Virginia from Space

Big shout-out to astronaut Ricky Arnold, who snapped this amazing photograph of Virginia a few hours ago. Most of my family, and most of the people I grew up with, are contained within this single frame. Beautiful, heady stuff.     

Latest from Low Earth Orbit

Since I’ve previously used this blog to write about my admiration for astronauts (links), I thought I’d provide an update on some of the people currently inhabiting the International Space Station. First and foremost, a big shout-out to Iowa-born Peggy Whitson, the current ISS commander who has spent more time in space than any other American, male Read More …

Fly Me to the Moon

You may have missed it given all the other headlines of late, but we have an early candidate for science story of the year. Two weeks ago, Elon Musk announced that his company, SpaceX, had been approached by two as-yet unnamed people who want to visit the Moon on one of his rockets and then return Read More …

Down to Earth

As you may have already heard, American astronaut Scott Kelly will soon return to Earth, both literally and figuratively, after spending (almost) an entire year aboard the International Space Station. During his lengthy stay in low-Earth orbit, he conducted hundreds of scientific experiments, and was himself subjected to scientific experimentation on a daily basis. Capt. Kelly, who had already Read More …

Year in Space

Those of you who watched President Obama’s State of the Union address last January may remember the President giving a shout-out to astronaut Scott Kelly, who was preparing to embark on a yearlong mission to the International Space Station. As the President explained at the time, the mission will monitor the effects of extended stays Read More …

First Mission to Pluto

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the New Horizons spacecraft recently streaked past Pluto and is now transmitting data from its close encounter with the distant dwarf-planet planet back home to Earth. It will take NASA scientists a while to decipher all the data, but the first HD images are already pretty impressive. One Read More …

Updates from Space

Given that we’ve seen an avalanche of historic headlines over the past week or so (examples here, here, here, and here), you might not have heard about a slew of interesting developments in outer space. For example, you may recall that the world was ecstatic when the Philae lander bounced onto the surface of Comet Read More …

The View From Here

Yesterday marked 25 years since the Hubble telescope was launched into orbit. After a famously blurry start, more than a few servicing missions, and at least one totally awesome IMAX movie, the telescope has provided reliably amazing images of the universe for more than two decades. To celebrate the achievement, NASA released this gorgeous photograph Read More …

Sunsets on Tatooine

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God?” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson Yesterday, astronomers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California made an interesting discovery. While studying an exoplanet in a triple-star system, they Read More …

Selfies in Space

I’m happy to report that yesterday’s spacewalk went off without a hitch, and that American astronauts Barry Wilmore (Commander) and Terry Virts (Flight Engineer) are now safely back inside the International Space Station. The pair completed several tasks during their six-hour spacewalk, including one that is quickly becoming an informal tradition when leaving the ISS: Read More …

Ancient Planets

Another day, another major development in humanity’s rapidly advancing search for Life elsewhere in the universe. You’ll recall from previous posts that scientists have discovered more than 1,700 exoplanets orbiting distant stars over the past few years. Now comes news that astrophysicists have discovered five Earth-sized terrestrial exoplanets that are more than 11 billion years Read More …

Astronaut Tweets

In 2009, astronaut Mike Massamino made headlines when he became the first person to ever tweet from space, and, a few months later, astronaut Timothy J. Creamer made additional headlines when he became the first person to ever live tweet from space. At least that’s what I’ve read. Truth be told, I don’t actually remember Read More …

Updates on Titan

Scientists have long identified Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, as one of the most intriguing objects in the immediate celestial neighborhood. For starters, there’s its size. Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system (behind only Ganymede), and is even larger than Mercury. What’s more, Titan is covered by an unusually thick atmosphere. This feature Read More …

Through the Strait of Gibraltar

Last week, scientists announced that they had discerned new historical details about one of the planet’s most famous waterways, the Strait of Gibraltar. After analyzing core samples from the Gulf of Cádiz, they confirmed that water began trickling out of the Mediterranean Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean around five-million years ago, that it had Read More …

Earth from Space… LIVE

Last month, the privately funded Dragon spacecraft delivered the nationally funded High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment to the globally funded International Space Station.  We are all the better for it.  Astronauts have since installed four HD cameras onto the exterior of the International Space Station, thereby providing the rest of us with a LIVE Read More …

Manatees in Space

Although I’ve spent most of my adult life studying the history of biology, the people who know me best know that my first love was and always will be astronomy. That’s why I was so excited when I recently came across the image in the overhead banner. The nebula is more than 700 light-years across, Read More …

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

You may recall that I recently posted a remarkable photograph of the Korean Peninsula at night. Taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, the photograph shows South Korea ablaze in artificial lights, while North Korea is shrouded in almost total darkness. Not long thereafter, Nature published this fascinating article that shed considerable light on Read More …