• Op-ed | Celestial property rights: How we can achieve a new, commerce-fueled space age
    by Liz Pillow on 2020-09-26 at 11:47

    One of the largest hurdles is coming up with a set of legal rules for governing behavior in outer space. The issue of celestial property rights is tricky. SpaceNews

  • NASA signs agreement with Italy to cooperate on Artemis
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-25 at 23:39

    Italy is the latest country to sign an agreement to cooperate with NASA on the Artemis human lunar exploration program, although the details of Italy’s participation have yet to be worked out. SpaceNews

  • HyImpulse hybrid rocket motor roars to life for the first time
    by Andrew Parsonson on 2020-09-25 at 22:52

    HyImpulse completed the first hot-fire test of the company’s 16,800-pounds-force hybrid rocket motor on Sept. 15. Credit: HyImpulse SpaceNews

  • NASA delays Dragonfly launch by a year
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-25 at 20:28

    NASA has delayed the launch of a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan by a year, citing budget challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. SpaceNews

  • New measurements show moon has hazardous radiation levels
    on 2020-09-25 at 18:00

    Future moon explorers will be bombarded with two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the International Space Station, a health hazard that will require thick-walled shelters for protection, scientists reported Friday.

  • Back to Venus: Upstart company wants to beat NASA in search for life
    on 2020-09-25 at 17:58

    Can a small American aerospace company get to Venus before NASA returns to our superheated planetary neighbor?

  • SpaceX’s GPS contract modified to allow reuse of Falcon 9 boosters
    by Sandra Erwin on 2020-09-25 at 17:39

    Gwynne Shotwell: “We are pleased that they see the benefits of the technology.” SpaceNews

  • Synthetic aperture radar finally shedding its mystique
    by Caleb Henry on 2020-09-25 at 15:40

    SAR satellites can gather data day and night, but the resultant imagery is typically more expensive, less available, and more difficult to use than optical imagery. Technological advances are breaking down those barriers, positioning SAR for much more widespread adoption, according to experts. SpaceNews

  • First candidate for an extragalactic planet identified
    on 2020-09-25 at 13:50

    A team of researchers from the U.S. and China has found the first evidence for a candidate planet in another galaxy. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server, the team describes their work studying the possible planet and what they have found so far.

  • Astronomers model, determine how disk galaxies evolve so smoothly
    on 2020-09-25 at 13:34

    Computer simulations are showing astrophysicists how massive clumps of gas within galaxies scatter some stars from their orbits, eventually creating the smooth, exponential fade in the brightness of many galaxy disks.

  • Pair of massive baby stars swaddled in salty water vapor
    on 2020-09-25 at 13:18

    Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers spotted a pair of massive baby stars growing in salty cosmic soup. Each star is shrouded by a gaseous disk which includes molecules of sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, and heated water vapor. Analyzing the radio emissions from the salt and water, the team found that the disks are counter rotating. This is the second detection of salt around massive young stars, promising that salt is an excellent marker to explore the immediate surroundings of giant baby stars.

  • U.K. to revise strategy for satellite navigation system
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-25 at 11:36

    The British government, seeking a replacement for the Galileo satellite navigation system, said it will consider alternatives to an original plan to develop its own satellite constellation. SpaceNews

  • On National Security | Space Force’s tech-heavy vision faces daunting obstacles
    by Sandra Erwin on 2020-09-25 at 10:51

    Space Force leaders frequently remind audiences that the newest branch of the U.S. military will be a “digital service” on the leading edge of technology. SpaceNews

  • US probe to touch down on asteroid Bennu on October 20
    on 2020-09-25 at 07:58

    After a four-year journey, NASA’s robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx will descend to asteroid Bennu’s boulder-strewn surface on October 20, touching down for a few seconds to collect rock and dust samples, the agency said Thursday.

  • NASA working with cosmetics company on space station commercialization
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-24 at 21:53

    NASA is taking the next small step in its efforts to promote commercialization of low Earth orbit by flying a cosmetics company’s product to the International Space Station, a project that has prompted questions from one senator. SpaceNews

  • U.S. Space Command announces improvements in space debris tracking
    by Sandra Erwin on 2020-09-24 at 18:40

    The 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base is now providing “more meaningful” data on approximately 25,000 space objects. SpaceNews

  • Faint orbital debris that threatens satellites not being monitored closely enough, warn astronomers
    on 2020-09-24 at 17:53

    Astronomers are warning that orbital debris posing a threat to operational satellites is not being monitored closely enough, as they publish a new survey finding that over 75% of the orbital debris they detected could not be matched to known objects in public satellite catalogues.

  • Foust Forward | Seeking small victories in space policy
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-24 at 17:51

    As the House and Senate struggle with pandemic relief and other spending bills, there seems little opportunity for anything space-related to get through Congress. SpaceNews

  • SAR Renaissance: Pandemic slows but doesn’t stop constellation progress
    by Debra Werner on 2020-09-24 at 17:47

    Startups around the world continue building synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites even as the COVID-19 pandemic delays some launches. SpaceNews

  • Air Force, SpaceX mum about sky-high rocket costs
    on 2020-09-24 at 17:00

    Five years ago, Elon Musk, the multibillionaire CEO of the SpaceX rocket company, smashed his way into the business of launching U.S. military and intelligence satellites, a lucrative market that had been cornered for nearly a decade by United Launch Alliance.

  • A minuscule spacecraft joins a pilot’s epic journey to fly from pole to pole
    on 2020-09-24 at 16:56

    On November 16, 2019, pilot and author Robert DeLaurentis took off on an ambitious adventure. Setting out from San Diego county’s Gillespie Field, he banked toward Grand Prairie, Texas on the first leg of a pole to pole expedition. At each stop along the way he planned to talk about STEM education, aviation safety and technology, all with the intention of encouraging and inspiring the next generation.

  • Hemeria seeks niche in microsat manufacturing
    by Caleb Henry on 2020-09-24 at 16:27

    French space and defense company Hemeria is taking steps to quickly scale beyond cubesats and find a niche building slightly larger classes of small satellites. SpaceNews

  • Gravity causes homogeneity of the universe
    on 2020-09-24 at 15:41

    Gravity can accelerate the homogenization of space-time as the universe evolves.

  • Solving the strange storms on Jupiter
    on 2020-09-24 at 14:19

    Geometric storm patterns on Jupiter’s south pole have been a mystery to scientists, but researchers may have uncovered how they form.

  • Young physicist ‘squares the numbers’ on time travel
    on 2020-09-24 at 14:19

    Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modelling of an undergraduate student.

  • Op-ed | Materials that could bring life to Mars
    by Liz Pillow on 2020-09-24 at 13:37

    With the right materials, a future for humanity on the Red Planet isn’t just science fiction. SpaceNews

  • Faint orbital debris that threatens satellites not being monitored closely enough, warn astronomers
    on 2020-09-24 at 13:34

    University of Warwick astronomers are warning that orbital debris posing a threat to operational satellites is not being monitored closely enough, as they publish a new survey finding that over 75% of the orbital debris they detected could not be matched to known objects in public satellite catalogs.

  • New chronology of the Saturn system
    on 2020-09-24 at 13:21

    A new chronology for the moons of Saturn has been developed by Planetary Science Institute Associate Research Scientist Samuel W. Bell.

  • The strange storms on Jupiter
    on 2020-09-24 at 13:16

    At the south pole of Jupiter lurks a striking sight—even for a gas giant planet covered in colorful bands that sports a red spot larger than the earth. Down near the south pole of the planet, mostly hidden from the prying eyes of humans, is a collection of swirling storms arranged in an unusually geometric pattern.

  • Researchers depict the formation of galaxies
    on 2020-09-24 at 13:12

    An international team of astronomers, with researchers at Leiden Observatory playing a leading role, has mapped the fuel for galaxy formation in the iconic Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The results of the research have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

  • Pandemic may delay several NASA astrophysics missions
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-24 at 11:23

    Several NASA astrophysics missions in various stages of development are likely facing delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, an agency official said. SpaceNews

  • BlackSky to add high-resolution satellites in 2022,  signs deal with U.S. Army
    by Sandra Erwin on 2020-09-24 at 10:00

    BlackSky’s Gen-3 satellites will provide imagery with 50-centimeter resolution SpaceNews

  • U.S. military to test Isotropic Systems antennas with SES satellites
    by Debra Werner on 2020-09-24 at 09:00

    The U.S. Army plans to evaluate the performance of Isotropic Systems optical beam-forming antenna technology for sending communications through the SES satellites in geostationary and medium Earth orbit, under a contract of undisclosed value announced Sept. 24. SpaceNews

  • NASA chief warns Congress about Chinese space station
    on 2020-09-24 at 08:22

    NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers Wednesday it was crucial for the US to maintain a presence in Earth’s orbit after the International Space Station is decommissioned so that China does not gain a strategic advantage.

  • Bridenstine asks Senate appropriators for full funding for Artemis
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-23 at 23:09

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urged Senate appropriators to provide full funding of Artemis as some members questioned the agency’s emphasis on its lunar exploration program. SpaceNews

  • Roper: Space Force could save money and time with digitally-designed satellites
    by Sandra Erwin on 2020-09-23 at 22:13

    The goal would be to produce Toyota-like satellites, said Roper, “easy to build but reliable and hard working.” SpaceNews

  • Spire adding cross links to cubesat constellation
    by Caleb Henry on 2020-09-23 at 21:45

    Spire Global will launch its first cubesats with cross links over the next few months, beginning a refresh that will eventually replace its full constellation.  SpaceNews

  • Could life exist deep underground on Mars?
    on 2020-09-23 at 20:56

    Recent science missions and results are bringing the search for life closer to home, and scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) may have figured out how to determine whether life is—or was—lurking deep beneath the surface of Mars, the Moon, and other rocky objects in the universe.

  • Research helps people, lunar rovers, get there on time
    on 2020-09-23 at 20:46

    A graduate student relied on the bus system to get to class. He wanted to understand why, despite arriving at the bus stop on time, he was sometimes late to class. He developed a tool that considers transportation variables weighed against how great a margin of error bus riders are willing to accept, which can also apply to getting a lunar rover to its destination, and with a high degree of reliability.

  • Airbus signs $350 million contract to build CRISTAL ice-monitoring satellite for EU
    by Andrew Parsonson on 2020-09-23 at 20:24

    The European Space Agency signed a 300-million-euro ($352 million) contract with Airbus Defence and Space on Sept. 21 to develop an ice-monitoring satellite for European Union’s Earth-observing Copernicus program.  SpaceNews

  • Airbus, Eutelsat win ESA study contracts • Leonardo CEO to lead industry group
    by Caleb Henry on 2020-09-23 at 20:00

    The European Space Agency has awarded study contracts to Airbus and Eutelsat consortia to identify what solutions and “disruptive technologies” the agency should focus on. SpaceNews

  • Centuries-old conjecture about formation of the solar system verified
    on 2020-09-23 at 16:46

    Using a limited set of mathematical equations, a mathematical sciences professor said he has confirmed a 224-year-old math conjecture about the origins of our solar system, providing insights about the process that leads to the formation of solar systems across the universe.

  • Shadow of black hole in M87 galaxy is wobbling and has been for a while
    on 2020-09-23 at 16:46

    A new analysis reveals the behavior of the supermassive black hole in the center of the M87 galaxy across multiple years, indicating the crescent-like shadow feature appears to be wobbling.

  • School bus-size asteroid to safely zoom past Earth
    on 2020-09-23 at 16:14

    A small near-Earth asteroid (or NEA) will briefly visit Earth’s neighborhood on Thursday, Sept. 24, zooming past at a distance of about 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above our planet’s surface. The asteroid will make its close approach below the ring of geostationary satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) away from Earth.

  • MoonRanger will search for water at moon’s south pole
    on 2020-09-23 at 15:14

    MoonRanger, a small robotic rover being developed by Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoff Astrobotic, has completed its preliminary design review in preparation for a 2022 mission to search for signs of water at the moon’s south pole.

  • New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling shadow
    on 2020-09-23 at 13:31

    In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration delivered the first image of a black hole, revealing M87*—the supermassive object in the center of the M87 galaxy. The team has now used the lessons learned last year to analyze the archival data sets from 2009-2013, some of them not published before.

  • Space nematodes: A giant leap for interplanetary agriculture
    on 2020-09-23 at 13:12

    In a successful return-to-space mission, research study results indicate that beneficial insect-killing nematodes (small round worms) can be used in the future for natural control of insect pests when humans are growing crops in space. The research objective was to study entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes (EPNs) foraging and infection dynamics in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between December 2019 and January 2020.

  • Indian astronomers discover 70 new variable stars
    on 2020-09-23 at 13:00

    Astronomers from India have conducted a long-term photometric variability survey of an open cluster known as NGC 559. As a result, they detected 70 new variable stars in the field of this cluster. The finding is presented in a paper published September 15 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

  • Space station maneuvers to avoid debris
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-23 at 11:49

    The International Space Station maneuvered to avoid a potential collision with a piece of space debris Sept. 22, an incident the head of NASA used to advocate for more funding for the agency directed to handle space traffic management. SpaceNews

  • ISS moves to avoid space debris
    on 2020-09-23 at 08:17

    Astronauts on the International Space Station carried out an “avoidance maneuver” Tuesday to ensure they would not be hit by a piece of debris, said US space agency NASA, urging better management of objects in Earth’s orbit.

  • Blue Origin considers entering commercial space station business
    by Jeff Foust on 2020-09-22 at 22:30

    Commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin is considering development of commercial space stations, with NASA as a potential early customer. SpaceNews

  • NASA’s new Mars rover will use X-rays to hunt fossils
    on 2020-09-22 at 19:20

    NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has a challenging road ahead: After having to make it through the harrowing entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission on Feb. 18, 2021, it will begin searching for traces of microscopic life from billions of years back. That’s why it’s packing PIXL, a precision X-ray device powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

  • Data sonification: Sounds from around the Milky Way
    on 2020-09-22 at 19:18

    The center of our Milky Way galaxy is too distant for us to visit in person, but we can still explore it. Telescopes give us a chance to see what the Galactic Center looks like in different types of light. By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.

  • Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares?
    on 2020-09-22 at 19:10

    Solar flares are violent explosions on the sun that fling out high-energy charged particles, sometimes toward Earth, where they disrupt communications and endanger satellites and astronauts.

  • Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares?
    on 2020-09-22 at 18:43

    Scientists discovered in 1996 that sunquakes are linked to solar flares. Now, using helioseismic holography, scientists have analyzed a 2011 flare and shown that the impulsive source that generated the sunquake, and the refracted acoustic waves that later rippled the solar surface, was submerged 1,000 kilometers below the photosphere and flare. Further sunquake study could reveal if submerged sources are common and whether they can predict the appearance of flares and potential impact on Earth.

  • Spacecraft DAPPER will study ‘Dark Ages’ of the universe in radio waves
    on 2020-09-22 at 16:34

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has joined a new NASA space mission to the far side of the Moon to investigate when the first stars began to form in the early universe.

  • Starspots: Revving up the variability of solar-like stars
    on 2020-09-22 at 16:34

    In cosmic comparison, the Sun is a bore. While the brightness of some other stars with similar characteristics fluctuates strongly, the Sun’s variations are much more moderate. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, from the Turkish-German University and Boğaziçi University in Turkey, and from Kyung Hee University in South Korea, have now investigated how exactly sun- and starspots affect this behavior. In addition to the number and size of the spots, their distribution plays a crucial role. If groups of sunspots were to appear more frequently clumped together in so-called nests, the Sun’s brightness variations could well keep up with those of its cosmic peers. The team reports on its results in today’s issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

  • JPL meets unique challenge, delivers radar hardware for Jupiter mission
    on 2020-09-22 at 16:33

    Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory met a significant milestone recently by delivering key elements of an ice-penetrating radar instrument for an ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons.

  • Astrophysicists prove that dust particles in space are mixed with ice
    on 2020-09-22 at 14:59

    The matter between the stars in a galaxy—called the interstellar medium—consists not only of gas, but also of a great deal of dust. At some point in time, stars and planets originated in such an environment, because the dust particles can clump together and merge into celestial bodies. Important chemical processes also take place on these particles, from which complex organic—possibly even prebiotic—molecules emerge.

  • Water on exoplanet cloud tops could be found with hi-tech instrumentation
    on 2020-09-22 at 14:24

    Astronomers have shown that water vapor can potentially be detected in the atmospheres of exoplanets by peering literally over the tops of their impenetrable clouds.