Space News & Blog Articles

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Atlas V rocket launches missile-detecting satellite for U.S. Space Force

The sixth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite lifted off this morning (Aug. 4), completing the SBIRS GEO constellation for the U.S. Space Force.

Best zoom lenses

These are the best zoom lenses you can get right now for Canon, Nikon, Sony and other cameras.

Just how big can a super-Earth get while staying 'habitable'?

But could these giant, rocky planets actually sustain the conditions for life? Or is life limited to smaller planets like our own?

Meteors seem to be raining down on New Zealand, but why are some bright green?

Why are these meteors burning green, and what does it have to do with the aurora?

SpaceX will launch South Korea's 1st moon mission today: Watch live

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday (Aug. 4) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Watch Blue Origin launch 6 people to suborbital space Thursday morning

Blue Origin will launch six people to suborbital space and back on Thursday morning (Aug. 4), and you can watch the action live.

Rocket Lab launches US spy satellite on mystery mission

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-199 mission launched early this morning (Aug. 4) atop a Rocket Lab Electron booster from New Zealand.

Live coverage: Atlas 5 rocket ready for liftoff at dawn Thursday

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission will launch the U.S. Space Force’s SBIRS GEO 6 missile warning satellite toward geosynchronous orbit. Text updates will appear automatically below. Follow us on Twitter.

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United Launch Alliance’s fifth mission of the year is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral during during a 40-minute launch window opening at 6:29 a.m. EDT (1029 GMT). An Atlas 5 rocket will launch on a $1.2 billion mission with a U.S. Space Force missile warning satellite.

The countdown is set to begin at 11:09 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0309 GMT Thursday) with the power-up of the rocket, checks of the launcher’s guidance system, and preparations to start loading cryogenic propellants into the Atlas 5.

The mission will be the fifth Atlas 5 flight of the year, and the 95th launch of an Atlas 5 rocket overall. It is one of 22 Atlas 5s remaining in ULA’s inventory before the rocket is retired. ULA, a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is developing the next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket to replace the Atlas and Delta rocket families.

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An Interstellar Meteor Struck the Earth in 2014, and now Scientists Want to Search for it at the Bottom of the Ocean

Back in 2014, an object crashed into the ocean just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Data collected at the time indicated that the meteorite just might be an interstellar object, and if that’s true, then it’s only the third such object known (after Oumuamua and Borisov), and the first known to exist on Earth. Launching an undersea expedition to find it would be a long shot, but the scientific payoff could be enormous.

Dubbed CNEOS 2014-01-08, the candidate interstellar object is believed to have measured about a half-meter wide, and its potentially interstellar origins were first recognized by then graduate student Amir Siraj and Harvard professor Avi Loeb. Using catalog data regarding the object’s trajectory, Siraj and Loeb concluded that it might be from beyond our solar system due to its unusually high heliocentric velocity – in other words, it was moving at speeds that suggest it may not be bound within the Sun’s gravity well.

There’s a catch, however. The data used to measure the object’s impact with Earth came from a US Department of Defense spy satellite, designed to monitor Earthly military activities. As such, the exact error values of the measurement are a carefully guarded secret – the US military is wary of allowing the precise capabilities of their satellite to become public domain information. But without these details, much of the scientific community understandably remains unwilling to officially classify CNEOS 2014-01-08 as an interstellar object. Siraj and Loeb’s paper therefore remains unpublished, having not yet passed peer review.

Their claim, however, was bolstered in April 2022, when the US Space Force’s Space Operations Command’s Chief Scientist, Joel Mozer, reviewed the classified data in question and “confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is sufficiently accurate to indicate an interstellar trajectory.”

While the official scientific classification of CNEOS 2014-01-08 seems doomed to remain in limbo for the time being, the statement by the US Space Force was enough to convince Siraj and Loeb of its interstellar origin, and they have now moved on to proposing possible ways to find the object and study it up close.

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You can watch 4 different rocket launches in free webcasts Thursday

If you're a fan of spaceflight, then Thursday will be a banner day with no less than four different rockets launching missions off planet Earth.

Astronomers Measure the Signal of Dark Matter From 12 Billion Years ago

Although the particles of dark matter continue to allude us, astronomers continue to find evidence of it. In a recent study, they have seen its effect from the edge of visible space, when the universe was just 1.5 billion years old.

Dark matter doesn’t emit its own light, nor does it absorb light like a dark cloud. But it does affect light gravitationally. So clumps of dark matter create a gravitational lens that deflects and focuses light. Astronomers have long used this effect to map dark matter within galactic clusters. You can even see this lensing effect in the recent Webb deep field images. The light from more distant galaxies is warped by the mass of closer galaxies, which astronomers can map to calculate the distribution of dark matter in those closer galaxies.

But in this latest study, the galaxies are so distant that there aren’t really any more distant galaxies. Certainly none bright enough that we can see their lensed light. So instead, the team used the light from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). To map dark matter, the team used data from the Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam Survey (HSC), and identified about 1.5 million faint and distant galaxies. They then used data from the Plank satellite to see how CMB light was deflected. From this, they created a map of dark matter in the early universe.

The cosmic microwave background as seen by different satellites. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA

It’s the most distant measure of dark matter ever made, and it opens a possible crack in our current model of the universe. In the standard cosmological model, known as the LCDM model, dark energy drives the expansion of the universe, striving to push galaxies apart, while the gravitational attraction of matter and dark matter cause galaxies to clump together. According to LCDM, the scale at which we observe fluctuations in the cosmic background drives the scale at which galaxies cluster together, which tells us how densely galaxies should be clustered in the early universe. In this latest work, the amount of galactic clustering in the early period is slightly less than predicted by the LCDM model.

The uncertainty of the team’s measurements means their result isn’t conclusive. It’s possible that they simply under measured the clumping scale. But if it’s right, it suggests that the laws of the universe were a bit different 12 billion years ago. Combined with observations that show a tension in the rate of cosmic expansion, they could be on to something.

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SpaceX's private Polaris Dawn space crew targets December launch date: report

The first of the Polaris program launches should lift off in December 2022, its billionaire commander says.

Super-Earth planet zips through the habitable zone of red dwarf star

Low mass and dim red dwarf stars account for 75% of stars in the Milky Way and astronomers are attempting to discover planets that orbit them.

How satellites helped 345,000 people track Nancy Pelosi's historic flight into Taiwan

Hundreds of thousands of people used flight-tracking websites to follow the path of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's historic flight into Taiwan on Tuesday (Aug. 2).

Watch an Atlas V rocket launch a missile warning satellite for US Space Force on Thursday

The rocket will carry the Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Flight 6 (SBIRS Geo-6) satellite into orbit.

Cape Canaveral on the cusp of new records amid blistering launch rate

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket heads downrange after a Jan. 31 launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Credit: SpaceX

With two rockets from industry rivals United Launch Alliance and SpaceX ready for liftoff just 12 hours apart Thursday, the Cape Canaveral spaceport is poised to surpass the record for most missions in a year to fly into orbit from its launch pads. The launch day doubleheader would also mark the shortest span between two space launches from Florida’s Space Coast since 1967.

ULA and SpaceX, the two launch companies with the biggest presence on the Space Coast, are scheduled to launch rockets Thursday morning and Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The U.S. Space Force, which runs the Eastern Range that oversees public safety for launches out of Florida’s Space Coast, has been ready to support two launches in a single day for at least a couple of years. Space Launch Delta 45, formerly the 45th Space Wing, has upgraded infrastructure, streamlined operations, and encouraged rocket companies to switch to autonomous flight safety systems to help shorten the time needed between launches.

Col. Mark Shoemaker, the vice commander of Space Launch Delta 45, said the range has booked launches on the same day on more than 20 occasions in the last two-and-a-half years. But the launches have been delayed by bad weather or technical issues with the rocket.

“There’s been a ton of hard work across our operations, our infrastructure, our instrumentation, technical pieces, our safety team, just across the board, the entirety of our organization, to get to this point,” Shoemaker said in an interview with Spaceflight Now.

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Former astronauts must chaperone private missions to the International Space Station, NASA says

NASA issued a notice changing the rules on privately run crewed missions to the ISS after the experience of Ax-1, which saw its private astronauts ask the ISS crew for help.

Axiom Space deal will put New Zealand research on the International Space Station

New Zealand partners with private space exploration firm Axiom Space as it plans to run more science experiments on the International Space Station.

August's full moon likely to outshine Perseid meteor shower this year, NASA astronomer says

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most anticipated and popular night-sky shows of the year, is likely to be upstaged by August’s full moon.

Apollo 11 relics among 10,000 mementos flying on Artemis 1 moon mission

A lunar sample and a piece of the rocket that enabled its collection are set to launch on NASA's next mission to the moon. The Apollo 11 artifacts are part of the Artemis 1 Official Flight Kit.