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Astronomical Knolling Is The Prettiest Way To Organize Objects In Space

What happens when a planetary scientist has a love for order? He creates code that sorts everything from our solar system’s moons to exoplanets into graceful spirals where every object is slightly smaller than the one before. Astronomical knolling is my new favourite way to contemplate the vast scale of space. » 4/19/15 12:11am 4/19/15 12:11am

This Elevation Map Of Mars Makes The Red Planet Much More Colorful

In this brand new map of the Ares Vallis region of Mars, released by the German space agency DLR, you can see the true differences in height between the high and low parts of our neighboring planet. The highest parts, expressed in red, are about 4000 meters (2.4 miles) above the lowest parts, in blue. » 4/14/15 10:30pm 4/14/15 10:30pm

NASA Chief Scientist Predicts We'll Find Signs Of Alien Life By 2025

Here's the full quote, as delivered by NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan at Tuesday's panel discussion on the Agency's search for habitable worlds and alien life: "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30… » 4/07/15 11:16pm 4/07/15 11:16pm

Looking for Alien Life on Bizarre "Eyeball Planets" 

It's easy for us Earthlings to imagine life evolving on planets like ours. But there are exoplanets out there that strain the imagination. Take "eyeball planets," which are half frozen, half broiling with the heat of their suns. Earthlike planet Zarmina, in the Gliese system, is one of these. We shouldn't rule these… » 2/20/15 6:35pm 2/20/15 6:35pm

NASA Made These Gorgeous Travel Posters For Actual Exoplanets

As the exoplanet discoveries from Kepler keep pouring in, we're realizing just how fantastic, bizarre, and varied the planets of our universe truly are. Someday, we might see them with our own eyes. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created a stunning set of exoplanet travel posters that will make you wish very… » 1/07/15 11:01am 1/07/15 11:01am

Kepler Just Found the Most Earth-Like Exoplanets Ever Discovered

Kepler just can't stop discovering exoplanets. Nearly two years after scientists said it was crippled, the planet-hunting telescope recently identified eight new planets. But that's not all. They're all in the Goldilocks zone of their respective stars, and two of them are more Earth-like than anything astronomers have… » 1/06/15 6:12pm 1/06/15 6:12pm

Kepler Just Discovered a New Super-Earth, Against All Odds 

In May 2013, NASA's exoplanet-seeking spacecraft, Kepler, seemed doomed. Two of four wheels that stabilized its telescope had malfunctioned—and NASA appealed to scientists from around the world for ideas to salvage its mission. Yesterday, it announced the discovery of a brand-new super-Earth 180 light years from our… » 12/19/14 11:35am 12/19/14 11:35am

This Giant Rainbow Was Made With Tech That's Used To Study Exoplanets

It's not very often that the fields of advanced photonics and installation art meet. But in Amsterdam this week, visitors to the city's Central Station are getting a look at what happens when liquid crystal optic technology is used to something completely unscientific: Make public art. » 12/16/14 9:00am 12/16/14 9:00am

You Can Discover New Planets with a DSLR 

Wouldn't it be cool to discover a planet circling a lonely star light years away from Earth? Maybe you'd even get to name it. Actually exploring deep space is hard, but as IEEE Spectrum's David Schneider points out, detecting exoplanets is pretty simple, simple enough that a basic DSLR and a telephoto lens can do it. » 12/15/14 11:42am 12/15/14 11:42am

How Would Alien Astronomers Find Earth?

This weekend, astronomers announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet anyone has identified yet. The search of habitable planets is intensifying—and with it, questions about whether we're looking for the exoplanets the right way. For starters, figuring out how Earth would look to aliens is actually pretty… » 6/30/14 1:00pm 6/30/14 1:00pm

The Lick Observatory's Newest Telescope Is an Exoplanet Hunting Robot

Exoplanets—planets orbiting stars that aren't our Sun—seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it's only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we'll find when the new James Lick… » 3/28/14 5:40pm 3/28/14 5:40pm