It has been a week since the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, was shut down, evacuated, and visited by FBI agents—and the undisclosed “security issue” behind all this activity remains a mystery to the public.
This is how it happens when extraterrestrials make contact with Earth.
August 2018 rolled in with a bang, literally, as explosions rocked Caracas, Venezuela on Saturday during a speech by President Nicolas Maduro—and government officials later said bomb-carrying drones were to blame. If the accounts of an attempted assassination using unmanned aerial vehicles is confirmed, the New York…
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a series of hearings leading up to another NASA authorization bill, which helps set goals and authorizes funding for the agency (2017-2018's bill is here). On Wednesday, scientists from U.S. universities, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA…
By searching for the telltale, periodic dimming of light from distant stars, astronomers can spot orbiting exoplanets tens to hundreds of light-years away. But how do they know what these bodies look like? Perhaps they first try to imagine how the planets in our own Solar System might appear to a faraway alien world.
The Moon today is not habitable. It’s covered in potentially killer dust and seemingly dry as a bone. But though it seems wild to think, a new perspective wonders: What if the Moon used to be friendly to life?
Our limited human eyesight can really constrain our understanding of the universe. We can see only a thin swath of light’s wavelengths, those waves with peaks 390 to 700 nanometers from crest to crest. This means we miss any light-emitting details coming from other wavelengths, such as from radio and microwave light,…
To date, scientists have catalogued more than 3,500 exoplanets, some of which may even be capable of fostering life. But we simply don’t know. The ability to detect life on distant worlds still eludes us, but a new project coordinated by NASA now takes us a significant step closer to achieving that goal.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has released the first images from its new orbit, taken on April 15 from 400 kilometers above the Martian surface. Here’s the uncropped composite image:
Let’s say your house is on fire, or overrun by a gang of psychotic raccoons. You don’t hesitate—you take out your phone, and you call the fire department, or animal control, and then firemen/raccoon-wranglers are promptly dispatched to your home. These are well-established protocols, essential to the maintenance of a…
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritize future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope…
In April, NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan predicted we would “have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade,” and “definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” Assuming this timeline is correct, how do we ensure the life we encounter—which astrobiologists predict will be non-sentient—will be respected?
It’s become a legend of the space age. The brilliant physicist Enrico Fermi, during a lunchtime conversation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1950, is supposed to have posed a conundrum for proponents of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations:
Over fifty years ago, physicist Freeman Dyson proposed an awesome, if slightly insane, idea: That an advanced alien civilization might construct a massive, energy-harvesting sphere around its star, and bunk up inside.
The discovery is a boost for the Panspermia Hypothesis — but it's a potential nightmare for scientists concerned about interplanetary contamination.
Inside the French Space Centre headquarters, a small team consisting of four staffers and a dozen volunteers is tasked with analyzing reports of unidentified flying objects — and sometimes, the agency dispatches trained investigators to visit the locations of the strange sightings. They are the Agents of G.E.I.P.A.N.
Steven Dick, a famed astronomer and historian, has completed a one-year residency at the Library of Congress, researching his next book, How the Discovery of Life Will Transform Our Thinking. In an exclusive interview posted on the Library's blog, he discusses such provocative issues as evolution on a cosmic scale.
There may be as many as 100 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way. But just what, exactly, are the requirements for life? And what are the environmental extremes that life can handle? A new checklist for the habitability of exoplanets attempts to answer these questions.
Shortly after NASA was founded, it sought out expert opinions on the international, legal and economic ramifications of the U.S. space program. The venerable Washington-based think tank, The Brookings Institution, responded with a 1960 report that included thoughts on dealing with aliens.
Saturn's moons are full of surprises, and a team of researchers monitoring the Cassini spacecraft think that a body of water the size of Lake Superior is one of them. The lake is hiding beneath the surface of the icy moon Enceladus. And it may be the best place to find alien life in our solar system.