The big picture

Billionaires are the new face of the final frontier
Billionaires are the new face of the final frontier

Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and their ilk are changing the rhetoric around space and the public's relationship to it.

Jul 13, 2021 - Science
NASA chief touts new Earth-observing satellites for climate

"I became more of an environmentalist when I went into space," NASA's Bill Nelson said.

May 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Major satellite program launches to hunt for methane, carbon "super-emitters"

The new consortium represents a potential leap forward in the effort to hold polluters accountable.

Apr 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment
The rise of military space powers

Nations around the world are shoring up their military capabilities in space.

Dec 1, 2020 - Science
How NASA and the Space Force might fare under Biden

NASA might get to stay the course, but would have to compete with other spending priorities.

Oct 27, 2020 - Science
The next environmental crisis could be in space

Space junk could threaten humanity's future in the stars.

Oct 20, 2020 - Science

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Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 25, 2022 - Science

An ocean within Saturn's "Death Star moon"

Mimas looking like the Death Star. Photo: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Saturn's moon Mimas — which looks oddly like the Death Star from "Star Wars" fame — might be harboring an ocean beneath its crust.

Why it matters: Ocean worlds are thought to be some of the best places in the solar system — and beyond — to search for possible alien life.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 25, 2022 - Science

It's time to take reproduction in space seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Before humans can settle off-Earth, scientists need to figure out how — or even whether — people can reproduce in space.

Why it matters: Powerful figures in the space industry like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have dreams of a future where millions of people live in space, which would naturally require a self-sustaining population of humans somewhere other than Earth.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 24, 2022 - Science

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is in position 1 million miles away

Artist's illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope in space. Photo: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has officially reached its destination about 1 million miles from Earth, bringing it closer to science operations later this year.

Why it matters: The $10 billion space telescope is designed to change the way scientists understand how the universe formed not long after the Big Bang.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 18, 2022 - Science

The giant, star-forming cosmic bubble surrounding Earth

An illustration of the local bubble surrounding Earth. Photo: CfA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

Our Earth and Sun sit almost exactly in the middle of a 1,000 light-year-wide cosmic bubble of plasma, gas and dust propelled by the explosions of surrounding stars, according to a new study.

Why it matters: By studying the bubble from Earth's vantage point, scientists have the chance to observe stars forming and evolving in a process fed by dying and exploding stars that created this bubble.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 18, 2022 - Science

Study: SpaceX Starlink satellites seen streaking through astronomy images

The Andromeda Galaxy with a Starlink streak crossing it. Photo: Caltech/ZTF

Twilight images taken by a telescope in California increasingly have streaks from satellites in them, according to a new study examining the effect of SpaceX's Starlink satellites on the night sky.

Why it matters: SpaceX has launched hundreds of internet-beaming satellites to orbit in recent years, stoking fears from some scientists that the small, relatively low-orbiting satellites could make astronomy harder.

Jan 18, 2022 - World

NATO reveals how it will operate in outer space

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaking during a press conference in Brussels on Jan. 12. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

NATO will consider an attack against a member country's assets in space as an assault on the alliance, and such actions could lead to a coordinated armed response from all members if necessary, according to NATO's first formal, public space policy released Monday.

Why it matters: The policy reflects the increasing importance of space to more countries. It also normalizes NATO's intentions in space as China, Russia, India and other countries push forward on their science and military ambitions in orbit and beyond.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 18, 2022 - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 11, 2022 - Science

Black hole eats a star

Artist's illustration of a black hole shredding a star. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A team of scientists using archival data has spotted a black hole shredding a star in deep space.

Why it matters: This kind of stellar sleuthing can be used to find more of these types of events and piece together the details of how galaxies evolve through time.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 11, 2022 - Science

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is here to last

The James Webb Space Telescope before launch. Photo: NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is fully deployed in space, and it should be able to perform its science for decades to come.

Why it matters: The longer the JWST can perform its science, the more data it can gather about the evolution of the universe. The $10 billion space telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in space for more than 30 years.

Jan 11, 2022 - Science

NASA names new senior climate official

Katherine Calvin. Photo courtesy of NASA

NASA administrator Bill Nelson has appointed Katherine Calvin as the agency's new chief scientist and senior climate adviser.

Why it matters: These are two top science policy positions at NASA.

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