Astronomy news

Venus - new discovery

The European Space Agency (see www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM8270WXGG_index_2.html and see also www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130122-35.htm ) has discovered a high altitude layer of sulphur dioxide via the Venus Express spacecraft. Venus is blanketed in sulphuric acid clouds that block a view of the surface and this is because of volcanic activity there.

Comets

At http://cosmictusk.com there is a report, published by the Royal Society, that says that some 4 years ago green fireballs streaked across the sky over Australia which led to a succession of UFO reports. However, it is now thought they might have been meteors or ball lightning caused by electrically charged shockwaves in a similar fashion to the way aurorae is created.

Comet Hartley2

At www.physorg.com/print208174658.html ... this is more on Come Hartley2 including the revelation that jets were outgassing from the sunward side, the night side, and along the terminator - the line between the two sides.

Comet Hartley2 - flyby

A rash of sites has news on the flyby of Comet Hartley2 on thursday 4th November. Images are being studied by scientists - but some have been uploaded for public viewing. See www.jpl.nasa.gov/news for example, as the spacecraft came within 700km of the comet (see also www.nasa.gov/epoxi and http://epoxi.umd.edu )

Approaching Comet Hartley2

At www.physorg.com/print207909976.html ... the Deep Impact spacecraft has captured images of multiple jets emanating from the surface of comet Hartley2, switching on and off. The spacecraft was 5 million miles away from the comet when the images were taken and there is a small video which can be viewed simply by clicking on an arrow as a start up. Turn up the volume on your computer before doing so. Is cometary science about to change?

Mars - asteroid strike? ... gamma ray bubbles and a newly found neutrino

Mars does not have much in the way of an atmosphere - or a magnetic field. It is being suggested its protective shield was switched off half a billion years ago by an asteroid strike (see www.dailygalaxy.com November 3rd). The Mars Global Surveyor sent back data in 2009 that seemed to indicate something like that occurred - using computer simulation modelling techniques.

Saturn's rings oscillate ... and more tales of salmon numbers

At http://jpl.nasa.gov/news/ November 1st .... images captured by the Cassini spacecraft and published in the Astronomical Journal (November) indicate the rings of Saturn behave in a similar way to the Milky Way galaxy - having an irregular and varying shape.

Water on the Moon and active Venus

NASA have released a couple of interesting stories at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/ ... and in the first of these it is said Mars Rover Spirit became stuck last year in sand and the ground around it became a focus for a few days. It seemed to show evidence of recent water activity. In this instance, a film of the wet stuff. Possibly it was the result of frost or snow, according to an article in Journal of Geophysical Research (late 2007).

The Scutum

The Scutum is a constellation at the throbbing heart of the Milky Way. At www.dailygalaxy.com Oct 27th Casey Kazan reports that at the core of the Milky Way there is a monster star cluster. This is Scutum and it includes among its numbers fourteen red supergiants and they emit great bursts of X-rays and gamma rays that according to a new theory are being created by dark matter. Yes, the dark stuff that is so difficult to detect.

Buckyballs

At www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/ Oct 27th ... astronomers have discovered lots of buckyballs in space - small carbon spherules. The Spitzer Telescope has found them in association with dying stars (but see http://calderup.wordpress.com the blog of Nigel Calder who earlier in the year had a post on buckyballs).