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Planets

Space Radiation Won’t Stop NASA’s Human Exploration

Artist depiction of a satellite orbiting Mars. NASA scientists are studying ways to keep future astronauts safe from radiation on an exploration to Mars. Credits: NASA

Space Radiation Won’t Stop NASA’s Human Exploration

Space Radiation Won’t Stop NASA’s Human Exploration While it’s true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it’s also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red […]

Reconstructing Cassini’s Plunge into Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is shown during its Sept. 15, 2017, plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in this artist's depiction. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Reconstructing Cassini’s Plunge into Saturn

Reconstructing Cassini’s Plunge into Saturn As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its fateful dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn on Sept. 15, the spacecraft was live-streaming data from eight of its science instruments, along with readings from a variety of engineering systems. While analysis of […]

Giant Exoplanet Hunters: Look for Debris Disks

This artist's rendering shows a large exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Giant Exoplanet Hunters: Look for Debris Disks

Giant Exoplanet Hunters: Look for Debris Disks There’s no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy — they’re so distant and faint compared to their stars, it’s hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible […]

Another Chance to Put Your Name on Mars

NASA's InSight lander will travel to Mars next year. When it does, it will be carrying two microchips bearing the names of members of the public. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Another Chance to Put Your Name on Mars

Another Chance to Put Your Name on Mars When it lands on Mars in November of 2018, NASA’s InSight lander will be carrying several science instruments — along with hundreds of thousands of names from members of the public. In 2015, nearly 827,000 people signed […]

Worries about spreading Earth microbes shouldn’t slow search for life on Mars

The Viking landers in the 1970s were the last to look directly for life on Mars. NASA/JPL, CC BY

Worries about spreading Earth microbes shouldn’t slow search for life on Mars

Worries about spreading Earth microbes shouldn’t slow search for life on Mars The Viking landers in the 1970s were the last to look directly for life on Mars. NASA/JPL, CC BY Alberto G. Fairén, Cornell University There may be no bigger question than whether we […]

Curious Kids: Why is the Earth round?

The mass of the Earth is big enough that the gravitational force it creates can pull the hard shape of ice, rock and metal into a sphere. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Curious Kids: Why is the Earth round?

Curious Kids: Why is the Earth round? The mass of the Earth is big enough that the gravitational force it creates can pull the hard shape of ice, rock and metal into a sphere. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS […]

What we’re hoping to learn from the magnetic readings of Cassini’s final orbits

False-color image showing aurora at south pole. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Leicester

What we’re hoping to learn from the magnetic readings of Cassini’s final orbits

What we’re hoping to learn from the magnetic readings of Cassini’s final orbits Mission control loses signal from Cassini. NASA/Joel Kowsky, CC BY-SA Nick Achilleos, UCL It was a proud but sad moment when NASA announced that mission control had lost the signal from the […]

Seeds in space – how well can they survive harsh, non-Earth conditions?

NASA, CC

Seeds in space – how well can they survive harsh, non-Earth conditions?

Seeds in space – how well can they survive harsh, non-Earth conditions? Spend many months attached to the ISS and see how well you grow. NASA, CC BY Gina Riggio, University of Arkansas Will we someday colonize space? Will our children visit other planets? To […]

Mission over: the final countdown to Cassini’s fatal plunge into Saturn

An illustration of Cassini as it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mission over: the final countdown to Cassini’s fatal plunge into Saturn

Mission over: the final countdown to Cassini’s fatal plunge into Saturn An illustration of Cassini as it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere. NASA/JPL-Caltech Ed Kruzins, CSIRO and Richard Stephenson, CSIRO When the Cassini space probe makes its final descent into Saturn later today, data from the […]

NASA’s Hubble Captures Blistering Pitch-Black Planet

This illustration shows one of the darkest known exoplanets - an alien world as black as fresh asphalt - orbiting a star like our Sun. The day side of the planet, called WASP-12b, eats light rather than reflects it into space. The exoplanet, which is twice the size of Jupiter, has the unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere. The temperature of the atmosphere is a seething 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a small star.The day side hordes all the visible light because it always faces its star. The planet orbits so close to its host that it has fixed day and night sides. WASP-12b is about 2 million miles away from its star and completes an orbit once a day. The night side is much cooler, with temperatures roughly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows water vapor and clouds to form. A swirl of material from the planet's super-heated atmosphere is spilling onto its star.This oddball exoplanet is one of a class of so-called "hot Jupiters" that orbit very close to their host star and are heated to enormous temperatures. Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Captures Blistering Pitch-Black Planet

NASA’s Hubble Captures Blistering Pitch-Black Planet NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet outside our solar system that looks as black as fresh asphalt because it eats light rather than reflecting it back into space. This light-eating prowess is due to the planet’s unique […]