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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.
Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.
What's happening: The Trump administration is requesting about $35 billion over the next four years for the Artemis program.
Yes, but: Even if that amount of money is allocated for the Moon mission, it still won't guarantee a lunar landing in four years.
Between the lines: Some say that shifting Artemis' plans could give the space agency a good shot at getting people to the lunar surface in four years.
What's next: NASA's plans for Artemis may change significantly in the coming months to make sure the agency meets its deadline.
Go deeper: NASA's moonshot whiplash
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A privately-funded hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life has turned up empty so far, but a newly-released trove of data could aid in the search.
The big picture: The search for alien life has gone mainstream in recent years, with multiple scientific ventures looking for radio signals that could signify the presence of intelligent civilizations somewhere else out there.
What's happening: The $100 million Breakthrough Listen project released almost 2 petabytes of data last week, including a survey of radio signals from various parts of our galaxy.
"Because I purposely looked at nearby targets, my search was sensitive enough to locate a transmitter on par with the strongest transmitters on Earth. We can infer that there is nothing as strong as our Arecibo telescope beaming a signal toward us."— Sofia Sheikh, who conducted the analysis, said in a statement
The intrigue: Only about 20% of Breakthrough Listen's total data has been analyzed so far, so it's still possible some exciting new findings could come from the raw data as scientists continue to pore over it.
NASA astronaut Suni Williams inside a mockup of a Crew Dragon capsule. Photo: SpaceX
SpaceX has penned a deal with the space tourism outfit Space Adventures to launch private citizens to orbit aboard the company's Crew Dragon capsule.
Why it matters: SpaceX is building and testing the Crew Dragon to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, but this announcement shows they're thinking about orbital space tourism as a possible driver of revenue for them in the future.
Details: The mission is being billed as a "free-flyer" Crew Dragon mission that will allow as many as four people to take a trip to orbit, possibly breaking the altitude record for private individuals in the process, according to Space Adventures.
The big picture: A number of companies are looking to capitalize on the idea that paying customers will want to fly to space.
Yes, but: SpaceX hasn't flown any people to orbit, so the true test of consumer trust will happen when the company launches its first astronauts in the coming months.
Hazes above Titan's atmosphere. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SScI
Galactic cosmic rays from outside of the solar system may change the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, according to a new study.
Why it matters: Titan is one of the most intriguing objects in the solar system — with a thick atmosphere and liquid lakes of hydrocarbons — and scientists think it could harbor the ingredients necessary to support life in some form.
What they found: The new study in the Astrophysical Journal reveals that certain molecules in Titan's atmosphere are likely broken apart not only by the Sun's ultraviolet light, but by cosmic rays as well.
"Figuring all this out is a really big deal because it will teach us about how planets make organic chemicals in their atmosphere ... Maybe we could learn about what types of organics (potential life building blocks and food!) got made on early Earth or are being made on other worlds beyond our Solar System."— Michael Malaska, a researcher unaffiliated with the study, to Axios via email
Yes, but: It's still not a sure thing that cosmic rays are having this effect on molecules in Titan's atmosphere, and new data is needed to confirm the finding.
The big picture: Titan will get a close-up mission of its own when NASA's Dragonfly launches in 2026.
Starlink launch on Feb. 17. Photo: SpaceX
China quietly rolls out new rocket to launch mystery satellite (Andrew Jones, Space News)
Why SpaceX wants a tiny Texas neighborhood so badly (Marina Koren, The Atlantic)
Northrop Grumman sends cheese and sweets to International Space Station (Orion Rummler, Axios)
SpaceX didn't stick what would have been its 50th Falcon landing (Orion Rummler, Axios)
Thirty years ago, a probe headed for distant space turned around and took a final photo of Earth.
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives."— Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, in their book, "Pale Blue Dot"
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