Science Daily: Comets and Asteroids

First hints of possible water content on TRAPPIST-1 planets

Astronomers have been trying to determine whether there might be water on the seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the nearby dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. The results suggest that the outer planets of the system might still harbor substantial amounts of water. This includes the three planets within the habitable zone of the star, lending further weight to the possibility that they may indeed be habitable.

Phoenicid meteor shower from dead comet arises again after 58 years

Astronomers have observed the elusive 'Phoenicid meteor shower' and have determined that it was spawned by the now vanished Comet Blanpain. They also found that Comet Blanpain was active, though only weakly, in the early 20th Century. This is the first time that researchers could determine the activity of a comet by observing its associated meteor shower. These results are important for understanding the evolution of minor bodies in the Solar System.

Large asteroid to safely pass Earth on Sept. 1

Asteroid Florence, a large near-Earth asteroid, will pass safely by Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles, (7.0 million kilometers, or about 18 Earth-Moon distances).

Brown dwarf weather forecasts improved

Dim objects called brown dwarfs, less massive than the Sun but more massive than Jupiter, have powerful winds and clouds -- specifically, hot patchy clouds made of iron droplets and silicate dust. Scientists recently realized these giant clouds can move and thicken or thin surprisingly rapidly, in less than an Earth day, but did not understand why.

Astrophysicists predict Earth-like planet in star system only 16 light years away

Astrophysicists have predicted that an Earth-like planet may be lurking in a star system just 16 light years away. The team investigated the star system Gliese 832 for additional exoplanets residing between the two currently known alien worlds in this system. Their computations revealed that an additional Earth-like planet with a dynamically stable configuration may be residing at a distance ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 astronomical unit (AU) from the star.

Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest sun-like star

Astronomers have discovered four Earth-sized planets orbiting the nearest sun-like star, tau Ceti, which is about 12 light years away and visible to the naked eye. These planets have masses as low as 1.7 Earth mass, making them among the smallest planets ever detected around nearby sun-like stars. Two of them are super-Earths located in the habitable zone of the star, meaning they could support liquid surface water.

NASA Protects its super heroes from space weather

When astronauts travel in space they can't see or even feel radiation. However, NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) is studying the effects radiation plays on the human body and developing ways to monitor and protect against this silent hazard.

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

NASA's Mars 2020 mission, which will look for signs of past life on Mars, will use smart methods originally developed to find the oldest life on Earth, according the mission's Deputy Project Scientist. The 2020 mission will make coordinated measurements that could detect signs of ancient life - or biosignatures - in their original spatial context. These techniques, known as 'spatially resolved biosignature analysis' derive from geochemical analysis of early life on Earth.

NASA, ESA spacecraft track solar storm through space

Using seven spacecraft, along with computer models, scientists have pieced together the journey of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun outward to Mars, Comet 67P, Jupiter and even the New Horizons spacecraft now beyond Pluto.

Tracking a solar eruption through the solar system

Ten spacecraft, from ESA's Venus Express to NASA's Voyager-2, felt the effect of a solar eruption as it washed through the solar system while three other satellites watched, providing a unique perspective on this space weather event.

Lunar dynamo's lifetime extended by at least 1 billion years

Astronomers report that a lunar rock collected by NASA's Apollo 15 mission exhibits signs that it formed 1 to 2.5 billion years ago in the presence of a relatively weak magnetic field of about 5 microtesla. That's around 10 times weaker than Earth's current magnetic field but still 1,000 times larger than fields in interplanetary space today.

Successful filming of fastest aurora flickering

Researchers conducted a 3 year continuous high-speed imaging observation at Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska, USA, and identified the physics behind the flickering of aurora. At the same time, they discovered faster flickerings at speeds of 1/60-1/50 and 1/80 of a second.

Chaco Canyon petroglyph may represent ancient total eclipse

As the hullabaloo surrounding the Aug. 21 total eclipse of the sun swells by the day, an expert says a petroglyph in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon may represent a total eclipse that occurred there a thousand years ago.

Astronauts to bring asteroid back into lunar orbit

Future space exploration aims to fly further from Earth than ever before. New research examines the robotic phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In addition to taking manned spaceflights deeper into space than ever before, the proposed mission would also bring some benefit for planetary science.