Planets

Artist's concept of Barnard's Star and its planet Barnard’s Star b (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An article (link to PDF file) published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of a possible super-Earth orbiting the Barnard’s Star, a red dwarf that in astronomical terms is in the neighborhood being about 6 light years away from the Earth. The Red Dots and CARMENES projects led to the discovery of what was named Barnard’s Star b and could be the second exoplanet closest to the solar system after Proxima b.

Beta Pictoris b (Image ESO/Lagrange/SPHERE consortium)

ESO has published a time-laps composition of images showing the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b while orbiting its star. It was discovered in 2008 using the NACO instrument mounted on the VLT in Chile and the team led by Dr. Anne-Marie Lagrange who discovered it kept on studying it some years later using the SPHERE instrument, which in the meantime was also mounted on the VLT. The researchers lost sight of it when it approached its star’s halo too closely to be resolved by any current instrument but got visible again in September 2018.

The Dawn space probe during its preparation (Photo NASA/Amanda Diller)

NASA announced the end of the mission of its Dawn space probe after it ran out of the hydrazine used by its thrusters prevented it from orienting towards Earth to communicate with the mission control through NASA’s Deep Space Network. Dawn is in a stable orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and will probably remain there for at least 50 years. It’s the only space probe to have orbited two celestial bodies since the first part of its mission was orbiting the giant asteroid Vesta.

Artist's concept of the Kepler space telescope with some of the systems it observed (Image NASA)

NASA announced the end of its Kepler space telescope’s mission after it ran out of the fuel it needs to aim it towards the various areas of the sky to be observed. This event isn’t a surprise because in August 2018 problems with its thrusters had already started due to the scarcity of hydrazine used as fuel. Now it’s been “parked” in its heliocentric orbit in which it orbits the Sun and being a stable orbit it will keep on doing so for a very long time.

Greeley Crater (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

New images captured by ESA’s Mars Express space probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) show Greeley Crater on Mars. Its name was officially approved in 2015 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to honor geologist Ronald Greeley, who passed away in 2011 after having worked on various Mars missions, also being part of the team that manages the HRSC instrument.