One of the possible configurations of the Vulcan rocket (Image courtesy ULA. All rights reserved)

Yesterday at the 31st National Space Symposium being held in Colorado Springs the United Launch Alliance (ULA) presented the project of its new carrier rocket Vulcan, formerly known as Next Generation Launch System (NGLS). The idea is to combine the best features of ULA’s rockets, Atlas and Delta, with some changes to get one that is still reliable but that also allows cheaper launches. The development of the possibility to recover the first stage engines for their reuse is part of the plan.

Supernova in the galaxy M82 captured by the Swift satellite. Mid-ultraviolet light is shown in blue, near-UV light in green and visible light in red (Image NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU)

A research conducted by a team led by astronomer Peter A. Milne of the University of Arizona published in two articles in the “Astrophysical Journal” shows that Type Ia supernovae can be divided into two groups with different characteristics. For years, astronomers had thought that their brightness depended almost exclusively on their distance. This can have consequences on our knowledge of the universe expansion, also calculated based on this type of supernovae.

Artistic representation of the impact of Theia with the primordial Earth (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Research on the origin of the Moon agree more and more on the giant impact hypothesis. According to this theory, about 150 million years after the birth of the solar system, the early Earth was hit by a planet the size of Mars. This caused the expulsion of a huge amount of debris that formed the Moon. Doubts still exist concerning the composition of the Earth and the Moon but two research just published in the journal “Nature” add new information about the giant impact hypothesis.

NASA is studying the presence of water in the solar system and beyond also in connection with the search for alien life form (Image NASA)

Yesterday in Washington, D.C. there was a NASA panel about water and its connection with the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life. Some scientists summarized the findings of recent decades obout the presence of water in space and exoplanets. According to Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA, in the course of our life we ​​may finally have an answer whether we are alone in the solar system and beyond.

The ATLAS catching the particle "splashes" when one of the first beams passed through the Large Hadron Collider (Image courtesy CERN. All rights reserved)

This Easter represented for CERN the time of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) full operation restart. After the testing that began a few weeks ago, in the morning of last Sunday a proton beam has covered all 27 kilometers (about 17.7 miles) of the giant ring. After less than two hours, a second beam was sent in the opposite direction. The energy was “only” 450 GeV but it was a major event for the restart of the scientific activity.