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.