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Mid-Sized Commercial Lunar Lander

Illustration depicting the mid-sized lander on the lunar surface
Illustration depicting the mid-sized lander on the lunar surface
NASA

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. read more

A Decade of Scientific Breakthroughs

Kepler's efforts in exoplanet hunting was one of the biggest scientific achievements of the decade
Kepler’s efforts in exoplanet hunting was one of the biggest scientific achievements of the decade
NASA/Wendy Stenzel

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. read more

Where to find a Wormhole in Space

They might be a staple of science-fiction, but wormholes are surprisingly plausible in the real world - so how do we find them?
They might be a staple of science-fiction, but wormholes are surprisingly plausible in the real world – so how do we find them?

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. read more

Saturn is Moon King

Saturn as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
Saturn as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC) and the OPAL Team, and J. DePasquale (STScI)

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. read more

Life on Saturn’s Moon?

More signs of life spotted on Saturnian moon Enceladus

Enceladus passes in front of the Sun, showing off its icy plumes, as captured by the Cassini probe in 2007
Enceladus passes in front of the Sun, showing off its icy plumes, as captured by the Cassini probe in 2007
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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.
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SpaceX Starship

SpaceX's Starship prototype under construction, with a landing leg frame in the foreground
SpaceX’s Starship prototype under construction, with a landing leg frame in the foreground
Elon Musk (Twitter)

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. read more

Jupiter’s Head-On Collision

An artist's impression of a collision between Jupiter and a large, ancient planetoid that would have...
An artist’s impression of a collision between Jupiter and a large, ancient planetoid that would have disrupted its core(Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan)

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. read more

Apollo 50th Anniversary Watch

The Saturn V (left) and I.S.S. (right) models at night, demonstrating the luminous hands and star...
The Saturn V (left) and I.S.S. (right) models at night, demonstrating the luminous hands and star map dial, and the perpetually glowing, tritium gas-filled glass tubes (automatic version only) at the ends of the hour and minute hands(Credit: Xeric)

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. read more

Dragonfly Mission to Titan

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.

Dragonfly will launch in 2026 as part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, and is expected to arrive at Titan in 2034. read more

Is This Where Our Water Came From?

Comet Wirtanen, which buzzed Earth in December 2018, has been found to harbor "ocean-like" water

Comet Wirtanen, which buzzed Earth in December 2018, has been found to harbor “ocean-like” water(Credit: NASA)

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. read more