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Space

Another tantalizing planet has been found outside our Solar System: an Earth-sized world that’s our cosmic next-door neighbor — and it could be in just the right spot to host life.

Meet Ross 128 b, a newly discovered planet found orbiting around a small, faint star known as a red dwarf.

The world, which is about one-and-a-half times the mass of Earth, may be in the star’s habitable zone, too.

(That’s the spot where temperatures are just right, possibly allowing liquid water to pool on a planet’s surface.)

Most exciting of all is that this planet is situated just 11 light-years away.

That makes Ross 128 b the second closest potentially habitable exoplanet to Earth we know about after Proxima b, a rocky world that orbits around the nearest star to our Solar System, Proxima Centauri. theverge.com
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The interstellar object, which could be an asteroid or a comet, has sparked huge enthusiasm from scientists who are urgently working to gather information on the mysterious body before it disappears from sight. 

According to observers, the object is on a hyperbolic trajectory which suggests the body has escaped from a star from outside our solar system. 

Early findings published in the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre (MPEC) state: "If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet." 

The mysterious object, called A/2017 U1, was discovered by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii. 

The alien space rock is less than a quarter mile (400 metres) in diameter and is believed to have come from the direction of the constellation Lyra, travelling through space at the remarkable speed of 15.8 miles (25.5 kilometres) per second. 

Scientists have long believed in the existence of such interstellar objects because a lot of material is thought to be ejected from planetary systems when planets are formed but this is the first time they may have found one.  independent.co.uk
A potential shelter has been found on the moon which could be a temporary home for future astronauts, says the Japanese space agency.

Scientists first spotted the hole using an orbiter, which saw only a 50-metre hole, but the agency said further exploration using radio waves found a lava tube that stretched for miles. 

A number of national and international bodies have proposed that humans will soon head back to the moon to build a colony – the cave, stretching 30 miles over the lunar surface, could be used as protection while astronauts establish a more permanent base.

The moon has no real atmosphere, so humans are not shielded from deadly radiation like we are on Earth. 

The astronauts inside the cave would also be protected from asteroid impacts – which are also more dangerous for the lack of atmosphere – and there would be a more consistent temperature inside the hole.

As well as allowing for further exploration of our closest neighbour, it could also serve as a stop off for further exploration of our solar system. independent.co.uk