Space

Now we know, it's the second of those "Three mysteries" which they solved - by detection of water in the RSLs.  However, they didn't directly detect flowing water. Instead, they found hydrated salts. So let's look at this a bit more closely - why are they so confident this is evidence for flowing water? And what next - is there any way to follow it up, and what about the other mysteries?

NASA has announced that there is flowing liquid water on Mars.  Where there is water there is life.  That is an old adage among astrobiologist.  We “follow the water”.  Water had lead us to be hopeful that on icy bodies such as the icy moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and maybe even the (dwarf) planet Pluto there is life under the ice.

Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters,  Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and  Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) at the University of Arizona, promised a major announcement on Mars research today, and they delivered.

The Indian ISRO space agency was going to announce the result of their first year of observations in Mars orbit - the Indian Times said - on Thursday.  But it didn't happen - seems it has been delayed! I look forward to hearing what they found - but seems that we have to wait some more.

We can't really make any deduction about what they will say, as their research is embargoed until then - they can't say anything about it. But we should hear whether or not they have detected methane from orbit so far.

The internet is buzzing with the announcement from NASA that they are going to announce the solution of a longstanding Mars mystery on Monday. at 11.30 am EST. That's 4.30 pm BST. Then, as many of the news stories have pointed out, the list of speakers includes Lujendra Ojha, a Nepal born researcher from Katmandu who discovered the "Warm Seasonal Flows" as an undergraduate back in 2011. It would be surprising to include him unless the solved mystery is something to do with these streaks. now often called Recursive Slope Lineae. So, what are they, and what are the main mysteries about them?

We get many sensational news stories, saying a giant asteroid will hit Earth, or will nearly miss us. Several so far this year. Many of us worry about these things. So what is the truth behind them?

Actually astronomers have this well in hand for the largest asteroids. They have found 90% of the largest asteroids likely to hit Earth. This is mainly due to Pan-STARRS, which takes a 1.4 gigapixel image of a three degrees span of the night sky several times a minute. It continues to find a new large asteroid about once a month, and will find most of the remaining 10% by the 2020s.

Is anything going to happen on September 24th? Well, the astronomers say, no. It is an ordinary day in space, nothing remarkable of note at all on that day by way of asteroid flybys.

Yes, it's true, as some news stories say, there is a distant flyby by a rather unremarkable asteroid. It is one of dozens that pass by Earth every month. It's not especially large as asteroids go. Indeed there's one more than double its size, passing closer, at a faster speed, on October 4th that nobody is interested in except perhaps a few astronomers.

Astronomers have successfully peered through the 'amniotic sac' of a star that is still forming to observe the innermost region of a burgeoning solar system for the first time.

In a research paper published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, an international team of astronomers describe surprising findings in their observations of the parent star, which is called HD 100546.

Lead author Dr Ignacio Mendigutía, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds, said: "Nobody has ever been able to probe this close to a star that is still forming and which also has at least one planet so close in.


This story has recently hit the news. I think it is reasonably clear he was not putting forward a serious worked out future plan for Mars. But is there any potential in the idea?

A team of researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. Adi Zitrin, a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy, and Richard Ellis, a professor of astrophysics at University College, London, have described evidence for a galaxy called EGS8p7 that is more than 13.2 billion years old. 

The universe itself is about 13.8 billion years old.