Jan 11, 2020

NASA intern discovers new exoplanet

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A 17-year-old intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center discovered a new exoplanet orbiting two stars, NASA announced this week.

Why it matters: This planet, dubbed "TOI 1338 b" is located in a system 1,300 light-years away from Earth, and it is the first world orbiting two stars that's been seen by NASA's recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

Background: TESS launched in April 2018 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is Elon Musk's private space company, which holds billions of dollars in contracts with NASA as well as other companies.

Go deeper: Watch NASA's video detailing TOI 1338 b discovery

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SpaceX test paves the way for first crewed flights to space station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching with a Crew Dragon atop. Photo: NASA TV/SpaceX

SpaceX completed a major test on Sunday, paving the way for the company's first crewed launch to the International Space Station. According to founder Elon Musk, SpaceX could launch its first astronauts for NASA by the second quarter of this year.

Why it matters: NASA holds contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to fly astronauts to the station, returning crewed launches to the U.S. for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020

Saying goodbye to the Spitzer Space Telescope

The Tarantula Nebula as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On Thursday, NASA will shut down the Spitzer Space Telescope, ending a mission that transformed how we understand the invisible machinations of the universe.

Why it matters: While the telescope is still able to function today, NASA made the decision to shut it down, saying $14 million per year is too high a cost for its diminishing science return as the observatory will likely be inoperable soon.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

The next great observatories

"The Pillars of Creation." Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

Four groups of competing astronomers and astrophysicists have teamed up to present a grand vision for NASA as the community grapples with what the agency's science program should prioritize.

Driving the news: Billed the "New Great Observatories," the teams behind the Lynx, LUVOIR, HabEx and Origins missions are advocating that NASA commit to building all four of these expensive, large space telescopes.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020