The research focus of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research is our cosmic neighborhood: the solar system with its planets and moons, comets and asteroids as well as the sun. The aim of the scientists is to describe the processes in the solar system in models and to simulate them on the computer. In addition, instruments are being developed and built to study these bodies from space. The Institute is involved in numerous space missions. More info.
The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research takes the current risk situation due to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 very seriously. It is the Institute's primary objective to minimize the risk of infection for its staff and to contribute in general to minimizing the spread of the virus.
Read more about current measures and restrictions here.
On its way to Mercury, the European-Japanese space probe BepiColombo will change course again on Thursday, 15 October. Following the Earth flyby in April this year, the first of two Venus flybys is now imminent. It will take the spacecraft, which was launched into space two years ago, past our neighboring planet at a distance of 10720 kilometers. Some of the scientific instruments on board, to which MPS contributed, will have the opportunity to collect data in the vicinity of Venus.
The trans-Neptunian object Arrokoth, also known as Ultima Thule, which NASA’s space probe New Horizons passed on New Year's Day 2019, may have changed its shape significantly in the first 100 million years since its formation. In today's issue of the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and MPS suggest that the current shape of Arrokoth, which resembles a flattened snowman, could be of evolutionary origin due to volatile outgassing.
In cosmic comparison, the Sun is a bore. While the brightness of some other stars with similar characteristics fluctuates strongly, the Sun’s variations are much more moderate. Scientists from MPS have now investigated how exactly sun- and starspots affect this behavior. In addition to the number and size of the spots, their distribution plays a crucial role. If groups of sunspots were to appear more frequently clumped together in so-called nests, the Sun’s brightness variations could well keep up with those of its cosmic peers.
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