The Moon is a hot destination right now -- especially for NASA, which wants to send people back to the lunar surface, but also for the private space industry. The most ambitious private lunar exploits are still many years off, but already, three companies claim they’ll be putting small robotic landers on the Moon in the next two years, amping up a small space race.
Earth seems like the perfect hub for life because it's the only planet known so far to host it -- but new research suggests that other planets could have oceans that are even more hospitable, offering life that is more varied than we know it.
The Milky Way galaxy is enormous, and we’ve scanned only the tiniest fraction of it in search of planets. We’ve spotted a few thousand of them orbiting distant stars, and now a team of researchers from Penn State University has used that data to estimate the number of Earth-like exoplanets in the entire galaxy -- they peg that number between 5 and 10 billion. That’s a lot of places to look for alien life.
The twin Voyager spacecraft took off in 1977, carrying scientific instruments and golden records stuffed with information. Millions of miles away, they still communicate with Earth. They still collect data. But they are aging. The spacecraft, traveling in slightly different directions, weaken every year. Their thrusters, which keep them steady, are degrading. Their power generators produce about 40 percent less electricity than they did at launch.
The conventional wisdom is that if you want to look at more distant objects in the universe, you need a bigger telescope. What if you didn’t have to build one, though? A new analysis claims it may be possible to use the Earth’s atmosphere as a giant lens to observe far-away stars and galaxies on the cheap. The process may even work in reverse to send signals to distant locales.
All is not what it seems in the world of lunar samples. If you put a moon rock alongside one from Earth, they usually don't have a lot in common. So when Curtin University planetary scientist Professor Alexander Nemchin looked closely at a moon rock in his laboratory, he realized something wasn't right.
A giant impact 4.5 billion years ago could be the reason Jupiter’s core is stranger than astronomers expected. Astronomers thought that Jupiter began as a rocky and icy planetary embryo that later formed its massive gaseous envelope, drawing in hydrogen and helium from the solar nebula by virtue of its huge gravity. This would mean there was a relatively clear delineation between the solid core and the gas surrounding it.
SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO teased the idea in 2015 during an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," explaining that vaporizing Mars' ice caps would be a good way to warm the planet enough for human colonists to live relatively comfortably. Musk floated the concept again last week via Twitter, initially saying simply "Nuke Mars!" and then "T-shirt soon."
Two NASA astronauts stepped outside the International Space Station Wednesday (Aug. 21) to install a new docking port for incoming commercial crew spacecraft during the fifth spacewalk from the station this year. Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan began their 6 hour and 32 minute spacewalk at 8:27 a.m. EDT (12:27 GMT), exiting from the U.S.-built Quest airlock after switching their spacesuits over to battery power.
Humanity's next giant leap could be enabled by next-gen nuclear tech, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. During the sixth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) today (Aug. 20), the NASA chief lauded the potential of nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants such as hydrogen to tremendous speeds.