Feb 18, 2020 - Science

The 30-year anniversary of the Pale Blue Dot

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thirty years ago, a probe headed for distant space turned around and took a final photo of Earth.

Context: Known as the "Pale Blue Dot," the image has lived on, and last week NASA released a newly processed version of it that shows our world and everyone on it as a bright pixel nestled in a sunbeam.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, Voyager 1, which took this photo on Feb. 14, 1990, is flying through interstellar space. While its cameras are turned off to conserve power, the probe is still able to send back data from 13.8 billion miles away.

"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"

Go deeper: SpaceX inks deal to fly space tourists to orbit

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SpaceX inks deal to fly space tourists to orbit

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.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Science

Voyager 2 to lose contact with Earth until 2021

Artist's illustration of Voyager 2 in space. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Voyager 2 — one of the farthest-flung spacecraft ever built — won't be able to receive commands from Earth until 2021.

Why it matters: If something goes wrong with the spacecraft in the next 11 months, it could mark the end of the long, iconic mission that is now exploring interstellar space, 11.5 billion miles from Earth.

Go deeperArrowMar 10, 2020 - Science

Space tourism gets ready for launch

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Multiple space tourism companies are aiming to send their first customers to the edge of space before the end of this year.

Why it matters: Right now, most revenue in the space industry is tied up in government contracts, but experts say the maturing industry will need tourism to grow into the $1 trillion economy some predict it could be.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Science