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.