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What's the Point of a Fly-By When We Have the Tech to Go Into Orbit?

New Horizons’ fly-by of Pluto and its moons is the latest in a historic string of missions to objects in the solar system. But given that a fly-by lasts for just a short time, how much can we really get out of it? There’s no doubt that the mission will yield a great deal of interesting data, but surely more would be… » 7/16/15 4:15am 7/16/15 4:15am

Your Children Won't Be Able To Live In Space, Without A Major Upgrade

We all dream of journeying (or living) among the stars. But space is a spectacularly awful place for humans, and we’re not suited for life there at all. And yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are all the ways we’ll need to re-engineer the human body, in order to make space our home. » 6/18/15 3:35pm 6/18/15 3:35pm

Humanity's Future Will Be In Caves ... On the Moon

While I talked with the legendary roboticist Red Whittaker in his lab at Carnegie Mellon, a half-moon shaped remnant of a Lifesaver was resting on his knee. He nibbled on it as we talked about sending autonomous robots to explore the Moon. That’s when he told me about the Moon caves that could be humanity’s future… » 6/15/15 1:20pm 6/15/15 1:20pm

There May Be More Water On Jupiter's Largest Moon Than On Earth

By studying the subtle shifts of aurorae on Ganymede, scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope have concluded that Jupiter's largest moon hosts a massive subterranean ocean. Quite suddenly, the outer reaches of our solar system appear to be a very wet place, indeed. » 3/13/15 10:29pm 3/13/15 10:29pm

The First People On Mars Could Have One Hell Of A Case Of Jet Lag

A day on Mars—or a "sol"—is 24 hours and 40 minutes long, close enough to Earth's that for a long time NASA didn't think much of it. But those 40 minutes a day add up, and sleep scientists now worry that our Earthly circadian rhythms could be one more major headache for the first humans on Mars. » 2/26/15 2:45pm 2/26/15 2:45pm

After Earth Falls, Will Interstellar Space Travel Be Our Salvation?

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It may be just a matter of time before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. As astrophysicists and avid science fiction fans, we naturally find the prospect of interstellar colonization intriguing and exciting. But is it practical, or even possible? Or is there a better solution? » 1/23/15 10:23pm 1/23/15 10:23pm

We're Running Out of the Nuclear Fuel That Powers Space Travel

Rosetta's lander lasted just 60 hours on a comet after it bounced into the dark shadows of a cliff, where its solar panels couldn't power the vehicle. Why didn't it carry a more reliable power source, say a nuclear battery like one that's unfailingly fueled Voyager for decades? It's a simple question with a… » 12/02/14 12:30pm 12/02/14 12:30pm

How 2010: The Year We Make Contact Nails the Drama of Space Exploration

All this landing on comets business has got me thinking about the next chapter of space exploration in a totally new way. You can have your Armageddons and Deep Impacts with their Aerosmith soundtracks and Morgan Freeman presidents. What happened today reminded me more of 2010: The Year We Make Contact. » 11/12/14 8:15pm 11/12/14 8:15pm

SpaceShipTwo's Surviving Pilot Ejected Into -70 Degree Air at 50,000 Feet

Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what went wrong with the tragic crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. While the National Transportation Safety Board has been looking into an issue with the braking system, the agency has released details from surviving pilot Peter Siebold about how he managed to… » 11/12/14 1:12pm 11/12/14 1:12pm

Wernher von Braun Predicted We'd Send Men to Mars No Sooner Than 2050s

Student researchers at MIT have concluded that given current technology, any colonists to Mars would die after about 68 days. Mars One, the company that hopes to put people on Mars by the 2025 (and film a reality TV show there, so you know they're legit) insists that the MIT researchers are wrong. But as any student… » 10/15/14 1:20pm 10/15/14 1:20pm

Yuri's Night, the 53rd Anniversary of Man's First Voyage to Space

On this day in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to enter outer space and orbit our planet. Tonight, science and space fans worldwide celebrate this milestone of human exploration with Yuri's Night. Mika McKinnon tells us more about the man, his voyage, and the ways we honor him today. » 4/12/14 8:00pm 4/12/14 8:00pm

This is what NASA would build if we gave them enough money

I just got an email from NASA touting their upcoming Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium, an open conference that will take place at Stanford University next week. It came with the image you can see above, by Iron Rooster Studios' Peter Rubin, something that makes me very happy. » 1/31/14 7:03pm 1/31/14 7:03pm

Scientists Flattened a Desert With Bulldozers to Study Sand Dunes

Six years ago, a patch of land in the Inner Mongolian desert became unnaturally flat. Researchers, for the sake of science, had razed 40 acres—or the equivalent of eight city blocks—of desert. Then, for three and half years, they set up cameras and watched as small piles of sand grew and grew into full-fledged sand… » 1/13/14 12:20pm 1/13/14 12:20pm