Chemical fuels provide thrust to rockets and spacecrafts, but chemical fuels also constitute weight that must be propelled into space. In general, the greater the amount of chemical fuels, the greater the launch weight, which require more fuels to propel the rocket to exceed the escape velocity of Earth. Hence, efforts have been directed to … More Utility of ion propulsion in overcoming limits posed by conventional chemical fuels for propelling spacecrafts?
New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto in July 2015 has returned new understanding of the surface topography of the planet, which reveals greater details of icy crusts previously postulated to exist. Ideas concerning the possibility of life on the icy planet have surfaced and will be discussed here. Surface temperature at Pluto is very … More Possibility of life on Pluto
Recent interstellar visitor that pass by near Earth in a high speed hyperbolic trajectory was thought to be an asteroid due to analysis of its light curve. However, observations of its speed as it moved away from the Solar system suggested that it was speeding up, which might be attributed to outgassing of material from … More Interstellar visitor might be a comet rather than an asteroid
Observations by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) telescope revealed that an interstellar asteroid has taken up residence in Jupiter’s orbit. Specifically, the asteroid’s orbit is in resonance with Jupiter and it orbits Jupiter in the retrograde direction. Discovering the asteroid opens up vast opportunities for understanding solar system formation in … More Interstellar asteroid took up residence in Jupiter’s orbit
Using the transit method and data from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers have detected the first exomoon of an exoplanet, Kepler 1625b. The moon has a similar size to Neptune and orbits an exoplanet similar in size to Jupiter. It produces a dip in starlight as it orbits the planet that provided clues to its … More Detection of first exomoon of an exoplanet
The recent decommissioning of the Kepler space telescope brings to a close an era where the satellite played an important role in the detection of thousands of exoplanet candidates by the transit method. Out of fuel and thus not able to reliably point at a particular patch of sky, Kepler detected close to 3000 exoplanet … More Large ground-based telescopes play important roles in the search for atmospheric biosignatures in exoplanets
An elongated astronomical object of reddish hue recently visited Earth’s neighbourhood. Trajectory analysis of the astronomical object revealed that it originated from interstellar space and is not an asteroid or comet that orbits our Sun. The finding opens up the possibility of finding more interstellar astronomical objects that visit our Solar System by tuning into … More Interstellar visitor to Earth’s neighbourhood
Rings around planets are thought to be formed, in part, by the disintegration of small moons by the gravitational forces of the parent planet. However, this is unlikely to be the case as moons around a planet are compositionally different from asteroids or comets. In particular, moons are formed through a nucleation process where smaller … More Gravitational forces could not disintegrate a moon of a planet
Confirmation of an exoplanet require observations of three transits of the exoplanet around the host star. Thus, given the relative short operating span of current space telescopes used in detecting exoplanets, only exoplanets with short duration orbit around host stars are confirmed as exoplanets, while others remain as candidate exoplanets. However, with sufficient observation time, … More Current transit methods could only confirm exoplanets of short duration orbit around the host star
Super Earth refers to planets with a rocky core that has a radius of between 1.5 to 2 of that of Earth. They represent a class of exoplanets of significant scientific interest given the possibility of Earth-like habitability with respect to life, and is a target for observation by both space-based and Earth-based observatories. Thus … More What is a super-Earth in exoplanet research?