Astronomers may have found an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star
- The planet candidate is also orbiting at a distance that places it within the habitable zone of the star, where the surface temperature of the planet could support liquid water — and the potential for life.
- The researchers discovered the two additional potential planets in the Kepler-160 system when they searched through Kepler data using a detailed model of variations of star brightness.
- This includes the European Space Agency's PLATO mission that will launch in 2026 and search for Earth-size planets around sun-like stars, among other objectives.
- Many of the Earth-size exoplanets discovered in recent years orbit small red dwarf stars, rather than sun-like stars.
- These stars are much smaller and cooler than our sun and the exoplanets around them are in closer orbits than Earth is to the sun, but they likely have similar moderate surface temperatures because the stars are cooler.
Astronomers confirm Earth-size exoplanet around nearest star and maybe more
- The researchers determined that Proxima b is 1.17 times the mass of Earth — and completes an orbit around its star, Proxima Centauri, every 11.2 Earth days.
- Earlier this year, a separate study announced that researchers used the radial velocity method to trace a signal likely belonging to a super-Earth also orbiting Proxima Centauri.
- Benedict scanned data he took 25 years ago using the Hubble Space Telescope while studying Proxima Centauri and found a planet with an orbital period of 1,907 days.
- At the time he took the data, Benedict and his fellow researchers were only searching for planets with 1,000 Earth day orbits or less.
- Benedict said the planet is seven time as massive as Earth, after combining his data with the study published earlier this year as well as images taken by researchers using the SPHERE instrument on the Very Large Telescope.
SpaceX returns to the pad tonight just four days after crew launch
- A mere four days after its historic launch of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station, SpaceX is preparing for another launch of its Falcon 9 rocket.
- On Tuesday, the autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You return from the Demo-2 mission with the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage, and the company has dispatched Just Read the Instructions to the landing zone for the Starlink mission.
- The first stage for this mission has four previous flights to its record: launches of the Telstar 18V and Iridium 8 satellites, as well as two Starlink missions.
- During the first time the company tried this in March, the rocket suffered an engine failure on the way to orbit.
- While the primary mission was successful (despite the shutdown of one of its engines), the first stage failed to make a drone-ship landing.
Watch SpaceX launch its latest batch of Starlink satellites, including one with a sun visor
- This mission is the latest of SpaceX’s Starlink launches, which the company is using to put up a vast network of small satellites to provide low-cost, high-bandwidth internet access to customers globally.
- SpaceX’s Starlink mission today has a launch window of 9:25 PM EDT (6:25 PM PDT) and includes a payload of 60 more satellites for the constellation, which already has 420 operating in low Earth orbit.
- This launch was originally scheduled to fly the week prior to SpaceX’s Demo-2 crewed mission, which carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on Saturday and Sunday, but was bumped due to a scheduling conflict with a ULA launch, and then further postponed until after the astronaut flight.
- One key novel element for this flight is the test of a new technology SpaceX is hoping will help mitigate the impact of the Starlink constellation on night sky observation from Earth.
Mars' moons may hint that the planet once had rings
- Something pushed Deimos out away from the planet and caused it to tilt — like interacting with another, larger moon.
- Phobos, slightly larger than Deimos, is only about 3,700 miles above the Martian surface — no known moon in our solar system is closer to its planet.
- The researchers believe that Phobos once had a grandparent 3 billion years ago that they called proto-Phobos — likely 20 times more massive as the small moon is now.
- Over the course of a few moon-ring cycles, it became Phobos — which would explain why some researchers believe it only formed about 200 million years ago.
- A prominent ring around Mars would have pushed proto-Phobos outward, away from the planet.
- This would have also affected proto-Phobos' orbital resonance with Deimos and pushed it further from Mars as well.
Why Our Intuition About Sea-Level Rise Is Wrong
- Mitrovica has revived and reinvigorated longstanding insights into factors that cause huge geographic variation in sea level, with important implications for the study of climate change today on glaciers and ice sheets.
- If the Greenland ice sheet melts, sea level in most of the Southern Hemisphere will increase about 30 percent more than the global average.
- If you have people denying climate change because they say there’s geographic variation in sea level changes—it doesn’t go up uniformly—you can say, “Well, that is incorrect because ice sheets produce a geographically variable change in sea level when they melt.” You can also use that variability to say this percentage is coming from Greenland, this percentage is coming from the Antarctic, and this percentage is coming from mountain glaciers.
NASA-SpaceX launches will boost science research on the space station
- Now, NASA's Commercial Crew program can expand the amount of astronauts on the space station — which means that more science, and even new types of experiments, can happen in the unique microgravity environment.
- This means that astronauts could either double up on experiments by working together or split into shift teams where they stagger when the astronauts are awake and asleep, so crews could hand off an experiment that requires 13 hours rather than six — especially an issue in life sciences, cell biology and rodent research.
- This will allow NASA and their Human Research Program to better study the effects of space on human health and develop countermeasures to mitigate them — especially as they prepare to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually on to Mars.
- Non-NASA research is managed by the ISS National Laboratory, which utilizes the space station's unique microgravity environment to send up experiments from commercial businesses, academic institutions and government agencies that can benefit Earth.