2018

Korolev crater (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published new images of Korolev crater on Mars obtained thanks to of its Mars Express space probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument. Its peculiarity is that it’s filled with water ice and despite the presence of dust its color is white, which is a strong contrast with that of the surrounding land. Normally water can’t remain solid at the very low pressure generated by the Martian atmosphere but near the north pole Korolev crater acts like a cold trap.

2018 VG18, nicknamed Farout, is the object farthest from the Sun within the solar system

A team of astronomers announced the discovery of the celestial body farthest from the Sun within the solar system. Cataloged as 2018 VG18 and nicknamed Farout, it was discovered by astronomers specializing in the search for Kuiper Belt Objects including the one nicknamed The Goblin, announced in October 2018. 2018 VG18 is much further away, currently at a distance from the Sun estimated around 120 times the Earth’s.

R Aquarii (Image ESO/Schmid et al.)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes a new observation of the R Aquarii binary system, consisting of a red giant of the type called Mira variable and a white dwarf. A team of researchers used that pair of stars as a target for a test of a new subsystem of the SPHERE instrument mounted on ESO’s VLT obtaining the clearest image captured so far of the turbulence existing in the system due to the fact that the white dwarf is stealing gas from its companion, worsening its agony.

The VSS Unity spaceplane (Photo courtesy Virgin Galactic. All rights reserved)

It was yesterday morning in California when Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo spaceplane called VSS Unity took off connected to its White Knight Two mother ship from the Mojave Air and Space Port. Once reached 15,000 meters (about 43,000 feet) above sea level, VSS Unity was dropped and its engine brought it to an altitude of 82.7 kilometers (about 51.4 miles), below the 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the Kármán Line which officially marks the border with the space but above the 80 kilometers (50 miles) considered by some institutions as that borderline.