Science Daily: Comets and Asteroids

Mercury's poles may be icier than scientists thought

A new study identifies three large surface ice deposits near Mercury's north pole, and suggests there could be many additional small-scale deposits that would dramatically increase the planet's surface ice inventory.

What do we need to know to mine an asteroid?

The mining of resources contained in asteroids, for use as propellant, building materials or in life-support systems, has the potential to revolutionise exploration of our Solar System. To make this concept a reality, we need to increase our knowledge of the very diverse population of accessible Near Earth Asteroids (NEA).

Nanosat fleet proposed for voyage to 300 asteroids

A fleet of tiny spacecraft could visit over 300 asteroids in just over three years, according to a mission study. The Asteroid Touring Nanosat Fleet concept comprises 50 spacecraft propelled by innovative electric solar wind sails (E-sails) and equipped with instruments to take images and collect spectroscopic data on the composition of the asteroids. Each nanosat would visit six or seven asteroids before returning to Earth to deliver the data.

Solar wind impacts on giant 'space hurricanes' may affect satellite safety

Could the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Costa Rica set off a hurricane in California? For most people, this hypothetical scenario may be difficult to imagine on Earth -- particularly when a real disaster strikes. Yet, in space, similarly small fluctuations in the solar wind as it streams toward the Earth's magnetic shield actually can affect the speed and strength of 'space hurricanes,' a researcher explains.

More evidence of water on Mars

River deposits exist across the surface of Mars and record a surface environment from over 3.5 billion years ago that was able to support liquid water at the surface. A region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on Mars.

Light on exoplanets may be quite different from Earth: Different photosynthesis?

Researchers have proposed a prediction that red-edge could be observed as on the Earth even on exoplanets around M-dwarfs. They pointed out that the first oxgenic photorophs are most likely to have evolved underwater to utilize visible light just like what had happened in the primordial ocean on the Earth. They examined light adaptation mechanisms of visible- and IR-radiation-using phototrophs required for adapting to land habitats and found out that IR-using phototrophs struggle to adapt to changing light condition at the boundary of water and land surface.

The return of the comet-like exoplanet

Astronomers have focused the Hubble Space Telescope on an exoplanet that had already been seen losing its atmosphere, which forms an enormous cloud of hydrogen, giving the planet the appearance of a giant comet. During earlier observations, it was not possible to cover the whole cloud, whose shape was predicted by numerical simulations. Thanks to these new observations, the scientists have finally been able to confirm the initial predictions.

Are we being watched? Tens of other worlds could spot the Earth

Scientists have turned exoplanet-hunting on its head, in a study that instead looks at how an alien observer might be able to detect Earth using our own methods. They find that at least nine exoplanets are ideally placed to observe transits of Earth.

Climate change for aliens

For more than 50 years, the Kardashev scale has been the gold standard for classifying hypothetical 'exo-civilizations' by their ability to harness energy. A team of researchers has devised a new system that takes into account the impacts of that energy use.

Pluto features given first official names

The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has officially approved the naming of 14 features on the surface of Pluto. These are the first geological features on the planet to be named following the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

Does the organic material of comets predate our solar system?

The Rosetta space probe discovered a large amount of organic material in the nucleus of comet 'Chury.' Researchers now advance the theory that this matter has its origin in interstellar space and predates the birth of the solar system.

Unique study tests fundamental laws of physics

A study that will ‘test our understanding of how the Universe works, particularly outside the relatively narrow confines of our planet’ is being undertaken by an international team of researchers.

Stellar corpse sheds light on origin of cosmic rays

New research revealed that the entire zoo of electromagnetic radiation streaming from the Crab nebula -- one of the most iconic objects in the sky -- has its origin in one population of electrons and must be produced in a different way than scientists have traditionally thought. The results have implications for our understanding of how cosmic rays attain their incredible energies.