Space

2017 has certainly seen some leaps in the technology and resources available to a handful of organisations that may be most likely to deliver more extensive space travel to more people. This has included a steady increase in the theoretical, experimental and practical research that will underpin how humans and other lifeforms will respond to space flight over longer periods. This includes all normal aspects of human life, including what happens to the bacteria the average person plays host to on an everyday basis.

A solar flare hitting Earth and wiping out electricity grids and satellite communications might sound like something from a science fiction movie, but it’s happened before and scientists predict it could well happen again. A new study suggests that the likelihood is that the Earth will be hit by a serious solar flare within the next 100 years.

In a press conference today, scientists from over 70 different observatories came together to reveal new information about the nature of our universe.

On Thursday October 12, a small asteroid estimated to be between 10 and 30 meters in size is going to be the subject of international attention as a global team of scientists observe its orbit past the Earth. The asteroid, known as 2012 TC4, is due to pass us by at an altitude of around 44,000km (27,300 miles). This is lower than the altitude that the majority of geosynchronous satellites orbit the Earth. Its predicted that TC4 will be closest to the Earth as it passes just south of Australia, at around 05.41 GMT.

Since Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his general theory of relativity, astrophysicists have been on the lookout for these mysterious ‘ripples’, which are released due to the collision of huge objects like black holes. These collisions result in an alteration in the curvature of spacetime, which Einstein predicted could be detected here on Earth.

Elon Musk and his company Space X have some grand plans for the future of humanity – with details released last night, at 12:30AM ET, at the International Astronautical Congress held in Adelaide, Australia.

Einstein’s general theory of relatively first introduced the concept of gravitational waves in 1916. Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ sent out across the universe as a result of massive objects such as black holes merging together and thus causing an alteration in the curvature in spacetime. It’s taken a while though, for scientists to build a detector sensitive enough to detect and therefore confirm the presence of these waves, which by the time they reach Earth can be almost imperceptible.

Cassini-Huygens is probably the most famous deep-space probe humanity has produced. Its launch, a joint venture between the Italian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and NASA, was a major international collaboration intended to send images and other data about Saturn and its many moons back to Earth. However, none of these agencies could have anticipated in full the revelations that Cassini’s sensors and cameras would transmit over its lengthy mission.

The Hubble space telescope has identified many objects in our solar system, with one of its recent missions to help astronomers discover more about a mysterious object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. At first glance, this object appeared to be two asteroids orbiting each other, and was assigned as such. But further observations revealed that it also possessed characteristics in keeping with a comet. Astronomers knew that this meant they needed to take a much more detailed look.

Astronomers now agree that at the center of large galaxies, lie supermassive black holes. These black holes usually have a mass greater than a million solar masses. As yet though, the formation of these supermassive black holes has remained somewhat of a mystery. Astronomers have long suggested that perhaps a possible explanation for the sheer magnitude of these black holes is that they may have been formed from a number of smaller, intermediate-mass black holes merging together in order to eventually form a supermassive black hole.

In the constellation of Aquarius, lies a small star known as Trappist-1. Around this star, seven Earth-sized planets have been found, detailed in research released earlier this year. Now new research, released this week, suggests that a number of these planets may well contain water.

Scientists have just completed a study which has given a new information into both the atmosphere and surface of any star beyond our own solar system. The star in focus, quite literally, is a red supergiant known as Antares. This star is often also known as the ‘heart’ of the Scorpius constellation because as well as sitting in the middle of the constellation, Antares gives off a soft pink color, which can be seen with the naked eye.

In a major new study released this week, scientists have just discovered that as the sun sets on the planet Mars, it is sometimes subjected to harsh snowstorms which batter the Red Planet.

The idea of teleportation is no more just in sci-fi movies or fiction books, it has become a real-world phenomenon! Also called teletransportation, this power is defined as the transfer of energy without traveling any physical space.

Ten years ago, a newly created website called Galaxy Zoo used something known as citizen science when it asked members of the public to help them categorize images of galaxies. Citizen science projects involve asking willing volunteers to help with scientific research. The first stage of Galaxy Zoo specifically looked at organizing galaxies into groups depending on their shape, elliptical, mergers or spirals.

The possibility of launching small satellites into orbit has just become more of a reality thanks to Rocket Lab, a company pioneering the production of low cost rocket launches. The company has just successfully completed the maiden mission of their rocket, Electron. Rocket Lab’s aim is a bold one – to remove the barriers of conventional missions into space, making it far easier to access low Earth orbits. Conventional launches can cost around $60 million however Rocket Lab suggests an Electron launch will cost users $5 million, a significant drop in price.

Could radiation really encourage life in icy bodies or the ocean-planets of our solar system? Scientists at San Antonio’s University of Texas, in collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) have welcomed the possibility of radioactive decay leading to the support of analogous microorganisms from resulting molecules.

Many areas of the universe where stars form are also known to contain complex organic molecules. These molecules contain six or more atoms, with at least one of these being a carbon atom. A group of these complex organic molecules are known as prebiotics, the structures of which are closely linked to molecules essential for life, including amino acids and sugars.

An international team of scientists, including those from The Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University have just released their research into a newly discovered planet with some extremely unusual features.

Science is always surprising us, with new discoveries reminding us how much we still have to learn. Recently, a new feature of the northern lights was discovered, thanks to a group of citizen scientists.

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