All posts by Max Sky

A Giant Gravity Wave Has Been Found in Venus’ Clouds

The 6,200-mile-long structure was observed by Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft and is believed to be created by mountains on the surface of Venus. Venus is wrapped in thick clouds of sulfuric acid that swirl around the planet at 225 mph, but not everything in the atmosphere is moving.

On Dec. 7, 2015, during its very first orbit around Venus, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft discovered a mammoth, bow-shaped structure in the upper atmosphere that remained oddly fixed over a mountainous region known as the western highlands of Aphrodite. Continue reading A Giant Gravity Wave Has Been Found in Venus’ Clouds

Curiosity Finds Mars May Be Covered in Organic Chemistry

New analysis from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover shows that the red planet is likely flush with organics.

“I am convinced that organics are all over Mars,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist and geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“They’re all over the surface and they’re probably through the rock record. What that means is something we’ll have to talk about,” Eigenbrode said last week during a National Academy of Sciences workshop about the search for life beyond Earth. Continue reading Curiosity Finds Mars May Be Covered in Organic Chemistry

A Rapidly Spinning Black Hole Was Seen Killing a Distant Star

Once thought to be the brightest supernova ever recorded, the intense flash in the center of a distant galaxy has more sinister roots: It was a star being blended by a monster black hole. Supermassive black holes are known to occupy the cores of the vast majority of galaxies, eating any material — dust, gas, stars, planets, aliens — their host galaxies can provide. But they rarely eat quietly. As graphically demonstrated in a galaxy some 4 billion light-years away, an unfortunate star strayed too close to the rapidly-spinning supermassive black hole in its galaxy’s center, becoming a stellar smoothie of sorts. Continue reading A Rapidly Spinning Black Hole Was Seen Killing a Distant Star

Japan Sends Space Junk Collector to the International Space Station

Japan launched a cargo ship Friday bound for the International Space Station, carrying a ‘space junk’ collector that was made with the help of a fishnet company.

The vessel, dubbed “Kounotori” (stork in Japanese), blasted off from the southern island of Tanegashima just before 10:27 pm local time (1327 GMT) attached to an H-IIB rocket. Continue reading Japan Sends Space Junk Collector to the International Space Station

Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation. Continue reading Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed

Hubble Spies a Strange Old Dusty Galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope is an expert at imaging distant galaxies, bringing mysterious galactic features into the light. In the case of one particular elliptical galaxy, around 150 million light-years distant, Hubble has revealed a conundrum and a possible mechanism behind why some galaxies look so old. Continue reading Hubble Spies a Strange Old Dusty Galaxy

NASA Emphasizes Importance of Earth Science Given Concerns About Budget Cuts

WASHINGTON — NASA used a briefing about the agency’s next Earth science mission to also emphasize the importance of that research in general, given concerns the next administration may seek to slash funding for it.

A Nov. 10 briefing at NASA Headquarters about the upcoming launch of the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System  (CYGNSS) mission featured an introduction by Thomas Zurbuchen, the new associate administrator for science, who talked not about the mission itself but about NASA’s Earth science work in general. Continue reading NASA Emphasizes Importance of Earth Science Given Concerns About Budget Cuts

Faraway Star Is Roundest Natural Object Ever Seen

A star 5,000 light-years from Earth is the closest thing to a perfect sphere that has ever been observed in nature, a new study reports.

Stars, planets and other round celestial bodies bulge slightly at their equators due to centrifugal force. Generally speaking, the faster these objects spin, the greater the force, and the larger the bulge.  Continue reading Faraway Star Is Roundest Natural Object Ever Seen