Science Daily: Comets and Asteroids

Small asteroid or comet 'visits' from beyond the solar system

A small, recently discovered asteroid -- or perhaps a comet -- appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

Winters on Mars are shaping the Red Planet's landscape

Winter temperatures on the Red Planet sublimate carbon dioxide from a gas to a solid. These solid carbon dioxide blocks are then thought responsible for making gullies and furrows on Mars' landscape, based on innovative lab experiments.

Scientists detect comets outside our solar system

Scientists, working closely with amateur astronomers, have spotted the dusty tails of six exocomets -- comets outside our solar system -- orbiting a faint star 800 light years from Earth.

Fireworks in space

Some of the most exciting things that we've seen from looking at gene expression in space is that we really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space.

Scientists dig into the origin of organics on dwarf planet Ceres

Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, scientists have been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin. After considering the viability of comet or asteroid delivery, the preponderance of evidence suggests the organics are most likely native to Ceres.

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos.

A mission to Mars could make its own oxygen thanks to plasma technology

Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found. It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition.

Potential human habitat located on the moon

A new study confirms the existence of a large open lava tube in the Marius Hills region of the moon, which could be used to protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface.

Space greens beat the blues

Where people will go in the cosmos, plants will go, say researchers in a new report. Plants may also play a key role in maintaining the psychological well-being of space crews. The next frontier of space plant experimentation is to examine the psychological impact of plant life on astronauts.

How bright is the moon, really?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is planning to take new measurements of the Moon's brightness, a highly useful property that satellites rely upon every day.

Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks

Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism.

Hubble observes source of gravitational waves for the first time

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed for the first time the source of a gravitational wave, created by the merger of two neutron stars. This merger created a kilonova -- an object predicted by theory decades ago -- that ejects heavy elements such as gold and platinum into space. This event also provides the strongest evidence yet that short duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars.

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet.

Star Dust Helps Explain Mysterious Dimming Star

Astronomers are working to understand the mysterious dimming of Tabby's Star. The astronomers report that space dust orbiting the star -- not alien megastructures -- is the likely cause of the star's long-term dimming.

Satellites map photosynthesis at high resolution

Life on Earth is impossible without photosynthesis. It provides food and oxygen to all higher life forms and plays an important role in the climate system, since this process regulates the uptake of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere and its fixation in biomass. However, quantification of photosynthesis at the ecosystem-to-global scale remains uncertain. Now an international team of scientists have made a major step forward.

Haumea, the most peculiar of Pluto companions, has a ring around it

The trans-neptunian belt contains four dwarf planets, among which Haumea stands out for its extremely elongated shape and rapid rotation. A stellar occultation makes it possible to establish the main physical characteristics of this previously little known body -- among which most surprising was the presence of a ring.

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