Saying goodbye to our first interstellar visitor

No, I don’t mean Matthew McConaughey. A few weeks ago, our first interstellar visitor flew nearby Earth and now is on its way back out of our solar system. While these types of extra-solar system objects have long been expected to exist as a bi-product of planet formation in nearby solar systems, this is the first ever detected – an event scientists have been waiting decades for. Continue reading Saying goodbye to our first interstellar visitor

Metal On Mars

A recent NASA mission has discovered that the atmosphere on Mars has many similarities to that of Earth. Metal atoms, contained in dust particles, float down from the solar system and become trapped in the atmosphere of a planet. Energetic particles, for example from the Sun, can then rip electrons from the metal atoms, forming ions. Historically, we haven’t known what happens to these ions. Depending on the specifics of the planet in … Continue reading Metal On Mars

Radio Telescope

Radio Waves from Outer Space Continue to Baffle Astronomers

Something in outer space is shouting at us, but astronomers are still trying to figure out the source of this cosmic “noise.” A telescope in Australia recently detected a flood of radio waves, akin to the waves that allow you to listen to the radio in your car, coming from an otherwise unremarkable area of the sky. These millisecond-long pulses of electromagnetic radiation are called fast radio bursts … Continue reading Radio Waves from Outer Space Continue to Baffle Astronomers

TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

The recent discovery of Earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system has been a major headline for the past few weeks. A team led by Michael Gillon found three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system in 2016, and recently reported at least 4 more which may contain the appropriate elements for life. One of the strongest indicators that a planet could harbor life is if a planet’s … Continue reading TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

In 2011 the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, was launched into space. AMS, housed by the International Space Station and led by a Nobel Prize winning principle investigator, is commonly referred to as the most sophisticated particle physics experiment in space. The experiment was designed to study cosmic rays, a variety of high energy particles produced in space. In five years of operation, AMS has collected … Continue reading New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

by Andy Greenspon Have you ever wondered how much gold remains to be mined on Earth? How about the lesser-known element indium, essential to computer and smartphone displays? Known sources of some metals could be depleted in as little as 20 to 30 years, especially the rarest ones necessary to construct computers, smartphones, and other advanced technologies. While some elements can be substituted for others, … Continue reading Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter

Historically, galactic rotation curves have suggested that galaxies are surrounded by a vast amount of invisible matter, otherwise known as a dark matter halo. A few weeks ago, a team of astrophysicists published a result that completely contradicts these halo models and could even change the popular understanding of dark matter. The team found that galactic rotation curves can be calculated explicitly from a simple … Continue reading Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter

NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

Recently, the Kepler mission announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets. The announcement represents the most planets ever discovered at a single time, and more than doubles the total number of planets discovered by the Kepler telescope. Launched into space by NASA in 2009, Kepler’s goal is to determine how many Earth-sized planets reside in or near habitable zones, and estimate how many of such planets might exist … Continue reading NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Surface features such as canyons and valleys on the “Red Planet” suggest an abundance of liquid water in its geological past. Water vapors on Mars were first detected in the early 60s followed by observation of water-rich ice patches decades later, but it was not until 2011 that Lujendra Ojha, a Nepali undergraduate student, spotted signs of possible water flows on our neighboring planet. While … Continue reading Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home

by Tansu Daylan figures by Kaitlyn Choi As Philae just woke up, we examine one exciting question of the Rosetta mission: what is the origin of water on Earth? A hypothesis proposes that comets brought to our planet this molecule central to life. The Rosetta mission is an ambitious scientific program launched by the European Space Agency to analyze the water on the comet 67P … Continue reading Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home