An artist's concept of NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

If you're in the mood for adventures in space, then 2018 should leave you satisfied — for now, at least. With a half dozen major planetary exploration missions launching or approaching their targets this year, the solar system is going to be a busy place:

  • India's lunar lander and rover, Chandrayaan-2, will launch in March.
  • NASA leads a return to the Red Planet in May with the departure of its Insight lander.
  • Japan's Hayabusa 2 and NASA's OSIRIS-REx missions will arrive at their respective asteroid targets this summer.
  • The European Space Agency's BepiColombo orbiter will depart for Mercury in October.

What's next: These missions will return a bounty of information on the history of Mars, the curious properties of Mercury's interior, and even the origins of the solar system itself. Of course, every question answered could prompt at least a dozen more.

Paul Sutter is a cosmological researcher at Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics.

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Senate to vote on Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation on Oct. 26

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Capitol on Oct. 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Senate will vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next Monday, Oct. 26, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday.

The big picture: The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote this Thursday to advance Barrett's nomination to the full Senate floor. Democrats have acknowledged that there's nothing procedurally that they can do to stop Barrett's confirmation, which will take place just one week out from Election Day.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. This is the first time Trump himself has indicated, according to Meadows, that his tweets are not official directives.