On the left, OSIRIS images used to visually identify over 100 terraces (green). In the middle, a 3D shape model used to determine the directions in which the terraces/strata are sloping and to visualise how they extend into the subsurface. On the right, local gravity vectors visualised on the comet shape model perpendicular to the terrace/strata planes (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; M. Massironi et al (2015))

At the European Planetary Science Congress going on these days in Nantes, France, evidence were presented that the strange shape of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is due to the fact that it was born from the merger of two small comets occurred a few billion years ago. The study conducted by a team led by Matteo Massironi, a researcher at the University of Padua and Italian INAF (National Institute of Astrophysics) associate, was published in the journal “Nature”.

Image of narrow streaks of water on Martian slopes at Hale Crater (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Yesterday NASA announced the existence of flows of liquid water on Mars. The study, just published in the journal “Nature Geoscience”, is based upon years of analysis of data collected mainly thanks to the NASA’s MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) space probe. The images captured by its camera and spectrometric data allowed to find streams of water along the walls of craters and slopes that vary over time and perchlorate salts in them.

Astrosat blasting off atop a PSLV-XL rocket (Photo courtesy ISRO. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Astrosat space observatory was launched on a PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the flight listed as PSLV-C30 by ISRO, the Indian space agency. After about 22 minutes Astrosat regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage to enter an orbit close to the equator at an altitude of about 650 kilometers (about 400 miles). Along with it six satellites were launched for customers of different nations: the Indonesian Lapan-A2 microsatellite, the Canadian NLS-14 (EV9) microsatellite and four USA LEMUR nanosatellites.

A still frame from a movie showing an active galactic nucleus (Image NASA / Dana Berry / SkyWorks Digital)

An article in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a study of the galaxy SAGE0536AGN and in particular the supermassive black hole at its center, which is 30 times larger than expected. This is the result of measurements conducted by a team of astronomers at Keele University and the University of Central Lancashire, an anomaly all to explain.

The snakeskin area called Tartarus Dorsa on Pluto's surface (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

After more than two months since the extraordinary Pluto flyby of NASA’s New Horizons space probe some people might think that the data arrived to Earth are enough to know this dwarf planet comprehensively. Reality keeps on being very different on this small world frozen yet as varied as you would expect from a geologically active planet with an atmosphere that can erode its soil. Here then is the image of a “snakeskin” surface that again leaves scientists puzzled and surprised.