space exploration

Planetary Society’s Light Sail 2 is Set to Launch on a Falcon Heavy Rocket Next Month

Planetary Society’s Light Sail 2 is Set to Launch on a Falcon Heavy Rocket Next Month

The Planetary Society is going to launch their LightSail 2 CubeSat next month. LightSail 2 is a test mission designed to study the feasibility of using sunlight for propulsion. The small satellite will use the pressure of sunlight on its solar sails to propel its way to a higher orbit.

Wandering Earth: rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet!

Wandering Earth: rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet!

In the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth, recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding sun – and prevent a collision with Jupiter.

SpaceX Releases a New Render of What the All-Steel Starship Will Look Like Returning to Earth

SpaceX Releases a New Render of What the All-Steel Starship Will Look Like Returning to Earth

The design for SpaceX’s Starship (aka. Big Falcon Rocket) is really starting to come together! Over the holidays, sections of the Starship Hopper (a miniature version of the Starship) were photographed being put together at the company’s South Texas Launch Site. By mid-January, the parts were fully-integrated, forming the body of the stainless-steel prototype that would test the spacecraft’s overall architecture.

Just discovered! “Farout”, the Farthest Object Ever Seen in the Solar System

Astronomers have discovered a distant body that’s more than 100 times farther from the Sun than Earth is. Its provisional designation is 2018 VG18, but they’ve nicknamed the planet “Farout.” Farout is the most distant body ever observed in our Solar System, at 120 astronomical units (AU) away.

How an advanced civilization could stop dark energy from preventing their future exploration

How an advanced civilization could stop dark energy from preventing their future exploration

During the 1930s, astronomers came to realize that the Universe is in a state of expansion. By the 1990s, they realized that the rate at which it is expansion is accelerating, giving rise to the theory of “Dark Energy”. Because of this, it is estimated that in the next 100 billion years, all stars within the Local Group – the part of the Universe that includes a total of 54 galaxies, including the Milky Way – will expand beyond the cosmic horizon.

Mining asteroids could unlock untold wealth – here’s how to get started!

Mining asteroids could unlock untold wealth – here’s how to get started!

Several privately funded space companies are locked in a race to claim the trillions of pounds worth of precious metals thought to exist in asteroids. The UK has now entered the race, with the Asteroid Mining Corporation becoming the first of these new firms in the country. 

The X3 ion engine test break thrust records

The X3 ion engine test break thrust records

When it comes to the future of space exploration, a number of new technologies are being investigated. Foremost among these are new forms of propulsion that will be able to balance fuel-efficiency with power. Not only would engines that are capable of achieving a great deal of thrust using less fuel be cost-effective, they will be able to ferry astronauts to destinations like Mars and beyond in less time.

Lockheed Martin unveils details of their proposed base camp for Mars

Lockheed Martin unveils details of their proposed base camp for Mars

Before NASA can mount its proposed “Journey to Mars“, which will see astronauts set foot on the Red Planet for the first time in history, a number of logistical and technical issues need to be addressed first. In addition to a launch vehicle (the Space Launch System), a crew capsule (the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle), and a space station beyond the Moon (the Deep Space Gateway), the astronauts will also need a space habitat in orbit of Mars.

NASA's plan to explore Venus with a 'steampunk' rover

NASA's plan to explore Venus with a 'steampunk' rover

Venus is one hellish place! Aside from surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead – as high as 737 K (462 °C; 864 °F) – there’s also the sulfuric acid droplets and extreme pressure conditions (92 times that of Earth’s) to contend with! Because of these hostile conditions, exploring Venus’ surface and atmosphere has been an ongoing and significant challenge for space agencies.

Neutron stars could be our GPS for deep space travel

Neutron stars could be our GPS for deep space travel

NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, is an X-ray telescope launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early June 2017. Installed on the International Space Station, by mid-July it will commence its scientific work – to study the exotic astrophysical objects known as neutron stars and examine whether they could be used as deep-space navigation beacons for future generations of spacecraft.

The future of space colonization - terraforming or space habitats?

The future of space colonization - terraforming or space habitats?

The idea of terraforming Mars – aka “Earth’s Twin” – is a fascinating idea. Between melting the polar ice caps, slowly creating an atmosphere, and then engineering the environment to have foliage, rivers, and standing bodies of water, there’s enough there to inspire just about anyone! But just how long would such an endeavor take, what would it cost us, and is it really an effective use of our time and energy?

NASA proposes a magnetic shield to protect Mars' Atmosphere

NASA proposes a magnetic shield to protect Mars' Atmosphere

This week, NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) hosted a community workshop at their headquarters in Washington, DC. Known as the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop“, this event ran from February 27th to March 1st, and saw scientists and researchers from all over the world descend on the capitol to attend panel discussions, presentations, and talks about the future of space exploration.

Factories in space: how extra-terrestrial industry could keep humans alive

Factories in space: how extra-terrestrial industry could keep humans alive

Science fiction truly turned into reality in October 1957 when Sputnik was launched – humankind’s first step beyond the Earth. Since then, progress has been rapid. A significant number of men and women have now travelled to space to explore it and do research.

Space submarines will allow us to explore the seas of icy moons

Space submarines will allow us to explore the seas of icy moons

One of the most profound and exciting breakthroughs in planetary science in the last two decades has been the discovery of liquid methane lakes on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan, and liquid oceans under the icy surfaces of many of the giant gas planets' other moons. Thrillingly, these some of these “waters” may actually harbour life.

Vulcan may not be real, but Spock’s home system is

Vulcan may not be real, but Spock’s home system is

It takes a little imagination to wish some favorite fictional universes into existence. But, for legions of "Star Trek" fans, they don’t have to wish: one star system really exists in our Milky Way galaxy. In Star Trek lore, Vulcan is the home of logic, learning and the deeply beloved first officer Mr. Spock. While Vulcan is fictional, the star system it belongs to–40 Eridani–is very real. It’s located only 16.5 light-years away from Earth and its primary star can be spotted with the naked eye. So how much is science fiction and how much is science fact?