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News

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.

Friday, February 16, 2018

What are the odds that Elon Musk’s Roadster will collide with Earth?

On February 6, SpaceX wrote a new chapter in the ongoing book on commercial spaceflight with the successful launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. Along for the ride was Musk’s red Tesla Roadster, which is now on an elliptical orbit around the Sun....

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, dark storm - once big enough to stretch across the Atlantic Ocean from Boston to Portugal - is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune take...

How does space change the human body?

Scott and Mark Kelly are identical twin brothers. Though that alone does not make them unique, what does is the fact that they are also both astronauts. In order to take advantage of the Kellys’ unique situation, NASA scientists decided to cond...
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Celebrating Pluto’s discovery

On February 18, 1930, Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Compared with the major planets in our solar system, Pluto has had a shorter but rockier history. Originally hailed as our sol...

NASA is taking a piece of Mars back home

A joyous homecoming awaits a piece of Mars that lost its way. The slice of a martian meteorite, named Sayh al Uhaymir 008 (SaU008), will head back home on NASA’s Mars 2020 mission and function as a calibration target for the rover’s high-...
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NASA releases record-breaking photos from beyond Pluto

New Horizons has already made history several times over. Not only was it the fastest spacecraft to launch (zooming toward Pluto at 36,000 miles per hour (almost 58,000 kilometers per hour), it was also the first spacecraft to visit the Kuiper Belt, ...

AAS Officials Concerned with Proposed Cancellation of WFIRST

Sharing alarm voiced by other scientists, leaders of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) are expressing grave concern over the administration’s proposed cuts to NASA’s astrophysics budget and the abrupt cancellation of the Wide Field ...

Just how big is the Andromeda galaxy?

Both the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy (M31) are giant spiral galaxies in our local universe. And in about 4 billion years, the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide in a gravitational sumo match that will ultimately bind them forever. Because ...
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NASA Acting Administrator Statement on Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal

The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on the Fiscal Year 2019 agency budget proposal: “It is my privilege today to present President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request of $19.9 billion for NASA...

The Moon’s equatorial bulge hints at Earth’s early conditions

Although the Moon looks quite spherical from the ground, it is flatter at its poles and wider at its equator, a trait known as an equatorial bulge. This characteristic is common; it’s usually caused by an object’s rotation around its axis...
Monday, February 12, 2018

National Geographic Exclusive: Watch Elon Musk Freak Out Over the Falcon Heavy Launch

Last week, SpaceX made history with the successful launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket — the most powerful launch vehicle since the Saturn V that sent men to orbit the Moon. Carrying a Tesla Roadster as part of its historic payload, the Falcon He...
Friday, February 09, 2018

NASA seeks the gold in Winter Olympics snow

NASA engineer Manuel Vega can see one of the Olympic ski jump towers from the rooftop of the South Korean weather office where he is stationed. Vega is not watching skiers take flight, preparing for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympic...

Join the hunt for cosmic rays

You may have heard that the smartphones we nonchalantly carry around have thousands of times more computing power than the computers NASA used to send the Apollo astronauts to the Moon. But with all this untapped power in our pockets, is there more w...

New NASA instruments aim to answer atmospheric unknowns

NASA has just selected proposals for innovative research projects that aim to answer two unknown atmospheric questions: Does mineral dust have a warming or cooling effect on Earth’s atmosphere, and why is the Arctic warming more quickly than ot...

Astronomers report a possible slew of extragalactic exoplanets

Discoveries of exoplanets in our galaxy exceed 3,700 to date, but if that’s not enough for you, astronomers are now probing outside of the Milky Way to find exoplanets in other galaxies. A group of researchers at the University of Oklahoma has ...
Thursday, February 08, 2018

AstrOlympics blends sports with science

As the athletes get set to compete in Pyeongchang, Korea, the public can explore the Olympic Games in a different way through an innovative project blending science and sports. "AstrOlympics" relates the amazing feats of Olympic athletes with the spe...
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Did the Milky Way devour other galaxies to grow?

It’s no secret that the farther away an object is, the more difficult it is to observe. Galaxies like the Milky Way have several components: a disk of stars, which includes our galaxy’s arms; a bar-shaped bulge in the center, and a large,...

Asteroid to pass between Earth and Moon on Friday

NASA/JPL-Caltech On February 4, astronomers using the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) detected two asteroids with orbits that take them between Earth and the Moon this week. Fortunately, neither object’s trajectory presents a threat to E...

Renowned astrophysicist Donald Lynden-Bell has passed away

Science news stories highlighting the discovery, activity, and role of quasars and supermassive black holes in galaxies are commonplace today. But it took a brilliant astrophysicist to connect these two ideas, theorizing that supermassive black holes...
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Starmus V announces a star-studded 2019 line-up, featuring five original members of the Apollo Mission crew

Starmus has announced a stellar line-up of Nobel Prize Winners and prominent figures from science and art for its fifth festival, next year. Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, Starmus V will take place in Bern, Switzerl...

Solar arrays on NASA’s InSight mission test successfully

It looks like NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission is ready to spread its wings and fly away — literally. On January 23, the mission expanded its solar arrays for the las...

SpaceX succesfully launches the Falcon Heavy rocket

February 7 update: The launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster went exceptionally well yesterday. Not only did the Tesla Roadster (occupied by Starman) make it into orbit, but the Falcon Heavy's two side boost...
Monday, February 05, 2018

TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets Might All Be Water Worlds

A series of papers out today gives us further insights into the TRAPPIST-1 system discovered in 2016. The seven planets that make up the system orbit a dim red dwarf star much smaller and cooler than our own Sun. The planets’ orbits are much t...

A well-placed cluster puts a distant galaxy under a high-powered lens

The farther away an object lies, the smaller it appears. Astronomers build large telescopes to identify and study faraway objects, but sometimes the universe steps in and provides a “natural” telescope of its own through a process called ...
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