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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, April 24, 2019

‘Speed bumps’ from auroras can slow down satellites

Since the birth of the satellite age, scientists noticed that some spacecraft tend to slow down when the sun’s activity is highest, causing them to fall closer to Earth. If the spacecraft don’t carry enough fuel to boost them back to thei...
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Planetary tours: The backpacker's guide to the solar system

Space is harsh. From damaging radiation to deadly gases and drastic temperature changes, pretty much any environment beyond Earth can kill you at a moment’s notice. Yet our cosmic backyard boasts natural wonders that rival the greatest found on...
Monday, April 22, 2019

NASA astronauts will ride Russian rockets for another year

Ever since the space shuttle retired in 2011, NASA has been paying Russia for rides to the International Space Station. They’d hoped that dependency would finally end in 2019. But with its new lineup of flights and launch dates released this we...

Crew Dragon test mishap could delay first SpaceX human flight

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule experienced an “anomaly” during a rocket test on Saturday that sent smoke drifting high over its launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Elon Musk and SpaceX have been short on details so far, ...
Friday, April 19, 2019

The Sky This Week from April 19 to 28

Friday, April 19 Full Moon arrived at 7:12 a.m. EDT this morning, but it still looks completely illuminated tonight. It rises in the east about a half-hour after sunset and climbs well above the southeastern horizon by late evening. The Moon spends t...
Thursday, April 18, 2019

A new neutron star merger is caught on X-ray camera

Chandra observations show the flare-up and subsequent dimming of XT2, which matches predictions for the signal from a pair of merging neutron stars and the birth of a magnetar. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Uni. of Science and Technology of China/Y. Xue et al; O...

Tiny star flares 10 times brighter than the Sun

On August 13, 2017, the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) telescope spotted an intense solar flare from a tiny star barely bigger than Jupiter. But despite this star’s diminutive size, the flare gave off as much energy as 80 billion megaton...

New "snowball chamber" may help scientists finally detect dark matter

If you enjoy watching videos on the internet, you've likely already witnessed the phenomenon known as supercooling. Basically, the process involves taking ultra-pure water and putting it into a clean, smooth container that lacks any structural defect...
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nearby asteroids reveal sizes of distant stars

Stars in the night sky appear as tiny points of light because they are too far away for your eyes to resolve. But even through powerful telescopes, stars still appear as mere points because they are too small to see their true physical size at vast d...

Astronomers find oldest type of molecule in space

Everything has a beginning. That’s true for stories, for people, for the universe and even for chemistry. The Big Bang itself produced just a handful of elements (variations of hydrogen, helium and lithium nuclei), so researchers have a pretty ...

The turducken space rock: Antarctic meteorite hid comet inside asteroid remains

Our solar system is a whopping 4.5 billion years old. And those earliest days were some of the most interesting for astronomers. That’s when the planets formed, building from dust grains into the whole worlds that now populate our space neighbo...
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Deep lakes and phantom ponds found on Saturn's moon Titan

Before NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn’s depths, it performed a final 2017 flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. This remote world is the only place in the solar system other than Earth that hosts large bodies of stan...

Third planet found hiding in ‘Tatooine’ star system

Like the planet Tatooine from Star Wars, two suns — one bright, one dim and red— rise over the horizon of Kepler 47d. But unlike dry and sandy Tatooine, this planet’s surface is gassy and indistinct. The system also holds two smalle...
Monday, April 15, 2019

PepsiCo partnered with a Russian start-up to test orbiting billboards

The idea to launch billboards into space may have seemed like just another marketing gimmick. In January, Astronomy reported on a Russian start-up company called StartRocket that said it wanted to use swarms of mini satellites called CubeSats to proj...

TESS spacecraft finds its first Earth-sized planet around nearby star

The next generation of exoplanet hunting has arrived in the form of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet and Survey Satellite. TESS looks at closer and brighter stars than Kepler, the spacecraft that first turned the trickle of exoplanet discoveries int...

Meteors slamming into the Moon reveal underground water

When NASA astronauts first landed on the Moon in 1969, they saw a desiccated world, bone-dry and devoid of any life-giving water. The Apollo astronauts, planning to stay only a few days, had brought plenty of water for their own needs. So this findin...
Friday, April 12, 2019

The Sky This Week from April 12 to 21

Friday, April 12 First Quarter Moon arrives at 3:06 p.m. EDT. You can find the half-lit orb high in the southwest as darkness falls; it doesn’t set until nearly 3 a.m. local daylight time tomorrow morning. The Moon currently lies on the border ...

Last-minute 'glitch' doomed Israel's Beresheet lander

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, which was set to land on the Moon yesterday, suffered an engine and communications failure, causing it to crash into the lunar surface. Details are still emerging about what exactly went wrong. SpaceIL and the Is...

Watching Falcon Heavy land is a glimpse of the future of spaceflight

After a successful launch that delivered the Arabsat-6A satellite into its planned orbit, SpaceX also succeeded in landing all three of the boosters for their Falcon Heavy rocket — a first for the private space company. On a previous test fligh...

NASA's Twins Study: Spaceflight changes the human body, but only temporarily

Brothers compete. So in 2016, when astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending a year in space, it must have really annoyed his identical twin brother — retired astronaut Mark Kelly — that Scott was two inches taller than when ...
Thursday, April 11, 2019

NASA’s space station turned mice into daredevils

Space travel, you may have heard, is hard. Hard on the brain, to design ways to slip the surly bonds of Earth in the first place, but also hard on the body, which needs to withstand conditions it was never designed for. If NASA’s serious about ...

Israeli Beresheet mission will attempt to land on the Moon today

Update: Israel's Beresheet lander has crashed into the moon after suffering an engine and communications failure. After a nearly seven-week adventure since its launch, the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft will attempt make history today and touch down o...

Israel's Beresheet lander crashes into Moon

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, which was set to land on the Moon today, suffered an engine and communications failure, causing it to instead crash into the lunar surface. Details are still emerging about what exactly went wrong. Within the last...

Falcon Heavy launch delayed again, now targeted for Thursday evening

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch was delayed again yesterday, this time due to high winds. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said back on April 5 that because this is the first launch of Falcon Heavy’s Block 5, the latest and most powerful version of its ...
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