Astronomy / Astrophysics

Part of the Venus Table in the Dresden Codex (Image courtesy University of California - Santa Barbara)

An article published in the journal “Journal of Astronomy in Culture” describes a research on the Venus Table contained in the Dresden Codex, one of the few Maya codices still existing today. According to Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology at the University of California – Santa Barbara, it contains significant innovations in mathematics and astronomy, so much to compare its author to Copernicus.

The tablet key to undestand the ancient Babylonians' mathematical knowledge (Image courtesy Mathieu Ossendrijver / Science. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the discovery of the ancient Babylonian mathematical knowledge. Putting together the translation of various cuneiform tablets, Mathieu Ossendrijver, professor of the History of Ancient Science at Humboldt University in Berlin, concluded that the Babylonians knew the basics of calculus over 14 centuries earlier than previously thought and they used it to calculate the motion of the planet Jupiter.

The webpage of the application to identify asteroids

NASA has made available for all desktop computers an application that can help increase the number of asteroids discovered by amateur astronomers. It’s the result of NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge initiative, which included the Asteroid Data Hunter challenge. Conducted in collaboration with Planetary Resources, a company interested in asteroid mining, in 2014, it offered $55,000 in prizes for those who developed improved algorithms to identify asteroids in the images captured by telescopes.

The panorama seen by the Mars Rover Opportunity on the top of Cape Tribulation (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

NASA released an image of the Martian landscape seen from the Mars Rover Opportunity on the occasion of the earth’s eleventh anniversary of its arrival on Mars. Opportunity landed at 5:05 UTC on January 25, 2004 and now has traveled for about 41.7 km (25.9 miles) on the red planet. About three weeks ago it reached the top of the segment of the Endeavour Crater called Cape Tribulation and from there it used its Pancam (panoramic camera) instrument to take a series of photographs that were combined together.

A section of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s smaller lobes seen by the Rosetta space probe (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

A special edition of the journal “Science” shows the results of the research done so far on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using 7 of the 11 instruments of ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. The various detections conducted between August and December 2014 have mostly confirmed the first impressions but reserved some surprises. Meanwhile, the comet is slowly approaching the Sun and its activity is increasing due to the higher heat that receives and causes more and more ice sublimation.