Space news stories

LSD ‘microdosing’ is trending in Silicon Valley – but can it actually make you more creative?
24th February 2017 theconversation.com | Space

It may seem like a doomed attempt to mix business and pleasure. But a growing number of young professionals in Silicon Valley insist that taking small doses of psychedelic drugs simply makes them perform better at work – becoming more creative and focused. The practice, known as “microdosing”, involves taking minute quantities of drugs such as LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) or mescaline (found in the Peyote cactus) every few days.

Europa lander mission takes another step toward reality
24th February 2017 | sciencenews.org | Space

For the first time since the Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s, NASA is making the search for evidence of life on another world the primary science goal of a space mission. The target world is Jupiter’s moon Europa, considered possibly habitable because of its subsurface ocean.

Europe’s Mars Mission Is About to ‘Surf’ the Red Planet’s Atmosphere
24th February 2017 | seeker.com | Space

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is about to go surfing — at the Red Planet.

Through 13 months of delicate maneuvers, the spacecraft will carefully skim above Mars’ atmosphere to refine its orbit. Once that’s finished in 2018, TGO will be all set to do science at Mars — and also ready to communicate with robots on the surface, such as the upcoming ExoMars rover.

NASA Unveils Plan To ‘Touch The Sun’
24th February 2017 | yahoo.com | Space

Despite humanity’s reliance on the sun to survive, not much is known about the blazing star at the center of the universe. In fact, it’s one of the least understood objects in the solar system. NASA announced a plan to change that, not just to better understand the sun, but to prevent possibly deadly threats from solar weather.

The Universe Has A Lithium Problem
24th February 2017 | universetoday.com | Space

Over the past decades, scientists have wrestled with a problem involving the Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang Theory suggests that there should be three times as much lithium as we can observe. Why is there such a discrepancy between prediction and observation?

To get into that problem, let’s back up a bit.

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star
23rd February 2017 | nasa.gov | Space

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

Mars might already be building rings from its moons
23rd February 2017 | newscientist.com | Space

In a few million years, Mars’s moon Phobos will be shredded into pieces that will settle into a flat ring like Saturn’s. But bits of Mars’s two moons may already be circling the Red Planet, some of it in the form of nascent rings.

Astronomers have long thought it was possible for Mars to be encircled by rings made of bits of rock kicked up from its moons Phobos and Deimos, but no one had ever observed them.

A Region On Mars With Recent Water Is About To Get Major Attention
23rd February 2017 | universetoday.com | Space

Researcher Dr. Mary Bourke from Trinity College Dublin have discovered a patch of land in an ancient valley in Mars’ Lucaya Crater that appears to have held water in the not-too-distant past, making it a prime target to search for past life forms on the Red Planet. Signs of water past and present pop up everywhere on Mars from now-dry, wriggly riverbeds snaking across arid plains to water ice exposed at the poles during the Martian summer.

‘Quartz’ crystals at the Earth’s core power its magnetic field
23rd February 2017 phys.org | Earth, Space

The Earth’s core consists mostly of a huge ball of liquid metal lying at 3000 km beneath its surface, surrounded by a mantle of hot rock. Notably, at such great depths, both the core and mantle are subject to extremely high pressures and temperatures.

New Evidence for the Strange Idea that the Universe Is a Hologram
23rd February 2017 nautil.us | Space

One of the great mysteries of modern cosmology is how our universe can be so thermally uniform—the vast cosmos is filled with the lingering heat of the Big Bang. Over time, it has cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero, but it can still be seen in the faint glow of microwave radiation, known as the cosmic microwave background. In any direction we look, the temperature of this cosmic background is basically the same, varying by only tiny amounts. But according to the standard “cold dark matter” model of cosmology, there wasn’t enough time for hotter and cooler regions of the early universe to even out.

Planet Nine breakthrough as astronomers find asteroids that may have been victims of a ‘smash and grab’ by mysterious body
23rd February 2017 | dailymail.co.uk | Space

Two faraway objects may once have made up a binary asteroid in our solar system before being separated and pushed into their current orbits by the mysterious Planet Nine millions of years ago.

This is the conclusion of a new study, which conducted the first spectroscopic observations of asteroids 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98 – a pair with nearly identical orbits.


Related: Scientists need your help to find the mysterious planet they suspect is lurking in our solar system

There Are Organic Molecules on the Dwarf Planet Ceres
22nd February 2017 | popularmechanics.com | Space

Scientists have just found organic molecules on the Ceres, the dwarf planet hidden in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The find is particularly exciting because this is the very first, unambiguous detection of organic molecules on an asteroid.


Alt: Life’s Building Blocks Found on Dwarf Planet Ceres

New delta Scuti: Rare pulsating star 7,000 light years away is 1 of only 7 in Milky Way
22nd February 2017 | eurekalert.org | Space

A star — as big or bigger than our sun — in Pegasus constellation is expanding and contracting in 3 directions at once every 2.5 hours, the result of heating and cooling of hydrogen fuel burning 28 million degrees Fahrenheit at its core


Related: A bridge of stars connects two dwarf galaxies
Related: Research team finds radial acceleration relation in all common types of galaxies

An Enormous Exoplanet Is Having a Strange Influence on Its Star
22nd February 2017 gizmodo.com | Space

There’s a star about 370 light-years from here that’s pulsating in response to its unusually heavy planetary companion. It’s the first time that astronomers have seen this sort of interaction between a planet and its host star.

Black hole is producing its own fuel for star-making
22nd February 2017 | eurekalert.org | Space

The Phoenix cluster is an enormous accumulation of about 1,000 galaxies, located 5.7 billion light years from Earth. At its center lies a massive galaxy, which appears to be spitting out stars at a rate of about 1,000 per year.

Space Poop Problem-Solvers Take Home Cash Prizes From NASA
22nd February 2017 | npr.org | Space

On Wednesday morning, NASA rewarded five members of the public — two doctors, a dentist, an engineer and a product designer — for their creative ideas for how to poop in a spacesuit.

Yes, it sounds a little bit funny. But unmet toilet needs could have life or death consequences for an astronaut in an emergency situation.


Related: 3D-Printed ‘Laugh’ Is 1st Major Artwork to Be Made in Space

Researchers pinpoint watery past on Mars
19th February 2017 phys.org | Space

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have discovered a patch of land in an ancient valley on Mars that appears to have been flooded by water in the not-too-distant past. In doing so, they have pinpointed a prime target to begin searching for past life forms on the Red Planet.

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