Ancient Earth was still a molten mass with a liquid magma surface when Pluto, along with its underground ocean, were beginning to form. Billions of years have since passed, and the liquid water beneath the surface of Pluto has remained in the distant solar system. The dwarf planet may be frigid now, but researchers say that it could have started off as a hot world that formed rapidly and violently. Read more for two videos and additional information.
So far, NASA’s Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have ever flown past Neptune, and the views it captured were as stunning as they are puzzling. They gave us a glimpse of gigantic, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton’s surface. This left researchers baffled, as how could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active? This new mission aims to answer that question. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA has awarded a grant to researchers at the University of Rochester that will fund a study on technosignatures, which are detectable signs of past or present technology used on other planets. This also marks the first NASA non-radio technosignature grant ever awarded and represents an exciting new direction for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Read more for a video on technosignatures and additional information.
Astronomers have used the NASA Hubble Space Telescope’s full range of imaging capabilities to discover the chaos ensuing in two nearby young planetary nebulas: NGC 6302, the Butterfly Nebula because of its wing-like appearance and NGC 7027, a jewel bug-like insect with a colorful metallic shell. The research team found never seen before levels of complexity and rapid changes in jets and gas bubbles blasting off of the stars at the centers of both nebulas. Read more for two videos and additional information.
For those who can’t quite afford a Virgin Galactic trip to space ($250,000), but still have $125,000 and want to visit the edge of space? There’s Spaceship Neptune from Space Perspective. Think of it as a luxurious capsule that comfortably transports eight passengers and a pilot. Featuring ergonomic seats, a drink bar, full bathroom and large windows that let you take in the amazing views. Read more for a video,additional pictures and information.
The European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has captured a brilliant green glow in the atmosphere of Mars for the first time. It occurs due to interactions between the sun’s light and oxygen molecules in Mars’ atmosphere. On Earth, glowing oxygen is produced during polar auroras when energetic electrons from interplanetary space hit the upper atmosphere, and this oxygen-driven emission of light gives them the characteristic green hue. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO
Researchers at the University of Nottingham used the assumption that intelligent life forms on other planets in a similar way as it does on Earth to obtain an estimate for the number of intelligent communicating civilizations within our own Milky Way galaxy. They determined that there could be over 30 active intelligent civilizations in our galaxy alone. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s New Horizons is around 4.3-billion-miles away from Earth, and the images it captured of nearby stars are in different positions than where we would normally see them here on Earth. It’s called the “parallax effect” and one can mimic this by holding a finger approximately an arm’s length from your face to see how it jumps when you close your left or right eye. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SWRI/MSSS/KEVIN M. GILL
NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently 500-million miles away from Earth and traveling at 127,000 mph. It marks four years in orbit around Jupiter, and this solar-powered spacecraft has transmitted even more astonishing images of the gas giant. Once in orbit around Jupiter, this spacecraft receives only 4% as much sunlight as it would on Earth. Read more for another photo and additional information.
Nearly 25-years after Kathy Sullivan became the first US woman to walk in space, she also became the first to ever reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point in Earth’s oceans. It’s located approximately 7-miles beneath the Pacific Ocean’s surface within the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of Guam. She co-piloted the deep sea submersible Limiting Factor with millionaire investor Victor Vescovo. Read more for a video and additional information.