April 2019

Tides and proton flows for the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system

Two articles published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describe as many researches on the possibility that at least some of the seven rocky planets of the ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1’s system can be habitable. Two researchers from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory examined the effects gravity of planets has on its neighbors. A team from the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) of Harvard University and Smithsonian Institution examined the effects that high-energy protons emitted by the star may have on its planets.

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm (Image NASA TV)

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, launched last Wednesday, April 16, has just reached the International Space Station and was captured by Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronaut Anne McClain, assisted by her colleague David Saint-Jacques, will soon begin the slow maneuver to move the Cygnus until it docks with the Station’s Unity node after about two hours.

The Cygnus "Roger Chaffee" cargo spacecraft blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A few hours ago Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its 11th official mission, called NG-11 but also CRS NG-11, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA, the second for Northrop Grumman Corporation after completing the acquisition of Orbital ATK.

The first Earth-sized exoplanet identified thanks to the TESS space telescope

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the discovery of two exoplanets in the orange star HD 21749’s system, one of which is the first Earth-sized identified thanks to NASA’s TESS space telescope and the other a Mini-Neptune. A team of researchers led by Diana Dragomir already submitted a first version of the article on the exoplanet HD 21749b, the Mini-Neptune also referred to as TOI 186.01, mentioning as candidate TOI 186.02 the rocky exoplanet now referred to as HD 21749c in the new version of the article in which it’s considered confirmed.

The Mars Rover Curiosity analyzed clay minerals in Aberlady on Mars

NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity drilled a clay area, called a clay-bearing unit by the mission scientists, of ​​Mount Sharp on Mars that was nicknamed Aberlady to take samples for analysis. The rock turned out to be quite friable so only the normal rotation of the drill was used, without the percussion system used on other occasions to drill much harder rocks. Clay is associated with water so the hope is that the results of the analysis will help to reconstruct the history of Mars with new information on the remote era in which there was a lake in the area.