Latest Space News
New comet viewer - Read more >
Tue, 23 Apr 2019 08:00:00 +0200


Space Science Image of the Week: One of 70 000 images to explore in a new tool launched by Rosetta’s comet imaging team

Happy Birthday Hubble! - Read more >
Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:30:00 +0200


The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 29th birthday with this incredible view of the Southern Crab Nebula

Hubble Celebrates 29th Anniversary with a Colorful Look at the Southern Crab Nebula
Thu, 18 Apr 2019 10:00:00 EDT

Hubble Image

This Hubble image shows the results of two stellar companions in a gravitational waltz, several thousand light-years from Earth in the southern constellation Centaurus. The stellar duo, consisting of a red giant and white dwarf, are too close together to see individually in this view. But the consequences of their whirling about each other are two vast shells of gas expanding into space like a runaway hot air balloon. Both stars are embedded in a flat disk of hot material that constricts the outflowing gas so that it only escapes away above and below the stars. This apparently happens in episodes because the nebula has two distinct nested hourglass-shaped structures. The bubbles of gas and dust appear brightest at the edges, giving the illusion of crab legs. The rich colors correspond to glowing hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen. This image was taken to celebrate Hubble's 29th anniversary since its launch on April 24, 1990.


A “Jellyfish” Galaxy Swims Into View of NASA’s Upcoming Webb Telescope
Wed, 17 Apr 2019 10:00:00 EDT

Hubble Image

As the spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 plunges into a galaxy cluster, gas is being pulled off of it as though it faced a cosmic headwind. Within that gas, stars are forming to create the appearance of giant, blue tentacle-like streamers. Astronomers, puzzled that stars could form within such tumult, plan to use Webb to study this galaxy and its stellar offspring.


Exoplanet detectors - Read more >
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 14:25:00 +0200


Our future mission Plato, due to launch in 2026, will use highly sensitive light detectors to monitor the brightness of thousands of stars in search of Earth-sized planets

First results from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter - Read more >
Wed, 10 Apr 2019 19:00:00 +0200


New evidence of the impact of the recent planet-encompassing dust storm on water in the atmosphere, and a surprising lack of methane, are among the scientific highlights of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter’s first year in orbit.


ExoMars carrier module prepares for final pre-launch testing - Read more >
Fri, 05 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0200


The module that will carry the ExoMars rover and surface science platform from Earth to Mars has arrived in Italy for final integration preparations.


BepiColombo is ready for its long cruise - Read more >
Fri, 05 Apr 2019 10:00:00 +0200


Following a series of tests conducted in space over the past five months, the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission has successfully completed its near-Earth commissioning phase and is now ready for the operations that will take place during the cruise and, eventually, for its scientific investigations at Mercury.


NASA Awards 2019 Postdoctoral Fellowships
Thu, 04 Apr 2019 10:00:00 EDT

Hubble Image

NASA has selected 24 new Fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.


Mars Express matches methane spike measured by Curiosity - Read more >
Mon, 01 Apr 2019 17:00:00 +0200


A reanalysis of data collected by ESA’s Mars Express during the first 20 months of NASA’s Curiosity mission found one case of correlated methane detection, the first time an in-situ measurement has been independently confirmed from orbit.


Exoplanet satellite ready - Read more >
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 17:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, was recently declared ready to fly after completing a series of final spacecraft tests.


Hubble Watches Spun-up Asteroid Coming Apart
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 10:00:00 EDT

Hubble Image

Astronomers once thought asteroids were boring, wayward space rocks that simply orbit around the Sun. These objects were dramatically presented only in science fiction movies.

But recent observations show that asteroids are anything but dull. In reality they are dynamic, active worlds that can ultimately disintegrate due to the long-term subtle effects of sunlight, which can slowly spin them up until they begin to shed material.

Several telescopes, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, have caught the gradual self-destruction of the asteroid (6478) Gault. Images from Hubble show two narrow, comet-like tails of dusty debris streaming from the diminutive asteroid.

For Gault, a mass of rubble a few miles across, mere sunlight set the stage for its gradual demise. The force of sunlight, in concert with Gault's own asymmetrical shape, speeded up the asteroid's rotation over a period of more than 100 million years. The estimated spin-up rate is 1 second every 10,000 years.

Today, the asteroid is rotating once every two hours, a speed so fast that it can no longer hold its surface material. The slightest disturbance — perhaps the impact of a pebble, or just a failure of the stressed material — may have set off a collapse. The dust left the asteroid's surface in gentle, short bursts, perhaps due to landslides lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The particles are drifting away from Gault's surface at the speed of a strolling human. The gentle process is like scattering flour into the air, where wind — or sunlight, in the case of Gault — stretches the debris into a long streamer.

Astronomers will monitor the asteroid for future events. About 800,000 known asteroids reside between Mars and Jupiter, and they may fly apart at the rate of roughly one per year.


Dark dust devil tracks on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 11:00:00 +0100


The winds of Mars are responsible for myriad features across the planet’s surface – including the dark dunes and wispy, filament-like streaks seen in this image from ESA’s Mars Express.


NASA’s Webb to Explore Galaxies from Cosmic Dawn to Present Day
Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:00:00 EDT

Hubble Image

How did the first galaxies in the universe form, and did they make the universe transparent to light? How did later galaxies produce and disperse into the universe the heavier elements that are the building blocks of stars, planets, and even humans? These are questions astronomers will address in some of the first observations made by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, slated to launch in March 2021. Astronomers hope the answers will lead to a better understanding of the origins and evolution of the universe.


ExoMars landing platform arrives in Europe with a name - Read more >
Thu, 21 Mar 2019 14:30:00 +0100


The platform destined to land on the Red Planet as part of the next ExoMars mission has arrived in Europe for final assembly and testing – and been given a name.


Giant ‘chimneys’ vent X-rays from Milky Way’s core - Read more >
Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:00:00 +0100


By surveying the centre of our Galaxy, ESA’s XMM-Newton has discovered two colossal ‘chimneys’ funneling material from the vicinity of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole into two huge cosmic bubbles.


Call for media: Cheops ready for launch in October - Read more >
Tue, 19 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0100


The Cheops mission, ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets, is scheduled to lift off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, within the launch slot 15 October – 14 November 2019. Media representatives are invited to apply for accreditation to visit the spacecraft, which is in the clean rooms of Airbus in Madrid, on 29 March, before it goes into storage ahead of its shipment to Kourou later this year.


InSight lander among latest ExoMars image bounty - Read more >
Thu, 14 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0100


Curious surface features, water-formed minerals, 3D stereo views, and even a sighting of the InSight lander showcase the impressive range of imaging capabilities of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.


Mars image bounty - Read more >
Thu, 14 Mar 2019 10:15:00 +0100


Showcase of the ExoMars orbiter’s imaging capabilities

What Does the Milky Way Weigh? Hubble and Gaia Investigate
Thu, 07 Mar 2019 10:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

We live in a gigantic star city. Our Milky Way galaxy contains an estimated 200 billion stars. But that's just the bare tip of the iceberg. The Milky Way is surrounded by vast amounts of an unknown material called dark matter that is invisible because it doesn't release any radiation. Astronomers know it exists because, dynamically, the galaxy would fly apart if dark matter didn't keep a gravitational lid on things.

Still, astronomers would like to have a precise measure of the galaxy's mass to better understand how the myriad galaxies throughout the universe form and evolve. Other galaxies can range in mass from around a billion solar masses to 30 trillion solar masses. How does our Milky Way compare?

Curious astronomers teamed up the Hubble Space Telescope and European Space Agency's Gaia satellite to precisely study the motions of globular star clusters that orbit our galaxy like bees around a hive. The faster the clusters move under the entire galaxy's gravitational pull, the more massive it is. The researchers concluded the galaxy weighs 1.5 trillion solar masses, most of it locked up in dark matter. Therefore, the Milky Way is a "Goldilocks" galaxy, not too big and not too small. Just right!


Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys Resumes Operations
Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:15:00 EST

Hubble Image

NASA has recovered the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument, which suspended operations on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. The final tests were conducted and the instrument was brought back to its operational mode on March 6.


Advanced Camera for Surveys Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope
Fri, 01 Mar 2019 20:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

At 8:31 p.m. EST on February 28, 2019, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations after an error was detected as the instrument was performing a routine boot procedure. The error indicated that software inside the camera had not loaded correctly. A team of instrument system engineers, flight software experts, and flight operations personnel quickly organized to download and analyze instrument diagnostic information. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan.


NASA's Webb Telescope Will Study an Iconic Supernova
Thu, 28 Feb 2019 10:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

Within a galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, a star exploded 160,000 years ago. In 1987, light from that exploding star reached Earth. Over the past 32 years, astronomers have studied Supernova 1987A to learn about the physics of supernovas and their gaseous remnants. Those observations have revealed a surprising amount of dust, up to an entire sun’s worth. NASA’s infrared James Webb Space Telescope will study the dust within SN 1987A to learn about its composition, temperature and density.


Tiny Neptune Moon Spotted by Hubble May Have Broken from Larger Moon
Wed, 20 Feb 2019 13:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

The phrase "a chip off the old block" apparently also applies to the outer moons of our solar system.

A tiny moon whirling around Neptune that was uncovered in Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken in 2013 has puzzled astronomers ever since then because it is very close to a much larger moon named Proteus. The orbits of the two moons are presently 7,500 miles apart.

Proteus, at 260 miles in diameter, is roughly the size of the state of Ohio. By contrast, Hippocamp is just 20 miles across, or the size of metropolitan Columbus, Ohio. Proteus should have gravitationally swept aside or swallowed the moon while clearing out its orbital path.

Smoking-gun evidence for Hippocamp's origin comes from NASA Voyager 2 images from 1989 that show a large impact crater on Proteus, almost large enough to have shattered the moon. Apparently, a little piece of Proteus got kicked off and has slowly migrated away from the parent body.

Neptune's satellite system has a violent and tortured history. Many billions of years ago, Neptune captured the large moon Triton from the Kuiper Belt. Triton's gravity would have torn up Neptune's original satellite system. Triton settled into a circular orbit and the debris from shattered Neptunian moons re-coalesced into a second generation of natural satellites. However, comet bombardment continued to tear things up, leading to the birth of Hippocamp, which might be considered a third-generation satellite.


Hubble Reveals Dynamic Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 10:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

The two major planets beyond Saturn have only been visited once by a spacecraft, albeit briefly. NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft swung by Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989. Our robotic deep-space tourist snapped the only close-up, detailed images of these monstrous worlds. For Neptune, the images revealed a planet with a dynamic atmosphere with two mysterious dark vortices. Uranus, however, appeared featureless. But these views were only brief snapshots. They couldn't capture how the planets' atmospheres change over time, any more than a single snapshot of Earth could tell meteorologists about weather behavior. And, they go through protracted seasonal changes in their multi-decades-long orbits. Ever since the Voyager encounter, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided an opportunity to monitor these worlds like a diligent weatherman.

Since Hubble's launch in 1990, astronomers have used it to amass an album of outer planet images. Yearly monitoring of these giant worlds is now allowing astronomers to study long-term seasonal changes, as well as capture transitory weather patterns. One such elusive event is yet another dark storm on Neptune, shown in the latest Hubble image of the planet (right).

The telescope's new snapshot of Uranus (left) shows that the ice giant is not a planetary wallflower. A vast bright polar cap across the north pole dominates the image. The cap, which may form due to seasonal changes in atmospheric flow, has become much more prominent than in previous observations dating back to the Voyager 2 flyby, when the planet, in the throes of winter, looked bland.


Space science vision - Read more >
Tue, 05 Feb 2019 11:32:00 +0100


How ESA’s space science programme tackles the big questions about our place in the Cosmos

Exoplanet imaginarium - Read more >
Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:15:00 +0100


Imagine the alien worlds ESA will investigate with its three generations of exoplanet missions

Hubble Accidentally Discovers a New Galaxy in Cosmic Neighborhood
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 10:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

The universe is very cluttered. Myriad island cities of stars, the galaxies, form a backdrop tapestry. Much closer to home are nebulae, star clusters, and assorted other foreground celestial objects that are mostly within our Milky Way galaxy. Despite the vastness of space, objects tend to get in front of each other.

This happened when astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the globular star cluster NGC 6752 (located 13,000 light-years away in our Milky Way's halo). In a celestial game of "Where's Waldo?", Hubble's sharp vision uncovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy located far behind the cluster's crowded stellar population. The loner galaxy is in our own cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away (approximately 2,300 times farther than the foreground cluster).

The object is classified as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy because it measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way), and it is roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way.

Because of its 13-billion-year-old age, and its isolation — which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies — the dwarf is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe.

The international team of astronomers that carried out this study consists of L. Bedin (INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy), M. Salaris (Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England, UK), R. Rich (University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA), H. Richer (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), J. Anderson (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, USA), B. Bettoni (INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy), D. Nardiello, A. Milone, and A. Marino (University of Padua, Italy), M. Libralato and A. Bellini (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, USA), A. Dieball (University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany), P. Bergeron (University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada), A. Burgasser (University of California, San Diego, California, USA), and D. Apai (University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA).

The science team's results will be published online January 31, 2019, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.


World's Largest Digital Sky Survey Issues Biggest Astronomical Data Release Ever
Mon, 28 Jan 2019 09:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

Data from the world's largest digital sky survey is being publicly released today by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawai’i Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii. Data from the Pan-STARRS1 Surveys will allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies. This data release contains over 1.6 petabytes of data (a petabyte is one million gigabytes), making it the largest volume of astronomical information ever released. The survey data resides in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), which serves as NASA's repository for all of its optical and ultraviolet-light observations.


Hubble Sees Plunging Galaxy Losing Its Gas
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 13:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

Two's company and three's a crowd. But thousands are a mosh pit. That's the case in the giant Coma cluster of more than 1,000 galaxies.

Hubble spotted a wayward spiral galaxy losing its gas as it plunges toward the center of the massive cluster and is roughed up as it plows through the intergalactic medium. Telltale evidence lies in a long, thin streamer of material that is stretching like taffy from the galaxy's core and on into intergalactic space. Gas is the lifeblood of a galaxy, fueling the birth of new stars. Once it is stripped of all of its gas, the galaxy, named D100, will enter retirement and shine only by the feeble glow of its aging, red stars.

D100 is being stripped of its gas because of the gravitational tug of a grouping of giant "bully" galaxies in the crowded cluster. Their combined gravity is pulling the beleaguered galaxy toward the cluster's center. As D100 falls toward the core, the galaxy barrels through material. This action forces gas from the galaxy.

The gas-stripping process in D100 began roughly 300 million years ago. In the massive Coma cluster this violent gas-loss process occurs in many galaxies. But D100 is unique in several ways. Its long, thin tail is its most unusual feature extending nearly 200,000 light-years. But the pencil-like structure is comparatively narrow, only 7,000 light-years wide. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy lives in a sparsely populated small corner of the universe, with only one other big galaxy as a companion.


Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 Recovered and Collecting Science
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 14:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

The Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 was brought back to full operational status and completed its first science observations just after noon EST today, Jan. 17, 2019.

For more information, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/wide-field-camera-3-anomaly-on-hubble-space-telescope.


Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to Resume Operations
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 14:30:00 EST

Hubble Image

NASA has moved closer to conducting science operations again with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, which suspended operations on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Today, Jan. 15, the instrument was brought back to its operations mode. After resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards, additional engineering data were collected and the instrument was brought back to operations. All values were normal. Additional calibration and tests will be run over the next 48 to 72 hours to ensure that the instrument is operating properly. Assuming that all tests work as planned, it is expected that the Wide Field Camera 3 will start to collect science images again by the end of the week.

For future updates and more information about Hubble, visit http://www.nasa.gov/hubble.


Wide Field Camera 3 Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope Update
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:00:00 EST

Hubble Image

NASA continues to work toward recovering the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, which suspended operations on Tuesday, January 8. A team of instrument system engineers, Wide Field Camera 3 instrument developers, and other experts formed and quickly began collecting all available telemetry and onboard memory information to determine the sequence of events that caused the values to go out of limits. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan. If a significant hardware failure is identified, redundant electronics built into the instrument will be used to recover and return it to operations.

For more information on Hubble and further updates about the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/wide-field-camera-3-anomaly-on-hubble-space-telescope.


NASA's Hubble Helps Astronomers Uncover the Brightest Quasar in the Early Universe
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 17:15:00 EST

Hubble Image

Less than a billion years after the big bang, a monster black hole began devouring anything within its gravitational grasp. This triggered a firestorm of star formation around the black hole. A galaxy was being born. A blowtorch of energy, equivalent to the light from 600 trillion Suns, blazed across the universe. Now, 12.8 billion years later, the Hubble Space Telescope captured the beacon from this event. But Hubble astronomers needed help to spot it. The gravitational warping of space by a comparatively nearby intervening galaxy greatly amplified and distorted the quasar's light, making it the brightest such object seen in the early universe. It offers a rare opportunity to study a zoomed-in image of how supermassive black holes accompanied star formation in the very early universe and influenced the assembly of galaxies.


The Universe of Gaia - Read more >
Thu, 13 Dec 2018 16:38:00 +0100


A taste of the exciting science that is being performed using data from ESA’s Gaia star surveyor, delving into the formation history of our Milky Way

Meet ESA's science fleet - Read more >
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 13:56:00 +0200


Explore 3D models of ESA's science satellites across the Solar System in this interactive tool