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What the view of Mars might look like from inside the Interplanetary Transport System. Image via SpaceX.

Need details on SpaceX’s Mars mission?

Links, photos and more about Elon Musk’s plan to make humans a multiplanetary species.

It’s small, it’s hot, and it’s shrinking. Surprising new NASA-funded research suggests that Mercury is contracting even today, joining Earth as a tectonically active planet. Image via NASA/JHUAPL/Carnegie Institution of Washington/USGS/Arizona State University

Mercury is tectonically active, says study

New findings suggest Mercury is contracting, and might be the only other planet in the solar system to experience earthquakes – or “mercuryquakes.”


Farewell, Rosetta comet mission

Follow ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft as it makes a controlled descent to the comet’s surface this week. There will be activities online both September 29 and 30.

Image via NASA

Possible water plumes spotted on Europa

Water plumes erupting on Jupiter’s moon Europa might make it easier to investigate whether life exists in the warm ocean believed to be deep beneath its icy surface.

Image via NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI)

Last hurrah of sunlike star

New Hubble image shows the demise of a sunlike star. Our own sun will also burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years.

This view shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. Saturn's year is nearly 30 Earth years long, and during its long time there, Cassini has observed winter and spring in the north, and summer and fall in the south. The spacecraft will complete its mission just after northern summer solstice, having observed long-term changes in the planet's winds, temperatures, clouds and chemistry. Image via NASA JPL.

Cassini begins epic final year at Saturn

The spacecraft will plunge repeatedly between Saturn and its rings, and finally execute a headlong plummet into the body of Saturn itself.

Andrew Wetzel’s simulation shows stars in the Milky Way-like galaxy on the left and the same region’s dark matter on the right. Image is provided courtesy of Andrew Wetzel. Via Carnegie Science.

Dwarf galaxies and dark matter update

Standard cosmology calls for many more dwarf galaxies than we see. A new computer simulation suggests we might not need so many dwarf galaxies, after all.

3-mm GMVA image of the galaxy NGC 1052 showing a compact region at the centre and two jets (bottom), and sketch of the system with an accretion disk and two regions of entangled magnetic fields forming two powerful jets (top).  The compact region in the image pinpoints the location of the supermassive black hole at the heart of NGC 1052, and the enormous magnetic fields surrounding the event horizon trigger the two powerful jets observed with our radio telescopes.

© Anne-Kathrin Baczko et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics

Twin jets pinpoint active galaxy’s heart

The supermassive black hole at the heart of NGC 1052 is now the most precisely located supermassive black hole in the universe … almost.

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Hubble sees a comet breaking up

This comet is spinning so fast it’s ejecting building-sized chunks, littering space with a debris trail as wide as the continental U.S.


Pluto ‘paints’ its largest moon red

“Who would have thought that Pluto is a graffiti artist, spray-painting its companion with a reddish stain that covers an area the size of New Mexico?”

This closeup view from NASA's Curiosity rover shows finely layered rocks, deposited by wind long ago as migrating sand dunes. Imag via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars rover views spectacular layered rock

Newest images from the Curiosity Rover: Martian landscapes and rocky outcrops that look almost like the U.S. Southwest.

The new lighthouse model (a snapshot from Movie 1) and simulation results from the present research (inset on the right.) In the simulation results, the red indicates stronger radiation, and the arrows show the directions of photon flow. In this figure, many photons are produced near the surface of the neutron star and escape from the side of the accretion column. (Credit: NAOJ)

Impossibly bright monster pulsars

Astronomers in Japan used a supercomputer and a hypothetical neutron star to explain blinking, enigmatic objects known as Ultra Luminous X-ray pulsars.

The image shows an area nicknamed the "Xanadu annex" by members of the Cassini radar team, earlier in the mission. Image via NASA/ JPL.

Glorious new images show Titan’s dunes

Cassini spacecraft will begin its grand finale at Saturn in 2017. This was one of Cassini’s last close flybys of Saturn’s large moon, Titan.

These nebulae seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, at left, may resemble two versions of the starship Enterprise from "Star Trek," overlaid at right. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Fun! Enterprise Nebulae

More examples of pareidolia, seeing familiar objects in unrelated patterns. These 2 nebulae will be close to the hearts of Star Trek fans.


See asteroid mission launch September 8

NASA’s first sample return mission to an asteroid launches Thursday at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 UTC). Links here to follow the mission online.

Tarzan 5. It looks like a globular cluster, but contains an unusual mix of stars. Image via NASA/ESA/Hubble/F. Ferraro.

A rare relic of the early Milky Way

Terzan 5 looks like an ordinary globular cluster, but has stars of hugely different ages. Some of its stars are similar to the Milky Way’s most ancient stars.


Small asteroid to pass very close today

Asteroid 2016 RB1 will pass safely – at about the distance of our geosynchronous satellites – on September 7, 2016.


Brown dwarfs hiding in plain sight

Brown dwarfs are like stars, but too small to ignite fusion in their cores and so shine as stars do. If you saw one, it wouldn’t be brown. It’d be magenta.

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on August, 27, 2016. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Listen to Jupiter’s auroras

Plus more cool stuff from the Juno spacecraft’s August 27 closest-yet flyby of Jupiter.

The strange mountain on dwarf planet Ceres, called Ahuna Mons.

Update on Dawn mission to Ceres

The Dawn spacecraft is still orbiting Ceres. It went into an extended mission mode on July 1. Some mission highlights and current thinking, here.