The big picture

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
Planetary science in the private space age

Companies are also hoping to launch missions to far-off destinations like Venus and Mars.

Sep 23, 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

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20 hours ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Apr 16, 2021 - Science

Elon Musk's SpaceX wins contract to build NASA's lunar lander

Elon Musk Photo: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NASA announced Friday it has awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.89 billion contract to build a spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the Moon's surface.

Why it matters: NASA hopes to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, which if successful, would be the first time since the last Apollo mission. SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics for the contract.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 13, 2021 - Science

NASA helicopter set to become first aircraft to fly outside of earth

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's little Ingenuity helicopter on Mars will have to wait a bit longer to take to the Martian skies for the first time after a problem was detected during a test last week.

Why it matters: If the eventual flight is successful, this will mark the first time an aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to a new type of planetary exploration.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 13, 2021 - Science

Discoveries point to a speed limit on how fast "failed stars" can rotate

Artist's illustration of a brown dwarf. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists have discovered the three fastest spinning "failed stars" yet found, suggesting there might be a speed limit to how fast they can rotate.

The big picture: These objects — called brown dwarfs — are thought to be "failed stars" that didn't collect enough mass to ignite fusion in their cores needed to be considered a star and too large to be a gas giant planet like Jupiter.

The push to define workers' rights in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As humanity stretches into orbit and beyond, experts are still grappling with how rights afforded to workers on Earth apply to those living in space.

Why it matters: In order to create businesses and perhaps societies in space — where the biological necessities for sustaining human life, like air and water, aren't readily available — there will need to be fundamental rights agreements to guarantee laborers aren't exploited.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Apr 10, 2021 - Science

NASA's delays Mars helicopter test flight

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA announced Saturday it rescheduled its Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight, originally planned for Sunday.

The latest: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a statement. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

NASA's InSight lander feels Mars quake beneath it

InSight on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars felt two relatively large quakes shake the Red Planet last month.

Why it matters: InSight uses these shakes on Mars — caused by volcanic activity — to learn more about the interior of the planet.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

"Space Hero" wants to take us all to orbit

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The developers of the reality TV show "Space Hero" want to make space cool.

Why it matters: As spaceflight opportunities open up to more people who aren't professional astronauts, the space industry — which is largely insular and elite — will need to find ways to make space travel appealing to the public.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

Russia is dialing up its military space ambitions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Russia is staging shows of military might in orbit as its civil and commercial space sector loses its longstanding edge.

Why it matters: These demonstrations threaten to undermine responsible behavior in space, and could put U.S. military — and possibly commercial — assets in orbit at risk.

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