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.