Space Probes

Saturn (Image ESA/Hubble, NASA, A. Simon (GSFC) and the OPAL Team, J. DePasquale (STScI), L. Lamy (Observatoire de Paris))

An article accepted for publication in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describes a series of observations at ultraviolet carried out with the Hubble space telescope of the planet Saturn’s northern aurora. A team of researchers conducted a campaign of observations over seven months before and after the northern summer solstice to get the maximum possible visibility for the aurora. The coordination with the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale offered new information about Saturn’s magnetosphere.

The New Horizons space probe has photographed its next target Ultima Thule

NASA has published an image captured by its New Horizons space probe in which its LORRI instrument detected Ultima Thule, the Kuiper belt object – but there may be two objects and/or a moon – that represents its next target for a flyby scheduled for New Year’s Day 2019. When the 48 photos combined in the image were taken, on August 16, 2018, New Horizons was still about 172 million kilometers (107 million miles) from Ultima Thule and being able to identify its target is positive because mission managers can start assessing any adjustments to the probe’s course.

Distribution of water ice on the Moon's polar areas

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes three specific traces of the presence of water ice on the surface of the Moon. A team led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University used data collected by the Chandrayaan-1 space probe’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper spectrometer to find traces of that ice concentrated in lunar craters at the south pole and spread in an wider area at the north pole.

44 exoplanets detected by the Kepler space telescope confirmed in one go

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes the confirmation of 44 exoplanets that are part of an original group of 72 candidates detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A team of researchers led by John Livingston of the University of Tokyo, Japan, used data collected by ESA’s Gaia space probe and ground-based telescopes in the US to confirm the existence of 44 exoplanets in one go and discover some of their characteristics. 16 of them have a radius less than twice the Earth’s.