A robot arm, partially buried in red dust.

NASA “mole’s” attempts to dig into Mars failed. What’s next?

The mission team for NASA’s InSight lander called off its attempts to try to dig deeper into Mars with the heat probe known as “the mole.” Meanwhile, the rest of the mission gained an extension to December 2022.

Large radio telescope dish with five towers around it, surrounded by forest.

China’s huge FAST telescope to open to international observers

FAST’s 500-meter (1,640-foot) dish makes it the world’s largest single-dish radio observatory. It’s expected to open to international observers in 2021.

A view from a rocket heading upward, looking down on Earth and a stack of satellites.

SpaceX’s 1st Starlink launch of 2021 went off without a hitch Wednesday

SpaceX launched 60 more of its Starlink satellites on January 20, 2021. SpaceX ultimately intends to launch tens of thousands of these satellites, to provide global internet access. Here’s why astronomers are concerned.

A swirling storm in Jupiter's atmosphere.

Striped brown dwarf looks a lot like Jupiter

The surface features of brown dwarfs – objects midway in mass between planets and stars – can’t be seen. But researchers have found a way to reveal Jupiter-like stripes and bands in the atmosphere of the closest brown dwarf, Luhman 16B.

A close-up of a single engine firing.

NASA’s moon rocket test Saturday didn’t go as planned

This final test of NASA’s SLS megarocket was needed to launch the first uncrewed mission in the Artemis program – Artemis 1 – by the end of 2021. Now the program’s schedule is uncertain.

6 space missions to look forward to in 2021

Here are some of the space missions to keep an eye out for in 2021.

An illustration of the spiral-shaped flat disk of the Milky Way, with arcs of star streams extending above and below the galactic disk.

Theia 456 is a stretched-out stream of sibling stars

A close look at the “stellar stream” known as Theia 456 finds it contains contains 468 stars born at the same time.

A tiny black dot at the center of a swirling disk. A jet appears to emanate from the dot, perpendicular to the disk.

A new record for the most distant quasar

Astronomers have a new measurement for the distance of quasar J0313-1806, making it the new record-holder for the most distant quasar known. We’re seeing it just 670 million years after the Big Bang, or more than 13 billion light-years away.

A very faint star field, with the comet, a tiny dot, within tick marks.

Newly found Comet Leonard might become 2021’s brightest

The first comet to be found in 2021 – labeled C/2021 A1 (Leonard) – might become the brightest comet of this year! Charts and more info here.

A white, egg shaped spacecraft capsule is seen floating in the ocean water, hauled by a small boat to a larger boat nearby.

SpaceX Cargo Dragon succeeds in 1st Atlantic splashdown

Space’sX CRS-21 Cargo Dragon returned to Earth from the ISS today, January 13, 2021, splashing down off the coast of Florida for the first time ever. The ship also succeeded in the first-ever autonomous undocking.

An oval shape, with a pattern of orange and blue blotches.

A new look at the universe’s oldest light

New work agrees with older research suggesting the oldest light in the universe – from the most distant galaxy yet known – started its journey toward us 13.77 billion years ago.

Center circle with white plus sign in center, with radiating pattern around it and bright spot next to it.

New and rare direct image of a brown dwarf

Astronomers have obtained one of the best images yet of a brown dwarf, an object in a mass range midway between stars and planets. This brown dwarf – called HD 33632 Ab – lies 86 light-years from our sun.

The sun in 2020

See a whole year of sun images, an image a day for 2020, taken by ESA’s Proba-2 satellite.

Is a solar flare the same thing as a CME?

Solar Cycle 25 is here, and that means – in the years ahead – more solar flares and more coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. People sometimes use the words interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Here’s the difference.

Bright reddish star with large flares and nearby planet.

Hostile space weather might not be all bad for exoplanet life

A new study from Northwestern University shows that solar flares – space weather – might not always be as dangerous for life on exoplanets as typically thought. In fact, it might even help astronomers discover alien life on distant worlds.

Simulated solar system orbits, showing the location of the Earth and the asteroid on January 6, 2021.

Biggest asteroid to pass Earth in 2021 also one of the fastest

On March 21, when asteroid 2001 FO32 sweeps past Earth, it’ll be moving at such a fast pace that observers using telescopes might be able to detect its motion – its drift in front of the stars – in real time.

This illustration puts PitRanger at the edge of a moon pit, peering its camera inside.

Meet PitRanger: Tiny rover designed to probe the lunar underworld

Researchers have been busily building a prototype of a 33-pound (15 kg) lunar mini-robot, set to be the key instrument in a future mission aimed at capturing high-definition images of moon pits.

2021’s Quadrantid meteors: All you need to know

In a dark sky, you might see 25 meteors per hour at the Quadrantid’s peak, or more. Here’s how to watch.

220 years ago today: 1st asteroid discovered

Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the asteroid Ceres – now considered a dwarf planet – on January 1, 1801.

Dark splotch-like patches of frozen water-ice are pictured on the surface of Mars.

New ice-mapping Mars mission slated for 2026 launch

The Mars Ice Mapper is a proposed Mars satellite being developed by NASA in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency. Its job is to create detailed geographic maps of water ice across the surface of the red planet.