The fiery fate of China’s Long March 5B rocket

The core stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket – which launched the Tianhe space station module – plummeted into the Indian Ocean on May 8, 2021. In a statement issued that day, new NASA administrator Bill Nelson criticized China’s handling of the re-entry.

Illustration of round spacecraft hurtling towards a black circle.

Warp drives: Physicists give chances of faster-than-light space travel a boost

If humanity wants to travel between stars, people are going to need to travel faster than the fastest-moving stuff known in our universe: light. New research suggests that it might be possible to build warp drives and beat the galactic speed limit.

Swimming up sky and up river

A couple of charts from master chart-maker Guy Ottewell, showing Mercury in the sky now and throughout 2021. Plus a word about a lost whale …

Planet in black and white with many thin streaks around it and stars in the background.

Natural radio signal buzzes in Venus’ atmosphere

New measurements from Parker Solar Probe – the first new direct measurements of Venus’ atmosphere in nearly 30 years – showed an unexpected natural radio signal being emitted by Venus’ ionosphere. The probe made the discovery while using Venus as a “gravity slingshot” to come closer to the sun.

Large white star to the left, tiny blue star to the right, against a starstrewn background.

How do you measure the mass of a star?

Binary stars – a star system consisting of two stars – are extremely useful. They give all the information needed to measure the stars masses’. Here is how.

Two suns rising over a barren landscape with mountains in the distance.

These 5 multi-star systems have habitable zones

Astronomers have identified 5 multi-star systems that have stable habitable zones. This means that any rocky worlds that may exist in those zones could potentially have life.

Rocky outcrop with horizontal layers.

History of Mars’ habitability preserved in ancient dunes

On Earth, scientists study rock layers and the fossils embedded in them to learn about ancient life. A new study focused on red Mars – the desert planet – did something similar. It looked at the record of changing habitability preserved in ancient dune fields.

Man below ground in mining gear.

Mars might support microbial life, deep underground

New research suggests that the Mars underground has the right ingredients for present-day microbial life.

Illustration of a spacecraft on barren red dirt.

Chinese rover Zhurong to attempt to land on Mars this month

The Chinese Tianwen-1 mission’s Zhurong rover will attempt to land on the surface of Mars in mid-May 2021.

Dark planet in front of its larger bright star.

NASA expects upcoming space telescope to find 100,000 new worlds

NASA’s Roman space telescope mission – launching sometime in the mid-2020s – is expected to find at least 100,000 new exoplanets orbiting other stars, say astronomers.

A rocket body, seen from cameras carried higher up on the rocket, with the curve of Earth below.

SpaceX Starship prototype soars 6 miles up, then lands upright

SpaceX’s test flight of Starship SN15 went off without a hitch today, May 5, 2021. Following 4 Starship prototypes that exploded upon landing after their high-altitude flight tests, the SN15 landed safely.

Greenish streak of light in dark sky.

Photos from 2021’s Eta Aquariid meteor shower

Check out these pics from the annual Eta Aquariid meteor shower. The peak morning was likely May 5, 2021, but the following morning, May 6, might be good, too.

Oval filled with swirly blue colors, with a horizontal stripe and a bulge of stars, and two small irregular galaxies, all labeled.

Map of Milky Way halo reveals dark matter ocean

The gravity of the Large Magellanic Cloud – one of the Milky Way’s satellite dwarf galaxies – is collecting stars behind it in a trail, like the wake from a boat, as it travels through our galaxy’s halo.

A hexagonal white panel is displayed, battered and worn, with the writing SpaceX faintly visible.

Florida bill says companies like SpaceX retain ownership of fallen hardware

In and around Florida, at least, no more “finders keepers” once a new bill becomes law on July 1. The Spaceflight Assets bill affirmed by the Florida legislature in late April 2021 requires that anyone who finds “reasonably identifiable” spacecraft parts make a “reasonable effort” to notify the hardware’s owner.

Sphere with arrow emerging at poles and red, blue, and green mottlings.

The length of a day on Venus is always changing

Scientists have used radio waves to precisely measure Venus’ spin rate and tilt on its axis. We knew the Venus day was exceedingly long, but now we know that the length of a day on Venus regularly changes in length!

What Proxima’s massive flare means for our chances of alien neighbors

In May 2019, astronomers measured the largest flare ever from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun. What do such flares mean for possible alien life, on a planet in the Proxima Centauri system, only 4 light-years away?

Small rock in sand.

Space rock found on Earth traced back to origins on Vesta

In 2018, a small asteroid crashed into Earth, and scientists recovered pieces of it in a Botswana game reserve. Now the scientists have determined the space rock’s origin: Vesta, in the asteroid belt.

Night view illustration of the LOFAR telescope, with a bright starlike object in the sky and rainbow coloured emission emanating from it towards the telescope. Inset with spiral galaxy.

Radio waves from famous FRB surprisingly long and late

Astronomers have managed to detect very long wavelength radio emission from a well-studied, repeating fast radio burst, called FRB 20180916B. What’s more, the longer wavelengths arrive 3 days after the shorter wavelength counterpart of the signal! Why?

Entangled pattern in red and blue.

See 2 black holes in cosmic dance

NASA has released a cool new visualization showing two massive black holes orbiting each other in a stunning display of light. The intense gravity and other phenomena all play a part in producing this mesmerizing display. Watch here.

Google map showing the Atlantic Ocean with little red dots strewn across the hemisphere.

Check out this week’s asteroid impact exercise

Follow the action as asteroid scientists, space agencies and civil protection organizations participate in a drill – simulating an asteroid impact about to happen – during this week’s virtual Planetary Defense Conference.