November 2018

Artist's concept of Moon Express lander

At a press conference, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the new plans for the return to the Moon with the inclusion of a number of private companies that will have the chance to provide their services to send various types of payload. The program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) could start as early as 2019 and represents a first step towards a long-term goal, that is to establish a permanent presence on the Moon with an eye to Mars.

The V4046 Sgr system (Image V. D’Orazi/Sphere/Inaf)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes a study of the V4046 Sagittarii, or simply V4046 Sgr, binary system. A team of researchers led by Valentina D’Orazi of INAF, Padua, Italy, used the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to examine the rotating shadows projected on the protoplanetary disk that orbits the two young stars. The mapping of the shadows’ movements made it possible to better understand that system’s characteristics thanks to the motion of the two stars, which orbit each other in almost 2.5 days.

The first image sent by InSight from Mars (Image NASA TV)

NASA has confirmed that its InSight lander has landed on Mars after completing a procedure that’s fully automated as radio signals from Mars take just over eight minutes to reach the Earth in this period. InSight was launched on May 5, 2018. Unlike other landers and rovers, it will study the red planet’s interior to better understand its composition and its geological history.

The Nili Fossae (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published new photos of the region on planet Mars called Nili Fossae taken by its Mars Express space probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). The Nili Fossae are a group of tectonic depressions called graben that show signs not only of geological activity but also of erosion by winds and especially by water that dug the shapes still visible today.

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a new research on the possible climate existing on the seven rocky planets of the star TRAPPIST-1’s system. A team of astronomers coordinated by the University of Washington (UW) used updated climate models to try to understand what kind of atmospheres they can have as a result of environmental evolution based on the observations collected. The result is that the planet TRAPPIST-1 e is the one most likely to have liquid water on its surface.