14:07 Planetary Science