News From Space

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm on October 20, 2020, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023. This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 321 million […]
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed for the first time water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface and not limited to cold, shadowed places. SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible […]
Astronomers are still searching for a hypothetical “Planet Nine” in the distant reaches of our solar system, but an exoplanet 336 light-years from Earth is looking more and more like the Planet Nine of its star system. Planet Nine, potentially 10 times the size of Earth and orbiting far beyond Neptune in a highly eccentric orbit about […]
The most habitable region for life on Mars would have been up to several miles below its surface, likely due to subsurface melting of thick ice sheets fueled by geothermal heat, a Rutgers-led study concludes. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, may help resolve what’s known as the faint young sun paradox — a […]
NASA has identified the agency’s science priorities for the Artemis III mission, which will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024. The priorities and a candidate set of activities are included in a new report. The Artemis III Science Definition Team, which comprises federal employees and consultants with expertise in lunar science, […]
On November 24, 2020, the Lunar Trailblazer, a mission selected under NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program, passed its key decision point-C (KDP-C) milestone, obtaining agency-level endorsement to begin final design of hardware and build. The milestone also provides the project’s official schedule and budget determination. “Lunar Trailblazer will confirm whether water on […]
Star-forming processes sometimes create mysterious astronomical objects called brown dwarfs, which are smaller and colder than stars, and can have masses and temperatures down to those of exoplanets in the most extreme cases. Just like stars, brown dwarfs often wander alone through space but can also be seen in binary systems, where two brown dwarfs […]
Using data collected at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and orbit analysis from the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists have confirmed that near-Earth object (NEO) 2020 SO is a 1960’s-Era Centaur rocket booster. The object, discovered in September 2020 by astronomers searching for near-Earth asteroids from the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS1 survey […]
NASA has approved two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and the system that drives space weather near Earth. Together, NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission (EUVST) and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system. Understanding the physics that […]
Twenty-five years ago, NASA sent the first probe into the atmosphere of the solar system’s largest planet. The information returned by the Galileo probe during its descent into Jupiter caused head-scratching:  the atmosphere it was plunging into was much denser and hotter than scientists expected. New data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft suggests that these “hot […]