Good news! Three space telescopes, including Hubble, have combined their celestial powers to spot a moon orbiting a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt — the region beyond Neptune where Pluto and countless other icy bodies live. According to NASA, the dwarf planet's moon has a lot to teach scientists about how moons formed in the early solar system — but sadly, it has no name. Its planet's name, on the other hand, is garbage — 2007 OR10 and its satellite friend desperately need some rebranding.
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On August 21, millions of people across the United States, from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, will be able to witness something that hasn't been seen here since 1979: a total solar eclipse. To commemorate the rare celestial occurrence, the US post office has issued a new forever stamp.
Saturn is having a moment. Today, NASA announced that one of its moons, Enceladus, has the key ingredients to support microbial life. Around the same time, NASA's Cassini spacecraft dropped some jaw-dropping images of another one of Saturn's quirky moons, and while this one may not have a subterranean ocean, it sure is an adorable little pasta.
Humans (not you, you'll be dead) are going to have to live somewhere other than Earth eventually. There might be some options for new homes on Mars, the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, or even one of the planets in the Trappist-1 system. But what about the Moon for starters? It's round like our Earth, it's close, it has gravity — what more could you want?
We're all a little uncoordinated at times, but when you're a hunk of metal hurling through space, the consequences are a bit more severe. This week, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), which has been orbiting the Red Planet for two years, had to perform a last-minute manoeuvre to avoid a disastrous collision with Mars' moon, Phobos. NBD, though.
On Monday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that for the first time in history, it will be sending two private citizens on a trip around the Moon, in a Dragon 2 spacecraft. Because sending untrained civilians into space apparently isn't enough of a gamble, Musk added that this mission would be taking place in Q4 of 2018. As an added reminder for emphasis, that's next year. Another reminder: SpaceX has yet to send any humans into space, period.
There are so many conflicting studies about the Moon's origins that at times, it feels impossible to keep up. For something so close to us, it's astonishing how little concrete information we have about how the Moon was formed. But a new study could clear up some confusion around the Moon's infancy by searching for answers in a seriously unorthodox way — with nuclear fallout.
Earth has some battle scars from back in the day. When the solar system was still young and wild, roughly four billion years ago, Earth, its Moon and Mars were attacked by a series of asteroid assailants. It's long been assumed that the space rocks involved in the assault — called the Late Heavy Bombardment — are now floating around in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The general scientific consensus is as follows: early Earth collided with something roughly the size of Mars, chipping off a bit of our planet which would become our Moon. But there's new research to suggest the Moon was formed by a whole bunch of tiny collisions instead, over millions of years, with the fragments eventually forming the Moon we see today.
The researchers say this would explain why the Moon appears to be composed largely of Earth-like material, rather than a mix of Earth and another planet.
Today, Donald Trump wrapped up a meeting with Rice University professor and historian Douglas Brinkley. According to members of the press pool following the president-elect, the crux of their conversation revolved around "a man going to the moon". Naturally we must ask ourselves: Does Trump know the US has done that no less than a dozen times?
Going to the Moon is officially hip again, thanks in no small part to Google, which is offering $US20 million to the first private company that can land on our nearest neighbour, roll around a bit, and beam images back to Earth. The latest contender for that sweet sweet X-Prize money is Japan, which has just obtained a launch vehicle for the shiny metal cheese grater rover it plans to send to the Moon late next year.
Last night, photographers around the world turned their cameras to the sky to capture the closest full moon — also known as a supermoon — since 1948. We've scoured the web to bring you some of our favourite photos of the celestial event that took our minds off the current state of world affairs for a few blissful minutes.
Entire lifetimes have come and gone without the moon looking quite as large as it will this month. On November 14, skygazers will witness the closest full moon, or "supermoon", of 2016. But more excitingly, it will be the closest full moon since 1948 - and we won't get another one like it until 2034.
Bad news, would-be lunar colonists: That dusty, airless space rock you dream of escaping to is apparently swarming with deadly projectiles. According to a new study, Earth's nearest neighbour is being bombarded by small, fast-moving chunks of debris, at a rate 100 times faster than impact models previously estimated.