The big picture

The race to find Planet X heats up

Teams of scientist are vying to find the hypothetical Planet X in the distant reaches of the solar system.

Jul 7, 2020 - Science
Astronomers and physicists fight systemic racism in their own fields

Thousands participated in calling attention to barriers that keep black people out of science.

Jun 16, 2020 - Science
NASA passes the torch

SpaceX's first crewed launch represents a new era.

Jun 2, 2020 - Science
Trump's improbable moonshot

Congress isn't sold on the idea that NASA should or can return to the Moon in four years.

Feb 18, 2020 - Science
Deep Dive: Factory Moon

The sector is an emerging one in the space industry.

Jul 20, 2019 - Science
Deep Dive: The new global race to space

Billionaires and political leaders are vying to land on the Moon, colonize Mars or mine asteroids

Updated Jan 1, 2019 - Science

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Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 24, 2020 - Science

Venus' phosphine puzzle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Scientists are trying to parse out whether a possible sign of life seen in Venus' clouds is truly there.

Why it matters: The announcement that researchers may have spotted a signal of the gas phosphine in Venus' atmosphere was met with excitement by the public and scientists alike, heralded as a possible sign that microbes could live in the planet's clouds.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 24, 2020 - Science

Chinese mission launches to the Moon

Photo: NASA

China's most ambitious robotic Moon mission launched on a journey to the lunar surface Monday.

Why it matters: The mission — called Chang'e-5 — is expected to collect samples of Moon rocks that will be delivered back to Earth for analysis. If successful, these will be the first Moon samples returned to Earth since 1976.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 24, 2020 - Science

Inside a mission to send private astronauts to the space station

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Gregg Newton/Getty Images

If all goes according to plan, in about a year, former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will board a SpaceX capsule and command a flight to orbit with three other private astronauts.

The big picture: The mission — flown by the company Axiom Space — will mark a major test of NASA's plans to open up commercial access to the space station in the name of creating a thriving private market in low-Earth orbit.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 24, 2020 - Science

Space is outgrowing its billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The space industry is outgrowing the billionaires who made it famous.

Why it matters: Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson helped put the space industry on the map, but today, a significant amount of growth seen in the industry is propelled by smaller companies.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 19, 2020 - Science

The collapsing Arecibo Observatory is beyond repair

Arecibo Observatory's 305-meter telescope in November of 2020. Photo: University of Central Florida

The famous 350-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will not be fixed after multiple accidents left the telescope unstable and on the brink of collapse, according to the National Science Foundation.

Why it matters: Arecibo has contributed to myriad space science advancements for decades. The telescope provided data that helped scientists find the first planet confirmed outside of our solar system, and it has been key to the hunt for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 17, 2020 - Science

A new mini-moon enters our orbit

An animation showing the new mini-moon's orbit. Gif: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Earth has captured a new mini-moon that will orbit our planet for a few months before heading back out on its cosmic journey through the solar system.

The big picture: Scientists think our planet likely has some kind of "mini-moon" in orbit at any given time.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 17, 2020 - Science

Where Europa's water lives

Europa. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

The plumes seen erupting from Jupiter's moon Europa might be fed by water trapped in the world's crust, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Europa is thought to be one of the best places to hunt for life in the solar system, in part because of the subsurface ocean scientists expect exists beneath its icy crust.

The U.S.-China split in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and the U.S. don't collaborate in space —a decades-old divide that is shaping the future of both nations' space programs.

Why it matters: U.S. semiconductor companies and those in other sectors are under pressure — from politicians and consumers — to become less reliant on China. The record of the nations' parallel ambitions in space shows what the U.S. gains and loses when it cuts China off.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 17, 2020 - Science

Crewed SpaceX capsule docks to International Space Station

Two crewmembers using the tablets inside the Crew Dragon as it is docked to the ISS. Photo: NASA TV

The International Space Station has four new crewmembers delivered to the orbiting outpost care of SpaceX.

Why it matters: This mission marks the first fully operational flight of the Crew Dragon and ushers in a new era of regular, human missions to orbit operated by SpaceX for NASA.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Nov 16, 2020 - Science

SpaceX launches new crew of astronauts for NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Florida. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Japan's Soichi Noguchi are on their way to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The crewed launch marks the second time SpaceX has launched people to orbit for NASA and the mission is expected to be the first of many regular flights like this to the space station.

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