Saturday, December 31, 2016

Space Colonization

Science professionals are already discussing a range of issues involved in space colonization.

Of course, before colonization occurs, other groups-- businesspeople, politicians, lawyers-- will have their say.

Friday, December 30, 2016

National Space Council

The Trump administration may re-institute the National Space Council to formulate and coordinate space policy.

The NSC would likely be chaired by Vice President Pence.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tabby Boyajian's Star

The latest theory attempting to explain the peculiar dimming of Tabby's Star (now formally known as Boyajian's Star, for the same person) involves a certain quirk in the star's magnetic field.

The data doesn't quite fit the theory yet, but scientists are still working on it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Proxoma Centauri

A new study indicates Proxima Centauri may in fact be part of the Alpha Centauri system, not just a star passing by.

If the study is correct, it gives us an age for Proxima, which could help characterize its planet, Proxima b.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


China reportedly plans to launch a probe to Mars on a sample return mission as early as 2020.

It also plans to land a probe on the far side of the Moon in 2018.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Europa Drill

NASA's Europa lander mission scheduled for the 2020s will include a drill to power perhaps three feet below the surface.

Europa is a prime candidate to support life in the ocean under its icy shell.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Trump Tea Leafs

Indications are building that the Trump administration might embrace commercial space in a major way.

There is also the possibility the next administration will refocus the human spaceflight program to a return to the Moon.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Star Of Bethlehem

About every year about this tine some astronomers weigh in on what the Star of Bethlehem actually was.  The fact that they try each year implies there is no obvious natural answer.

Maybe, finally, the effort misses the point of the story.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mars Ice Home

NASA is considering a concept called the Ice Home for the first human outpost on Mars.

A structure would be covered in pure water ice from beneath the surface.  Among other benefits, the ice would protect the astronauts from cosmic radiation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Physicists recently used a laser to excite antimatter atoms to see whether the light they emitted was different from light emitted by ordinary matter.

It didn't seem to be, but further analysis might reveal something different.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mars Water

The dark streaks that appear on slopes during Mars' warmer seasons may not be evidence of liquid water on the planet after all.

A new study suggests any water involved in the streaking may come from the atmosphere.

Monday, December 19, 2016


We generally think of asteroids striking Earth, but comets are threats, too.

One more argument for a planetary defense system.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cleaning Up Space Junk

Japan is testing a tether based system that will capture and de-orbit space junk.

The system could be operating by the mid-2020s.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Serious Ceres Water

A new study indicates that water is a main component of the mass of the dwarf planet Ceres.

Most of the water is concentrated in the polar regions and near the surface.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Drilling Mars

The Mars rover Curiosity is again having drill bit problems as it ascends Mount Sharp.

Engineers think the problem is in the drill's brake system.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Organics On Mars

The Curiosity rover has found evidence suggesting that organic material may be all over Mars.

That is not only good news for possible life on Mars.  It also suggests future human colonists may be able to directly farm Mars.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

NASA Transition

President-elect Trump is building a NASA transition team composed of both NASA veterans and commercial space advocates.

Speculation is that Vice President Pence will be the main architect of space policy.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mars One

Mars One is delaying sending its first crew to Mars until 2031.

The delay is due to technical difficulties and lack of funding.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Humans On Mars

NASA's chief scientist Ellen Stofan argues that if we want to really search for life on Mars, we need to put humans on the surface.

She says humans can simply do more work more efficiently than robots can.

Friday, December 9, 2016


John Glenn-- the third American in space, the first American to orbit Earth, United States Senator, and the oldest person to fly in space at age 77-- passed away yesterday at 95.

He was the last surviving member of NASA's famed  Mercury Seven.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Home Plate

NASA's Spirit rover may have found biosignatures on Mars on a rock the team dubbed Home Plate.

Silica structures found are similar to ones found at a location in the high desert of Chile.  The structures could have either biotic or abiotic origins.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Asreroid Mining

An asteroid mining industry is beginning to organize itself.  Probes are already being built, missions planned, and markets scoped out.

Precious metals are abundant in certain types of asteroids, but water, which has many potential uses, may be the most valuable resource early on.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bigelow To Trump

Robert Bigelow is calling on the incoming Trump administration to essentially double NASA's budget.

He argues the focus should be on building lunar bases and establishing industrial activity on the Moon.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mars Tank Tested

SpaceX has successfully pressure-tested a prototype of the fuel tank to be used on its huge Mars colony ship.

The first such ship might fly to Mars as early ss 2024.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Wal-mart has announced quarterly revenues of $118 billion.

That's about six times the projected annual budget of NASA.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


There is speculation that President Trump will call for a space exploration strategy that will hold through the rest of this century and encompass the entire Solar System, in order to drive technological and scientific advances.

So far,  it's only speculation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


A new series about the initial human exploration of Mars premiered on the National Geographic channel last night.

It uses  a mix of fiction and nonfiction to tell the story of the mission.

Monday, November 14, 2016


The media has made something of a big deal about tonight's Supermoon,  which is simply a full moon occurring when the Moon is at its closest approach to Earth.   The most recent one occurred 68 years ago.

The next one will be in 2034.  So, it's possible this well be the last Supermoon ever in which the Moon is uninhabited.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bright Blue Dot

There's a beautiful blue world just 63 light years away.  Alas, it's the size of Jupiter, orbits its star in 2,2 Earth days, and packs winds of 5400 mph.

Looks can be deceiving.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Beagle 2

Britain's Beagle 2 actually landed safely on Mars on Christmas Day on 2003, a new study finds.

The lander never communicated with Earth, however.  The study says that failure was due to one solar panel failing to deploy properly.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


NASA is testing a possible space propulsion system that shouldn't work, but seems to produce more thrust than a solar sail.

The EmDrive seems to violate Newton's Third Law-- the one about equal and opposite reactions.  Further tests are required.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Presifent Trump

Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.

His views on space policy are not clear, but there's probably a reasonable chance he will change President Obama's approach.  In that case, he may embrace a lunar base over putting humans on Mars as the next big U. S. goal.  It would not be a change without support in the space community, or in Congress.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mars 2020

NASA is going to elaborate lengths to keep its Mars 2020 rover from contaminating any possible biological samples it might pick up.

The hope is that one day the samples will be brought to Earth.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Space Policy

Space policy has never been a major issue in a presidential election, and 2016 is no different.

Neither major candidate has made any major space policy statement.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Moons are still being discovered in our Solar System. Hubble finds more sometimes.  Reanalysis of old Voyager data finds more.  The James Webb Space Telescope will almost certainly find more when it's operational.

These are small moons, but they tell us about the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Asteroid Mining Deal

Planetary Resources and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg have announced a deal worth 25 million euros that will help PR launch its first commercial asteroid probe in 2020.

PR will also establish its European headquarters in Luxembourg.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 VA

A small asteroid dubbed 2016 VA came within 48,000 miles of Earth last night.

The asteroid was only discovered a few hours before.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Planetary Rings

A new study suggests the rings of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune formed when objects similar to Pluto strayed too close to the giant planets and were ripped apart by their powerful gravity.

The study further suggests giant planets with rings are common in the universe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


China's FAST radio telescope will join the search for intelligent signals coming from Tabby's Star.

FAST, at 500 meters across, is the largest steerable dish in the world.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Good News For Life

New research suggests as many as five Earth-like planets could exist in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star.

That's good news for life in the universe, as 70 percent of all stars are red dwarfs, which will shine for trillions of years.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Alien Network?

Two astronomers say they have detected light pulses from 234 sun-like stars in the galaxy that are consistent with predicted styles of alien signals.

The SETI establishment, and the two astronomers, all say much more work needs to be done.

Friday, October 28, 2016


The metallic asteroid  Psyche may have water on its surface, according to new observations.

Astronomers think water would have gotten there via impacts.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Juno At Jupiter

NASA's Juno spacecraft is back in operation after putting itself in safe mode October 19.  Engineers are still investigating what happened.

Juno's next close flyby of Jupiter takes place on December 11.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Scanning Tabby's

SETI researchers at UC Berkeley are going to begin looking for alien signals emanating from the vicinity of Tabby's Star.

Tabby's Star has become famous because it may possibly host an alien megastructure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tilted Worlds

A new study argues the axial tilt of a world orbiting a M-dwarf star affects that world's habitability.

As we find more worlds orbiting other stars, suggesting life may be common, we are also discovering how complex the life matrix may be, suggesting life is rare.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Opening The High Frontier

A space tug would capture a satellite, take it to a fuel depot, fuel it, and allow it to go on to its intended geosynchronous orbit.  The depots would be fueled with hydrogen and oxygen-- both excellent rocket fuels-- taken from water mined from asteroids.

Such a system would reduce the cost of space operations.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Crash On Mars

The ExoMars lander crashed, the ESA says.   ESA lost contact with the lander one minute before scheduled touchdown, and some evidence suggests the lander exploded upon impact.

The orbital element of the mission is still operational.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Planet Nine

Astronomer Mike Brown of Caltech is predicting we will find the so far hypothetical Planet Nine within 16 months.

The huge world is thought to be at least ten times as massive as Earth, and a thousand times as fae from the Sun.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Problems At Jupiter

NASA's Juno probe is off to a rough start at Jupiter.  First, there was a rocket valve issue, and now the computer has put itself into safe mode.

The safe mode occurred just before the probe's first close approach to Jupiter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Clouds Over Pluto

There may be clouds low in the atmosphere of Pluto, according to New Horizons data.

Pluto's atmosphere is proving far more complex than thought before the probe's flyby.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Galaxies Galore

A new study finds there are ten times as many galaxies in the universe as previously thought.

Observing all those galaxies, however, will have to wait for more advanced telescopes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blue Origin

Blue Origin plans to start flying commercial, suborbital flights for paying passengers as early as 2018.

BO is also already working on an orbital system.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


ExoMars, the joint ESA-Russia mission, will land on Mars early next week.

The mission consists of an ESA lander and a Russian orbiter.

Friday, October 14, 2016


JPMorgan Chase announced quarterly revenues of more than $25 billion today.

NASA's next yearly budget is set at about $19 billion.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Dwarf Planet

Astronomers may have found a new dwarf planet far beyond Pluto.

The body, which is only 330 miles across, orbits the Sun once every 1,100 Earth years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Obama On Space

President Obama, on  CNN, reiterated his goal of landing humans on Mars in the 2030s.

Of course, he will be out of office in a few weeks.  Neither Clinton nor Trump has really addressed space policy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Project Blue

A private group is undertaking Project Blue, an effort to put a small telescope into space to search for Earth-like worlds in the Alpha Centauri system.

Estimated cost of the project is between $10 and $50 million.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dust Storms

NASA thinks it has discovered a way to predict global dust storms on Mars.

A new study says the next global storm should develop shortly.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Experts On Musk

Many experts say Elon Musk's Mars colonization plan, as far as it goes, is feasible.

They say, however, the plan needs many more details in the areas of technology, science, and finance.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Electric Gauze

NASA is looking at an electric gauze that helps wounds heal faster for possible use by astronauts in space.

It will also help people on Earth.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


It's been a decade and more since SpaceShipOne reached space twice in two weeks.

That was to usher in a new era of private spaceflight.  In fact, Virgin Galactic hopes to begin commercial operations next year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tabby's Star

Tabby's Star, which may host an advanced civilization, is also dimming overall rapidly, a new study finds.  Astronomers don't know why.

Alien megastructure or not, the star is mysterious.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Today marks the 59th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik.

That modest beginning led to amazing scientific and technological advances that are continuing to this day.  Future historians could easily pair this period with the Renaissance.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Life On Mars

Scientists say early Mars was not hospitable to life, but if life did arise during a wet period, it could possibly have adapted and survived deep underground.

We may have to go 6 to 10 feet below the surface to find evidence of life.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

North Korea

North Korea is developing a more powerful rocket engine that will be capable of putting larger satellites into Earth orbit.

Unfortunately, it will also be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to targets in Europe and America.

Friday, September 30, 2016


The ESA's Rosetta probe successfully landed on a comet in a controlled descent today, ending its mission.

Rosetta studied the comet for two years.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quaking Mercury

A new study suggests Mercury may still be tectonically active, having earthquakes, or mercuryquakes.

The quakes could reach magnitude 5 on the Richter scale, or even higher.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Elon Musk announced yesterday that SpaceX is working on an Interplanetary Transport System that could take100 people to Mars in 80 days.  The goal is to build a settlement of a million people.

The ITS, however, could also open the entire Solar System to human exploration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Europa Plumes

NASA has announced Jupiter's moon Europa shoots plumes of water from its subsurface ocean into space.

The agency thinks it may be possible to search for life on Europa by sampling the plumes.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hawking On Aliens

Stephen Hawking has once again warned of the danger to humanity of contacting alien civilizations.

He pictures such civilizations as potentially aggressive and far more advanced than we are.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Plutonian Ocean

A new study suggests there's a ocean of liquid saltwater under the icy shell of Pluto.

The ocean could be 60 miles deep.

Friday, September 23, 2016


China's first manned space station, Tiangong-1, will fall back to Earth next year, but due to a malfunction, it will be an uncontrolled re-entry.

Much of it will burn up in the atmosphere, but hundreds of pounds of stuff may reach the surface.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Today is the first full day of autumn in the northern hemisphere of Earth.  Mars has similar seasons, but about twice as long.

Could the longer year on Mars have given the evolution of life there a different time factor?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


NASA has announced it will disclose a surprising discovery about Jupiter's moon Europa next Monday.

No further details were given.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Musk Tweets

Elon Musk has tweeted the spaceship SpaceX is building to take people to Mars could in fact go much farther.

He dubbed it the Interplanetary Transport System.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Orion A Go

NASA's new Orion space capsule is on track for its first unmanned lunar flight in 2018.

The agency is planning the first flight with a crew will take place in 2021.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mars Water

A new study suggests huge amounts of liquid water existed on Mars several hundred million years longer than currently accepted.

That has clear implications for the possibility of life.

Friday, September 16, 2016


China successfully launched its Tiangong-2 space lab this week.

It's another step towards a full-blown Chinese space station in the 2020s.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Space Policy

Space policy has not been addressed in the current presidential campaign, but, in responding to a questionnaire on science policy, both Clinton and Trump supported NASA.

Clinton said she would continue current policy that aims at sending humans to Mars, while Trump's response was more general.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


SpaceX has announced it hopes to be launching rockets again in November.

Still no explanation as to exactly what caused the September 1 launch pad explosion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Cassini's last flyby of Titan's southern hemisphere shows a landscape of huge dunes, many over 300 feet high.

The dunes are not made of sand, but of hydrocarbons.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Virgin Back In The Aie

Last Thursday, Virgin Galactic conducted its first test flight since one pilot was killed and another injured in 2014.

No word yet on when the next test flight will be.

New Glenn

Blue Origin will  build a huge new rocket dubbed the New Glenn, Jeff Bezos announced today.

The three-stage version will be able to fly beyond low Earth orbit.

Friday, September 9, 2016


NASA successfully launched its OSIRIS-REx probe on its way to asteroid Bennu last evening.

The main goal of the mission is to bring a sample of Bennu to Earth.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trek At 50

Fifty years ago tonight,  as Project Gemini was winding down and Project Apollo was on the horizon, STAR TREK premiered on NBC.  It lasted only three seasons on the network.

Since then, STAR TREK has become an important thread in the fabric of popular culture, and only Apollo astronauts have reached the Moon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Philae Found

Philae, the lander of ESA's Rosetta comet mission, has finally been located on the surface of the comet by the Rosetta mothership.  ESA lost contact with Philae in 2014.

Rosetta is scheduled to touch down on the comet September 30, ending the mission.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Colonizing Mars

If we find life on Mars, should we still colonize the planet?  Many people say no, both for ethical reasons, and for fear that Martian microbes could prove deadly if they came into contact with humans.  But what if the two strains of life had utterly different genetic bases?  Suppose the Martians live deep underground, where they would not interact with Earth life?.

Questions to be answered.

Monday, September 5, 2016

InSight In 2018

NASA's InSight mission to study the interior of Mars is now scheduled to launch in 2018.

It was scheduled to go earlier this year, but technical problems forced a delay.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Jupiter's Poles

NASA's Juno spacecraft has captured the first images of Jupiter's polar regions.

They are unlike any other place in the Solar System, areas of huge storms and bright aurorae.

Friday, September 2, 2016

More Proxima b

Proxima b, the exoplanet next door, is only slightly larger than Earth, orbits its red dwarf star in only 11 days, and probably keeps the same hemisphere to the star at all times.

Not ideal for life, but life is still possible.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


A SpaceX  Falcon 9 exploded on the pad at Cape Canaveral this morning during a routine test.

No one was injured.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Researchers found a radio signal in May 2015 that was consistent with what they'd expect from an alien civilization.  It was from a star 94 light years away.

The signal,  however, has not been found a second time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


CNBC is doing reports all day today about the space industry.

The first looked at the burgeoning space sector in Colorado.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dragonfly 44

Astronomers have discovered a galaxy they call Dragonfly 44 that is composed of 99.99 percent dark matter.

Now they are looking for more such galaxies.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Clarke's Three Firsts

Arthur C. Clarke wrote there are three great firsts in space exploration-- the first human on another world, the first human on another planet orbiting the Sun, and the first human on a world orbiting another star.  We now have a good handle on that sequence.

The first occurred in 1969.

If all goes well, the second will occur on Mars in two or three decades.

And the third will take place on a world now called Proxima b.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Reaching Proxima b

Some commentators have noted getting to Proxima b would take thousands of years with current technology, so finding it is of limited interest.

In fact, the Breakthrough Starshot project hopes to launch nanoprobes there in about 20 years, using lightsail technology to accelerate them to 20 percent of the speed of light.  If all goes well, we could have data back from a flyby of Proxima b yet this century.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Proxima b

Astronomers announced yesterday the discovery of Proxima b, an Earth-like world orbiting Proxima Centauri.

Further, it orbits in that star's habitable zone, which means it may possibly support life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Right Place, Rght Time

A NASA probe investigating the Van Allen radiation belts around Earth happened to be in the right place at the right time last year when mass ejected from the Sun during a powerful solar storm slammed into the belts.

Such events can damage spacecraft, so studying this one will be helpful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Musk on Mars

Elon Musk is set  to lay out his plans for putting humans on Mars at the meeting of the International Astronautical Congress next month.

If all goes as planned, Musk will beat NASA to Mars by several years.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tabby's Star

Some scientists are still considering alien explanations for the unprecedented dimming of Tabby's Star.  No natural explanation has yet snugly fit the data.

Another search for radio signals coming from the star will be conducted in October.  The first such search found nothing.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


NASA's new rocket, the SLS, will be more powerful than the legendary Saturn V, the agency confirms.

SLS, besides launching astronauts to Mars, will also be able to fling planetary missions on more direct paths to the gas giants and beyond, thus cutting years off mission times.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Colonizing Space

The recent announcement that an Earth-like world may orbit Proxima Centauri, 4.25 light years away, seems to have sparked new discussion about interstellar travel.

The existence of an attractive destination so close by, it's thought, may focus efforts to reach the stars.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


A new study shows crystals, including protein crystals,  can be grown bigger and purer in microgravity than on Earth.

That could have fundamental implications in many fields, including medical research.  Growing crystals could be an early space profit center.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Life On Early Venus?

A new study using computer modeling of the atmosphere suggests life may have existed on early Venus.

That was before the roasting began.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


According to a report in the German publication Der Spiegel, astronomers have found a potentially Earth-like world orbiting the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun.

If so, that world would be the obvious target for humanity's first interstellar flight.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sixth Success

SpaceX successively soft landed a booster for the sixth time yesterday after launching a communications satellite.

The next step in the process is to launch a booster for a second time, which is scheduled to be attempted shortly.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Einsteinian Black Holes

Astronomers have established that matter in the accretion disk of a black hole twists in response to gravity just as Albert Einstein predicted.

It's yet another confirmation of Einstein's theories.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Almost Doomsday

A powerful solar event that knocked out American early warning radar nearly led to nuclear war in 1967, according to a new study.

Luckily, U. S. Air Force physicists were quickly able to determine the damage was done by the Sun, not the Soviets.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Twenty Earths

Scientists have selected 20 worlds that could be most similar to Earth out of 4.000 possible exoplanets found by Kepler.

The next step is to closely study those twenty.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ALH 84001

Twenty years ago this month, scientists studying a meteorite from Mars dubbed ALH 84001 announced they may have found evidence for life on Mars.

Most biologists reject that claim today, but the debate continues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tabby's Star

Tabby's Star, the star that might host an alien megastructure, is also dimming significantly, astronomers say, and they can't yet say why.

The alien hypothesis is still alive.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Colonies, Settlements, And Bases

We tend to use certain words when describing humans on other worlds, and we should be aware of the distinctions among them.

A base may be intended as a long-term project, but it is manned by crews for specific amounts of time.

A settlement is a community where people make their lives, raise families, run businesses, etc.

A colony is a settlement, but the word suggests a subordinate political relationship to another, older entity, such as a nation.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Speedy Comet

A comet plunged into the Sun at 373 miles per second this week.

It was one of the fastest comets ever recorded.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Curiosity At Four

NASA's Curiosity rover has now been on Mars, exploring Gale Crater and now climbing Mount Sharp, for four years.

Curiosity has helped lead a revolution in our knowledge of Mars while also establishing, along with other NASA rovers, that remote exploration of other worlds is possible.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


The 1980 UFO incident at Bentwaters Air Base in Britain was more extensive and complex than generally reported, according to Linda Moulton Howe.

She speculates the "aliens" involved were in fact time traveling humans from our far future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Moon Ho!

Moon Express has been given the green light by the U. S. Government to land a probe on the Moon.

The company plans to make that attempt next year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dream Chaser

The Sierra Nevada Corporation is preparing a series of test flights for its Dream Chaser lifting body spacecraft.

SNC plans its first flight to ISS for 2019.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mars Gullies

A new study of  the gullies on Mars suggests they were not cut by flowing liquid water.

That, in turn, argues water only flowed on Mars early in its history.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Law In Space

As more non-astronauts go into space, the question of crime comes up.  If someone commits a felony beyond all Earthly jurisdictions, what happens?

According to some legal experts, a new treaty that lays out what happens is needed.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Radiation And Hearts

A new study based on the Apollo astronauts who went to the Moon suggests deep space radiation may have lasting, negative effects on the heart.

Of course, the focus group is small, and all male, and several lunar travelers have lived into their 80s.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hot Jupiter

The atmosphere of Jupiter is hotter than scientists have been able to explain, but a new study sees the Great Red Spot as the engine of the warmth.

The study says the GRS throws out acoustic waves that heat the atmosphere above it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Apple reported revenues last quarter of over $42 billion.

That's more than twice NASA's next projected yearly budget.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Craters On Ceres

Ceres has a paucity of large craters, which has puzzled scientists since maps made by the Dawn spacecraft revealed the situation.

One possible explanation may be that eruptions of ice volcanoes have erased evidence of old, huge craters.  About 25% of Ceres' mass is water.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Linda Moulton Howe

UFO researcher Linda Moulton Howe is predicting an official announcement confirming the existence of life beyond Earth will be made in 2016.

We'll see.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


The newest entry of the STAR TREK franchise is opening.

The J. J. Abrams version of the epic focuses on the early years of Captain Kirk and the bridge crew of the original Enterprise.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dark Matter

The most sensitive search yet for dark matter found nothing during its twenty months in operation.

Scientists are not discouraged, however.  They say the negative results narrow the possibilities of what dark matter can be.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


GM announced revenues last quarter-- three months-- of more than $42 billion.

NASA's next yearly budget is set at about $19 billion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Apollo 11

Today marks the 47th anniversary of humanity's first manned landing on the Moon.

There is currently a growing movement, both within the American space advocacy community and internationally, to establish a manned lunar base as the next big project in space exploration.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


K2-72 is a red dwarf 181 light years from Earth that has been observed by the Kepler spacecraft.  It has at least four likely rocky worlds orbiting it, all roughly equal in size to Earth.

Two of those worlds are in the star's habitable zone, which means they could potentially support life.

Monday, July 18, 2016

SpaceX Success

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo capsule to ISS last night, and successfully landed the booster back at Cape Canaveral.

It was the fifth successful landing in the last seven attempts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reaction Funding

Reaction Engines, developer of the Skylon spaceplane, is now receiving funding from both the UK Government and the ESA.

The company plans to begin ground tests of the hybrid engines by 2020.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Direct Collapse Black Holes

Astronomers have finally found a direct collapse black hole-- a supermassive black hole that formed by pulling in gas and dust without going through a star phase.

Such objects would explain how supermassive black holes could have existed in the early universe.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Titan Aerobot

NASA is looking at a flying robot as a next step in exploring Saturn's huge moon, Titan.

The nuclear-powered robot would fly through Titan's dense atmosphere mapping the surface and perhaps sending probes down to land.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ceres Ice

According to Dawn data, there might be water ice on the floors of permanently shadowed crater floors on Ceres.

Similar situations seem to exist on the Moon and Mercury.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Dwarf Planet

Astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt well beyond Pluto.

They think 2015 RR245 is about 435 miles in diameter and orbits the Sun once every 700 Earth years.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Supernova Possibility

A new study using computer simulations suggests cosmic rays from a supernova may have contributed to a minor mass extinction on Earth 2.59 million years ago.

That mass extinction and accompanying climate change helped pave the way for modern humans.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

New Planet

Astronomers have found a new exoplanet, about 16 million years old, that orbits one star in a triple star system, the first such world found.

It's unclear as of now if the planet's orbit, which is twice as far as Pluto is from the Sun, is stable over the long term.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life Equation

A new equation seeking to estimate the probability of life in the universe has been developed.

Like in the famed Drake Equation aimed at alien civilization, the factors in this new equation are largely unknown at this time.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Curiosity Glitch

The Curiosity rover is currently in safe mode after a software glitch Saturday.

Engineers are trying to determine exactly what happened.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hydrogen Cyanide

Researchers have found that hydrogen cyanide could spark chemical reactions that could lead to life on Saturn's giant moon, Titan.

Such life would not depend on water.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Juno Orbiting

Juno successfully put itself into orbit around Jupiter last night after a five year voyage.

Scientific observations are scheduled to begin in October and run until February, 2018.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Wind Drag Ripples

Scientists have discovered what they're calling "wind drag ripples" in the ancient sands of Mars.

They think the size of such ripples can be related to the density of Mars' atmosphere in the past.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Horizons' New Horizon

NASA has officially approved an extended mission for the New Horizons spacecraft.  It will aim for a flyby of another Kuiper Belt object, after Pluto, in 2019.

The object, 2014 MU69, hadn't even been discovered when New Horizons was launched.

Friday, July 1, 2016


A new study suggests the dwarf planet Ceres may have more liquid water than thought.

It also finds Ceres is composed of more rock than ice.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cislunar 1,000

ULA, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has a plan for having 1,000 people living and working in space by 2045.

The key to the plan is developing a space economy based on refueling rockets in space using in-situ resources.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Martian Oxygen

Data from Curiosity suggest Mars once had substantially more oxygen in its atmosphere.

Early Mars, therefore, may have been more Earth-like than we think.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Growing Black Hole

Astronomers have found a black hole in another galaxy in the process of absorbing a star that came too close.

It's the first time astronomers have been able to observe such an event in progress.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dark Vortex

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a dark vortex, or high pressure system, in the atmosphere of Neptune.

It's the first such system found on Neptune in 20 years.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Alien Invasion

The movie INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, about a military-style alien invasion of Earth, opens today.

Of course, nobody knows what an alien bid to take over Earth would look like, but a direct attack is perhaps least likely.  If a civilization capable of interstellar travel wanted Earth for some reason, it could simply direct a big asteroid to collide with our world and wait.  Or, if They wanted Earth intact, introducing a virus or two to wipe out humanity would do the trick.  Risking combat would not be necessary, but it makes the best gee-whiz action movie.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Graphite, or something close to it, has been found on Mercury, the dwarf planet Ceres, and Pluto's big moon, Charon.

The three are in vastly different space environments, which makes explaining the graphite interesting.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pluto Ocean?

A new study using New Horizons data suggests Pluto might have a subsurface ocean.

That in turn suggests many Kuiper Belt Objects may have similar oceans.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Building Human Organs In Space

A team of companies led by NASA is developing the capability to 3-D print human organs in space.  Microgravity allows the use of more pure bio-material.

Potentially, printing organs could become a key space industry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Finding ET

A new study suggests that, if human civilization represents the average in the galaxy, we may not contact another civilization for 1,500 years.

Seth Shostak of the SETI Instiitute, on the other hand, has said he expects to find alien signals by 2025.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Now, Blue Origins

Blue Origins has now successfully launched and landed the same booster four times.

Between BO and SpaceX, the reality of re-usable rockets has essentially been established.  That's something NASA has never accomplished.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


NASA's Juno spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter on July 4 after five years in space.

Juno will study Jupiter's formation and evolution.

Friday, June 17, 2016


SpaceX successfully launched two communication satellites into orbit yesterday, but failed to soft land the booster.

The miss ends a streak of three successes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

2016 HO3

Scientists recently discovered a small asteroid, dubbed 2016 HO3, that orbits the Sun, but also stays between 9 million and 24 million miles of Earth at all times.

It could be the ideal target for NASA's manned mission to an asteroid.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mars Helicopter

NASA is considering sending a small helicopter to Mars with its next rover in 2020.

The solar-powered aircraft, which would essentially be a technology demonstrator, would scout ahead of the rover, helping to map out the best routes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


The government of Luxembourg is partnering with Planetary Resources to advance the asteroid mining industry.

Luxembourg may even take a minority stake in PR.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Primordial Black Holes

Tiny primordial black holes-- black holes that formed soon after the Big Bang-- may make up so-called dark matter, a new theory suggests.

So, dark matter may not be fundamentally different, after all.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


SpaceX is looking at relaunching a booster in September or October, according to Elon Musk.

If successful, such a relaunch would be a big step towards establishing the viability of reusable rockets.

Friday, June 10, 2016

China's Moon

China's next lunar mission will reportedly include a far side landing.

The mission will study, among other things, the structure of lunar dust.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Extending Dawn

NASA is considering sending the Dawn spacecraft, which has visited Vesta and is currently orbiting Ceres, to a third asteroid.

Dawn's revolutionary ion propulsion system is in better shape than expected, allowing a possible extended mission.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Planet 9

A new study suggests that, assuming a massive Planet 9 exists far beyond Pluto, it likely came from another star system.

The theory is that at some point the Sun swept close to another star and ripped away one of its worlds.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Luxembourg Space

Luxembourg is investing $225 million to support bringing space resource mining companies to the nation.

Luxembourg's goal is to become the Silicon Valley of space resource mining.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Project RAMA

Made In Space, a New Space company in California, is pursuing Project RAMA, which will allow it to move asteroids to where they are needed anywhere in the Solar System.

The project may be ready to go in 20 years.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mars And Saturn

Both Mars and Saturn came to opposition this week, meaning they are directly opposite the Sun in the sky.

That used to be a big deal for astronomers, but now we have probes at both planets, so opposition has lost some of its special nature.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Faster Expansion

Astronomers have determined the universe is expanding 5 to 9 percent faster than previously thought.

They don't yet have an explanation.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Musk On Mars

Elon Musk recently said humans can be launched to Mars in 2024.

He also hinted that a bigger ship than the SpaceX Dragon would likely be needed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mars Base Camp

Locheed Martin has developed a plan to send humans to Mars by 2028.

The plan would establish a manned space station orbiting Mars by 2028 followed by a manned landing on the planet in the 2030s.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Comet Find

Researchers using data from ESA's Rosetta comet probe have discovered glycine. the only amino acid that forms without water, and various organic molecules in the atmosphere of a comet.

The find strengthens the theory that the building blocks of life could have come to Earth in comets.

Monday, May 30, 2016


The BEAM module attached to ISS has been successfully inflated after an aborted first attempt.

Astronauts will enter the module for the first time in about a week.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hot Streak

SpaceX successfully soft landed a booster on a ship yesterday for the third consecutive time.  The landing came after the equally successful launch of a communications satellite.

Having established soft landings are possible, the next step towards reuseability is the successful second launch of a booster.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ice Ages On Mars

New research suggests Mars is emerging from the latest in a series of ice ages.

Mars, like Earth, goes through cycles of colder and warmer periods.  Scientists think understanding Mars' climate cycles will help them better understand Earth's.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BEAM Trouble

NASA tried ti inflate Bigelow Aerospace's expandable module, or BEAM, which is attached to ISS, this morning, but there was a problem, and the attempt was aborted.

NASA plans to try again as early as later today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Solar Storms And Life

A new study suggests super storms on the young Sun may have warmed the early Earth enough to allow life to rise.

Radiation from such storms would also have changed the chemistry of Earth's atmosphere, sparking complex chemical reactions that could have led to life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Radiating Fossils

Two new studies indicate that radiation, principally from the Sun and from gamma cosmic rays, would quickly destroy fossils on Mars and Jupiter's moon, Europa.

To find evidence of past life on either of those worlds, therefore, might require drilling meters beneath the surface.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Still Looking

So far, humans have found roughly 3,200 planets orbiting other stars.  Nome are twins of Earth.

If not twins, a few are fairly close cousins, however, and astronomers are confident they will eventually find siblings.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finding Martian Life

Ellen Stofan, NASA's chief scientist and herself a geologist, says finding evidence of life on Mars, if it exists, will require putting humans on the Red Planet.

She argues that finding evidence of microbial life is too demanding, and the question of extraterrestrial life too important, to be left to robots.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tsunamis On Mars

Some researchers are suggesting that early Mars not only had liquid water oceans, but also at least two giant tsunamis.

They theorize the tsunamis were caused by meteor strikes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Wal-Mart announced revenues last quarter of nearly $116 billion.

The proposed NASA budget for the next fiscal year is roughly $19 billion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Apollo 10

Fifty-seven years ago this week, Apollo 10 flew to the Moon as a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

By flying a clean mission, Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan, and John Young opened the way to the triumph of Apollo 11.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ISS At 100,000

ISS has now made 100,000 orbits of Earth over about 17.5 years.

That's roughly 10 round trips to Mars in distance.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Methane Spike

The methane spike in the atmosphere of Mars observed by the Curiosity rover two years was not a seasonal occurrence, NASA says. The spike-- ten times higher than the normal reading-- remains unexplained.

Methane can be produced by either microbial or geological activity.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


The experimental X-37B spaceplane is approaching one year in orbit on its current mission.

The U. S. Air Force refuses any further comment on the mission.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hydra Ice

The shell of water ice covering Pluto's tiny, outermost moon, Hydra, is nearly pure, New Horizons data shows.

As more data come in, scientists hope to be able to piece together how that came to be.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alien Megastructures

Remember the alien megastructures possibly orbiting a star?  They may in fact be the result of a technological civilization.

Alas, that civilization is likely human.  A new study suggests the dimming of the star over the past century is due to the varying quality of the astronomical instruments used to observe it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


NASA has announced the Kepler telescope has found 1,284 more exoplanets, bringing Kepler's total to over 2,200, and the overall total to about 3,200.

Of the total, 21 are rocky worlds around the size of Earth that orbit within the habitable zone of their star.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Alien Civilizations

A new study argues that many technological civilizations likely have arisen in the universe long before humanity came along.

The study used Kepler data as well as the famous Drake Equation that guides SETI research.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Transit Of Mercury

Today people can observe a fairly infrequent transit of Mercury across the fiery disk of the Sun.

It's a fair demonstration of how the Kepler probe has found so many exoplanets.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Antares Rebioot

Assuming a final test goes well, Orbital's Antares booster will again be delivering the company's Cygnus cargo vessel to ISS, probably starting in July.

Antares has been redesigned following an October 2014 failure.

Friday, May 6, 2016

SpaceX Does It Again

SpaceX has successfully landed a booster on a barge in the ocean after launch for the third time.

The day of reusable rockets may be about to dawn.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alan Shepard

Today is the 55th anniversary of Alan Shepard's first spaceflight, which made him the first American in space.

His second flight, remarkably, saw him walk on the Moon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Curiosity Still Rolling

The Curiosity rover is still climbing Mount Sharp on Mars, despite wear and tear on one of its six aluminum wheels.

NASA is confident the rover will be able to reach all its assigned targets.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


An ultracool dwarf star dubbed TRAPPIST-1, 39 light years away, has three Earth-sized worlds orbiting it, any or all of which may support life.

These are the first such exoplanets detected around such a tiny star, which are the most common type of star in the galaxy.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Makemake Moon

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that Makemake, a 100-mile wide dwarf planet far out in the Kuiper Belt, has a moon.

Hubble also discovered four of the five known moons of Pluto.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Imaging Techmiqiue

Scientists have developed a new way to use satellite images.  By "stacking" images taken by orbiting spacecraft, scientists can see details on the surface of Mats only 2 inches across, for example.

The new technique is a game-changer in space exploration.

Friday, April 29, 2016

China To Mars

China has announced its plans to launch its first mission to Mars in 2020.

It will be China's first deep space foray, and it will include a Mars rover.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Red Dragon

SpaceX has announced it may launch an unmanned craft to land on Mars as early as 2018.  

The Red Dragon, a modification of the company's Dragon cargo vehicle, would be the first private craft to land on another world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hawking And Aliens

Stephen Hawking thinks the odds of finding aliens in the next 20 years are low.  He also thinks, however, that alien civilizations likely exist.

Hawking is known for saying aliens might threaten the survival of humanity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Europe To The Moon

Momentum seems to be building in Europe for an ESA-led Moon Village as the next logical step in human spaceflight after ISS.

The Village, as envisioned, would be open to all nations and support research, technology development, and commercial activities.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Newer Horizons

The team managing the New Horizons mission is asking NASA for money to keep the project going.

The extended mission would observe several more Kuiper Belt objects, including one at closer range than the Pluto flyby.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


A series of carefully constructed holes in the Nazca desert-- perhaps associated with the famed Nazxa lines-- may have formed a sophisticated water management system, scientists say.

Satellite imaging was used to develop the new theory.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Microsoft announced revenue of $22 billion last quarter.

The NASA budget currently before Congress asks for $19 billion annually.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Finding Alien Life

Responders to a new survey say we will first find alien life on Jupiter's moon, Europa.

Mars came in second.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nearby Supernova

The Apollo lunar samples continue to teach us.  Some of them contain radioactive iron suggests a supernova exploded nearby only a few million years ago.

Such a supernova could have affected the evolution of life on Earth.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Interstellar Dust

The Cassini probe has determined that some of the dust orbiting Saturn is interstellar in origin.

The dust has a higher percentage of elements such as magnesium and iron and a lower percentage of sulfur and carbon than local dust.

Monday, April 18, 2016

No Super Earths

A new study notes space between Mercury and the Sun is abnormally empty of objects and suggests an early super Earth could have swept that area clean before spiraling into the Sun.

There is no evidence for such a world, however.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BEAM Attached

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module inflatable room was successfully attached to ISS today.

Crewmembers will enter BEAM for the first time in about six weeks.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Alpha Centauri

The Alpha Centauri system has three stars, two of which are similar in mass to the Sun, while the third is roughly 1.5 times as massive as Jupiter.

In 2012, astronomers thought they had found a planet in the system, but they haven't been able to confirm that.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Breakthrough Starshot

Stephen Hawking, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg are teaming up to send a tiny, nanotechnology-based spacecraft to the Alpha Centauri system.  The project is called Breakthrough Starshot.

If all goes well, we could get data back from another star system yet this century.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kepler Back

The Kepler spacecraft is back in communication with Earth.

NASA is now checking out the craft's systems and determining when Kepler can return to doing science.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BA, ULA Partnership

Bigelow Aerospace and the United Launch Alliance have announced they will launch into orbit at least one of BA's giant B330 inflatable modules by 2020,

The module or modules-- two is a possibility-- will be offered to commercial customers involved in space tourism, research, manufacturing, etc.

Monday, April 11, 2016


NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has put itself in emergency mode, the lowest operational state.

Engineers are still trying to determine why.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Double Success

After a successful launch, SpaceX successfully soft-landed the booster on a barge in the ocean yesterday.

It's another big step down the road to reusable rockets.

Friday, April 8, 2016

More NEOs

NASA's asteroid hunting spacecraft, using the infrared, has found 72 new near-Earth objects in two years.

It's one more argument for building a planetary defense system.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hot Jupiters

Scientists have theorized that hot Jupiters, gas giants that orbit close to their stars, form far away and migrate in.  A new study of such a world suggests, however, that migration would take too long.

So, it's back to the drawing board for theorists.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Finding Planet Nine

Astronomers are narrowing their search parameters for the hypothetical Planet Nine.  By studying the orbits of various objects, including the Cassini spacecraft, they are able to deduce the possible gravitational effects of a huge unseen world, including its possible location.

Experts say they could find the planet, if it exists, in a year or two.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mars Mounds

Mounds in craters on Mars, paradoxically enough, may mark where bodies of liquid water once stood.

The mounds are made of layered rock.  The bottom layers show evidence of water while the upper layers seems to have been laid down by the wind.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Young Supernova

Astronomers have found what is the youngest supernova detected so far.

The explosion may have happened only 110 years ago.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Three In Five Months

For the third time in five months, Blue Origin has successfully launched a rocket and landed the booster vertically, under control.

It's another step towards reusable rockets, which promise to drastically cut the cost of space launches.  NASA's huge SLS rocket under development, just to note, is not designed to be reusable.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Liquid On Pluto

Liquid nitrogen may once have flowed across the surface of Pluto, even forming substantial lakes, scientists say.

That would have required much higher atmospheric pressure than exists on Pluto today.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Socking Jupiter

Amateur astronomers observed a comet or an asteroid slam into Jupiter March 17.

That happens with some regularity due to Jupiter's powerful gravity, but it's still something to see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Enceladus Geysers

The geysers of Saturn's small moon Enceladus may be powered by tides in its huge subsurface ocean raised by Saturn's powerful gravity, according to a new study.

The theory could be checked out by Cassini, but the probe will not make another Enceladus flyby before the scheduled end of its mission.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Planetarry Defense

Two asteroids whizzed within a few million miles of Earth recently, one of which proved to be much bigger than expected.

 The twin event should be yet another reminder that a planetary defense program is needed.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Glorious Saturn

A new study that uses computer modeling of gravitational fields suggests that Saturn's glorious ring system and some of its inner moons may only be about 100 million years old.

Before that, Titan likely dominated a system that had another pack of small inner moons.  Some of them may have eventually collided, with that material forming the rings.

Big Comet

A comet that came within 2.2 million miles of Earth last week turns out to be three thousand feet wide.

If it struck Earth, depending on various factors, that's big enough to do significant local and possibly regional damage.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Moon Village

ESA continues to argue an international lunar base, or Moon village, combining private enterprise and public effort, is the logical next step after ISS.

The time frame for building such a base is perhaps twenty years.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Settling Mars

NASA plans to establish a base on Mars by the late 2030s that will be repeatedly visited by crews, but it has no plans to colonize the planet.

Colonization will likely require a broadly based effort led by commercial interests.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Changing Pluto

Analysis of New Horizons data suggests Pluto changes drastically over time.

At some point in the relatively recent past, for example, Pluto's atmosphere may have been thicker than Mars'.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Comet Flybys

Monday, a comet came within 3.3 million miles of Earth.  On Tuesday, another comet came within 2.2 million miles.

Astronomers think the two may once have been a single comet that broke apart.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Liquuid Fueled Rockets

Ninety years ago this month, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid fueled rocket.

Though his work was not fully appreciated in his lifetime, Goddard's development of the liquid fueled rocket, plus his invention of the multistage rocket, form much of the backbone of the Space Age we know.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Robot Builders

Robots are being used in a project to build combination launch and landing pads in Hawaii, a first step towards doing the same on the Moon and Mars.  The Big Island is made of the same stuff, basalt, as those other worlds.

The project is a partnership between NASA and the Pacific International Space Center for the Exploration of Space, or PISCES.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Superheavy Particles

A new theory attempting to plumb the nature of dark matter postulates it's made of superheavy particles-- particles nearly dense enough to be mini black holes.

Scientists will have the technology to detect such particles, if they exist, in a few years.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ceres' Bright Spots

New work suggests the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres wax and wane in brightness, but the cycle does not exactly match Ceres day-night cycle.

The variations in brightness are due to ice evaporating and re-freezing, but a subtler local cycle may also be operating.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Magnetic Fields And Mars

In October 2014 Comet Siding Spring had a close encounter with Mars.  The magnetic fields of the two bodies merged, and Mars apparently came out on the short end, perhaps losing some upper atmosphere into space.

How big a role this mechanism may have played in the loss of Mars' atmosphere over time is unclear.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pluto's Snakeskin

A study of Pluto's so-called snakeskin terrain suggests the area contains densely packed steep hills about 1,650 feet tall.

The hills may also be made of methane cathrate that formed in the protosolar nebula before the Sun ignited.

Monday, March 14, 2016


ExoMars, a joint ESA-Russia project, successfully lifted off today.

ExoMars is to search for signs of life.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Kelly Retires

Scott Kelly, just back from nearly a year in space, is retiring from NASA.

Kelly spent twenty years as an astronaut and went into space four times.

Friday, March 11, 2016

MRO At Ten

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has now been orbiting Mars for ten years.

In that time, it has been critical in helping scientists develop the modern view of Mars as a dynamic world.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reforming NASA

Several ideas for reforming NASA and reshaping U. S. space policy are rolling around Congress.

Some seek to encourage commercial space development, some to give NASA a new management structure, and some to explicitly make NASA's next big goal landing humans on Mars.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blue Origin

Blue Origin plans to start flying paying passengers in 2018.

Test flights are scheduled for next year.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Early Asteroid

An asteroid whizzed within 2.54 million miles of Earth yesterday, a day earlier than NASA expected/

NASA says the early flyby wasn't a shock, as the asteroid's orbit isn't precisely known.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oldest Galaxy Yet

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found the oldest galaxy yet, a tiny one that formed only 400 million years after the Big Bang.

Because it formed so soon after the universe cooled enough to allow matter to exist, the galaxy says something important about the structure of the early universe.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fifty-Fifty For SpaceX

A Falcon 9 rocket successfully put its payload into orbit, but the booster stage failed to land softly on a drone ship.

SpaceX has soft landed a booster on land, but not yet on a ship.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Valleys Of Mars

A new study using computer simulations of early Mars suggests the valleys of the planet were not cut by volcanic activity as assumed, but by water.

Simulations suggest early Mars had a cold, dense atmosphere, and heavy rain and snow fell, creating the valleys.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dust Storm

A major dust storm seems to be developing on Mars.  An edge of it seems to have blown over the position of NASA's Opportunity rover.

Researchers are eager to compare dust in the storm to dust Opportunity has collected.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kelly Home

Scott Kelly safely returned to Earth yesterday after 340 days in space.

Comparing his physical condition with that of his identical twin brother will hopefully provide insight into how the human body copes with long term weightlessness.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Transit Zone

A new study defines the "transit zone" as the area in the galaxy that would allow aliens to observe Earth transiting the face of the Sun, and thus learn Earth has life, even intelligent life.  There are roughly 100,000 stars in the zone.

Researchers suggest focusing SETI searches on those stars.

Monday, February 29, 2016


The next SpaceX launch was scrubbed yesterday shortly before scheduled liftoff.

Whenever it goes, the company will try again to softly land the booster.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

2014 MU59

The Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 will be the next target for the New Horizons space probe that flew past Pluto last July.  The encounter will take place in January, 2019.

NASA and Congress still haven't approved funding for an extended mission, however.

Friday, February 26, 2016

BA To Launch

Bigelow Aerospace is set to launch two of its inflatable modules in April on a two-year mission to ISS.

BA plans to use its inflatable approach to build entire space stations, as well as habitats on the Moon and Mars.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cold Titan

NASA's Cassini probe has found the temperature of the southern hemisphere of Saturn's giant moon Titan in summer is around -292 F.

Cassini is scheduled to burn up in Saturn's atmosphere next year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Seekers of life in the universe are beginning to look for exomoons-- moons of exoplanets.

Such moons could help stabilize climates on the larger world, as Earth's Moon does, thus making it easier for life to arise on the exoplanet, or possibly harbor life themselves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cislunar Outpost

NASA wants an outpost in space in the vicinity of the Moon, and a team at Locheed is looking at using its Orion capsule to establish one.

Such a manned outpost could control rovers on the lunar surface, perform life science research, and test technologies for a Mars ship.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Weird Music

A report came out this weekend that the Apollo 10 crew heard "weird music" while flying over the far side of the Moon, and thus cut off from Earth transmissions.

NASA still has no explanation for the incident.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Astronaut Application

NASA announced yesterday it has received more than 18,000 applications for its next astronaut class.

It's by far the most for a single class ever, smashing the previous record of about 8.000 in 1982.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Virgin Galactic Returns

Virgin Galactic intends to resume test flights of its SpaceShipTwo today.

The flights have been halted since October 2014 when an accident killed one pilot and badly injured another.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Photonic Propulsiom

On the technological horizon for NASA is photonic propulsion, a rocket that uses electromagnetic force rather than chemical reactions.

Photonic propulsion would reach relativistic speeds, allowing three day trips to Mars and making interstellar flight possible.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Boeing Commercial

A Boeing television commercial now showing predicts a thriving community on Mars and Earth being powered by solar power satellites by 2116.  It also depicts space elevators.

It's a vision worth pursuing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Maybe Follow The Salt

NASA's basic strategy for seeking life is to follow the water.  A new study of Mars, however, suggests that if life ever arose there, that life might have gravitated towards salty areas as the planet dried up, because salt holds moisture.

So, future Martian rovers might follow the salt.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Philae Lost

The European Space Agency is discontinuing attempts to communicate with its comet lander, Philae.

ESA last heard from Philae in June, but it will continue to listen for signals.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Space Defense

The Pentagon's 2017 budget proposal asks for an increase on money to secure U. S. space assets against potential attack.  Last year, that line item was $5.5 billion.

The U. S.  military and economy are more dependent on space assets than any other nation.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Greenhouse Effect

A new study suggests heating caused by a greenhouse effect can render a planet hostile to life just as easily as if the planet orbited too close to its sun.

Scientists are developing tools, techniques, and a base of understanding that will allow them to zero in on possible life bearing worlds.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gravitational Waves

Scientists have finally directly detected gravitational waves-- one more confirmation of Einstein's General Relativity.

The detection comes in the centennial year of the theory.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Possible Delay For Europa

Based on President Obama's budget proposal, NASA's mission to Europa may be delayed until the late 2020s instead of a 2022 launch.

Congress can still increase funding, however.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Asteroid Strike

A new study finds a kilometer-wide asteroid striking Earth on land could bring about a mini-ice age.  A rock ten times that big could cause a mass extinction.

The case for a strong planetary defense program is solid.  An asteroid strike is the only natural disaster we have a chance to stop.

Monday, February 8, 2016

North Korrea

North Korea launched a satellite into orbit over the weekend, saying it was for scientific and peaceful uses.

Many nations, however, see the launch as another step towards Pyongyang developing an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Edgar Mitchell

Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to stand on the Moon, died Thursday.  He was 85.

Mitchell was not your stereotypical astronaut.  He conducted ESP experiments while on the Moon, and he believed aliens had visited Earth.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Maybe No Planet Nine

Last month, two astronomers argued the movements of some objects in rhe Kuiper Belt points to the existence of a huge planet far out in the Solar System.  A new study, however, says many smaller bodies could accomplish the same thing.

Observation should settle the matter in a few years.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

That Star..... Continued

That star that could potentially have an alien megastructure orbiting it?  Astronomers had said the likeliest explanation for the observed dips in the star's brightness was a swarm of huge comets.  Now, researchers say that doesn't really fit.

Currently, they have no good explanation for the dimming.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Luxembourg is taking steps to build a legal structure to support the utilization of space resources.

Coupled with a recent U. S. move in the area, Luxembourg's initiative suggests governments are beginning to grasp the possibilities of space.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Quasar No More

Quasars are some of the brightest objects in the universe, created when huge amounts of gas falls into black holes.

Astronomers have recently seen a quasar blink out.   When the supply of gas runs out, the shining stops.

Monday, February 1, 2016


Thirteen years ago today, space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, killing all seven members of the crew.

The tragedy marked the beginning of the end of the shuttle program, and, as it happened, a return to capsule style manned spacecraft.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

CIA and UFOs

The CIA has released a batch of previously classified documents related to UFO investigations.

In most of the cases covered, the sightings were explained, but some cases remain mysterious.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, missed estimates last quarter, but still had revenues of almost $36 billion.

That's nearly twice NASA's annual budget.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Thirty years ago, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch, killing all seven astronauts onboard.

It was the first loss of life during a mission in U. S. space history, which was actually a remarkable record.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


NASA's rover Opportunity has now been exploring Mars for a full 12 years, and it's still moving right along.

Opportunity's mission was supposed to last 90 days.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Life Theory

A new hypothesis from two scientists holds that life might be rare in the universe not because it's unlikely life will arise, but because planetary conditions are rarely stable long enough for life to flourish.

Testing that hypothesis, of course, will likely be the work of ages.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Young Surface

Based on a lack of craters, a researcher calculates part of the surface of Pluto may be only 10 million years old, or even younger.

The geologically active Pluto revealed by New Horizons has surprised some scientists.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bezos Two For Two

Billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin spaceflight company has successfully launched and soft landed the very same booster it launched and softly landed last November-- a big step towards routine reuseability.

BO plans to repeat the feat with the same booster several times this year.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Risk At NASA

A report by an advisory panel questions whether the string of low budgets for NASA is putting future spaceflight at risk by inadequately funding early engineering and risk assessment studies.

By contrast, Apollo was well funded from the start, and, after the Apollo 1 fire, produced an extremely capable spacecraft.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Planet X

Studying the motions of some Kuiper Belt objects has led some astronomers to suspect a huge planet-- Planet X-- might actually exist in the far reaches of the Solar System.

By their calculations, the planet would be between Earth and Neptune in mass, with an orbital period of about 20,000 Earth years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Possible Ice Volcano

Images from NASA's New Horizons probe suggests Pluto is home to an ice volcano 2.5 miles high and 90 miles wide, which would make it the largest such formation yet found.

Further, the mountain is virtually devoid of impact craters, suggesting it has been geologically active recently.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Near Miss

SpaceX' attempt to softly land a booster on a ship after a successful launch failed Sunday when one landing strut collapsed.

The booster did touch down on the ship under control, however.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Spacewalk Issue

NASA had to cut short a spacewalk outside ISS yesterday because water began leaking into the helmet of one of the astronauts.

This has happened before.  NASA obviously still has work to do.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Super Supernova

Astronomers have found the most powerful supernova yet-- 200 times more powerful than the previous champ.

They'll be studying the star for several years to try to determine what made it detonate.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Solar Power Record

NASA's Juno spacecraft, bound for Jupiter, has become the spacecraft farthest from Earth to rely on solar power.

Juno is set to enter orbit around Jupiter on July 4.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Booster Crater Found

The crater formed when the third stage rocket of Apollo 16 crashed into the Moon after doing its job has been identified.

NASA lost contact with the booster, so the exact crash site had never been known.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Another Soft Landing Attempt

SpaceX will attempt to softly land a Falcon 9 booster on a ship in the Pacific after it launches from California.  The launch is set for Sunday.

Last month, the company successfully landed a booster back at Cape Canaveral.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Studying Multistar Systems

A team of researchers have developed techniques to allow astronomers to directly image exoplanets in multiple star systems.

As most stars are in such systems, it's a step forward in the search for life.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Planetary Defense

NASA has created a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to lead U. S. efforts to protect Earth against dangerous asteroids and comets.

NASA estimates that 95% of those have been identified, but that other 5% is worrisome.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Alien Civilizations

A new study suggests alien civilizations could exist in globular clusters-- groups of hundreds or thousands of stars bound together gravitationally-- nestled comfortably close to old red dwarf stars.

Such civilizations could develop interstellar travel relatively easily, the study further suggests.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Clinton And Aliens

Hillary Clinton has told a New Hampshire newspaper she intends to get to the bottom of the UFO mystery as president.  She said aliens may have already visited Earth.

How serious she may have been was unclear.;

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kepler Continued

Since the end of its primary mission two years ago because of an equipment malfunction, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has found 100 more exoplanets using a modified strategy.

The 100 worlds are a tribute to the ingenuity of the NASA team.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Scientists are putting together a database of gases and molecules that, if detected in the atmosphere of an alien planet, could indicate life.

So far, they have 14,000 possibles.

Monday, January 4, 2016


The Department of Energy is once again producing plutonium-238 for NASA deep space missions.

It's been 30 years since any has been produced for NASA.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Monkeys To Mars

Russia seems to be considering sending monkeys to Mars in 2017 as a precursor to human flights.

Animal rights groups are protesting any such plan.