Space Probes

Blogs about space probes: launch and operations.

Crater Juling (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

Two articles published in the journal “Science Advances” describe two researches connected in different ways but linked to the presence of water on the dwarf planet Ceres. Two teams of researchers, but with many members in common, led by scientists from the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Rome, Italy, used observations made by the VIR spectrometer on board NASA’s Dawn space probe to find evidence of the presence of ice of water in Crater Juling and to map the distribution of carbonates, salts whose origin is linked to the presence of liquid water, on Ceres.

Artist's concept of New Horizon's Ultuma Thule flyby (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Steve Gribben)

NASA has announced that it chose Ultima Thule as a nickname for 2014 MU69, the Kuiper Belt Object that represents the next target for its New Horizons space probe. In recent months, the mission team asked for suggestions on the Internet and then opened a ballot allowing to select the favorite among the nicknames selected among the thousands of proposals. The result is not an official name, which must be ratified by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), because it’s not clear if Ultima Thule is a single object.

Cyclones at Jupiter's north pole (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

Four articles published in the journal “Nature” describe as many researches on the planet Jupiter. Different teams of researchers focused on different phenomena using data collected by NASA’s Juno space probe. The researches concerns groups of huge cyclones present in Jupiter’s polar regions, wind flows that extend up to thousands of kilometers of depth, the stripes of the atmosphere that rotate at different speeds and the asymmetries in the planet’s gravitational field.

The comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6, 2014 (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes a research that offers new clues about the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s formation. A team led by Stephen Schwartz of the University of Côte d’Azur and the University of Arizona conducted a series of computer simulations to study the formation of comets like this one, formed by two lobes, expanding previous studies confirming them and offering an explanation to some of its characteristics.

False-color photo of 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA has published some photos taken by its New Horizons space probe’s LORRI instrument in December 2017. During the course of its journey that will lead to the object called 2014 MU69’s flyby, New Horizons took photos that beat the record that belonged to Voyager 1 for the farthest photo ever taken from Earth capturing images of the open stellar cluster called Wishing Well and two Kuiper Belt Objects called 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.