Hubble Image Directly Shows How Gravity Bends Space

You may have heard of this phenomenon already but it’s still amazing to see it in action! The image here, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and shared by NASA on Nov. 17, 2020, shows not individual stars but rather entire galaxies, each of them billions of light-years away from Earth. The brightest ones at…

Get to Know Bennu Better Before OSIRIS-REx’s Sample Grab

It’s almost TAG time! On October 20, 2020 NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will slowly descend from its orbit 2,500 feet (770 meters) above Bennu to briefly touch the asteroid’s pebbly surface with its TAGSAM instrument, quickly sucking in and filter-capturing a small amount of material which will be returned to Earth for scientific study in 2023….

Astronomers Spot the Bright Blast from a Spaghettified Star

Spaghettification — it may sound like a cartoon wizard’s spell effect but it’s actually a term scientists use for what happens to massive objects that get too close to a black hole…they’re literally pulled apart into long strands of material by the black hole’s immense gravity. “Massive objects” can mean planets, asteroids, spaceships, or even…

Betelgeuse’s Recent Dimming Likely Caused by a Dusty Outburst

From October 2019 to February 2020, Betelgeuse (the bright orange star at Orion’s right shoulder, not Tim Burton’s magical necroprankster) was seen to dim dramatically, even more so than it typically does. It was something that wasn’t just observed with telescopes but also it was quite obvious to the naked eye from most locations. This…

Ceres’ Salty Mound is the Result of Ongoing Geologic Activity

First observed with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2003, the curious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres—the largest world in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter—was brought into exquisite focus with the arrival of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in 2015. The largest and brightest of these spots—a single 340-meter-high mound named Cerealia Facula…

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…

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…

Ice Hunt on the Moon Reveals Hidden Heavy Metal

Our beautiful Moon, serenely circling our world as it illuminates our evenings and tugs at our tides, is thought to have been born from a violent and catastrophic collision between a freshly-formed Earth and a Mars-sized wayward protoplanet almost four and a half billion years ago. This “giant impact hypothesis” is generally accepted because it…

Uranus is Full of Diamonds (and so is Neptune)

The conditions found deep inside the ice giants Uranus and Neptune are intense and exotic, to say the least. The incredibly frigid and windy environments found at the cloud tops, where hydrogen and helium are mixed with methane and ammonia, eventually give way to warmer interiors and crushing pressures with increasing depth. And as scientists…

This is the Shadow of a Solar Eclipse Seen from Behind the Moon

During a total eclipse event on July 2, 2019 the shadow of the Moon passed across the southern Pacific Ocean and parts of Chile and Argentina. For viewers on Earth the event briefly turned the daytime sky to night as the Moon completely blocked the Sun, but for one spacecraft orbiting far beyond the Moon…

Proposed Trident Mission Could Explore Neptune’s Moon Triton in 2038

(News from NASA) Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and…