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.