New Dust Map of Galaxy Casts Doubts on Gravitational Waves Discovery

All-sky map of interstellar dust from Planck. Blue areas have less dust and red areas have more. The patch of sky observed by BICEP2 is not in one of the less dusty regions. Northern hemisphere is on the left and southern is on the right. Image Credit: ESA

As sometimes happens, the celebrations […]

Europe's Gaia Billion-Object Astronomy Mission Primed for Thursday Launch

Artist’s concept of the Gaia mission. Image Credit: ESA

After many delays, the European Space Agency (ESA) is ready to launch its ambitious Gaia mission to observe and catalog around 1 billion astronomical objects—or approximately 1 percent of the entire population of our Milky Way Galaxy—on Thursday, 19 December. Liftoff of the $1.2 […]

Ambitious Gaia Billion-Object Astronomy Mission Delayed Until NET Mid-December

 

Artist’s concept of Gaia and the deep-space survey work it will conduct during its 5 years of baseline operations. Image Credit: ESA

Last week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it will delay the launch of its ambitious Gaia mission to observe and catalog around 1 billion astronomical objects—or approximately 1 […]

'End of Days' for Europe's Ambitious GOCE and Planck Missions to Explore Earth and the Cosmos

 

The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, will bid a fond farewell to the GOCE and Planck missions this week. Both missions have contributed enormously to our understanding of Earth and the Universe. Photo Credit: ESOC

Two ambitious science missions—one circling Earth closer than any other research satellite, the other […]

Astronomy at the High Frontier

Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from the Shuttle Atlantis during the fourth servicing mission in May 2009. Photo Credit: NASA

The atmosphere is a problem for astronomers for two big reasons: it’s turbulent, so it smears out the light from cosmic objects, and it blocks out huge swathes of the electromagnetic spectrum. To […]

Planck Mission Brings Universe into Sharp Focus

This map shows the oldest light in our universe, as detected with the greatest precision yet by the Planck mission. The ancient light, called the cosmic microwave background, was imprinted on the sky when the universe was 370,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, […]