Space & Exploration

Two spacecraft will get closer to the sun than ever before

Two spacecraft will get closer to the sun than ever before

Our understanding of distant stars has increased dramatically in recent decades. Thanks to improved instruments, scientists are able to see farther and clearer, thus learning more about star systems and the planets that orbit them (aka. extra-solar planets). Unfortunately, it will be some time before we develop the necessary technology to explore these stars up close.

The Ant Nebula actually has intense laser emissions coming from its core

The Ant Nebula actually has intense laser emissions coming from its core

When low- to middleweight stars like our Sun approach the end of their life cycles they eventually cast off their outer layers, leaving behind a dense, white dwarf star. These outer layers became a massive cloud of dust and gas, which is characterized by bright colors and intricate patterns, known as a planetary nebula. Someday, our Sun will turn into such a nebula, one which could be viewed from light-years away. 

Why Live on Earth When You Can Live in a Hole on Mars? No, Really.

Why Live on Earth When You Can Live in a Hole on Mars? No, Really.

Most people try their best to avoid residing six feet (or more) underground. But if you want to live on Mars, that might be your only option. This week, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell sat down for an interview with CNBC. During a chat about the synergy between Elon Musk’s various companies, she made a bold prediction about humanity’s potential future on the Red Planet.

When did the lights first come on in the universe? A galaxy close to the dawn of time gives a clue

When did the lights first come on in the universe? A galaxy close to the dawn of time gives a clue

It is springtime in the Northern hemisphere. Countless buds that have been waiting patiently on the stems and branches of trees and shrubs are now blossoming into life. The cosmic equivalent of this season is the time between a few hundred million and a billion years after the Big Bang. This is when the first stars and galaxies ignited, spewing light into the dark universe.

Are mysterious fast radio bursts coming from the collapse of strange star crusts?

Are mysterious fast radio bursts coming from the collapse of strange star crusts?

Fast Radio Bursts (FBRs) have fascinated astronomers ever since the first one was detected in 2007. This event was named the “Lorimer Burst” after it discoverer, Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University. In radio astronomy, this phenomenon refers to transient radio pulses coming from distant cosmological sources, which typically last a few milliseconds on average.

NASA’s New Planet Hunter Snaps Initial Test Image, Swings by Moon Toward Final Orbit

NASA’s New Planet Hunter Snaps Initial Test Image, Swings by Moon Toward Final Orbit

NASA’s next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is one step closer to searching for new worlds after successfully completing a lunar flyby on May 17. The spacecraft passed about 5,000 miles from the Moon, which provided a gravity assist that helped TESS sail toward its final working orbit.

Hubble shows the local Universe in ultraviolet

Hubble shows the local Universe in ultraviolet

Using the unparalleled sharpness and ultraviolet observational capabilities of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers has created the most comprehensive high-resolution ultraviolet-light survey of star-forming galaxies in the local Universe. The catalogue contains about 8000 clusters and 39 million hot blue stars.

Can Artificial Intelligence help find alien intelligence?

 Can Artificial Intelligence help find alien intelligence?

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), we’ve often looked for signs of intelligence, technology and communication that are similar to our own.

ALMA and VLT Find Evidence for Stars Forming Just 250 Million Years After Big Bang

ALMA and VLT Find Evidence for Stars Forming Just 250 Million Years After Big Bang

Astronomers have used observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to determine that star formation in the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 started at an unexpectedly early stage, only 250 million years after the Big Bang.

Pros and cons of various methods of interstellar travel

Pros and cons of various methods of interstellar travel

It’s a staple of science fiction, and something many people have fantasized about at one time or another: the idea of sending out spaceships with colonists and transplanting the seed of humanity among the stars. Between discovering new worlds, becoming an interstellar species, and maybe even finding extra-terrestrial civilizations, the dream of  spreading beyond the Solar System is one that can’t become reality soon enough!

Europa by the Numbers

Europa by the Numbers

Galileo Galilei discovered Jupiter's moon Europa in 1610. More than four centuries later, astronomers are still making discoveries about its icy surface. With a diameter of almost 2,000 miles, an orbit equivalent to 3.5 Earth days and a mass about 65 percent of Earth's Moon, Europa is considered by some scientists a likely place to look for present-day environments suitable for life.

NASA is sending a helicopter to mars as part of the 2020 rover

NASA is sending a helicopter to mars as part of the 2020 rover

At present, there are over a dozen robotic missions exploring the atmosphere and surface of Mars. These include, among others, the Curiosity rover, the Opportunity rover, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter, and the soon-to-arrive InSight Lander. In the coming decade, many more missions are planned.

Signs of water plumes boost chances of finding life on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Signs of water plumes boost chances of finding life on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Along with Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa has long captured the imagination of science fiction writers as a potential place for life in the solar system beyond Earth. In science fact, missions have found hints of a subsurface water ocean below the icy crust of the moon. And where there’s warm, liquid water, and the right chemistry, there could indeed be life.

A giant ‘singing’ cloud in space will help us to understand how star systems form

 A giant ‘singing’ cloud in space will help us to understand how star systems form

We know that the birthplaces of stars are large molecular clouds of gas and dust found in space. But what exactly determines the number and kind of stars and planets that are formed in these clouds? How was our Solar system nursed and how did it emerge from such a cloud billions of year ago?