In astronomy, cutting-edge technology often begins with a bunch of bulldozers, busted rocks, and dump trucks. So it goes with the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), which will the world’s largest and most powerful when it sees “first light” in 2024. Astronomers hope to use the huge observatory to study the ancient universe and look for
This new Hubble image is an excellent way to remind yourself of the sheer enormity of the Universe. The space-based telescope pointed its delicate instrumentation at a particular region of the sky for hours, peering deep into space to a distance of 11 billion light-years – just 3 billion years after the Big Bang.
Astronomers were just looking through photographs received from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Monday, when they noticed something slightly out of place. There, on the surface of the enigmatic Red Planet, in one of the few regions not obscured by a dust storm, was none other than the wide-eyed Beaker – the shy and ill-fated
High above our heads, there’s a mysterious Russian satellite. And the strange way it’s acting – according to the US State Department – is unlike any satellite we’ve seen before. “We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” US Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Yleem D.S.
If our Universe happened to be locked in an eternal heartbeat of expansion and collapse, black holes would leave an impression. And it could look just like a number of swirls recently detected in the faint echo of light at the edge of space. It’s hardly the smoking gun for what’s called the conformal
It’s starting to feel real. Boeing and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have contracts with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station as part of what’s known as the Commercial Crew Program. Seven years after the end of the space shuttle program, NASA introduced the astronauts who will fly with both
If planets come any hotter than KELT-9b we’re yet to find them. Not only does this roasted ball of gas win first prize for scorching temperatures, it can now claim to be the first planet known to have free-roaming atoms of iron and titanium in its atmosphere. To most of us, the discovery is
Way out past Pluto, in the region of asteroid-filled space known as the Kuiper belt, NASA probe New Horizons just got a tantalising hint of a long-sought structure in the outer Solar System. An ultraviolet glow picked up by the probe’s Alice UV spectrometer could be evidence of the ‘hydrogen wall’, a region of
George Aldrich has more nicknames than most. Some people call him the Chief Sniffer. Others have called him Nostrildamus, NASA Nose and Master Sniffer. Aldrich prefers the term ‘nasalnaut’, because for several decades, he has been using his nose for the common good at NASA. “I have been a Chemical Specialist at NASA for
Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest and most energetic events in the Universe. They’re also some of the more mysterious – but now researchers have made a discovery that could help us understand the conditions under which they occur. The light curves of six gamma-ray burst events showed evidence of complex time-reversible wavelike structures –
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, held a hush-hush conference in Colorado this week to formulate a plan for landing people on Mars and building an outpost. The inaugural ‘Mars Workshop’, first reported by Eric Berger at Ars Technica, happened Tuesday and Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado. SpaceX reportedly sent invitations to about
Martian dust storms are a pretty common occurrence, and generally happen whenever the southern hemisphere is experiencing summer. Though they can begin quite suddenly, these storms typically stay contained to a local area and last only about a few weeks. However, on occasion, Martian dust storms can grow to become global phenomena, covering the
A galaxy in nearby space called Segue 1 is quite the oddity. It’s very small, and very faint, it hangs out very close to the Milky Way, and no one knows quite where it came from. But now astronomers have accurately measured its movement for the first time, which has finally offered some clues.
Touching a star isn’t easy. The sun is an enormous, searing-hot orb of plasma that generates a chaos of magnetic fields and can unleash deadly blasts of particles at a moment’s notice. But that is precisely what NASA plans to do – 24 times or more – with its car-size Parker Solar Probe (PSP).
We all know that the International Space Station (ISS) is not a huge space. It’s no palace, but there’s six people living on it right now, so it has to be at least liveable, right? Well, you might not agree after you see this insane video by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who took YouTube
When gold hunters in Russia collected the yellowish stone in 2016, they thought it might contain a precious metal. It didn’t – but what it did contain was far more rare and valuable. The rock had come from space, and it contained a new, never-before-seen mineral. It has yet to be officially documented, but
Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed shortly after World War II. Pence warned of the advancements
Annually, between July 17 and August 24, the Perseid meteor shower puts on one of the brightest cosmic events of the year. This year the meteor shower is predicted to reach its peak on the night of August 12, as Earth passes through the densest part of the Comet 109/Swift-Tuttle‘s trail. The meteor shower is made
Aim your binoculars to the sky tonight, because we’re about to be visited by the remnants of a badass, glowing green comet nicknamed the ‘Incredible Hulk’. It’s likely the first time this comet will be visiting our Solar System, and is making its closest pass of our planet, reaching as close as 113.4 million km
The electromagnetic waves around Jupiter are much, much stronger around two of its moons. Around Europa, electromagnetic wave activity is 100 times stronger. And around Ganymede – the largest moon in our Solar System – it jumps to a massive 1 million times stronger. Around planets with a magnetic field, something strange and wonderful
NASA’s new planet-hunting space telescope TESS has been inserted into its orbit around Earth, and has just started its job of scanning the skies to look for planets beyond the Solar System. But before it even started work, NASA turned it on to do a few test observations – and it just so happened
Astronomers have detected yet another mysterious and powerful fast radio burst hitting Earth from an unknown source in space. If that’s not strange enough, this particular fast radio burst is incredibly low, in the 580 megahertz frequency range – nearly 200 MHz lower than any other fast radio burst we’ve picked up on before.
HOUSTON — NASA on Friday announced the crews of the first flights from U.S. soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011, an elite group of astronauts that the agency hopes will help open a new era of space travel. The crews would fly on spacecraft developed not by NASA but by two corporations,
Despite decades of ongoing research, scientists are trying to understand how the four fundamental forces of the Universe fit together. Whereas quantum mechanics can explain how three of these forces things work together on the smallest of scales (electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces), General Relativity explains how things behaves on the largest of scales
There is a very strange object floating around our stellar neighbourhood and it has astronomers intrigued. It’s very large, and has an extremely strong magnetic field, and it’s a “rogue”, not attached to any other object. And we know this because astronomers have detected it using the Very Large Array radio telescope. At just
NASA wants to stop relying on Russia to get American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). And little by little, SpaceX is making that happen. Back in 2014, the US agreed to pay Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX US$2.6 billion for a spacecraft that could carry the nation’s astronauts into orbit. It struck the
There are a lot of rocks up there in space, whizzing about and occasionally smacking into other objects. Here on Earth, our atmosphere burns up most of the pebbles that come hurtling our way. Not so with the Moon – and ESA telescopes caught two impacts on film just 24 hours apart. The two
We’ve only been to the Moon a handful of times. But we’ve already set our sights on a far more ambitious mission: colonize Mars. If you believe the hype, it may happen in just a few decades. Elon Musk anticipates that SpaceX’s BFR (big f–king rocket) will take its first handful of passengers to
How should humans go about searching for alien life? After all, astronomers have already identified thousands of candidate planets – but in new research, scientists have come up with a way to refine what we’re actually looking for. Researchers say it could be the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light coming from a host star
How do you identify an exoplanet? Often the way it behaves gravitationally is a big clue, but studying the way it reflects light – its spectrum – can also be invaluable. To that end, astronomers have created a catalogue of ‘light fingerprints’: spectral profiles for 19 Solar System bodies, so we can have a better
Elon Musk wants to do it. NASA wants to do it. Heck, Arnold Schwarzenegger did do it (well, in a movie). But can it be done? We’re talking about terraforming Mars: turning the Red Planet back into a blue one, by geoengineering the hostile Martian environment into something hospitable to humans. But according to
After a long search, a cosmic mystery has an answer. Astronomers have made the very first unambiguous detection of a radioactive molecule in space – an isotope of aluminium, found in the heart of a rare nova. Scientists have long been searching for 26AlF – or Aluminium monofluoride – containing 26Al, but a direct observation
During the summer of 2018, the planets of Mars and Saturn (one after the other) have been in opposition. In astronomical terms, opposition refers to when a planet is on the opposite side of the Earth relative to the Sun. This not only means that the planet is closer to Earth in its respective
For generations, many have dreamed about the day when it would be possible to set foot on Mars – aka. “Earth’s Twin” planet. And in the past few years, multiple orbiters, landers and rovers have revealed evidence of past water on Mars, not to mention the possibility that water still exists underground. These findings have fueled
The majority of the world was lucky enough to witness a total lunar eclipse a few hours ago – and not just any lunar eclipse, the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. Incredibly, the Moon was entirely in Earth’s shadow (totality), turning it a dark blood red, for a full 1 hour and 43
Preparations are already underway for missions that will land humans on Mars in a decade or so. But what would people eat if these missions eventually lead to the permanent colonisation of the red planet? Once (if) humans do make it to Mars, a major challenge for any colony will be to generate a
On July 27th, 2018 most of the world will be treated to an extraordinary evening of activity in the sky. First, there will be a total lunar eclipse and although uncommon, this one is special because it’s going to last a lot longer than usual – in fact the longest this century. But that’s
Scientists have long understood that in the course of cosmic evolution, galaxies become larger by consuming smaller galaxies. The evidence of this can be seen by observing galactic halos, where the stars of cannibalized galaxies still remain. This is certainly true of the Andromeda Galaxy (aka. M31, Earth’s closest neighbor) which has a massive and
Conditions on Mars are not forgiving. Just ask the Opportunity rover. Oh, you can’t. It’s been forced into a drastic hibernation by deadly dust storms so intense they’ve engulfed the entire planet. During the intrepid explorer’s shutdown, scientists announced the discovery of something amazing: a massive water lake hidden under the Martian ice. But
For the first time, Einstein’s theory of general relativity has been confirmed in a new context: in the most extreme gravitational field in the Milky Way, created by Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. Bringing 26 years of observations to an amazing climax, a star named S2 in
We finally know where all that Martian water has been hiding! This latest epic discovery was achieved using a radar instrument on a Mars orbiter, with Italian scientists finding a huge liquid reservoir hidden 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles) under the southern polar ice cap, extending 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) across. The researchers say it’s
There’s something just so incredibly satisfying about the idea of the Kármán line – the invisible boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. Situated at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 miles), it represents the point at which aeronautics end, and astronautics take over. But maybe it’s a little too neat, according to a new paper that seeks
We may not need to travel far from our home planet to find a spot in our solar system that could once have supported life. Long ago, Earth’s Moon may have had conditions in which life could arise, according to a study published Monday in the journal Astrobiology. In fact, such conditions could have
To glimpse a meteor shower, sometimes you’ve got to wake up in the middle of the night, bundle up against frigid cold, and wait many minutes or hours. All to see a streak of light, a piece of space that crosses briefly into our world. Soon, though, all you may need is enough cash.
In 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon. Forty-nine years later, his family is auctioning off a number of incredible and rare items, according to Heritage Auctions in Texas. We can’t imagine these items are going to go cheap, but those who have a bit of
Last year, astronomers discovered a massive supercluster of galaxies located approximately 4 billion light-years from Earth – and not only is it one of the largest known structures in the cosmos, it’s also the most distant supercluster we’ve ever observed. See, in space, everything is a question of perspective. From where you sit, the
In just a few weeks, NASA is due to launch one of its most ambitious projects yet. The Parker Solar Probe is going to swoop in and ‘touch’ the Sun – coming in closer to the solar surface than any probe has ever done before. Parker’s three closest orbits will bring it within 6.1
They mystery of why a young star dims every so often may have just been solved. For the first time, researchers have observed what they think may be a star hoovering up the debris after a nearby collision between two planets. It’s not Tabby’s Star, sorry everyone. But it’s actually been puzzling astronomers for