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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dwarf planet Ceres has lots of carbon

Organics on Ceres Data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show that there is an abundance of carbon on Ceres. Dawn ended its mission on November 1, 2018. However, the spacecraft has remained in orbit around Ceres 257 million miles from Earth. Prope...

Virgin Galactic may reach space this week

Virgin Galactic, the company aiming to become the first to send astronauts into space by Christmas this year, is planning to put its SpaceShipTwo vehicle through its next phase of testing starting as early as Thursday, December 13. It will be the fou...

Physicists create ultra-hot drops of 'quark soup' that dominated the very early universe

By slamming small particles into heavy gold nuclei at nearly the speed of light, scientists have created tiny, ultra-hot droplets of a bizarre type of matter called a quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which once filled the entire universe shortly after the B...
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

After more than 40 years, Voyager 2 has gone interstellar

Escaping the Heliosphere Humanity has another interstellar emissary. After launching in 1977, NASA’s trailblazing spacecraft Voyager 2 has finally escaped the heliosphere, the Sun’s protective bubble of charged particles. It follows in t...

Scientists discover staggering amount of life deep below Earth's surface

The dark, high-pressure depths of Earth’s interior is an unexpected place to find life. Now, an international group of scientists report there’s 16.5 to 25 billion tons of micro-organisms beneath the planet’s surface. The team&rsquo...

Space station astronauts complete nearly eight-hour spacewalk to investigate mystery hole

On Tuesday, two Russian cosmonauts spent seven hours and 45 minutes on a spacewalk, working to solve the mystery of who or what poked a hole in the Soyuz spacecraft. The cosmonauts used knives and other tools to cut a 10-inch chunk out of the Interna...
Monday, December 10, 2018

NASA releases first data from OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission

OSIRIS-REx's First Findings OSIRIS-REx has been busy ever since it arrived at the asteroid Bennu December 3. The latest updates from NASA reveal that the space rock is porous, blue, and covered in massive boulders. More excitingly, the mission discov...

InSight shares the sounds of wind on Mars

On November 26, NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on Mars. Though the probe’s main goal is to explore the planet’s interior, its sophisticated i...

The Geminid meteor shower peaks under a dark sky this week

The spectacular Geminid meteor shower peaks the night of December 13/14. Although many people consider it to be a poor cousin to August’s Perseid shower, the Geminids often put on a better show. This year, observers can expect to see up to 120 ...
Friday, December 07, 2018

Spaceflight may increase the body's risk of infection, finds new study of orbiting mice

Even just 30 days in space can significantly reduce our immune system’s ability to fight infection, suggests a new analysis of mice that spent a month aboard an orbiting spacecraft. The research, which was published December 6 in the journal F...

A new generation of atomic clocks could help find dark matter

Detecting Dark Matter For years, researchers have been hunting for dark matter, which is thought to make up about 27 percent of the entire known universe. Now, an innovative team of scientists says they may have figured out a new way to detect the el...

Mars continues to dazzle as the days grow shorter

Mars continues to put on a nice show these December evenings. The Red Planet appears nearly halfway to the zenith in the southern sky as twilight fades to darkness. The ruddy world shines at magnitude 0.1, as bright as any other early evening object,...

The Sky This Week from December 7 to December 16

Friday, December 7 Mars continues to put on a nice show these December evenings. The Red Planet appears nearly halfway to the zenith in the southern sky as twilight fades to darkness. The ruddy world shines at magnitude 0.1, as bright as any other ea...

Astronomers find planets hidden in far-off clouds of gas and dust

Planet Hunting In a vast cloud of dust and gas 450 light-years from Earth in the Taurus constellation, scientists have found evidence of a treasure trove of super-Earths and Neptune-sized planets. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Ch...
Thursday, December 06, 2018

Mars and Neptune sit closer together tonight than they will for another 200 years

Mars continues to put on a nice show these December evenings. The Red Planet appears nearly halfway to the zenith in the southern sky as twilight fades to darkness. The ruddy world shines at magnitude 0.1, as bright as any other early evening objec...

The Saturn system has water just like Earth's ... except for Phoebe

Although we weren’t here to observe the birth of our own solar system, astronomers have developed a relatively informed picture of how it likely happened, based on observations of our present-day home and the infant planets forming around other...

Extreme radiation could strip exoplanets of their atmospheres

If orbiting just 4 million miles from your fiery host star wasn’t bad enough, things might have just gotten even worse. New research shows that stars emitting high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation could strip the atmospheres of their ultra-...

China prepares to head for the far side of the Moon

Moon-bound Tomorrow, at about 1:30 p.m. EST (2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 local time), China’s robotic Chang’e-4 mission will launch on a Long March 3B rocket, headed for the lunar surface. After launching, the spacecraft will spend 27 days travel...

New ‘Organs on a Chip’ experiment studies how space damages an astronaut’s body

Human tissues on a chip are headed into space. Tissue chips contain a small network of cells that work like real human organs, and are a safe, compact way for scientists to study the human body. SpaceX’s Dragon resupply mission launched from Florida ...
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor says space is for everyone

Virgin Galactic aims to become the world’s first commercial spaceline, in pursuit of a goal that has graced our minds and dreams since long before the first humans orbited the globe: accessible spaceflight for all. The company has recently anno...

Black hole donuts may actually look more like dynamic fountains

Black Hole Fountains Where once there were day-old donuts, now there may be ring-shaped fountains. New astronomical observations are rewriting scientists’ ideas of what the area around a black hole looks like, and the evidence seems to lean hea...

Mercury climbs back into the morning sky

Although Mercury passed between the Sun and Earth just last week, the innermost planet has already climbed back into view during morning twilight. To spot the solar system's innermost planet, look low in the southeast about 30 minutes before sunrise,...
Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Four new gravitational wave detections announced, including the most massive yet

Detecting Gravitational Waves Scientists have announced the detection of four new gravitational-wave events, bringing the total to 11. With the first captured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in 2015, the ne...

The Geminid meteor shower kicks off tonight

The Geminid meteor shower gets underway tonight. And with the Moon showing only a slim crescent phase this week, conditions could hardly be better for a sneak peek at what is arguably the best annual meteor shower. Although the shower won’t pe...

2019 could be huge for private spaceflight

Future of spaceflight The upcoming year is shaping up to be a big one for private spaceflight. A number of big players in the race to get paying passengers to space seem poised to actually make that happen, and companies like Boeing and SpaceX have a...
Monday, December 03, 2018

OSIRIS-REx, meet asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, the space agency’s first craft to bring samples from an asteroid back to Earth, reached its target, Bennu, today. In a special webcast that began just before the spacecraft reached Bennu, NASA officials and ...

The first crewed ISS flight since an emergency landing took off today

[UPDATE: The crew of Expedition 58 successfully lifted off December 3. They are scheduled to dock with the International Space Station at 12:36 P.M. EST.] BAIKONUR COSMODROME, KAZAKHSTAN – It was not even two months ago that a crew confidently...

Kepler and Gaia team up to confirm 104 new exoplanets

The Kepler space telescope might have run out of fuel a few months ago, but astronomers are still using its data to uncover a slew of new worlds. Using stats from ESA’s Gaia mission and Kepler's K2 mission, an extension of Kepler's original pl...
Friday, November 30, 2018

NASA announces the nine companies competing to put us back on the Moon

Moon-bound NASA’s going back to the moon. President Trump signed a directive last year which ordered the agency to make plans for a lunar return, and today the agency took another step on that journey by announcing a slew of commercial partners...

The Sky This Week from November 30 to December 9

Friday, November 30 A lone bright star now hangs low in the south during the early evening hours. First-magnitude Fomalhaut — often called “the Solitary One” — belongs to the constellation Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. F...
Thursday, November 29, 2018

ALMA releases first science results with its highest-frequency receivers

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile has been up and running since 2011. However, its initial incarnation involved only about one-third of the array’s total planned 66 antennas and only a few of its 10 receivers, each capab...

How many photons has the universe produced in its life?

Ancient Starlight Astrophysicists estimate that our universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago, with the first stars forming when the universe was just a few hundred million years old. By peering back at the earliest days of stellar creation, scien...

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on space station toilet

Space bacteria Wherever humans go, our bacterial companions will follow. That’s as true in space as it is on Earth, and while we’ve known that microbial astronauts are present on the International Space Station, one group of researchers h...
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