space

NASA announced Tuesday the discovery of an unprecedented number of planets beyond our solar system — astronomers have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new worlds orbiting distant stars.

These planets beyond our solar system — exoplanets — were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009.

Scientists have had a literal breakthrough off the coast of Mexico.

After weeks of drilling from an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico, they have reached rocks left over from the day the Earth was hit by a killer asteroid.

Its name will be "Red Dragon." And if the latest partnership between SpaceX and NASA works out, the privately funded craft will land on Mars to collect scientific data — possibly within the next two years. The plan is to use the Dragon capsule, but without a human crew.

"SpaceX is planning to send Dragons to Mars as early as 2018," the company said via Facebook Wednesday. "These missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars."

Paul Van Der Woof / Creative Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons follows the theory that people can't be trusted to take care of common property without degrading it or taking more than their fair share of resources. This idea was popularized by William Forster Lloyd, who published a pamphlet in 1833 using cow herders to prove that people couldn't be trusted to share our common resources wisely. He believed property should be owned privately.

Thegreatlandoni / Flickr

From scientists to fiction writers, conspiracy theorists to theologians, aliens have captured the imagination of us all. But as we ponder the possibilities let us pause to ask ourselves why.

Why do these yet to be found creatures from space occupy such a central role in the musings of so many? And should their existence be confirmed, what will it mean for us on Earth?

On March 9, a total solar eclipse was perfectly visible in Indonesia. Alaska, Hawaii, parts of southeast Asia and some of Australia got a partial view.

The rest of us, alas, were out of luck.

But now you can enjoy the view from another angle — the solar eclipse as seen from space.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

A local astronomer will be watching closely in the coming days as decades of his work flies into space aboard a Japanese rocket.

The astronomer whose work helped kick Pluto out of the pantheon of planets says he has good reason to believe there's an undiscovered planet bigger than Earth lurking in the distant reaches of our solar system.

A rare sight will greet early risers starting Wednesday morning. About 45 minutes before sunrise, five planets – Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter – will all be visible in the sky.

The best time to get planetary sightseeing in will be at the end of the week. By then, the five aforementioned planets will form an arch-shaped line in the sky that will be fairly easy to follow. The moon will pop up in the intergalactic line-up shortly thereafter.

A mind-boggling stellar explosion is baffling astronomers, who say this cosmic beast is so immensely powerful that no one's sure exactly what made it go boom.

The recently discovered inferno is about 200 times more powerful than a typical exploding star, or supernova, and 570 billion times brighter than our sun. It was first spotted in June by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, nicknamed the "Assassin" project, so it's called ASASSN-15lh.

It's the solstice again, which is an astronomer's favorite time of year. That's because it's one of the few occasions where we have anything semi-practical to say to anyone.

"Hey, Adam, you're an astronomer. What's this whole solstice thing about?"

Well, I'm glad you asked.

It is without a doubt a spectacular moment for the space industry: Just months after the setback of a launch explosion, a SpaceX rocket managed to launch satellites into space, then tumble back to Earth, use rockets to stabilize itself and stick the landing on a small pad in Florida.

In a finding that suggests "considerable water activity" on Mars, NASA says its Curiosity rover has found very high concentrations of silica on the red planet. The agency says it also found "a mineral named tridymite, rare on Earth and never seen before on Mars."

The best photos from the New Horizons spacecraft that buzzed Pluto earlier this year are now making their way back to Earth, providing resolutions of less than 100 yards per pixel.

There's a building in Mountain View, Calif., where energy-saving technologies of the future are being tried on for size.

Step inside, and the first thing you notice is the building is dead quiet: no noisy air whooshing through louvers.

That's because the building uses passive cooling instead of traditional air conditioning. Cool ground water passes through a system of small tubes running below the ceiling.

Astronomers have spotted what they believe to be the most distant object ever seen in our solar system.

The dwarf planet, known for now simply as V774104, is more than 100 times farther from the sun than we are. Astronomers aren't sure what it's doing out there, but they're hoping follow-up studies of its orbit will teach them more.

Few images can put life's trivialities into perspective quite like the sight of our planet in the interminable blackness of space.

And at the very least, it's a cool view.

On Monday, NASA announced that this view will be available every day on a new website dedicated to publishing images from a satellite camera 1 million miles away from Earth.

Carter Roberts / NASA

A star in the direction of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra has some astronomers scratching their heads. It's pretty run-of-the mill by stellar standards, but what appears to be passing in front of the star is a bit of a mystery.

Mars is cold and dry, but billions of years ago, it was cold and wet. That's according to new evidence from NASA's Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring a large crater on Mars.

Wikimedia Commons

As NASA contemplates more voyages exploring our inner solar system, it’s tapping the talents of some scientists here in Connecticut. One scientist hopes to send a probe to Venus.

Scientists have caught Mars crying salty tears.

Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. The streaks appear in sunny spots or when the weather is warm, and they fade when the temperature drops.

Maybe you've become inured to all the superlatives that get attached to sky-watching events. But the one on Sunday really is worth a look — it's the first total eclipse that's also a supermoon and a blood moon in more than three decades.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

In her latest book, author and scholar Marcia Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped bring Einstein's general theory of relativity back into the spotlight.

Stephen Hawking, who once stunned the scientific community by saying that black holes emit radiation, expounded on another groundbreaking theory on Tuesday.

Set your alarm clocks. The Perseid meteor shower, the annual celestial lightshow that Space.com com calls the most widely observed and dependable meteor display of the year, will peak tonight and early tomorrow morning.

Sherman Geronimo-Tan / Creative Commons

Is scientific progress suffering from a lack of creativity?

This hour, we talk to the author of The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility to find out how increasingly cautious funding decisions are impacting scientific innovation and discovery. 

This hour, we'll talk about Ben Rothenberg's Serena-driven body image piece, and the stir it caused. Mark Leibovitch's peice on

NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

On Tuesday night, astronomers got an encouraging signal from New Horizons -- after 21 hours of radio silence, the NASA probe reported it had safely made its way past Pluto. Now, scientists in Connecticut say the real work begins. 

Sherman Geronimo-Tan / Creative Commons

Is scientific progress suffering from a lack of creativity?

This hour, we talk to the author of The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility to find out how increasingly cautious funding decisions are impacting scientific innovation and discovery. 

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