Category Archives: Planetary Science

Six Italian stars shed light on early Black Hole evolution

OJOGPOGOGOGOGO
Scientists have found evidence that supermassive black holes in the early universe grew intermittently in the first billion years after the Big Bang. Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Rome/E.Pezzulli et al. Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Six female Italian scientists have recently accomplished stunning results in the framework of one of the most challenging topics in modern Astrophysics. Five of these outstanding scientists have no fixed, tenure-track contract; three have not yet turned 30.

Continue reading Six Italian stars shed light on early Black Hole evolution

New insights into the origin of Solar storms

Solar eruptive events caused by magnetic reconnection on the sun can lead to giant ejections of solar material, called coronal mass ejections. This one, as observed by the joint ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, traveled through space toward Earth in July 2012. Credits: ESA&NASA/SOHO
Solar eruptive events caused by magnetic reconnection on the sun can lead to giant ejections of solar material, called coronal mass ejections. This one, as observed by the joint ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, traveled through space toward Earth in July 2012.
Credits: ESA&NASA/SOHO

The Magnetospheric Multi Scale or MMS mission celebrates one year in space since it was launched in March 12, 2015. It’s now fully operative “in science mode” and collecting measurements with 4 spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation sampling the Earth’s magnetosphere and collecting pressure, velocity and temperature observations of charged particles in space. Continue reading New insights into the origin of Solar storms

Looking into Mercury’s secrets

Mercury globe - Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Mercury globe – Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun and also the smallest in the Solar System. With a high-eccentricity orbit and a gravity which is about 3 times smaller than that on Earth, it takes about 88 days to complete its orbit around our Star. Continue reading Looking into Mercury’s secrets

Science vs Religion at Mauna Kea, Hawaii

There’s nothing really new in the clash between science and religion. In fact, many of us are aware that, as far back in time as 1633, Galileo Galilei, one of the greatest scientists of all time and the founder of modern science, went on trial for his controversial views about the solar system.

A giant telescope on the top of a scoria cone, Mauna Kea Volcano's summit. Picture by Federico P. Mariotto
The CFH Telescope on the top of a scoria cone, Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawaii. Picture by Federico P. Mariotto

Continue reading Science vs Religion at Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Finally: Flowing water on the Red Planet

The interest of the public in the Red Planet is more vivid than ever these days, thanks to the blockbuster “The Martian” starring a stunning Matt Damon, playing the role of a stranded NASA astronaut who manages to survive for months on Mars thanks to his skills as an experimental agronomist.

Continue reading Finally: Flowing water on the Red Planet

What Earth 2.0 really means to us

Is there anybody out there?” sang the Pink Floyd in 1980, in their masterpiece double LP “The Wall”. Back then, there was little hope that humankind might ever discover Earth-like planets in the Universe. Thirty-five years later, the tune has changed: Today, chances are much greater that something or somebody will eventually get in touch with us from the depths of space.

452b_artistconcept_comparisonwithearth
Comparison between the Earth and Earth 2.0 (artistic concept). Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Continue reading What Earth 2.0 really means to us