A team of astronomers, including associate professor Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, have confirmed a planetoid that is almost four times farther from the Sun than Pluto, making it the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. The planetoid, which has been nicknamed “Farfarout,” was first detected in 2018, and the team has now collected enough observations to pin down its orbit. The Minor Planet Center has now given… Read more
Scientists say Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is the only body in our solar system besides Earth with liquid on its surface. However, chemical elements behave very differently there in the extremely cold and dense atmosphere, with a temperature of minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, water, or H2O, forms Titan’s bedrock while methane acts… Read more
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, designed to study the early universe in infrared light, was the first telescope to see light from a planet outside our solar system. Launched in 2003, Spitzer contained infrared detectors of unprecedented sensitivity, providing astronomers a never-before-possible look at the universe.
Spitzer made important discoveries about comets, stars, exoplanets and distant galaxies. Decommissioned earlier this year—11 years beyond its prime mission—the… Read more
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft mission, launched on Sept. 8, 2016, is the first U.S. mission designed to retrieve a pristine sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for further study. The mission’s target is Bennu, a carbon-rich near-Earth asteroid that is potentially hazardous, representing… Read more
The majority of asteroids in our solar system are found in the Main Asteroid Belt, which is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Although millions of objects populate the belt, most are relatively small, and astronomers have not actually studied many of them in detail.
NAU assistant professor Cristina Thomas, whose research focuses on asteroids, recently received two grants from NASA to study two different… Read more
A veteran of multiple NASA missions to Mars, Northern Arizona University planetary scientist Christopher Edwards will closely watch the launch of a… Read more