Space

The big picture

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
What space means right now

Space isn't immune to what's happening on Earth.

Jun 2, 2020
NASA passes the torch

SpaceX's first crewed launch represents a new era.

Jun 2, 2020
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
Deep Dive: Factory Moon

The sector is an emerging one in the space industry.

Jul 20, 2019
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

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Jun 30, 2020 - Science

Hypergiant Industries is building a new kind of satellite constellation

Artist's illustration of a Chameleon satellite. Image: Hypergiant Industries

A planned network of satellites — called the Chameleon Constellation — represents a new, flexible way of building and using fleets of satellites.

Why it matters: At the moment, it takes years, if not decades, to build and deploy satellite constellations in part because of the software and hardware development that needs to happen on the ground ahead of launch.

Jun 30, 2020 - Science

Photos reveal dusty star systems giving birth to planets

The dusty new planetary systems. Photo: Thomas Esposito/UC Berkeley

A series of photos of young stars with disks of planet-forming debris around them shows the rich diversity of how distant worlds form in our galaxy.

Why it matters: Researchers have been piecing together how our solar system came to be for decades, but being able to look out at other stars with their own new systems of planets can help turn back the clock to understand the evolution of our solar system and others like never before.

Jun 30, 2020 - Science

China's commercial space industry charges ahead

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China’s commercial space ambitions stretch far beyond the industry’s current domestic focus, with plans to use private space capabilities to help bring Chinese influence to the world.

Why it matters: Space is a cornerstone of the global race for tech supremacy, and China wants to dominate from both a governmental and commercial standpoint.

Jun 30, 2020 - Science

Researchers look to nanosatellites for quantum communications

A miniaturized source of quantum entanglement. Photo: Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore

A nanosatellite can be used to produce a detectable quantum signal in space, researchers report.

Why it matters: Researchers envision creating global quantum communications networks, but quantum signals can't currently be transmitted long distances. Constellations of small, relatively less-expensive satellites that beam the signals from space to receivers on Earth have been proposed as a way to circumvent the problem.

Jun 25, 2020 - Science

Newfound exoplanets aren't too far from Earth

Artist’s impression of the multiplanetary system of planets orbiting GJ 887. Credit: Mark Garlick

A small star only 11 light-years from our solar system may play host to a clutch of planets, one of which might be suitable for life.

Why it matters: Because this star and its planets are relatively nearby, they're great candidates for follow-up studies that could one day allow scientists to peer into their atmospheres and figure out exactly what they're made of.

Jun 24, 2020 - Science

NASA names headquarters after first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson

Mathmatician Mary Jackson, the first Black woman engineer at NASA poses for a photo at work at NASA Langley Research Center in 1977 in Hampton, Va. Photo: Bob Nye/NASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

NASA will rename its headquarters in Washington, D.C., after Mary Jackson, the agency's first Black female engineer, administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Jackson was among the significant figures in NASA's history, serving in the computing unit during the space race while it was still segregated. Jackson — along with three other Black women, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden and Dorothy Vaughan — was depicted in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures."

Jun 23, 2020 - Science

Hubble Space Telescope spots a cosmic jewel

Photo: NASA/ESA/J. Kastner (RIT)

Pulling back the layers of dust and gas surrounding a planetary nebula can reveal an object's history to scientists on Earth, light-years away.

The big picture: This new photo of the planetary nebula NGC 7027 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows that the object had been puffing out layers of gas in spiral or spherical patterns for hundreds of years, but that's not the case anymore.

Jun 23, 2020 - Science

Pluto's hot start

Pluto as seen by the New Horizons probe. Photo: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto's ocean may have been hiding below the dwarf planet's icy shell for billions of years since not long after the world formed.

Why it matters: Understanding how Pluto formed during the early days of the solar system is key to getting a broader picture of how objects like the distant world came to be and why its part of space looks the way it does now.

Jun 23, 2020 - Science

NASA's Perseverance rover is getting ready for Mars

Perseverance's landing site, Jezero Crater on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL

NASA's Perseverance rover — designed to hunt for signs of past life on Mars — is in the final stages of preparation before launching to the Red Planet as early as July 20.

Why it matters: The mission, which dodged possible delays from the coronavirus, marks a step forward for NASA's ambitions to investigate whether Mars was inhabited at some point in the past.

Jun 23, 2020 - Science

The looming threats posed by space junk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The threat posed by space junk is growing — and the window for mitigating it is closing. Experts say the U.S. hasn't done enough to combat the growing problem.

Why it matters: Companies like SpaceX are working to launch hundreds of small satellites to already crowded orbits. Even if just a small percentage of them fail, it could put other satellites in danger, costing companies and governments millions of dollars and making parts of space unusable.

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