October 2018

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.

IC 63 (Image ESA/Hubble, NASA)

An image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a nebula known as IC 63 and nicknamed the Ghost Nebula or the Ghost of Cassiopeia for its ghostly appearance generated by the transparencies in the gas and dust it contains. It looks suitable for the upcoming Halloween celebrations but it will not last forever because a star called Gamma Cassiopeiae is slowly wiping out that gas with its powerful emissions.

NGC 2467 seen by FORS2 (Image ESO)

ESO has published a photo of the nebula NGC 2467, also known as the Skull Nebula, taken using the FORS2 instrument mounted on the VLT in Chile. It’s a stellar nursery as it contains a lot of gas that’s still forming a number of new stars and consequently sees a predominance of young, often massive, stars. The photo was taken as part of ESO’s Cosmic Gems programme, which has also an educational purpose.

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes a research into the possibilities that the salt water beneath the surface of Mars contains oxygen. A team of researchers created a series of simulations based on the possible conditions existing in those environments, concluding that there can be oxygen in the case of exchanges with the atmosphere. This means that it’s possible that in the underground lake containing very salty liquid water of which the discovery was announced in July 2018 there’s some possibility that life forms exist that use oxygen in their metabolism.