Space is full of all sorts of garbage that can cause problems, including some of the stuff we send up there with good intentions. Take CubeSats. These nanosatellites, which weigh less than three pounds, were first sent into space in December 2006, and have become increasingly popular in the years since as a…
Naps are empirically great. Sadly, our gig economy world frowns upon R&R; as an adult, it’s not socially acceptable to curl up and take a nap at work, no matter how tired or hungover or burdened with ennui you are. Instead, we reward children, who do little besides breathe and create turmoil, with the gift of “nap…
We’ve never seen Jupiter quite like this. NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew closer to the giant planet than any spacecraft ever, revealing stunning images and gathering detailed information about the planet for NASA scientists.
When you drive, the second most important thing you should keep your eyes on is the dashboard of your car (the first thing being the road). In space, however, it’s the controls that are the most essential for navigating and operating your spacecraft. From Gagarin to Scott Kelly, here’s a brief visual history of the…
Two years ago, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo, the space plane it hoped to use to send tourists into space, failed on a test flight and crashed in the desert. Now, it’s revealed a brand new version of SpaceShipTwo.
July 1963: “Ever try to shoot a slow-flying duck while standing rigidly on a fast rotating platform, and with a gun that uses bullets which curve 90° while in flight?”
How did that tiny, complicated spiky tip on the Apollo modules transform into a usable tunnel for astronauts after they docked? Through a bit of engineering ingenuity still in use today.
Is NASA running out of plutonium? Scientific American looks into NASA’s dwindling supply of the stuff—most of it leftovers from Cold War-era weapons production—and what a jump in production might look like. As of now, they estimate there’s only enough left to power four new missions.
While NASA and its commercial partners try hard to develop several new American spacecraft in order to get American astronauts into Earth’s orbit and beyond, Russia is working on its own new craft, too.
Our epic journey to Pluto has been filled with cosmic coincidences. Crossing Neptune’s orbit 25 years to the day after Voyager 2. Zipping by Pluto 50 years on the nose after our first Mars encounter. But my favorite serendipitous fact of all has to do with how we’ve powered the entire New Horizons mission—using none…
On July 14th, the New Horizons spacecraft will make history when it sails past Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet. Even more incredible is how fast we got there. The spacecraft traveled 3 billion miles in nine and a half years. That’s about a million miles a day for almost ten years. How the heck did we do it?
We may be dirty monkeys at heart, but humans have done some pretty astonishing things in outer space over the past 50 years. We’ve launched dozens of interplanetary spacecraft, and explored most of the solar system with space robots who sent back pictures and scientific data. Here are our favorite of those craft,…
NASA’s been studying the way bugs splatter for years. Those gooey speckles of black and red might be gross to you, but to aerospace engineers, they’re a riddle that’s plagued the industry for decades. Yes, bug guts.
Two weeks ago, SpaceX successfully tested the launch abort system for its new commercial crew capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017. The company has just released a first-person view video recorded by cameras mounted on the Dragon capsule, so you can take a virtual…
Forget a boring old rover and try nuclear-powered boats or quadcopter space drones. If we want to explore Saturn's moon Titan—with its liquid methane lakes and dense nitrogen atmosphere—we'll need exploration schemes that are just as unique as the alien moon itself.
With massive oceans buried under six kilometers of ice, Jupiter's moon Europa has long been a dream destination for astronomers. It's possible that those oceans, warmed by undersea volcanoes, could harbor microbial life. NASA's wanted a closer look for 15 years, and now they're getting it.
The Venus Express spacecraft was declared scientifically dead in December when, finally out of propellent, it decayed into an uncontrolled spin. After a few accidental communications when pure luck pointed its antenna at Earth, it let out one last bleat of full-volume noise.
These satellites first started looking at Earth-Sun interactions when green text on black backgrounds was stylish (with cutting-edge blink tags!) and pagers were a key part of pop culture, yet they're still bringing us new science today. That's just impressive!
Space is big, humans are small, and spacecrafts, well, vary more in size than you might think. Redditor Heaney555 has compiled an a chart, to scale, of every rocket, spacecraft, and space station involved in human spaceflight. And man, Saturn V is huuuuuuuge—it's as long as the whole International Space Station.
Is Mars really the only planet solely inhabited by robots? Yes, but no. The truth behind this meme is an excellent opportunity to investigate just how adventurous our robotic explorers are in visiting all sorts of places we squishy humans haven't.