Astronomy news

mission extended

The Philae Lander has woken up (last week) and now we have an announcement from ESA that the Rosetta mission is being extended and that the spaceship will eventually land on the comet (on its way out of the inner solar system) as the solar power will not be enough to bring it back home to earth. It will thus also have the opportunity of studying the comet close up - rather than through the eyes of Philae (see


At ... the magnetic complexity inside and outside the Earth has been modelled (see three images below) using data from the SWARM satellites. At the same time a special issue of Geophysical Research Letters has several papers on the subject. However, the results are preliminary. This is not an end product by no means as SWARM is still in the process of collecting data.

Mars, solar wind

This story is at ... we have a computer simulation of the interaction of the solar wind with ions (electrically charged particles) in the atmosphere of Mars. The most energetic ions occur at the poles. The lines represent the paths of individed ions and the colours the intensity of their energy

solar filaments

    Still there. The above is a image of solar filaments, one taken on May 28th and the other in June, a month later. The filaments have gone round the sun in one revolution and show signes of change.

Venus and runaway global warming

It seems that the consensus and much quoted hypothesis that the high temperatures on Venus are the result of runaway global warming caused by lots of co2 in its atmosphere might have taken a bit of a nose dive this week. The story can be viewed in a variety of places - see for instance

The ESA mission to Venus spotted hot spots on IR images after earlier noting large changes in sulphur levels (see also ...

moon dust

At ... apparently, the moon is engulfed in a permanent, but lopsided, cloud of dust that increases in density when annual meteor showers such as the Gemenids, occur.

liquid sulphur

At .... a story sent in by member Gary (and can also be found at PhysOrg). The earth's core has large quantities of sulphur - ten times the amount in the rest of the planet.


At .... French researchers have created a computer model that is meant to explain the massive heat in the Sun's corona. Apparently, solar physicists have been perplexed by why the corona is millions of degress hotter than the Sun's actual surface. So, the idea of the model is to simulate how that might occur. It involves a magnetic field on the surface of the Sun and Alfven waves generated inside the chromosphere, etc.

slumber over

The Philae Lander that was positioned on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko has woken from its slumber and is now in contact with mother ship, Rosetta(according to BBC News on Sunday 14th June. The game is now on.

Meanwhile, at ... the comet remains active after nightfall, it has been noted. Jets of dust and gas are still being emitted even when the Sun is not beaming in the direction of the comet. Is this telling mainstream something?

solar cycles

At ... by Madhulika Guhathakurta and Tony Phillips (published in Space Weather, May 2013) and concerns the 11 year solar cycle (which was discovered 150 years ago). It seems, according to the authors, many people, including a goodly proportion of scientists, have a simplistic view of the solar cycle. It has a maximum (usually the mid point of the 11 years) and a minimum (the early stages and the later stages) - but this hides the fact the Sun is highly active all the time - not just at maximum.