Blog about ESA activities.

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.

CMB Final Map (Image ESA/Planck Collaboration)

ESA presented the final map of the cosmic microwave background radiation created thanks to the Planck Surveyor space probe. This map shows what the universe was like before galaxies formed when it was about 380,000 years old. These are the results of the last processing of the collected data and now scientists are certain that the temperature and polarization are accurately determined. This final map confirms the standard model but also the inconsistency between the calculation of the Hubble constant based on those data and the one based on observation of the current universe.

Scheme of Hubble and Gaia at work (Image NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a new measurement of the expansion of the universe. A team of astronomers led by Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess combined observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope and those made with ESA’s Gaia space probe, an observatory that specifically aims to map billions of objects in the sky including the variable stars called Cepheid variable used for those measurements. The new results increase the accuracy but also the discrepancy between the measures of the expansion of the near universe and those of the early universe.

Scheme of the detection of baryons in intergalactic gas

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of the missing ordinary matter in the universe. A team of researchers led by Fabrizio Nicastro of INAF, Rome, Italy, discovered what is technically called baryonic matter after having searched it for almost twenty years using ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope keeping under observation the quasar 1ES 1553+113 up to find the traces of the baryons hidden in the hot gas present among the galaxies.

The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which blasted off about two days ago from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, has reached the International Space Station carrying three new crew members. The astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA and the cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos now complete the Expedition 55 crew.