After a 34-kilometre trek, NASA’s indefatigable rover Opportunity has discovered veins of hydrothermally deposited minerals at the edge of Endeavour crater, where it will over-winter in its eighth year. Read more
The NASA Kepler mission has found scores of Jupiter-sized candidate planets in other solar systems — but mostly, they have been so-called hot Jupiters, those that tightly hug their host stars in short period orbits. A true Jupiter analogue, however, one with a period of 12 years, just as in our solar system, has been lacking. And they hold plenty of interest for theorists, who think that our Jupiter was instrumental in creating the conditions for the Earth to form. Read more
Astronomers have discovered the two most massive black holes known in the Universe. Tipping the scale with masses on the order of 10 billion times that of the Sun, these gravitational monsters could represent a missing link: the first known remnants of the brightest quasars that lit the cosmos only a billion or so years after the Big Bang.
Surely it’s bad enough for the Russian scientists and engineers who built the Phobos-Grunt mission to see the spacecraft stall in Earth orbit (See ‘Russia gets the red planet blues‘.) But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is now suggesting that those responsible for the failure need to be punished, and perhaps criminally prosecuted, according to Reuters.
Lift-off! Mars scientists can exhale and breathe normally. At least for the next nine months. The NASA Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is on its way to Mars, the first step in a process that has doomed so many other Mars missions. The Russian mission to the Mars moon Phobos, for example, is stuck in Earth orbit, and falling (see ‘Russia gets the red planet blues.’) … Read more
A Moon-orbiting spacecraft has compiled a nearly complete map of the lunar surface at its highest resolution to date.