How to Understand These Gorgeous Satellite Data Maps of the Earth

NASA's Earth Observatory has spent over fifteen years using satellites to collect hordes of real-time data across our planet's surface. They reveal everything from temperature and energy use, to how much radiation we beam into space. Here's how to understand satellite data maps to understand our planet's vital signs. » 2/26/15 11:39am 2/26/15 11:39am

Elon Musk Confirms He's Building A 700-Strong Satellite Fleet

Earlier this weekend, a Wall Street Journal report linked Elon Musk, the big entrepreneur success story, with a plan to use a fleet of small satellites to achieve global internet coverage. Although he hasn't mentioned the internet part, he just confirmed the satellite part on Twitter, and said we'll have to wait a few… » 11/10/14 10:02pm 11/10/14 10:02pm

"Starquakes" May Be the Reason Behind Massive Solar Eruptions 

In early 2009, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope observed an unprecedented solar storm emanating from a distant neutron star with gigantic columns of magnetized flares stretching thousands of miles into space—only the third time such an eruption had been observed. Five years later, NASA boffins think they've… » 10/23/14 6:15pm 10/23/14 6:15pm

Space Detective Is Now a Job That Exists

Want to use some damning images from Google Earth to back up your case in a lawsuit? Right now it's not quite that easy. Which is why a satellite imaging specialist and space lawyer (actual thing) have just formed what is about to become every NASA-loving kid's dream job: the world's very first space detective agency. » 10/08/14 4:20pm 10/08/14 4:20pm

The Most Detailed Map of the Ocean Floor Ever Was Made From Space

The bottom of the ocean is dark, mysterious, and vast—nearly all of it unmapped. Today, however, scientists reveal the clearest map of the ocean floor ever. They didn't explore the ocean floor. They didn't even send instruments into the water. Instead, they used gravity measurements from two satellites orbiting in… » 10/02/14 4:50pm 10/02/14 4:50pm

Space Station Defies Humans, Launches Satellites Without Permission

The International Space Station has a cannon that launches tiny CubeSat microsatellites into orbit. Most of the time, those launches are triggered by human scientists on board or back on Earth. But this week, the ISS launched two CubeSats entirely on its own. This is how the uprising begins. » 9/06/14 3:00pm 9/06/14 3:00pm

Watch a Pilot Snag Cold War Spy Satellite Footage as It Falls From Orbit

The Corona program was the opening salvo in the effort to peer into Soviet-controlled territory from orbit. In order to recover the top-secret physical photographs it took, Air Force pilots took to the sky for what amounted to a claw arcade game, played miles above the Earth. Here's a rare look at it in action. » 9/02/14 12:14pm 9/02/14 12:14pm

Amazing 1960s Predictions About Satellites, Email, and the Internet

It's hard for many of us living here in the early 21st century to imagine a world without satellites. Well, in fairness, we don't really think about satellites at all. Much like electricity or tap water, we only remember how vital they are when they stop working. Our GPS devices, smartphones, and modern military… » 8/25/14 5:22pm 8/25/14 5:22pm

Of Course the First Object Ever Recovered From Orbit Was for Spying

In the early days of the U.S. satellite surveillance program, our orbital cameras employed state-of-the-art technologies to get the physical film back to Earth for development and analysis. They shot it back into the atmosphere like 300-pound bullets, and tried to catch the falling canisters by their parachutes using… » 8/21/14 11:40am 8/21/14 11:40am