Planets

Mars Rover Curiosity and the Apollo 17's Moon Rover (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Science” reports a clever use of the Mars Rover Curiosity’s accelerometers and gyroscopes to estimate the density of rocks under Gale Crater. A team of scientists examined the data collected over the years by those instruments to evaluate the gravity force where Curiosity passed, obtaining lower than expected measurements. This suggests that in that area the rocks are very porous and less compact than scientists thought.

Close-up of Saturn's rings (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” reports a precise measurement of the duration of the day on the planet Saturn. The lack of a solid surface with reference points and a magnetic field with unusual characteristics prevented precise measurements, but now a team of researchers led by Christopher Mankovich of the University of California, Santa Cruz, (UCSC) accomplished that feat by exploiting data collected by the Cassini space probe on the effects that the vibrations inside Saturn cause on the oscillation of its gravitational field and consequently also on the rings. The result is that the day on the planet was measured in 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

New estimates of Saturn's characteristics include the age of its rings

An article published in the journal “Science” describes a research on the planet Saturn that includes an analysis of its internal structure but also on its evolution, which includes its rings’. A team of researchers led by Luciano Iess of the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, used data collected by the Cassini space probe to determine that the winds on Saturn reach a depth of about 9,000 kilometers and that the rings were formed not more than 100 million years ago.

Artist's concept of the exoplanet K2-288Bb with its star and the other red dwarf far away (Image NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy)

An article published in the journal “The Astronomical Journal” describes the study of the exoplanet K2-288Bb, discovered among the observations made by NASA’s Kepler space telescope with the help of citizen scientists thanks to the Exoplanet Explorers project. Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student and lead author of the paper, presented the results at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle held in Seattle.

Korolev crater (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published new images of Korolev crater on Mars obtained thanks to of its Mars Express space probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument. Its peculiarity is that it’s filled with water ice and despite the presence of dust its color is white, which is a strong contrast with that of the surrounding land. Normally water can’t remain solid at the very low pressure generated by the Martian atmosphere but near the north pole Korolev crater acts like a cold trap.