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…

Juno Spots Sprites and Elves Dancing On Jupiter

NASA’s Juno spacecraft may have captured some of the most fleeting phenomena associated with powerful lightning storms here on Earth—400 million miles away on Jupiter! Nicknamed sprites and elves these amazingly brief yet beautiful flashes of light occur miles above powerful lightning discharges in thunderstorms. They’ve only fairly recently been well-documented on Earth through digital…

NASA’s Flying Observatory Found Water on the Moon During Its First Look

NASA and DLR’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy—a telescope-on-an-airplane called SOFIA for short—has detected yet more evidence of water on the Moon, this time in the form of H2O molecules possibly trapped within pieces of glass that form when meteorites strike the Moon’s surface. These particular findings, announced on October 26, 2020, focus on an…

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….

Hubble’s Newest View of Jupiter Shows New Storms Brewing

News from NASA: This latest image of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on August 25, 2020, was captured when the planet was 406 million miles from Earth. Hubble’s sharp view is giving researchers an updated weather report on the monster planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including a remarkable new storm brewing, and a cousin of…

Phosphine Discovery in Venus’ Atmosphere Raises the Big Question of Life

Today an international team of scientists led by Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in the UK announced the discovery of phosphine (PH3) in the atmosphere of our neighboring planet Venus — a detection made using data from ground-based telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile. On Earth, phosphine is created for industrial uses in labs and by…

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…

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…

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…

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…