PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s exoplanet mission Cheops has revealed that an exoplanet orbiting its host star within a day has a deformed shape more like that of a rugby ball than a sphere. This is the first time that the deformation of an exoplanet has been detected, offering new insights into the internal structure of these star-hugging planets.
The planet, known as WASP-103b is located in the constellation of Hercules. It has been deformed by the strong tidal forces between the planet and its host star WASP-103, which is about 200 degrees hotter and 1.7 times larger than the Sun.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.
PARIS (ESA PR) — The notion of living in a bubble is usually associated with negative connotations, but all life on Earth is dependent on the safe bubble created by our magnetic field. Understanding how the field is generated, how it protects us and how it sometimes gives way to charged particles from the solar wind is not just a matter of scientific interest, but also a matter of safety. Using information from ESA’s Cluster and Swarm missions along with measurements from the ground, scientists have, for the first time, been able to confirm that curiously named bursty bulk flows are directly connected to abrupt changes in the magnetic field near Earth’s surface, which can cause damage to pipelines and electrical power lines.
By Mara Johnson-Groh NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. — For the first time in history, a spacecraft has touched the Sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has now flown through the Sun’s upper atmosphere – the corona – and sampled particles and magnetic fields there.
The new milestone marks one major step for Parker Solar Probe and one giant leap for solar science. Just as landing on the Moon allowed scientists to understand how it was formed, touching the very stuff the Sun is made of will help scientists uncover critical information about our closest star and its influence on the solar system.
PARIS (ESA PR) — The chance that ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will encounter space debris during its upcoming Earth flyby is very, very low. However, the risk is not zero and is greater than any other flyby ESA has performed. That there is this risk at all highlights the mess we’ve made of space – and why we need to take action to clean up after ourselves.
By Karl B. Hille NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md. — Finding the biggest collisions in the universe takes time, patience, and super steady lasers.
In May, NASA specialists working with industry partners delivered the first prototype laser for the European Space Agency-led Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, mission. This unique laser instrument is designed to detect the telltale ripples in gravitational fields caused by the mergers of neutron stars, black holes, and supermassive black holes in space.
Models and lab tests suggest the asteroid could be venting sodium vapor as it orbits close to the Sun, explaining its increase in brightness.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As a comet zooms through the inner solar system, the Sun heats it, causing ices below the surface to vaporize into space. The venting vapor dislodges dust and rock, and the gas creates a bright tail that can extend millions of miles from the nucleus like an ethereal veil.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — It is particularly easy to recognize by the auroras: the particle radiation of the sun. But the sun’s plasma eruptions not only create the natural spectacle in the polar regions. They can also interfere with satellites. In extreme cases, space weather even affects the infrastructure on earth. The Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) observes space weather and researches to better understand and predict the interactions. The DLR Institute in Neustrelitz (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) opened on May 26, 2021.
REDDING, UK (University of Redding PR) — Planned missions to return humans to the Moon need to hurry up to avoid hitting one of the busiest periods for extreme space weather, according to scientists conducting the most in-depth ever look at solar storm timing.
Scientists at the University of Reading studied 150 years of space weather data to investigate patterns in the timing of the most extreme events, which can be extremely dangerous to astronauts and satellites, and even disrupt power grids if they arrive at Earth.
Video Caption: Want to know more about space weather? Comment with your questions for a Q&A with NOAA space weather experts.
Just like we experience weather on Earth, there’s weather in space! The Sun may look very constant and quiet from Earth, but it’s constantly spewing out a stream of particles called the solar wind. Space weather is activity on the Sun that can affect Earth and interact with our technology.
By Michael Buckley Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
LAUREL, Md. — NASA’s Parker Solar Probe captured stunning views of Venus during its close flyby of the planet in July 2020.
Though Parker Solar Probe’s focus is the Sun, Venus plays a critical role in the mission: The spacecraft whips by Venus a total of seven times over the course of its seven-year mission, using the planet’s gravity to bend the spacecraft’s orbit. These Venus gravity assists allow Parker Solar Probe to fly closer and closer to the Sun on its mission to study the dynamics of the solar wind close to its source.
SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA has awarded the Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) Command and Control contract to L3Harris in Melbourne, Florida. The cost plus fixed-fee contract has a total value of $43,784,063, with a five-year performance period. The SWFO-L1 mission is planned to launch in 2025 as a ride share with the NASA Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe.
ASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has approved two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and the system that drives space weather near Earth. Together, NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE, will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system.