Stunning view inside a young moon crater

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned some amazing high-resolution photos of the surface of the moon, including these ones of steep cliffs and impact melt inside a young crater called Giordano Bruno.

Segmented rod-like structure in a rock.

Did ancient Earth life escape our solar system?

You’ve heard of panspermia, the idea that life exists throughout space and was carried to Earth by comets? What if the reverse occurred, with microbes on Earth ejected into space by asteroid impacts, escaping into the solar system billions of years ago?

Roundish gray asteroid with black space in background.

Is Hygiea now the smallest dwarf planet?

New images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show that asteroid Hygiea is round, meaning that it may now be classified as the smallest-known dwarf planet in our solar system.

Edmond Halley’s magnificent prediction

Born on today’s date in the year 1656, English astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley was the first to predict the return of a comet. Today, Halley’s Comet – the most famous of all comets – bears his name.

TESS watched a black hole tear apart a star

TESS watched a black hole tear apart a star from start to finish, a cataclysmic phenomenon called a tidal disruption event.

Seven half-lit balls in a row, against a black background.

TESS spacecraft is finding hundreds of exoplanets

… and it’s poised to find thousands more. But will we find another Earth?

Bug dark blue circle with a swath of white cutting through it.

TESS planet-hunter shows you the southern sky

Mosaic of the southern sky constructed from 208 images by NASA’s TESS spacecraft, taken during the mission’s first year of science operations.

Artist's concept of 2 planets in a twilight sky, with one much brighter than the other.

Giant planet HR 5183b would look 15 times brighter than Venus

Contrary to previous thought, a giant planet in a wild orbit doesn’t mean there can’t be an Earth-like planet in the same system. What’s more, the view from that Earth-like world as its giant neighbor moves past would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Artist's concept of the Voyagers outside the heliosphere.

Voyager 2 sends back insights on interstellar space

Voyager 2 left the realm of the sun’s influence a year ago today, becoming the 2nd craft ever to do so. This week, the journal Nature Astronomy published 5 new papers describing what Voyager 2 has been seeing on its journey into the unknown.

Multi-colored rocky world with smooth plains and craters.

NASA studies plan to send an orbiter to Pluto

Remember when New Horizons swept past Pluto in 2015? That was exciting! Who knew Pluto had a heart? Now scientists are proposing a new Pluto orbiter mission. It would gather details on Pluto’s heart and the rest of its youthful surface, its hazy bluish nitrogen atmosphere, and its system of 5 known moons.

Breakthrough Listen and TESS team up for SETI

Will we ever hear from an alien civilization? Will we hear from one in our lifetimes? Now 2 powerhouses in the world of astronomy have teamed up to optimize the chances of a successful search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Large space rock appear close to Earth.

Small asteroid paid a heavy price for almost striking Earth Thursday

Earth’s gravity bent the trajectory of asteroid C0PPEV1 – also known as 2019 UN13 – as it swept only 3,852 miles (6,200 km) above Africa. As a result, its farthest point from the sun has now shifted out to the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Rocky planet with water.

How unique is Earth?

Scientists studying white dwarf stars have found that some contain traces of rocky debris very similar in composition to rocks found on Earth. The finding suggests that worlds similar to Earth might be common in our Milky Way galaxy.

Widening yellow to orange circles with a black ball in the center.

How to find a wormhole … if they exist

A team of physicists proposes that perturbations in the orbits of stars near supermassive black holes could be used to detect wormholes … if they exist.

One one side of the image, a bright starry explosion. In the rest of the image, a universe of stars and galaxies.

Putting the ‘bang’ in Big Bang

Physicists have pondered how the cold, uniform matter of the inflationary early universe became the ultrahot, complex mixture of matter, space and time that led to the universe we know. New work simulates a bridge between cosmic inflation and … everything else.

Dark view of grey soil with bright specks.

An update on that ‘gel’ on the moon

China’s Yutu-2 rover has sent back a new image of the unusual “gel-like” material it found last July, which seems to confirm that it’s not gel at all. Instead, it now appears it’s probably impact glass from a meteorite impact.

Three planets and green habitable zone around a star.

How small is the smallest habitable exoplanet?

Where can we expect to find life beyond Earth? A new study has redefined the lower limit in mass for habitable exoworlds. It suggests that low-mass waterworlds might exist and might be a place to look.

Artist's concept of 2 planets colliding.

When exoplanets collide

Ten years ago, scientists speculated that warm dust in the exoplanet system BD +20 307 – located 300 light years away – had resulted from a planet-to-planet collision. Now astronomers see 10% more warm dust in this system, further supporting the idea of a collision between worlds.

Did the Viking landers find life on Mars in 1976?

For a brief time in 1976, it seemed as if NASA’s Viking landers had found microbes on Mars! Those results have been vigorously disputed in the years since, but the original experiment’s principal investigator, Gilbert Levin, still maintains they really did detect Martian microbes.

Deep crater with shadows on the moon.

What’s the source of the ice at the moon’s south pole?

A new study from Brown University suggests that different deposits of ice at the moon’s south pole not only originated from different sources, but also vary greatly in age.