Space Probes

Blogs about space probes: launch and operations.

44 exoplanets detected by the Kepler space telescope confirmed in one go

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes the confirmation of 44 exoplanets that are part of an original group of 72 candidates detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A team of researchers led by John Livingston of the University of Tokyo, Japan, used data collected by ESA’s Gaia space probe and ground-based telescopes in the US to confirm the existence of 44 exoplanets in one go and discover some of their characteristics. 16 of them have a radius less than twice the Earth’s.

Mars Express detections at Mars South Pole

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the discovery of an underground lake of liquid water on Mars. A team of researchers led by Roberto Orosei of the National Institute of Astrophysics and composed of researchers belonging to Italian research centers and universities used data collected by ESA’s Mars Express space probe’s MARSIS radar to collect evidence that at the south pole at about 1.5 kilometers of depth there’s water that is liquid.

Mars Proton Aurora

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes the discovery of proton aurorae on the planet Mars. Scientists from NASA’s MAVEN mission were studying the red planet’s atmosphere using the space probe’s IUVS instrument and noticed a strange glow in its upper layers. The investigation led to the discovery of this rare type of aurora caused by energetic protons carried by the solar wind, a phenomenon that can occur on a large scale on Mars and perhaps also on Venus and Titan while it’s limited on Earth.

Pluto

NASA has published new images of the dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon Charon which reproduce with the greatest possible accuracy their natural colors. This processing celebrates the 3rd anniversary of the New Horizons space probe’s July 14, 2015 flyby, but also the 40th anniversary of the discovery of Charon, identified by the astronomer James Christy on June 22, 1978 and confirmed in the following days thanks to other observations.