NASA Selects Astrobotic Rover to Prospect for Water on the Moon’s South Pole

  (News from NASA) NASA has awarded Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023. VIPER will collect data – including the location and concentration of ice – that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the…

Antares is a Bug-Eyed Monster 700 Times Bigger Than Our Sun

From a “mere” 93 million miles away we’re able to view the surface of our home star the Sun very well with telescopes on Earth and in space…you can even observe large sunspots with your unaided eye (with proper protection, of course.) But the surface details of other stars tens, hundreds, or thousands of light-years…

Have No Fear, Phobos is Here!

On May 12, 2016, the Hubble Space Telescope captured a series of images of Mars and in them the planet’s moon Phobos can be seen appearing from behind the western limb. This was just 10 days before opposition which, in 2016, was the closest Mars had been to Earth since 2005, lending particularly good opportunity…

Jupiter’s Surprises Are Revealed In First Juno Science Results

Today after almost 11 months in orbit the Juno team revealed the first scientific findings of the mission to the public via a NASA teleconference, giving us our first peek at the inner workings of Jupiter and how much of a surprise our Solar System’s largest planet is proving to be…which of course is quite fitting, as the spacecraft…

What Is Space?

This is a blog post I wrote in March of 2008—a year before there was even Lights in the Dark! I’m sharing it again because it’s fun…I hope you think so too. We’ve all seen the grade-school models of the solar system. Maybe you made one in science class. Out of painted styrofoam balls or…

This Blazing Quasar Got Wave Motion Gunned Clear Out Of Its Galaxy

Astronomers still have yet to directly capture an image of a black hole—they’re working on it—but they know where some of the largest ones are: inside the hearts of galaxies, where they power brilliant and powerful quasars whose light can be seen across the Universe. Some of these supermassive black holes (SMBs) can contain the mass…

A Look Back at Sojourner, the First Rover on Mars

The first mission to successfully* send a rover to Mars, NASA’s Mars Pathfinder, launched on Dec. 4, 1996. It was a “budget” Discovery mission designed to demonstrate a low-cost method for delivering a set of science instruments to Mars and sent the first remote-controlled vehicle to be used on another planet. Solar-powered and only a foot in height,…

NASA Sets Sail to Study Ocean and Climate

NASA has launched on another mission of exploration, except this time it wasn’t on a rocket ship from Cape Canaveral but rather on a research ship from Cape Cod. NASA’s North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study—aka NAAMES—is a five-year-long investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds…