Exciting progress on NASA’s next Mars mission

The Mars Helicopter – which will launch with Mars 2020 – has now passed some key tests. Plus engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, celebrate with a selfie after attaching the Mars 2020 rover’s remote sensing mast.

Today in science: Sally Ride in space

She was the 1st American woman in space, eventually flying on 2 Space Shuttle missions. She played a key role in the investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. And she inspired people.

Atmospheric CO2 hits record high in May 2019

NOAA reports that carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere continued its rapid rise in 2019, reaching the highest recorded levels in 61 years of observation last month.

All you need to know: June solstice 2019

This is solstice week. Longest day ahead for the Northern Hemisphere. Shortest day ahead for the Southern Hemisphere. Details here.

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No, asteroid 2006 QV89 won’t strike Earth in September

There’ve been scare stories online this month about asteroid 2006 QV89, a space rock that’ll pass closest to Earth on September 9, 2019. Should you be scared? Heck no.

What causes flashes on the moon?

People have reported seeing Transient Lunar Phenomena – unusual flashes and other lights on the moon – for at least 1,000 years. Yet they’re still mysterious. Now a scientist in Germany is using a new telescope to try to solve the mystery.

What’s a penumbral eclipse of the moon?

During a penumbral eclipse, observant people in the right spot on Earth will look up and notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others look and notice nothing at all.

Amazing June for noctilucent clouds

For the northern part of Earth, the season for seeing noctilucent clouds – clouds that shine at night – typically begins in June. This June has been particularly fine for seeing these electric-blue clouds. Photos and video here.

The undark nights of summer

Guy Ottewell lives in England. His illustrations of 3-dimensional space are illuminating. Long summer twilights, explained.

Has the ball lightning mystery been solved?

What is ball lightning? Scientists have been trying to figure that out for hundreds of years, and now it seems they may finally be close to solving one of Earth’s most intriguing natural mysteries.

Two Friday the 13ths in 2019

Do you have friggatriskaidekaphobia … an irrational fear of Friday the 13th? Today isn’t Friday the 13th. But it is exactly 13 weeks before a Friday the 13th in September. Then, exactly 13 weeks after that, 2019’s second Friday the 13th will fall in December. Zoinks!

US astronomers speak on SpaceX Starlink satellites

The American Astronomical Society – chief organization for US astronomers – said it is in conversations with SpaceX about the impending launch of 12,000 Starlink satellites. The astronomers worry the satellites will interfere with their work of understanding the universe.

IAU invites countries to name exoplanets

Nearly 100 countries have already signed up to organize national campaigns, to provide the public with an opportunity to vote. The deadline is July 30 to express interest in organizing a national campaign. The IAU will announce results in December.