Hubble Telescope zooms in on interstellar visitor
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the best pictures yet of our newest interstellar visitor.
This comet from outside our solar system is zooming by us at a...
Discovery of 20 new moons puts Saturn ahead of Jupiter
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The solar system has a new winner in the moon department.
Twenty new moons have been found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said...
Japan spacecraft releases rover to asteroid in last mission
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft released a small rover on Thursday that will land on the surface of an asteroid as part its final mission before heading back to Earth, Japan’s space...
Musk unveils SpaceX rocket designed to get to Mars and back
BOCA CHICA VILLAGE, Texas (AP) — Elon Musk has unveiled a SpaceX spacecraft designed to carry a crew and cargo to the moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system and land back on Earth...
New comet likely visitor from another solar system
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The solar system may have another foreign guest.
Both NASA and the European Space Agency are reporting that a newly discovered comet zooming toward the sun is...
Japan says space probe landed on asteroid to get soil sample
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese spacecraft landed on a distant asteroid on Thursday and collected underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system billions of...
Japan spacecraft drops explosive on asteroid to make crater
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's space agency said an explosive dropped Friday from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully blasted the surface of an asteroid for the first time to form a crater and pave the...
Japan to make crater on asteroid to get underground samples
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's space agency said Monday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month's touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission — dropping an explosive on the...
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A high school senior from northern Virginia has won $250,000 in a national science competition for her research on the far reaches of our solar system.
Japanese spacecraft touches down on asteroid to get samples
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese spacecraft touched down on a distant asteroid Friday on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on...
Japanese spacecraft to attempt landing on distant asteroid
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese spacecraft began its approach Thursday toward a distant asteroid on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on...
Scientists: Saturn spent billions of years without its rings
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Saturn may have flown solo for billions of years — almost its entire existence — before getting its stunning set of rings, a new study suggests.
An Italian-led team reported Thursday in the journal Science that Saturn's primary rings appear to be just 10 million to 100 million years old. The gas giant Saturn, on the other hand, is 4.5 billion years old, like all the other planets in our solar system.
China lunar probe sheds light on the ‘dark’ side of the moon
BEIJING (AP) — China's burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone on Thursday: landing a probe on the mysterious and misnamed "dark" side of the moon.
Exploring the cosmos from that far side of the moon, which people can't see from Earth, could eventually help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and maybe even the birth of the universe's first stars.
Spacecraft opens new year with flyby on solar system’s edge
LAUREL, Md. (AP) — NASA's New Horizons spacecraft pulled off the most distant exploration of another world Tuesday, skimming past a tiny, icy object 4 billion miles from Earth that looks to be shaped like a bowling pin.
Flight controllers in Maryland declared success 10 hours after the high-risk, middle-of-the-night encounter at the mysterious body known as Ultima Thule on the frozen fringes of our solar system, an astounding 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto.
Science Says: A big space crash likely made Uranus lopsided
WASHINGTON (AP) — Uranus is a lopsided oddity, the only planet to spin on its side. Scientists now think they know how it got that way: It was pushed over by a rock at least twice as big as Earth.
Farout: Scientists spot solar system’s farthest known object
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronomers have spotted the farthest known object in our solar system — and they've nicknamed the pink cosmic body "Farout."
The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced the discovery Monday.
NASA’s Voyager 2 becomes 2nd craft in interstellar space
WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA's Voyager 2 is now the second human-made object to zip away from the sun into the space between the stars.
Voyager 2 last month exited "this bubble that the sun creates around itself," longtime NASA mission scientist Ed Stone said Monday. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, some 11 billion miles (about 18 billion kilometers) from Earth.
New lander will add to humans’ long fascination with Mars
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — In our solar system family, Mars is Earth's next-of-kin, the next-door relative that has captivated humans for millennia. The attraction is sure to grow with Monday's arrival of a NASA lander named InSight.
InSight should provide our best look yet at Mars' deep interior, using a mechanical mole to tunnel 16 feet (5 meters) deep to measure internal heat, and a seismometer to register quakes, meteorite strikes and anything else that might start the red planet shaking.
Europe, Japan ready spacecraft for 7-year journey to Mercury
BERLIN (AP) — Final preparations were underway Friday for the launch of a joint mission by European and Japanese space agencies to send twin probes to Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.
An Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to lift the uncrewed spacecraft into orbit from French Guiana shortly before midnight, the start of a seven-year journey to the solar system's innermost planet.
Japan delays spacecraft landing on very rocky asteroid
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid because scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface.
The spacecraft Hayabusa2 left Earth in 2014 and traveled 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) to the area of asteroid Ryugu, which it reached in June.
- The ConversationNobel Prize in Physics for two breakthroughs: Evidence for the Big Bang and a way to find exoplanetsOctober 9, 2019
- The ConversationA brief astronomical history of Saturn's amazing ringsAugust 19, 2019
- The ConversationThe tell-tale clue to how meteorites were made, at the birth of the solar systemJune 6, 2019
- The ConversationNew Horizons scientists were masters of the long haul – here's how people stick with extremely long-term goalsJanuary 1, 2019
Secret, solar-powered tunnel found on US-Mexico border
JACUMBA, Calif. (AP) — U.S. and Mexican authorities have discovered an incomplete, solar-powered tunnel connecting the two countries in a rugged, remote area east of San Diego.
Have astronomers found 1st moon outside our solar system?
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronomers may have found the first moon outside our solar system, a gas behemoth the size of Neptune.
Plenty of planets exist beyond our solar system, but a moon around one of those worlds has yet to be confirmed. Two Columbia University researchers presented their tantalizing evidence for a moon Wednesday.
First possible moon found beyond our solar system
Japanese spacecraft drops observation device onto asteroid
TOKYO (AP) — A German-French observation device safely landed on an asteroid on Wednesday after a Japanese spacecraft released it as part of a research effort that could find clues about the origin of the solar system, Japanese space officials said.
The Japan Space Exploration Agency said the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or MASCOT, was released from the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 and successfully landed on the asteroid Ryugu.
Scrawny dwarf planet, named Goblin, found well beyond Pluto
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed the Goblin has been discovered well beyond Pluto.
A round frozen world just 186 miles (300 kilometers) across, the Goblin was spotted by astronomers in 2015 around Halloween, thus its spooky name. But it wasn't publicly unveiled until Tuesday following further observations with ground telescopes.
Japan space rovers lowered to asteroid to collect data
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese spacecraft released two small rovers on an asteroid on Friday in a mission that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system.
The Japan Space Exploration Agency said the two Minerva-II-1 rovers were lowered from the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 to the asteroid Ryugu. The spacecraft arrived near the asteroid, about 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth, in June.
Pluto explorer spots next destination billion miles beyond
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft that explored Pluto has spotted its next target on the outskirts of our solar system.
Jupiter’s moon count reaches 79, including tiny ‘oddball’
NEW YORK (AP) — Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.
The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.
Comet or asteroid? Scientists ID interstellar visitor
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Last year's visitor from another star system — a cigar-shaped object briefly tumbling through our cosmic neck of the woods — has now been identified as a comet.
A European-led team makes the case in Wednesday's edition of the journal Nature.
Telescopes first spotted the mysterious red-tinged object last October as it zipped through the inner solar system. Since then, astronomers have flip-flopped between comet and asteroid for our first confirmed interstellar guest.
Japanese space probe arrives at asteroid to collect samples
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese space probe arrived at an asteroid Wednesday after a 3 1/2-year journey to undertake a first-ever experiment: blow a crater in the rocky surface to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.
The unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft reached its base of operations about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the asteroid and some 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — A team from the University of New Hampshire has been selected to be part of a NASA mission that seeks to study interstellar space.
The mission will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, which acts as a bubble-like shield for the solar system from galactic cosmic radiation.
Jupiter’s backward-flying asteroid from another star system
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Just months after the discovery of our first known interstellar visitor, it turns out there's another asteroid from yet another star system residing in our cosmic club in plain view.
Scientists reported Monday that this interstellar resident is an asteroid sharing Jupiter's orbit but circling in the opposite direction.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A five-person team of scientists at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff helps maintain a giant database of the orbits of all 775,092 known asteroids in the solar system.
Study: Diamond from the sky may have come from ‘lost planet’
BERLIN (AP) — Fragments of a meteorite that fell to Earth about a decade ago provide compelling evidence of a lost planet that once roamed our solar system, according to a study published Tuesday.
Researchers from Switzerland, France and Germany examined diamonds found inside the Almahata Sitta meteorite and concluded they were most likely formed by a proto-planet at least 4.55 billion years ago.
Our 1st interstellar visitor likely came from 2-star system
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Our first known interstellar visitor likely came from a two-star system.
That's the latest from astronomers who were amazed by the mysterious cigar-shaped object, detected as it passed through our inner solar system last fall.
New nickname for Pluto-explorer’s next target: Ultima Thule
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — There's a new nickname for the icy world next up for the spacecraft that explored Pluto: Ultima Thule.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is headed toward a New Year's Day encounter with this mysterious object or two, 1 billion miles beyond Pluto on the fringes of our solar system.
This month, the planets are mainly in the pre-dawn sky, though Venus and Mercury make their reappearance in our evening skies later in the month.
Correction: Science Says-Meteor story
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a story Jan. 17 about meteors, The Associated Press reported erroneously the size of asteroids that scientists hope to be able to deflect from Earth's path in the future. They want to have a defensive system for asteroids larger than 165 feet (50 meters), not 30 miles (50 kilometers).
A corrected version of the story is below:
Science Says: That Michigan meteor could have been meatier
Science Says: That Michigan meteor could have been meatier
Fell School sharpens students’ STEM skills
Enter Bernadine Magee’s science class at D. Newlin Fell School and you will see elementary students fully engaged in a STEM challenge. The agenda for the class is to build a small table using just measuring tape, pieces of construction paper, popsicle sticks, straws and masking tape. The table has to be sturdy enough to hold a miniature Peppa Pig.
Eighth planet found in faraway solar system, matching ours
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A record-tying eighth planet has been found in a faraway solar system, matching our own in number.
Even more amazing, machines and not humans made the discovery. NASA joined with Google on Thursday to announce the finding.
Getting There: Washington drivers wracked up 60 billion miles last year
Washington drivers logged more than 60 billion miles on public roadways in 2016.
If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is.
For reference, the spacecraft Voyager 1, which famously flew by Saturn in 1980, is the most distant human-made object in the universe. Launched in 1977, it left our solar system in 2012 and is currently jetting far into interstellar space. And it’s only 13 billion miles away.
Interstellar visitor shaped like giant fire extinguisher
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A newly discovered object from another star system that's passing through ours is shaped like a giant pink fire extinguisher.
That's the word this week from astronomers who have been observing this first-ever confirmed interstellar visitor.
"I'm surprised by the elongated shape — nobody expected that," said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the observation team that reported on the characteristics.
NASA seeks nickname for tiny, icy world on solar system edge
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Heads up, armchair travelers.
NASA is seeking a nickname for a tiny, icy world on the edge of the solar system that's the next destination for New Horizons, the spacecraft that surveyed Pluto.
New Horizons whipped past Pluto two years ago. Now it's headed for 2014 MU69 — gobbledygook to even the most die-hard scientists.
October begins with Venus and Mars in the predawn sky, so look low on the eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise. The pair is especially worth looking for this week, as the planets appear to pass each other from our vantage point here on Earth.
Venus will be lower on the horizon each morning this week, while Mars will be a bit higher. The two will appear less than one-quarter of a degree apart the morning of Oct. 5.
After eight years, NASA’s Dawn probe brings dwarf planet Ceres into closest focus
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Marc D Rayman, NASA
After 20 years, NASA sends Cassini spacecraft into Saturn to be destroyed
The Cassini spacecraft mission ends Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. After 13 years of exploring Saturn and its moons, the spacecraft will deliberately plunge at over 75,000 miles per hour into the planet and ultimately be destroyed by the weight and temperature of the atmosphere.
Along the way, Cassini revealed much about this best-known of the ringed planets (Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune each have rings as well).
Spacecraft reveals beauty of solar system’s biggest storm
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft circling Jupiter is revealing the up-close beauty of our solar system's biggest planetary storm.
Juno flew directly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot on Monday, passing an amazingly close 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the monster storm. The images snapped by JunoCam were beamed back Tuesday and posted online Wednesday. Then members of the public — so-called citizen scientists — were encouraged to enhance the raw images.
Starwatch: Saturn is the late-night telescope king
Since 1989, there have been nearly 3,500 confirmed extrasolar planets orbiting other stars, just in our immediate vicinity — our vast home galaxy, the Milky Way.
There are also nearly 5,000 possible planets discovered that haven't been officially confirmed. On top of all that, since 2010 nearly 600 other solar systems have been confirmed.