NASA’s Perseverance Rover Launches to Mars

Today, July 30, 2020 at 7:50 a.m. EDT (11:50 UTC) NASA’s Mars 2020 rover Perseverance launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 rocket. The weather at the Cape was picture-perfect and the launch went smoothly, sending NASA’s newest robotic mission to Mars on its way for an anticipated arrival and landing…

Ganymede’s Polar Ice is ‘Disrupted’ by Jupiter’s Plasma

The first-ever infrared images of Ganymede’s north pole, taken on December 26, 2019 with the JIRAM instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, show that the gigantic moon’s polar ice lacks any crystalline structure like the water ice we’re familiar with typically does here on Earth. This is a result of constant bombardment by charged plasma in…

For the Umpteenth Time No NASA Didn’t Change the Zodiac

Come on everyone, no. Just…no. NASA did not “change your star sign.” NASA neither creates “star signs” nor names or changes them. This is because 1. that’s not NASA’s job, and 2. “star signs”—i.e., astrology—is junk science. (And that’s being grossly generous with the term “science.”)

Solar Orbiter’s First Images Reveal the Sun Covered With Tiny “Campfires”

The pictures are in! The first image data from the cameras aboard ESA’s Solar Orbiter were revealed today, July 16 2020, and reveal many features on our Sun we’ve never been able to see before—including small-scale flare activity dubbed “campfires.” (I say small-scale but they’re actually the size of entire countries!) “The Sun might look…

How To Spot Comet NEOWISE

Info from NASA on July 14, 2020: Observers in the Northern Hemisphere are hoping to catch a glimpse of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) as it zips through the inner solar system before it speeds away into the depths of space. [Editor’s note: many already have!] Discovered on March 27, 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field…

Sunlight Can Crack Rocks on Asteroids

Here on Earth the surfaces of pretty much all but the most freshly-exposed (geologically-speaking, of course) rock surfaces exhibit the effects of atmospheric weathering—from rain, snow, and ice to wind, dust-blown sand, flowing water, and extreme heat. And underlying all of that are the relentless forces of tectonic activity. But on dry, airless, and tectonically…

When Spirit Spotted a Swarm of Devils

Mars may be pretty low on traffic these days but, on this day back in 2005, NASA’s Spirit rover (the twin to Opportunity) seemed to find itself at a busy intersection as several blustery dust devils zipped past, one after the other!

NASA’s Solar Probe Spots Comet NEOWISE and its Two (Maybe Three) Tails

As skywatchers around the world (and even above it!) are capturing increasingly beautiful views of the current naked-eye comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was able to grab a picture from a much different vantage point as it traveled beyond the orbit of Mercury on its way toward a July 11 flyby of…

Proposed VERITAS Mission Would Reveal Truths About Venus’ Geology

Earth and Venus travel around the Sun in neighboring orbits and both are rocky planets about the same size, but there the similarities end—at least in how the two worlds exist today. Venus’ desiccated surface roasts at nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit beneath an opaque and crushing atmosphere over 90 times denser than Earth’s, and global…