NASA has unveiled its latest concept for a mid-sized lunar lander designed to deliver payloads of up to 300 kg (660 lb) to the Moon’s polar regions. Part of the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, the unmanned “pallet” lander is designed to carry a variety of experiments and instruments, including small autonomous rovers, to the lunar surface.
As we stare down the barrel of the futuristic-sounding year 2020, it’s a time for reflection on the past decade. The world has seen some pretty major scientific achievements in the last 10 years, as discoveries and developments decades in the making were finally realized. New Atlas rounds up five of the most ground-breaking, history-making milestones of the 2010s.
Wormholes are a staple of science fiction – but could they be science fact? Surprisingly, a bridge between two distant points in space and time fits into current physics models, although no evidence that they do exist has ever been found. Now, researchers from the University at Buffalo have outlined how we might go about looking for them in our own galaxy.
Jupiter has long held the honor of the planet in the solar system with the most moons – or at least, that’s what we thought. Now its smaller sibling Saturn has stolen the crown, as astronomers have discovered no less than 20 new moons around the ringed planet. That brings its total to 82, three more than Jupiter.
More signs of life spotted on Saturnian moon Enceladus
Few bodies in the solar system capture the imagination of life-hunting astronomers like the Saturnian moon Enceladus. Conveniently, hydrothermal vents pull materials from the moon’s core, mix them through its massive subsurface ocean and eject them into space, providing those searching for signs of life with plenty of subject matter.
Innovate or die. It’s a term often thrown about in tech circles as a not-so-subtle reminder of how resting on one’s laurels can be bad business practice, and it’s an ethos that SpaceX certainly seems to be guided by. Just a few weeks after its Starhopper prototype completed its final test flight, the team is busy pulling the pieces together for a bigger and higher-flying version, which it could send into orbit within the next couple of months.
Jupiter is a gigantic ball of churning gas clouds, and that makes it hard to see what’s in the middle. It’s believed to be a relatively small, rocky core, but data from the Juno probe found that it’s less dense and more spread out than expected. Now, astronomers believe they have an answer – a huge ancient planet, with 10 times the mass of Earth, crashed into the gas giant in the early days of the solar system.
There’s a galaxy of products commemorating Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, from coins to cushions, tumblers to tote-bags. But for those who really want to wear their astro-hearts on their sleeve (or wrist), the Trappist-1 NASA edition might just send them over the moon.
NASA has announced a plan to explore the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
The space agency made the announcement in a media teleconference Thursday afternoon, detailing its vision of a robotic rotorcraft dubbed Dragonfly that will collect samples and measure soil composition in search for signs of habitability.
The enormous, icy moon is said to be the most Earth-like world in the solar system, and previous findings by the Cassini mission suggest it holds some of the ingredients necessary for the emergence of life.
Earth is a famously wet planet, but where all that water came from in the first place remains a mystery. The most commonly-accepted theory is that comets and asteroids delivered it via impacts during the early days of Earth, and now a NASA study has found new evidence to support that idea. Observations of a comet that whizzed by close to Earth a few months ago show that it contains “ocean-like” water – and this may apply to other previously-dismissed comets too.