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
17 hours ago - Science

Scientists discover 2 newborn stars encased in table salt

IRAS 16547-4247, a binary star system. Photo: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tanaka et al.

A pair of newborn stars are enveloped in water vapor and sodium chloride — otherwise known as table salt — according to new data from the ALMA telescope in Chile.

Why it matters: Scientists are always looking to piece together new details of how star systems form, and the detection of salt in this binary star system could help researchers figure out how baby stars grow.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
17 hours ago - Science

NASA to send new $23 million toilet to International Space Station

The new space toilet being demonstrated on Earth. Photo: NASA

NASA is sending a new and much-improved toilet up to the International Space Station this week.

Why it matters: The new toilet is designed to be easier to use for female astronauts while in orbit.

Radiation-proofing the human body for long-term space travel

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers are working to find new ways to protect the human body from radiation in space in order to allow people to live far from Earth for years at a time.

Why it matters: Big thinkers like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos believe that one day people will be living and working in space, on the Moon and even on Mars for years at a time, but humans aren’t made to stand up for long to the extreme radiation environment they’ll face off Earth.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Blue Origin to launch rocket Thursday

New Shepard taking flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is planning to launch its 13th uncrewed flight of its suborbital New Shepard system on Thursday, the Jeff Bezos-founded company announced.

Why it matters: The flight will mark the first New Shepard test of 2020. This system last flew in December 2019.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Private companies are aiming for the International Space Station

The International Space Station. Photo: NASA

The International Space Station is open for business and private companies are making expensive plans to capitalize on it.

Why it matters: This commercialization effort by NASA is part of the agency's broader goals to welcome a broad swath of private enterprises to space to boost an economy in low-Earth orbit that will make NASA a buyer among many users instead of a sole provider.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Scientists find fragments of one asteroid on the surface of another

Pieces of the asteroid Vesta on Bennu magnified. Photo: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Scientists have found pieces of asteroid Vesta on asteroid Bennu's surface.

Why it matters: The new finding — detailed in the journal Nature Astronomy — gives researchers some insight into the origins of Bennu, a space rock that's actually a collection of rubble that came together after a huge collision, NASA said.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Planetary science in the private space age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The private spaceflight industry isn't just interested in being the manufacturing and infrastructure workhorse in space — some want in on exploration.

Why it matters: Studying planets from close range has long been the realm of governments able to fund and fly missions to distant locations like the Moon, Mars and Venus. Now, private companies are shooting for those destinations and they're prioritizing science at the same time.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 21, 2020 - Science

Here comes a new solar cycle

The Sun during solar maximum (left, April 2014) and a quiet Sun during solar minimum (right, Dec. 2019). Photo: NASA/SDO

The next solar cycle has begun and forecasters are predicting that it's going to be a calm one.

Why it matters: Powerful solar flares shot off by our nearest star can damage satellites in space and even impact power grids on Earth.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 15, 2020 - Science

What's next for the big Venus discovery

Venus as seen by the Galileo spacecraft in 1990. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists still have a long way to go before they can say definitively what’s creating the phosphine — a possible signature of life — detected on Venus.

The big picture: Science is an iterative process, and this discovery is no exception.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 15, 2020 - Science

A return to Venus

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The discovery of possible sign of life on Venus is buoying a push by many in the planetary science community to get NASA and other space agencies to send missions to Venus that could sniff out if there really is life there.

Why it matters: NASA hasn't sent a dedicated spacecraft to study Venus from close range in about 30 years, with much of the hunt for life in the solar system focusing instead on Mars.

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