Beautiful New Topographical Map Of Ceres Shows a Complex, Icy World 

NASA has just released a stunning new topographic map of Ceres, the other dwarf planet astronomers are getting to study up close and personal this summer. Unlike Pluto’s freakishly smooth and youthful surface, Ceres’s exterior is riddled with craters, creating a battered old landscape of peaks and valleys. » 7/28/15 4:00pm Tuesday 4:00pm

Another Way of Looking at Pluto

Data from the New Horizons mission have revised Pluto’s diameter to just 2370 kilometers across. That’s smaller than the moons Triton, Ganymede, Callisto, Io, Europa, and Titan, not to mention Earth’s own satellite. In more immediately relatable terms: Here’s what it would look like if someone plopped Pluto onto… » 7/22/15 2:26pm 7/22/15 2:26pm

Why It'll Take New Horizons 16 Months to Send Us This Week's Data

Early this morning, NASA rolled out the highest-resolution image of Pluto to date, taken 16 hours before today’s historic flyby. Tomorrow, we’ll receive a new set of images at a resolution ten times higher. And Pluto Christmas is just getting started, because it’s going to take NASA 16 full months to download all the… » 7/14/15 7:40pm 7/14/15 7:40pm

When We Discovered Pluto, It Changed How We Saw The Solar System

On the 23rd and 24th of January, 1930, a young astronomer working in Flagstaff, Arizona, scanned a small patch of the night sky. He was taking pictures of star positions, looking for anomalies that would signal movement somewhere at the edge of the solar system. He took the pictures then set them aside, not realizing… » 7/12/15 4:25pm 7/12/15 4:25pm

This Shower of Gamma Rays Is from a Flaring Blazar 5 Billion Years Ago

Five billion years ago, a blazar abruptly flared, triggered an intense rain of gamma rays. Racing across the universe for millennia, they finally slammed into NASA’s Fermi satellite over several days this June, setting a new record for the most luminous high-energy object we’ve ever seen. » 7/12/15 1:40pm 7/12/15 1:40pm

Pluto's Mysterious Dark Splotches Come Into Focus

At this point, it’s safe to say that we’re going to be receiving a new ‘highest resolution image ever’ of Pluto on a close to 24 hour basis. Yesterday, we got our first peek at geologic features on the dwarf planet’s surface. And today, New Horizons beamed back the best image to date of four mysterious dark splotches… » 7/11/15 8:06pm 7/11/15 8:06pm

First Signs Of Geology Spotted On Pluto's Surface

We’re so close to Pluto, we’re starting to see geologic features on the dwarf planet’s surface. In its latest portrait from the New Horizons spacecraft, scientists are able to pick out distant surface formations, including a polygonal band of terrain stretching east-northeast across the planet, and a dark band near… » 7/10/15 7:05pm 7/10/15 7:05pm

Rare Shot of Venus Crossing the Sun May Help Us Find Alien Life

The image you’re looking at is a rare and beautiful event. Every 115 years, Venus crosses our Sun in Earth’s line of sight—twice. And when the most recent crossing took place, scientists used the event to take a peek at Venus’s atmosphere, refining tools that’ll one day help astronomers search distant worlds for signs… » 7/10/15 1:45pm 7/10/15 1:45pm