Massimo Luciani

The InSight lander in its protective aeroshell during the test stage (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

NASA invited people around the world to participate in an initiative to send your name to Mars. You just need to record some data on the page prepared by the Agency on its website to get a virtual boarding pass. All names will be recorded on a microchip that will be transported on the InSight lander, which is scheduled to be launched in March 2016 to land on Mars in September 2016.

Picture of the galaxy NGC 428 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (Photo ESA/Hubble and NASA and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast))

A photograph of the galaxy NGC 428 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows its distorted and warped structure. Together with traces of a significant amount of stars being formed, it’s the sign of the merger between two galaxies. For this reason, its appearance could give us an idea of ​​what will happen in a few billion years to the Milky Way in its merger with Andromeda.

The 51 Eridani system photographed by the Gemini Planet Imager (Image Gemini Observatory and J. Rameau (UdeM) and C. Marois NRC Herzberg)

Planet 51 Eridani b is the first discovered using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument that started operating at the beginning of 2014 with the express purpose of directly detecting planets outside the solar system. This is the smallest exoplanet observed directly so far and its characteristics suggest that resembles Jupiter when it was very young. The results of this research were published in the journal “Science”.

Picture of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko near the perihelion (Photo ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

During the day yesterday the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko passed the perihelion, the point of closest approach to the Sun. ESA’s Rosetta space probe was at a distance of about 327 kilometers (about 203 miles) and with its NAVCAM instrument took a series of pictures to document the comet’s activities. Thanks to the heat it’s been receiving from the Sun the spectacular jets of gas generated by ice sublimation will continue for a few weeks.