In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner secrets. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it’s also used its instruments to gaze deep into Jupiter’s heart.One of the spacecraft’s biggest discoveries was a core less compact than scientists expected. Instead of a sharp transition between a dense core and the more gaseous outer layers, Juno’s readings imply a fuzzy boundary, with the core bleeding into the atmosphere out to nearly half the planet’s radius.Now, astronomers led by Shang-Fei Liu from Sun Yat-sen University in China have put forward an explanation for that fuzzy core: the young proto-Jupiter was involved in a head-on collision with a large proto-planet, roughly the size of Uranus. Modeling shows that even if the event happened 4.5 billion years ago, when the planets were still forming, the fuzzy core that resulted could persist today. Liu and colleagues published their findings August 14 in the journal Nature.
A massive planet slamming into Jupiter in its infancy could create the fuzzy core that astronomers observe in the gas giant today.K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan
Life’s prospects on PlutoWho would have thought this dwarf planet could nurture life? The idea seemed ludicrous before New Horizons explored the world.
The smooth nitrogen-ice plains of Sputnik Planitia offer a key clue to the possible presence of a subsurface ocean on Pluto. Because it lies in a spot diametrically opposite to the location of the dwarf planet’s large moon, Charon, scientists think it may represent a mass excess reflecting a watery sea beneath it.All images by NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI unless noted
50 years later: Jim Lovell recounts the Apollo 13 disasterFifty years later, the famous astronaut relives Apollo 13 — the Moon mission that almost didn’t make it home.
Tensions mount during Skylab 4When the Skylab 4 crew blasted off to the space station on November 16, 1973, NASA expected them to get up to speed quickly and work just as efficiently as previous crews. The space agency had plans to account for every minute of the astronauts’ 24-hour workday, including making the astronauts eat their meals while working and limiting their sleep breaks. The crews’ schedules were so regimented, if fact, that it was hard for them to even find time to go to the bathroom.In retrospect, NASA simply had unrealistic expectations. This is especially true considering all three crewmembers of Skylab 4 were rookies. And as a cherry on top, Pogue had developed Space Adaptation Syndrome shortly after reaching orbit, significantly compromising his effectiveness at the start of the mission.“The schedule caught up with us,” Carr recalled in Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story, which covers the dramatic tale of the space station. “We [the Skylab 4 crew] found that we had allowed ourselves to be scheduled on a daily schedule that was extremely dense. If you missed something, if you made a mistake and had to go back and do it again, or if you were slow in doing something, you’d end up racing the clock and making more mistakes, screwing up more on an experiment, and in general just digging a deeper hole for yourself.”Eventually the Skylab 4 crew learned that their schedule, from the start, assumed nearly the same rate of productivity and efficiency the more veteran Skylab 3 crew had by the end of their mission. As you could expect, this led to some frustration from the inexperienced Skylab 4 crew.“Finally, we began to get a little bit testy,” Carr said. An “us versus them” mentality began to set it, with ground controllers and astronauts becoming more and more aggravated with each other. As Lead Flight Director Neal Hutchinson said in the same book, “Of course as we continued to press [the astronauts], more mistakes began to be made, more than we had seen with the other crews.”
A Long March-3B launch vehicle will launch the last BeiDou-3 navigation satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 16 June 2020. The geostationary satellite is the 55th of the BeiDou family and the last satellite for China’s BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System (BDS-3).
How the icy moon Enceladus got 'tiger stripes' at its south poleSaturn's moon Enceladus has mysterious, evenly spaced fissures in its icy shell where water erupts into space.
Saturn's moon Enceladus has "tiger stripes," thought to be fissures in its icy shell, in its south polar region.NASA, ESA, JPL, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team
Everything around us is spinning: particles, planets, stars, galaxies. Why not the universe?Cornel Halmaghi, Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Alpha Centauri system could have favorable conditions for lifeX-ray radiation poses no threat to planets orbiting these two nearby Sun-like stars.
Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to Earth, and it happens to house Sun-like stars. Sitting only 4 light years away, or 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers), Chandra found that two of its stars could have favorable conditions for habitable exoplanets.X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Colorado/T.Ayres; Optical: Zdeněk Bardon/ESO
NASA Perseverance rover: How it works and what it will doEquipped with a suite of high-tech tools — including a rock-blasting laser, two microphones, 23 cameras, and a helicopter — NASA’s latest rover will explore the Red Planet like never before.
Nabta Playa: The world's first astronomical site was built in Africa and is older than StonehengeThis 7,000-year-old stone circle tracked the summer solstice and the arrival of the annual monsoon season. It's also the oldest known astronomical site on Earth.
The stone circle of Nabta Playa marks the summer solstice, a time that coincided with the arrival of monsoon rains in the Sahara Desert thousands of years ago.
Pluto has likely maintained an underground liquid ocean for billions of yearsThe discovery hints that subsurface oceans are common in the outer solar system, which is good news for the those seeking extraterrestrial life.By Eric Betz | Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Just 15 minutes after closest approach, New Horizons captured a near-sunset view of Pluto’s rugged terrain and hazy, layered atmosphere. The scene is 230 miles across.
Techno-turkey: Remembering Hubble’s vision troubles, 30 years onAt an initial cost of around $1.5 billion, when scientists learned of the space telescope’s inability to focus, the future looked bleak. Fortunately, that rocky start didn’t impact Hubble’s final legacy.
Workers inspect the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror before launch. Just a few months into Hubble’s mission, scientists and engineers discovered a crippling flaw with the mirror. It was ground to the wrong curvature.
Forty years and still going strongThe functioning instruments aboard the Voyager spacecraft
Hatem HatemSpace Intelligence: SpaceX, NASA, Rocket Technologies and Exploration· 30 de junho · Great photo of SpaceX Dragon.📷 by Doug Hurley